Dawned on me.
The pace is really picking up at this time of the year – in the past week alone we have heard sneak peeks of upcoming releases (Wilco!!! Girls!!! Atlas Sound!!!), and already I have been blown far, far away by their awesomeness, exclamation marks be damned. Meanwhile, for the rest, the show must go on…
Crazy for You
27 July 2010
It may have been more than a year old, but Best Coast’s debut album, Crazy for You, received a revival of attention in August 2011 due to the recently-released music video for their song “Our Deal”, which boasted a number of big names: it was directed by Drew Barrymore and starred movie/television actresses ChloÃ« Moretz, Miranda Cosgrove and Alia Shawkat.
And just as well: all but one of the tracks in the album clock in at under three minutes, so much so that it makes this album a real brisk walk in the park. Besides, vocalist Bethany Cosentino makes it sound like she is doing it all with a straight face, her cheeks red and flushed from the summery heat when she casually makes references to boyfriends, cats and weed.
Thus, Crazy for You can be summed up just as quickly in a few words: it is quirky fun in the sun, of rainbow-swirled lollipops and neon-coloured flip flops, somewhat sugary sweet and yet not that hard to beat. I am usually not one to go crazy over female-fronted bands, but Best Coast is definitely worth checking out.
Suck It and See
7 June 2011
I must confess: to date, I remain unimpressed by the Arctic Monkeys’ much acclaimed Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I Am Not, despite the many accolades and superlatives attached to it (“UK’s fastest selling debut album”, “best rock album of the past decade”). Hell no, I am pretty sure I would not look good on the dancefloor even if I were to bet my life on it or play the song a hundred times more.
As suggested by the album title, I eventually gathered enough guts to put on Suck It and See and obediently give it a go. It could have been the low expectations that cushioned much of the damage; but by the end of the first three tracks, I came away relatively unscathed, but – dare I say it – actually wanting more. Album opener “She’s Thunderstorms” actually turned out sounding quite decent and not at all the mindless cacophony of pots and pans that I had initially feared would grace my ears. The deliciously-titled “Black Treacle” further ups the ante, its beachy feel inciting a casual sing-along, before giving way to the the brainless fun that is “Brick by Brick”, which hits the ground growling and running right from the start.
But then came the syrupy “The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala” – which by now should rank up there as one of the best songs this band has ever done – and all I could think of after that was frontman Alex Turner, and how fucking fine he is in the accompanying music video(s), with that faraway brooding stare, lazy Gallagher-like swagger and perfectly messy hair. It left me starstruck for days, and yes, I make no apologies for this unfortunate digression.
Still, there were some ups and downs – the middle part of the album feels so hollow that I cared not at all for the cheekily-named lead single “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair” – but it does pick up again towards the end by stringing together a number of charming ballad-y numbers, finishing off with the impossibly pop-py “That’s Where You’re Wrong”. Overall, Suck It and See succeeds due to its summer-friendly melodies, blistering guitar riffs and Turner’s loopy wordplay, and will almost certainly be given a spot in my end-of-year list due to its high replay value.
The Rip Tide
30 August 2011
I am convinced that there is some truth to the saying after all – birds of a feather do flock together. I have a tendency to do a musical six-degrees-of-separation exercise whenever I put on The Rip Tide; it really is no task at all connecting Beirut to my other favourite artistes such as The National, Grizzly Bear, Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, and Arcade Fire, who have all either collaborated or performed with each other on various occasions, be it on tour or on record.
Beirut’s music is often described as containing hints of Balkan influences, thus transporting listeners to a different place and era – but frontman Zach Condon made it all sound so effortlessly simple and light, you will have no doubts believing that the multi-instrumentist extraordinaire may have pulled a one-man-show and did the musical frills and thrills all by himself like he once did before in his own bedroom, though this time with a decidedly more exotic setting.
The tracks on the album may have been distinctly stamped with Condon’s soulful vocals, but when complemented with the danceable electronic pulses in “Santa Fe”, the infectious staccato beats present in first single “East Harlem”, and the lush, triumphant horns to “Payne’s Bay”, they give an experience curiously akin to that of a good wine and food pairing – silky smooth, long lasting and subtly delicate.
This third studio album by Beirut is truly a breezy affair, and not just due to its short running time at only 33 minutes. You can be forgiven for investing so little in it and yet getting so much pleasure in return.
Upcoming releases for 2011:
Wilco!!! Girls!!! Atlas Sound!!! Sorry. Yeah, and these too: Coldplay, Snow Patrol. See Metacritic’s release calendar here.