Album Reviews: Beck, The War on Drugs, Foster the People

Morning Phase

Beck- Morning Phase

Release Date: 02/21/2014

Grade: B+

Beck is an excellent musician to familiarize yourself with if you enjoy an artist who’s willing to challenge themselves consistently in redefining their sound. Throughout his discography his music has changed drastically, from early lo-fi recordings to sarcastic electronic funk, the man has covered a lot of the possible sounds on the spectrum. Morning Phase is an album which is meant to exist as the companion to an album which is commonly viewed as one of Beck’s best in Sea Change, and this new album carries over similar qualities from there in how it displays Beck in the most straight-forward way we’ve been able to access his music yet. A lot of the focus on Morning Phase is placed upon the harmonies present, which alongside the orchestral pop qualities makes this a pretty product to listen to. The negative here is that this newest release does lack the ambitiousness of the best material which Beck has been involved in, but it doesn’t stop Morning Phase from being an easily enjoyable record from front to back.

Top Tracks: “Blue Moon”, “Morning”

Lost in the Dream

The War on Drugs- Lost in the Dream

Release Date: 03/18/2014

Grade: A-

When Kurt Vile left The War on Drugs it didn’t have to much to do with stylistic differences between himself and the band, the semi-shoegaze and ambient sounds of last year’s Wakin On A Pretty Daze are easily compared to work done here on Lost in the Dream afterall. The reported reason for why this separation actually occurred is that Vile wanted to focus his attention to his solo career, but here we’re able to see that another reason for why it may have occurred is that the group would have received significant input from Adam Granduciel whether Vile wanted to be the primary voice in this project or not. I state this because The War on Drugs hasn’t missed a step yet, and for that you give credit to the band for creating consistently interesting musical compositions filled with well placed jams and fantastic production. Lost in the Dream is a terrific album to just lose yourself to, it’s a relaxing listen which doesn’t demand your attention because it knows that you’ll be listening anyway. It is an album which asks the listener to be patient with it however as a majority of the tracks last longer than five minutes and don’t necessarily tell narrative stories, making the music more about a feeling than anything else. If you enjoy listening to relaxing music featuring consistent instrumental breaks than this one would be recommended for you.

Top Tracks: “Eyes to the Wind”, “Red Eyes”

Supermodel

Foster the People- Supermodel

Release Date: 03/14/2014

Grade: C+

The band who was able to capture the world’s attention with their single “Pumped Up Kicks” back in 2011 has found themselves in an undesirable situation for the sake of their career. That’s because despite the ambitiousness which the band has tried to portray on their sophomore release, it hasn’t accomplished it’s primary job of destroying the synonymous relationship between the aforementioned single and the group as a whole. That’s how one-hit wonders seemingly become solidified, because if you can’t talk about a band without bringing attention to a specific past song of theirs then every listener has no reason to hope that the best is still yet to come. Supermodel isn’t a complete swing and a miss however as the group still does display some fun tracks within the realm of pop beauty, and the style does change enough to make it an interesting comparison to their debut album Torches. The issue is that nothing here sounds fully inspired, and the moments that exist which seem to suggest some form of inspiration quickly revert back to mundane melodies, a habit which displayed itself on this album with disappointingly consistent results. Supermodel is a sophomore album which sounds like it was released because their sophomore album was due, but there’s no need to jump off the bandwagon quite yet if you’re a fan of the band because they could come back from this.

Top Tracks: “Ask Yourself”, “Fire Escape”

About kylewcdb

Blog Editor for Airwaves, former alternative rock director of CDB and current host of "Trust the Wizard" on WCDB Sunday nights from 10pm-midnight.
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