Sunday, July 16, 2017

Loosies Of The Week, July. 10-16

Welcome to yet another Loosies Of The Week, a wrap-up of this weeks singles, throwaways, leaks, and any other loose tracks I find. This week; Pink. Pink everywhere. From bubbly Art Pop to Ariel Pink's mania, glossy Alternative Dance to Tyler The Creator's wild, wild world. 

Ariel Pink - Time To Live

With his various antics, outlandish style, and single-handed dominance of Hypnagogic Pop, a genre he essentially created, Ariel Pink has always been an artist on my radar. I've tried here and there but nothing ever latched, including some of the most renowned songs on Pom Pom. That changes with 'Time To Live,' a wildly eccentric art clash expo that goes over the edge of lunacy by combining multiple 80's Electropop elements with Hypnagogic Pop's current appreciation of the decade. Structuring is out the window, as half the track's duration is engulfed in repetitive vocals, highly distorted guitars, and a neurotic atmosphere. That's all before a questionable shift in tone to something that's painfully similar to 'Video Killed The Radio Star.' Thing is, it's so on the mark that Ariel Pink knows it, creating yet another layer of confusion in 'Time To Live.' From the 80's? Reliving the 80's? Original or cover? The disorientation of it all is the track's main calling card.

Tyler, The Creator - Boredom

Likely a result of maturity mixed with advancement of the genre around him, people are far more receptive to Tyler, The Creator's new material than ever before. Now sure, the scatterbrained Cherry Bomb was littered with holes and reason enough to dislike, but after 'Who Dat Boy' and '911 / Mr. Lonely' I couldn't help but feel like his quality hasn't improved much since Wolf, just that those listening are more keen on appreciating his style. With 'Boredom,' Tyler continues to travel down the line '911 / Mr. Lonely' created with adventurous Neo-Soul infused with his kaleidoscopic world. Despite the content adhering to a more introverted Tyler, one who rejects friendship at the peril of having nothing to do, 'Boredom' is quite the extroverted work, radiating with warmth like a summer California day. Like much of his more ambitious works, 'Boredom' travels through numerous passages, never remaining stagnant, with blissful surprises around every corner. 90 seconds pass before Tyler himself even raps, harmonious string arrangements entice a faux-close, while a bumptious, bass-driven encore signals the actual finale. Music delivered as pure entertainment.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - An Intention

Last year, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's EARS caught me off guard. It wasn't a monumental masterpiece, and in the long run it'll be overshadowed by the soon-to-arrive debut of Kelly Lee Owens, but certain moments on the courageous Folktronica project birthed potential. 'Arthropoda,' for example, ended up being one of my favorite tracks of 2016. The writing on the wall indicated an emergence from Smith herself, as her newfound fame surely meant an uptake in standard Art Pop fanfare. With 'An Intention,' that's what we get, and it's not a bad thing. For one, it's the lead single to a new album entitled The Kid, so having a wide range of appeal was guaranteed. On top of that, Smith has curated an aesthetic that's wholly her own, so while the blossomed product of 'An Intention' may resemble Art Pop, the roots are her own. The production, equal parts large and looming, compliment Smith's excessively-layered vocals, creating a cacophonous aura that consumes the listener like a heavily-wooded forest where no light enters.

Empress Of - Go To Hell

For some odd reason, a handful of Art Pop and pseudo-Indie artists in recent years have created Pop-centric, "haters gonna hate" manifestos. Who can we thank for this? Well, Taylor Swift's 'Shake It Off' of course, along with a swarm of egocentric, mood-shifting quotable's that directly denounce those who hate. Empress Of's 'Go To Hell' is another in this line, and while the basic ideology of stooping down a level to criticize those criticizing you is lost on me, Empress Of's fierce tenacity, unabashed lyrics, and giddy personality make 'Go To Hell' a success. It's light, playful, and entirely condescending. It's hard not to imagine Lorely Rodriguez flipping her hair and giving the cold shoulder whilst singing, with an attitude that screams "I don't give a fuck," even though she totally does. But then again, we all do, we just convince ourselves we're better. Here, Empress Of hits that note so candidly that I can't imagine her being unaware, speaking on "low-hanging fruit" in one line before exiling said person to Hell in the next. With the Twee-Pop style, I can actually see 'Go To Hell' gaining traction as a go-to summer jam for those conceited few.

Lana Del Rey - Groupie Love / Summer Bummer

Lana Del Rey has never been one to shy away from her Hip-Hop influence, though, in recent years, she's done just that by releasing a handful of albums centered solely on her torched Chamber Pop. That apparently ends with Lust For Life, her soon-to-be released LP, that doesn't shy away from the fact that tracks six and seven feature A$AP Rocky. Both released as singles, 'Groupie Love' and 'Summer Bummer,' the latter of which also features Trap up-and-comer Playboi Carti, attempt in grand style to conjoin two drastically different worlds. There's no denying the result is quite awkward, but at the same time it's equally surprising just how smooth Del Rey's sound can transition to the Hip-Hop world. That's more so evident on 'Groupie Love,' a track that features booming production not entirely unlike her other, lofty works. A necessary percussion addition occurs when Rocky emerges, but it's handled in such a way that the larger-than-life sound acts as the climax.

While 'Groupie Love' blends in more concretely to Del Rey's style, 'Summer Bummer' does not, existing as a standalone Pop/Trap clash that's totally intent on being a summer banger. Lana Del Rey is a strange character. We know this. Which makes it even more odd is when she attracts Hip-Hop clientele in similar fashion to Selena Gomez, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, or Ariana Grande. She makes Pop sure, but it's far different than any of the aforementioned artists, which makes 'Summer Bummer' quite the odd, but relatively unique track. Ad-libs litter the background, Rocky's flows are on point, the beat's meandering and conniving, and Del Rey's singing/rapping towards the back half succeeds in being equal parts lustful and assertive. How it'll fit on the rest of Lust For Life is anyone's guess. It'll be a mess, I'm sure.

Arcade Fire - Electric Blue

Like 'Reflektor' for Reflektor, when 'Everything Now' dropped for Everything Now I thought the electronically-flaired dance anthem was a red herring. Now sure, Reflektor had multiple moments of similar exposé, 'Here Comes The Night Time' being the best example, but virtually the entirety of the second half was an engrossing concept record drenched in Arcade Fire's unique identity. We're four singles into Everything Now now, and not a single track has hid from the fact that this is an all-out Alternative Dance record. Initially I was on board, but by 'Signs Of Life,' when reality set in, worry did as well. 'Electric Blue' follows suit, getting a massive eye-roll from me on first listen, despite its growth over time. The key with 'Electric Blue' is Regine Chassagne's dominance, something that was sorely absent on Reflektor. Here though, her voice irritates more than it thrives. The Dance palate is substandard, using stereotypical instrumentation that wouldn't feel out of place on a cliched commercial from a company trying too hard. Thankfully though, once the ball gets rolling, even if it takes three minutes to do so, 'Electric Blue' turns into something quite enthralling. The climactic send-off is prime Arcade Fire, as Chassagne's repetitive bridge fits delicately over the production. I just wish it happened far, far sooner.

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