It’s been a really long time since I’ve listened to new music. The idea of committing myself to listening to an album that I’m likely only to instantly like one track on, and maybe grow to like/love four or five more on repeated listens (if I’m lucky) has been really unappealing. What can I say? My downtime has been limited, I like to guarantee I’ll enjoy it – hence me re-watching Pride & Prejudice and The Wire rather than delving into Breaking Bad and seeing what all the fuss is about. This last two weeks, however, I’ve put three new albums on rotation for various reasons. And because I like forming an opinion of an album on my own then hearing other opinions on it so I can understand the music a little bit better or differently, I read reviews. I will use this opportunity to share my favourites.
- John Legend – Love in the Future. As usual, I did not like the first single. But because I am a huge John Legend fan (his first few albums he seemed to be doing a pretty great job of chronicling my relationships), I gave it a try anyway. And I LOVE it. I’ve agreed with a lot of the reviews I’ve read – some of the songs aren’t as strong as he has been lyrically, some of the tracks are particularly strong (Who Do We Think We Are, The Beginning…), the album very much reflects that he’s at a different place relationship-wise (and perhaps maturity-wise) – but the review that speaks most to me is Vibe’s review. The review does a wonderful job of reflecting on his career’s trajectory, acknowledging this as a great moment in that path, and still being honest about the fact that it probably wasn’t the best.
- Drake – Nothing was the Same. I have a complex relationship with Drake. I think he’s part wack, part talented, part straight guilty entertaining. This album is perhaps my favorite of his since the Heartbreak Drake mixtape. I feel guilty about enjoying him as much as I do and none of the reviews quite sum up how I feel about him and myself for liking him. But I do appreciate the Rolling Stone review that points out that one of the most appealing things about him is his flaws are his whole point (to a certain extent) and the Guardian review whose author was obviously poking fun at/challenging me directly when he says, “there’s nothing overly complex or profound here, but try to resist the charm.”
- Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady. So this review says everything I felt listening to this album. I probably wouldn’t have committed to listening to it all were it not for the fact that I have tickets to see her next month and want to be able to get excited about/sing along to more than just Q.U.E.E.N.. I enjoy her but have never felt the need to do an in depth exploration of her work. I’m really glad I did, at least for this album. It was all over the place in a way that if anyone had described it I would have assumed it would have been a hot mess. But it’s a wonderful album. AND it features my loves Solange, Erykah Badu AND Esperanza Spalding? Yes please.
Fyah stirrers. I think you already know the albums I’ll be picking from for my music post on Wednesday.