Tuning the dials
October 24, 2011
__Justice – Audio, Video, Disco__
Most people know Justice from their song “Genesis” being used in a car ad (I believe it was for Cadillacs). The French electro group’s first album, Cross, was quite danceable. There’s no “D.A.N.C.E.” with adorable childish vocals urging you to do just what the song says. Instead, the sound of “Genesis” has prevailed, but in a harsher, more aggressive form. Justice has taken the harder electro elements from Cross and turned them into an album which deserves its name. With less poppy influences and more instrumentals, Justice is moving in a new direction. It certainly is as skillfully produced and orchestrated as their previous work, but only time will tell whether it will be as commercially successful. I personally feel that in the age of Skrillex and Bassnectar on the Top 40 charts, an album like this can do well, but we shall see. Perhaps the Frenchness will be a bit too much for the dubstep fans, and this will fall flat. Nevertheless, Justice has a faithful fan in me, and I shall continue to enjoy their music while pretending to drive sexy cars through perfectly lit up tunnels in major metropolitan areas at night.
__Florence + The Machine – Ceremonials__
Florence + The Machine is a band I sadly never got into when they were first popular. I found her voice and sound too “mindie,” as Carles of Hipster Runoff would say, and didn’t find it too energizing. But of course, everyone, myself included, was waiting eagerly for her sophomore album, Ceremonials, which has so far been a success according to major websites like Pitchfork which tend to like people like Florence Welsh. She has distilled the best elements of her personal sound into a refined version, which is more polished and emphasizes what her fans like best about her music. The grandness and orchestral influences which they enjoy, and which have garnered her much commercial success, serve her well in this second album. You should absolutely get into it if you liked her first release at all. Who knows if tracks from this will be used in commercials? Perhaps her grandiose music will overwhelm the product itself and be unusable for marketing purposes, as companies everywhere realize they are just promoting Florence and not themselves. Her fans will surely keep her in good stead though, as she blazes her way to “Best Albums of the Year” lists everywhere.
__Purity Ring/Braids – Split 7″__
This release was one I was waiting for eagerly forever and was absolutely ecstatic to finally get my hands on (at their live show, no less). The vinyl is slick cerulean blue and coral orange (combined! like flavored sherbet) and has two snazzy new electronic tracks. The A-side contains “Belispeak,” the third single from Canadian duo Purity Ring, which brings the talent of Gobble Gobble member Corin Roddick and vocalist Megan James into a futuristic union of undulating, haunting electronica. This release is just a teaser and I am anticipating their full length release later this year (hopefully!) as Purity Ring is posted to be my favorite artist of the year and “Lofticries” my favorite single. The cheerier B-side, with “Peach Wedding” by Braids, is a pleasant track which has been compared to a female-fronted Animal Collective, which I hesitantly agree with. Braids is less aggressive and has a poppier feel to it, but they both still have unconventional instrumentation, song structure, and an experimental feel. I had only heard of Braids before this, but am pleased with the result, and feel that the two songs complement each other quite well.
__M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming__
The much anticipated new M83 is a double album, consisting of twenty two full length tracks. While some may bemoan Anthony Gonzalez’s ambition, they have to admit it is quite admirable, and fits in well with the expansive, sweeping electronic sound that characterizes M83. The album length is quite intimidating but when you sit down and listen, you start to appreciate Gonzalez’s vision. It started with a mysterious YouTube video several months ago, which merely featured a grand orchestral note and some images of pretty things, and has now evolved into this fully fledged beast of an album, which will take quite some time to digest. Albums with “Intro” and “Outro” tracks are often disparaged as pretentious, but M83 is so likeable and earnest, and the French are so adept at getting away with pretentiousness, that this album is absolutely worth a listen regardless. Concept albums are also becoming increasingly difficult to promote, as the world of digital music is all about the singles, but when a band like M83 comes out with one, it’s just pleasant to put it on and get lost in the soundscapes. The band is named after a galaxy (Messier 83), which I feel explains their style surprisingly well, and you too can partake in intergalactic travel if you put this record on.