BABY DRIVER: Music to the front, ladies to the back.

album review, Uncategorized

Baby Driver is the most recent filmic endeavour of Edgar Wright,  a director who has gone from strength to strength in developing his own signature filmic style. Wright’s films are known to be packed with well stylised humour and fast paced action. Baby Driver is no exception, but what the film packs in style it lacks in story.

Following the experiences of young getaway driver, Baby (Ansel Elgort), the film is an ambitious and masterfully choreographed sonic experience. Wright reportedly gained the idea for the film while listening to ‘Bell Bottoms’ by the The John Spencer Blues Explosion, realising it would make the perfect car chase song (also extending upon the 2003 video clip he directed for Mint Royale). And so the film begins, with a heist timed meticulously to the 5 minute and 18 second jam. We as the audience remain in the car with Baby, experiencing the perfectly timed tempo and movement changes alongside and with him. Its the kind of opening that’s sure to have you tapping your feet and wishing your car-trips were equally as well paced.

This is a story about music, Baby suffers from tinnitus – a consequence of a childhood car accident leaving him with a permanent ringing in his ears. To drown out the sound, Baby becomes a mere extension of his ipod, using various forms of the electronic device as the soundtrack to his life. He’s never without his earbuds and music becomes the way he see’s- and to a degree feels -the world. While a beautiful concept and one many music lovers would understand (I meticulously select my shower songs, my walking songs, my driving songs and my running songs in accordance with the pace I require for each action) Wright’s relies to  music and style to guide the film do come to affect its story,  which is still less light on than you’d expect from most action films.

The good-guy (Baby) caught up in the fray of criminal activity, stuck because of not quite clear past actions, and a debt he owes syndicate boss Doc (played by Kevin Spacey). He’s clearly lonely and while his life seems empty and his actions listless, Wright more carefully plays into a sense of untapped vulnerability. He doesn’t belong alongside the likes of high life drug addicts Buddy and Darling ( Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzales) or of reckless sociopathic criminals like Bats (played by Jamie Foxx). Its not redemption but freedom that Baby is after.

This sense of liberation is what Baby thinks he has found in adorable old school diner waitress, Debora (Lily James). A blonde youth with an endearingly twangy accent, a melodic voice and an overly friendly nature. Baby is immediately smitten. But Debora’s bland and over done character acts a mere projection of his deceased mother, who as flashbacks tell us he very much adored. Freud was definitely smiling in his grave at this sequence. But apart from being his mother-come-love interest Debora apparently isn’t given the room to become her own person. Agreeable, frustrating naive and about as 3- dimensional as a piece of paper, she falls into a deep lust with Baby after he utters all of 5 sentences to her. These sentences, as he tells her, are more than he’s spoken to anyone all year. Perhaps broody is her thing, but girl can’t you see red flags???. Subsequently after one date and all of 1 1/2 conversations (of no more than 10 syllables apiece) she seems content to head out onto the open road with Baby, even shooting someone dead in front of her doesn’t seem enough to disuade her from this relative stranger.

While this is Baby’s story and it’d be rich for his love interest to have an extensive backstory, Debora, just like the diner she’s in is a carbon copy of the 50’s or 60’s love interest. It’s poor character writing, not something you’d expect from the likes of Edgar Wright , but her compliance seems to fit the tempo of the music. And so the Tarantino-esq action,  tid-bits of witty comedy and all round high energy scenes unfurl in a undeniably beautifully choreographed film. Dear Edgar, there is no denying that you have music and moves down pat, but when it comes to women – baby you can do better.

 

 

 

Not to Disappear, Daughter:

album review, music

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DAUGHTER, NOT TO DISAPPEAR:  ★★★★ 1/2

Not to Disappear is the second full length release from UK based indie-electronic & folk trio Daughter, exploring loneliness and the fragility of human connection. Unlike debut If You Leave, the sombre lyrics of Not to Disappear feels like the unforced product of  organic writing processes, they are not overanalysed to convey ‘seriousness’ of the band, they just are. And what they are is an unnerving, ethereal and melodic journey that speaks to the desolation and the emotional depths of broken relationships – physically or metaphysically. The album is filled with painful yearning, unsubsidised by a ravenous anger and rage in the face of diminishing human connection. Front-woman, Elena, once again offers the powerful and sensuous vocals that we’ve come to associate with band, but in not to disappear we ascertain a certain aggressiveness lacking in prior offerings. This aggressiveness, according to Elena, was linked to her transition into self acceptance and expression, the result of free-thinking, unhampered by over-analysis.

Not to disappear is an ode to a really shitty-in-between feeling of numbness, the time when you can’t quite get a grip on anything and youre forced to constantly feel like your inability to belong could send you spiralling down into the dark underworld of depression at any moment.  Festering relationships and the grimy underworld of modern dating are all touched on in tracks Numbers and New Ways, which take on a slowburning calamitous nature aided by perfectly timed pregnant pauses. Overall you sense that the anger and rage present throughout the whole album is largely directed at the wearisome nature of one sided relationships.

‘ I hate being with you, because you are never there ‘

This recurring notion speaks to the agony of putting every fibre of your being into a relationship only to have the other person unwilling to do the same. These sentiments are backed up by the albums post rock/light punk nature which frequently employs guitar rifts and drum solos largely reflective of those present in The National‘s  ‘Trouble will find me’. The lyrics present across the album, particularly in Alone/ With You, convey two separate narratives; one is that of despair & loneliness; the other is of understanding and acceptance. The growth of the album sees the singer take on the empowering decision of rebuilding and gravitating towards self love and acceptance. She’s discovering her identity, refusing to be defined by others.

‘I don’t want to belong/ to you or anyone’ 

Concluding song, Made of Stone, speaks to the emotionally disjointed experiences that have influenced the writers resulting person, she refuses to dismiss them and their impacts on her life. They have shaped her and she is wizened and a little more hardened because of them but she acknowledges her growth due to them.

‘ I think we are all/ built out of memories’.

TOP PICKS: ‘Alone/With You’ , ‘Fossa’ ,  ‘Doing the Right Thing’ , ‘ Numbers’.

 

Grimes, Art Angels:

RÜfÜs, Bloom:

album review, music

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RÜFÜS, BLOOM:★★★★

RÜFÜS’ sophmore album Bloom, is perhaps the Sydney based trio’s most chilled offering yet, conveying the newly self assured nature of the band . Similar to RÜFÜS’ debut album, Atlas, the writing process of Bloom was largely influenced by the bands location and what frontman Tyrone explains as the ;

Push and Pull.. and the inter-relationship between us and what home means to us”.

 There is a more prominent sense of darkness in Bloom reflecting the impacts of urban-life, travel and long stints away from home on the band. It is their longstanding relationship with Berlin’s dance scene that has clearly aided in this sound evolution, moving the album away from just a beach meets dancefloor anthem like prior album, Atlas.

The more ‘relaxed’ nature of Bloom see’s frontman Tyrone develop his trustworthy vocals into a fuller and more versatile sound that strengthens the album and reminds the listener that the boys are not new at this. This self assured nature is present in the slow burning build of the almost 10 minute long final banger innerbloom. The track is an almost spiritual journey of good vibes- which are of the windows down, shoulder swishing nature. The increased confidence and comfort within the trio has meant that Bloom feels like an entirely natural composition, making the album feel unforced and flowy – rather than mass produced dance-floor bangers. The cheap dancefloor ‘electronic’ tracks played far too many times by the ‘DJ’ at your local on any given night is exactly what this album isn’t, rather its a magical composition filled with smooth, slowburning almost dreamlike tunes (get your tunerags ready) that confirms the successful growth of the band. ‘I’ll take you further’  its the lyrics of Say a prayer for me and they set precedent for the album which slowly and confidently builds, engaging the listener further than ever before.

TOP PICKS; ‘Be with you’,  ‘Until the sun needs to rise’,  ‘Innerbloom’

P.S: Definitely listen to this album twice, due to slow burning nature ect.

Grimes, Art Angels:

album review, music

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Grimes, ART ANGELS:★★★★

Gritty, experimental and self aware are perhaps some of the terms many already associated with Canadian artist Grimes, but never have they been more present than in her latest offering ‘Art Angels’. Her fourth full length album, Art Angels, is largely self expressive, following Grimes’ trajectory in the music industry and her growth as an artist and person within it. Boucher herself has stated that the album stems from the industries attempts to mould her art and her resulting clash against all who attempt to control Grimes’ narrative. The album is not as whimsical as Grimes’ previous production, touching more upon punk undertones to subtly suggest Boucher’s seething anger at an industry that has tried to mould female experimentation into a joint production with men. She refutes the typically typecast production of female pop, writing and producing Art Angels as an entirely solo endeavor that won’t apologise for its experimental creative vision just like male artists never have to.

‘I’m ONLY a man and I do what I CAN’   

Hooks, infectious synths and Grimes’ incorporation of piano, guitar and violin for the first time allows Art Angels to confidently and self assuredly represent an artist who is ready to face the challenges imposed by the commercial world on an artist. Art Angels is Grimes promise to never bow to the pressure of the music industry, or play into  a conventional narrative. California, a weird amalgamation of pop, country and electronics (that just works) expresses this perfectly ‘I didn’t think you’d end up treatin’ me so bad’  ‘When you get bored of me, you just put me back up on the shelf’. She’s done with all your outdated bullshit Cali and refusing to be the female flavour of the month by playing unoriginal pop bullshit. BYE FELICIA.

TOP PICKS: ‘Kill v. Maim’, ‘Belly of the Beat’, ‘Flesh without blood’

 

 

 

 

 

 

The World is a Beautiful Place and I No Longer Want to Die, HARMLESSNESS:

album review, music

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TWIABP, HARMLESSNESS ★★★★

My gosh did Band of Horses, Modest Mouse and Death cab have a love child??? because they’re entirely the vibes I’m getting from The World is a Beautiful Place & I’m No Longer Afraid to Die’s (TWIABP) new record Harmlessness. Drawing on angsty almost (but never entirely) emo undertones the indie punk album deals with loneliness, anxiety and depressive notions, essentially its about life. The record is not seamless in composition but its centralisation on lead vocalist David Bello allows it to maintain consistency which their previous attempts have lacked. The album gets under your skin and into your head in the way catchy tunes can’t, in a way thats real and reflective of experience. Overall it is an album that simply needs to be listened to all critical appraisals aside and enjoyed for its impact and its rawness.

Foals, WHAT WENT DOWN:

album review, music

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Foals, WHAT WENT DOWN: ★★★★

And they’re back! Foals doing what they do best by dropping some toe-tapping alternative rock tunes for the worlds enjoyment. Album 4 from the British boys has seen the band embrace the darker elements of rock, introducing more big guitar heavy synth to their typically poppy beats. Lead singer Yannis adds wider range to his infectious voice, building from melodic ballads to hard hitting crescendos which though perhaps more slow burning than previous indie anthems are undoubtedly more hard hitting. What went down explores the maturing of an alternative rock band moving away from high-energy indie ballads and into the darker and more aggressive world of rock and roll.

The Paper Kites, TWELVEFOUR:

album review

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The Paper Kites, TWELVEFOUR: ★★★1/2

The Melbourne five piece have returned with their second album Twelvefour which is based around the concept that creativity peaks between the wearisome hours of 12- 4 am. This can be heard at the heart of their indierock driven sound which attempts to add in a whimsical darkness to their traditionally lighter sound. Overall however the album falls flat, unable to present their sound in an entirely original or particularly effective way. However the tracks do mesh together in a way that is reminiscent of the long lonely driving scene presented in all indie and coming of age films. Track ‘bleed confusion’ is a standout resembling Father John Misty’s style, while tracks ‘i’m lying to you because I’m lost’ and opening single ‘electric indigo’ will also make you feel some feels (not all of them though).

Disclosure, CARACAL:

album review
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Disclosure, CARACAL ★★★1/2
In their second instalment the boys again deliver  on the catchy sounds and toe-tapping beats we have come to expect from the duo. Employing the infectious sounds of some of pop’s biggest names (yet ones who are still respected critically) they build on the industry of neo-house meets pop their first album catapulted them into. Some songs sound like any other club anthems lacking some of the ‘fire’ of settle and yet they’re redeemed by Lorde’s collaboration ‘magnets’ and the head bopping nature of ‘holding on’ featuring Gregory Porter. In the mode of ‘if its not broken why fix it?’ Caracal is familiar to Settle in its composition which is forgiven due its enjoyable nature.

My Own Pet Radio, GOODLUM:

album review

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My Own Pet Radio, GOODLUM ★★★ 3/4

Ball Park Music frontman Sam Cromack’s solo project My Own Pet Radio is an eclectic, conceptual and experimentally driven venture. Goodlum, is MOPR’s inaugural album and according to Cromack the result of flogging too much ‘Kid A’ as a teenager. The change of direction and experimentation which drove Radiohead’s critically divisive ‘Kid A’ is also apparent in MOPR’s conceptual album which attempts to create art rather than BPM’s traditionally catchy tunes. Though not attempting to be ‘hits’ many songs also do not quite reach the image of self reflexivity the album attempts to project. Cromack’s maturing is however apparent and the album sees him attempt to grapple with his life choices and his accept his resulting person. Such expressions of sincerity are present in opening single ‘no great mystery to me’ and following tune ‘goodlum’ which explore our own ability to limit ourselves all the while sounding like a beautiful mesh of Radiohead and Chetfaker (yes please!) .

Tame Impala, CURRENTS:

album review, music

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Tame Impala, CURRENTS:★★★★ 1/2

Kevi P; wordsmith, psychedelic producer & melodic genius. Tame’s second album currents is Kevin Parkers brainchild and follows an introverts attempts to enter society and his resulting loneliness and isolation from it. Currents feels like a break up album, with opening single ‘let it happen’ functioning as an ode to rejection and following sounds such as ‘eventually’ lamenting but accepting this loss. It is a psychedelic masterpiece which manages to artfully combine modern electronics with tunes reminiscent of the bygone era of the 60’s. As all good psychedelic tracks do the nearly 8 minute journey ‘let it happen’ and the luscious multi-tracked harmonies of ‘gossip’ provide an out of worldly and out of body experience.