Aimee Mann – ‘Mental Illness’
CT Rating: 7/10
Aimee Mann has been a standard dish in American singer-songwriter circles for over 25 years. This bluntly-titled latest effort demands attention. Mental Illness contains a synthesis of emotions described in a brooding yet breezy manner. Mann approaches the tracks with different points of view ranging from the sorrowful cogitations on ‘Stuck in the Past’ or the fatalistic outlook of ‘Simple Fix’.
But Mann is more like a flâneur here, observing states of mind and how they can be affected by pain-staking events. Rather than being gut wrenchingly sad, Mental Illness is more of an old-school melancholic country record. Each song floats along gently, sporting a homespun sound. Strings sweep over many of these tracks, like fresh gusts of wind. Mann’s melodies are warm and straightforward – her voice is her greatest asset. So Mental Illness is just about fruitful enough to warrant the status of a late career highlight for Mann.
Goldfrapp – ‘Silver Eye’
CT Rating: 8/10
Electroclash stalwarts Goldfrapp return with their first LP in four years. On Silver Eye, electronic producer The Haxan Cloak comes on board and his presence is felt. These ten tracks are like towering skyscrapers, driven by colossal beats and glitchy quirks to create a truly epic listening experience. ‘Tigerman’ contains dabs of menacing synthesized bass and a variety of electronic splutters.
The way these tracks gain momentum is impressive, often evolving from skeletal pulse like beats to gradually incorporate a wealth of noises. ‘Zodiac Black’ is one such number whose eventual cacophony is of great intensity after beginning with a few bare drum kicks. The record consistently has a larger-than-life quality to it, with the tracks often drenched in reverb. It feels like you should be wandering around a big city at night with lights flashing when you listen to Silver Eye.
Allison Goldfrapp’s voice is so airy. It feels like she is whispering into your ear for much of this record. The music feels urgent and lustful in the classic vintage Goldfrapp fashion. Their raw appeal is thus retained here but also interweaved with a more maximalist and visceral approach.
Kendrick Lamar – The Heart Part 4
CT Rating: 9/10
This is one of Kendrick’s major statements. On ‘The Heart Part 4’, Kendrick is analysing people’s perception of him and his perception of himself. While he has generally leaned away from braggadocious lines, he comes out all guns blazing here. There will be endless theorising about whether this is a diss track directed at Drake or Big Sean, and whether Kendrick is about drop a new release on April 7. One thing that is for sure, there is no rapper who can generate so much hype and excitement as Kendrick.
Adam Bielenberg Music Writer