Top 5 Albums of August
The days seem a little shorter, the nights slightly cooler. Leaves are turning yellow and crisp. The final heat waves subside to the equator, and puffy clouds of rain dampen the scorching asphalt. The summer sun, wrinkled and dawning an amber smile, looks over his shoulder on his way around the bend and offers a simple goodbye: “Au revoir, mon amie”.
Much like my relationship with that first paragraph, people tend to become more self-indulgent in the last month of summer. We find ourselves drinking more and taking sporadic trips in a last ditch effort to enjoy the warmth before the dreaded cold season (excluding you southerners and west coasters obviously; I question my livelihood in Boston daily). Hopefully you all stuffed yourselves with enough summer enjoyment to last you the next nine months; I know I did.
There was a plethora of major league hip hop and pop records released this month, including the sticky ASTROWORLD from Travis Scott, the saccharine Sweetener from Ariana Grande, and Eminem’s surprise (flop) Kamikaze. Though none of the above made our list this month, don’t fret; our top five albums this month are full of color and spice. Until next time, au revoir, mon amie.
Louis Cole – Time
For fans of: Knower, Thundercat, Kneebody
Louis Cole arrived from relative obscurity by landing a soundtrack slot on one of the star-studded Lego movies in 2017 (the song is called “Dance of Doom” and it kicks). Before the soundtrack and a subsequent solo career, Cole fronted an electro-funk pop group called Knower, beloved by many music nerds for their boundary pushing aggression and outright domineering musical chops. We get both of those things and more on Cole’s second album Time, a woozy collection of spirited pop tunes served in his signature tongue in cheek delivery. In all of it’s quirky grandeur, Cole demonstrates that pop virtuosos can be just as weird as they are polished and poised.
Idles – Joy as an Act of Resistance.
For fans of: Shame, Iceage, METZ
When faced with situations fraught with despair, sometimes the best thing to do is explode. Or at least that’s what Bristol post-punks Idles do, and it seems to be working out for them. On their newest album, the emotionally roughneck Joy as an Act of Resistance., Idles unpack a heavy load of baggage in an attempt for self-reconciliation; the loss of singer Joe Talbot’s disabled mother as well as his substance abuse are among the more difficult subjects addressed. Despite challenging times, Idles cope with the morbid by charging up and blasting off into the noisey throws of post-hardcore, proving that even the darkest of hours can be made a little bit lighter.
Tirzah – Devotion
For fans of: Micachu, Corbin, Amber Mark
Affection, Devotion, Gladly, Guilty: these words resonate well within the language of love. Coincidentally, they are also all song titles on Devotion, the debut album from R&B newcomer Tirzah. Devotion is a sparse and swirling trip into the throws of tumultuous love, blanketed by the spirit of Britain’s richly electronic music history. With a touch of minimalism and UK house, Tirzah uses her fluttering murmur to express feelings of doubt; “I just want you to be true to me”, she laments on the album’s titular track. Swathed in a hazy bath of R&B honey, Tirzah finds comfort within herself while attempting to find it elsewhere, warming our souls in the process.
Mitski – Be The Cowboy
For fans of: Japanese Breakfast, Snail Mail, Beach House
Never before has Mitski appeared so vulnerable than on her newest album Be The Cowboy. In the past, the indie rock excavator carved a successful path by converting intricate songwriting into approachably edgy rock songs that flee between harsh bites and delicate kisses. On Be The Cowboy, Mitski swaps guitar rock for an extravagant world of synthesizers, allowing her poignant lyrics and sturdy vocal delivery to reign as the driving force. Through the tense walls of dissonance on the album’s opener “Geyser”, Mitski cries a warning as chilling as a rattlesnake’s rattle; “Though I’m a geyser/Feel it bubbling from below/ Hear it call, hear it call.”
Blood Orange – Negro Swan
For fans of: The Internet, Empress Of, Frank Ocean
Dev Hynes has always aimed big, and his sprawling new album Negro Swan comes at no exception. The multi-talented singer/songwriter displayed his gift for storytelling on 2016’s Freetown Sound, placing spoken word excerpts and free jazz interludes to bridge gaps between an intrinsically urban narrative. Negro Swan follows suit in many ways, but displays more of an inward emphasis. Floating on the surface of the dizzy R&B and wispy hooks are elements of the Hynes narrative: being black in America today, navigating queerness, social survival, etc. The results of his exploration are both profoundly honest and melodically abundant, solidifying Hynes as his generation’s most emotionally connected musical polymath.