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Latest Album Reviews

Recording artist The Weeknd poses for a photo in the press room at the MTV Video Music Aw

Recording artist The Weeknd poses for a photo in the press room at the MTV Video Music Awards and now he’s dropped his album Beauty Behind The Madness. Try and feel his face, I bet you can’t.
Source: AFP

Has The Weeknd landed? Do Blank Realm shoot indie hits? Are Gold Class up to their 24 carat name? Will Silicon’s music be played in your Personal Computer? And is Halsey a girl from Badlands made good?




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This CD cover image released by Republic Records shows "Beauty Behind the Madness," by Th

This CD cover image released by Republic Records shows “Beauty Behind the Madness,” by The Weeknd. (Republic Records via AP)
Source: AP

CANADIAN Abel Tesfaye has been slowly fast-tracked from underground to mainstream.

He gave donut-licker Ariana Grande cred on their duet Love Me Harder and improved 50 Shades Of Grey with Earned It.

The tipping point was one of the best (and most subversive) pop songs of the year, Can’t Feel My Face, written with Swedish pop genius Max Martin. You only go to Martin for No.1 hits.

So Tesfaye’s project The Weeknd (yep, the final ‘e’ has been dropped) get a major push with this second studio album.

He now shares fans with 1D, but this is in parts a reluctant pop album with Tesfaye refusing to censor himself.

Indeed there’ll be parental alarm at some of the lyrics here — Often and The Hills go deep into gynaecological detail about bedroom downpours and chemical intakes (possibly also the reason his face can’t be felt).

The autobiographical Tell Your Friends states “I’m that n- with the hair singin’ ‘bout poppin’ pills, f-g b-s.”

That track’s produced by Kanye West who generously applies all the mainstream sheen and catchy samples he now avoids for himself. Guests include Labrinth on Losers (which basically says hey kids, don’t stay in school), Lana Del Rey on the static Prisoner (considering their joint love for hedonism it’s kind of dull) and Ed Sheeran on the bluesy, violent Dark Times.

Max Martin’s back for Shameless — a bland, radio-friendly ballad with radio-unfriendly lyrics — and In the Night where Tesfaye earns all those Michael Jackson comparisons, with a The Way You Make Me Feel vibe. Deliberately filled with thrillers ,Tesfaye’s about to find out if fame suits him. Fast. /CAMERON ADAMS

SOUNDS LIKE: Kanye West producing Michael Jackson

IN A WORD: modern


Can’t Feel My Face – The Weeknd




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Illegals in heaven, by Blank Realm

Illegals in heaven, by Blank Realm
Source: Supplied

Blank Realm have already started on their sixth album. SIXTH! Slow down, egghead. This is the fifth for the jangle-pop moodists (their first studio album) and they stay the course. Everyone is about to catch up and flip out. Their time has come. You can hear it from the tap-dance-on-razorblades guitar and motorboat bass in No Views On It as Daniel Spencer sings about an incredulous Speedway driver. Cruel Nights slides right under your skin as guitarist Luke Walsh finds your sweet spot and Sarah Spencer joins her brother on dual vocals. Costume Drama kicks against the tricks and Flowers In Mind is Paul Kelly circa ‘89. This is rarest of things: a protest album, a psych-pop headtrip and a balls-out rock record. / MIKEY CAHILL

SOUNDS LIKE: Heaven on a stick, Divinyls intervention

IN A WORD: confounding

BUY: bedroomsuckrecords.com/shop/blank-realm-illegals-in-heaven/

Flowers In Mind – Blank Realm




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Gold Class - It's You.

Gold Class – It’s You.
Source: Supplied

There’s no getting around it, Joy Division casts a milky grey shadow over Interpol, Savages and now Melbourne’s Gold Class. Lead singing foghorn (that’s a compliment) Adam Curley cut his teeth in punk bands and now leads this hotly tipped garage gloom quartet on their debut LP, one that promises much for future releases. The first earworm is “Let it go, goodbye, quick silver” on Furlong. Half-pace angular-grinder Half Moon Over juts its jaw out, daring you to punch it, calling your bluff like Harvey Milk. Michael gnaws away at the bone, “a beautiful boy with more lines on your face.” Pro Crank and Bite Down both trace the political contours of Siouxie Siuoux’s Banshees and pops the bird at the Mad Monk. / MIKEY CAHILL

SOUNDS LIKE: dystopian grooves, militant drums, punk

IN A WORD: persuasive

BUY: https://www.jbhifi.com.au/music/browse/alternative/its-you/771361/

Life As A Gun – Gold Class




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Personal Computer - Silicon (Weird World/EMI)

Personal Computer – Silicon (Weird World/EMI)
Source: Supplied

Missing those French stargazers Air? This translucent debut from New Zealander Kody “Silicon” Nielson, brother of Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Ruban, might fill the vacuum. Nielson has constituted an introverted soundtrack of filmy vocals and synths and the faintest glitch, whimsically exploring humankind’s interaction with machines — a theme as old as, well, Kraftwerk. The Air influence is most evident on the title track and (Justin Timberlake-endorsed!) lead single God Emoji. More experimental, Love Peace is silicone soul — he sings falsetto like a spaced-out Pharrell over Flying Lotusy beats with piano plinks. Blow is abstract psychedelia. For late night commuting … / CYCLONE WEHNER

SOUNDS LIKE: a virtual safari

IN A WORD: atmospheric

BUY: https://www.jbhifi.com.au/music/browse/electronic/personal-computer/771223/

Burning Sugar – Silicon




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Halsey, Badlands CD cover

Halsey, Badlands CD cover
Source: Supplied

Take Taylor Swift’s 1989 on a three-day bender with Lorde holding its hair back and you might scratch the surface of what New Jersey’s Halsey is all about. She’s angry, honest and has the songwriting chops to fight it out with pop’s biggest heavy hitters. This 20-year-old’s take on relationships, late night encounters and drug binges is far from clean cut and in this day and age seems utterly refreshing — Halsey refuses to hide behind a PR machine. New Americana is the live anthem in waiting with a chorus to match “High on legal marijuana… raised on Biggie and Nirvana, we are the new Americana” she sings. / SAM KELTON

Roman Holiday and Ghost raise the bar once again with seamless electronic pop.

SOUNDS LIKE: a pop artist as colourful as her blue hair.

IN A WORD: dark

BUY: https://www.jbhifi.com.au/music/browse/alternative-pop/badlands/747370/

Ghost – Halsey

Agree? Disagree vehemently/violently?

The internet seems like a reasonable place to have a measured argument over such matters. Join us here: @cameron_adams @joeylightbulb @therealcyclone@kelts82


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