It's been waiting for you. Here I am, once again to review Taylor Swift's fifth studio album, 1989 which is indicative of Taylor's birth year. Yes, it has leaked so I'm not going to say anymore than that. And while I do understand that fans don't want to hear about the leaked versions, I guess I can't say much more than that.
The pop-country superstar's newest album sees her wear the pop crown and dance around her trophy room. If Shake it Off tells me anything but signs and dreams, I can safely say that this album maybe won't be as hugely successful as Red would be. With new ventures comes new writers in the form of Ryan Tedder (from OneRepublic), Jack Antonoff (from fun.) and Diane Warren, while still working with producers Max Martin and Shellback from her previous release. Has Swift's transition from country and pop to pop be a little burden towards that total change? Halfway through the album, I can safely say no.
There's a lot of things to keep in mind when one listens to the album. Firstly, there's not a whole lot of very stagnant, slow-paced and downtime in between songs. Every track possesses it's own style of signature, unique blend of instruments such as the guitars, the synthesizers and the drums, all of which encompasses the first four tracks of the album. And those tracks itself were not very self-contained nor told a story which Swift has done before. Blank Spaces and Style are proof that while Swift may have reacted to the pubic audience about her relationship issues and whatnot, she has struck back in the clear. However, they don't come to me as revoltingly mesmerizing, and at times rarely catching for attention of the listener. They do come across as scorching pop radio anthems that rudely crashes the doorstep, and in a good way.
Secondly, calling this a 'radioactive pop album' and 'formulaic' feels as if the listeners barely scratched the surface with this album. It's not the best insult simply because there's a lot to be heard on this album that Swift has basically not done before. For example, there's a much bigger of shedding the light on her past relationships, than with Speak Now or Red. Or if listeners do digress about how the album weaves in and out of posture because of different melodic tones, then they are simply missing the point of how versatile Swift's music has become. And for that reason, is a huge plus to the pop star (legitimate term now) for having a wide array of tracks that do not feel enclosed and self-contained, as said above.
But as a listener, what I'm really looking at is how Swift writes her music without the undertone that the country element has completely vanished from sight. Yes, This Love does sort of resemble a little bit of Red and maybe Speak Now, but there's new material there that is enough for fans to flourish in the idea that Taylor can do well without having to use her track record to back her newer music up. And I'm not generalizing the fact that she is well-sounded lyrically to impose herself on just pop-melodic-accents musically. Because when the words show up, they tend to lean from her perspective so it's really intricate and jarring to hear it first-hand. Blank Space is the perfect example, and the outcome is rather solid. There's the very proud use of synthesizers while not really overshadowing her vocals, and the drums provide the dramatic tension that makes the listener want to get engaged into hearing. Some other tracks that feel similar are Bad Blood and Clean.
The other tracks like Out of the Woods and How You Get the Girl simply follow in the footsteps and have the right amount of the pop genre dressed yet still has a Swift edge to it. The unique thing about it is how she has used the instrumentals to her advantage, especially the drums on the album. They provide the eccentric punch yet doesn't lose it's flair when overplayed.
At this point, it does feel as if the album doesn't have any flaws. There are some very blaring ones for sure.
Some tracks on this album feel too generic and they play out as if you've already heard of them before. Welcome to New York, I Wish You Would and Wildest Dreams feels as if Taylor hasn't fully let go of the country vibe tangled on her sleeves. They just feel like 'another track' and seem to provide focus for the other bigger hits, which also includes her smash hit Shake it Off. Because of this, these tracks are now the more slow-paced, powdered tracks that would otherwise leave off the album as energetic fun and a charismatic take on the pop genre as defined by Swift herself. Of course, the problems stated above could also be individual worries that maybe the average listener would not feel the same with.
Favourite Tracks: Blank Space, Style, How You Get The Girl
Least Favourite Tracks: Welcome to New York, I Wish You Would, Wildest Dreams
Some artists tend to ride out into the sunset with a heartache on their sleeves and a punched ticket to fame. While Swift may over-extend her welcome in the country genre and tackle the same problems all over again albeit in a genre that she feels more comfortable with -- 1989 is a solid album, albeit laced with genre-related issues and at times strict melodies -- that you definitely should check out.
rose ave. is You+Me's, a collaboration between P!nk (Alecia Moore) and Dallas Green who arrives from City and Colour, debut album. To be fair, for me at least, this album came out of nowhere and definitely caught my unawares. It's a folk, country twinge album that really rides high on basically more or less, a stripped down version of tracks that focuses largely on a country acoustic guitar. This plays well into both artists' hands as P!nk is also known for writing her own hits with a guitar and Dallas Green too. Without further ado, let's get straight into the album.
First off, the country and folk vibe of this album is immense in an absolutely beautiful way. One that comes across as humble, sincere and harmonious, that both P!nk and Dallas fits into perfectly. It may not strike off as a great combination, but both artists lead the lines in their own powerful way, especially on the first three tracks: Capsized, From A Closet in Norway and Gently, the notes just seemingly come into their own and it is so soothing at times when every word pieces like a string and you have the chance to take a gander at it first-hand. Of course, P!nk definitely has the powerful vocal range, and therefore does outshine Dallas' voice, but each of them have their own distinct spotlight to shine at different times.
Secondly, there's a presence surrounding this album that feels soft, unique and doesn't take away anything from what we currently have on offer from the music stores. That's not to say that the albums aren't good, but there's the lesser reality of really digging deep into a track and admiring what it served to do, rather than artists who use it truly for being able to sell it. rose ave. puts us through crystal clear lenses and sits us on a chair, showing us that the art from truly has not dilated from it's predecessors, and rather, it's telling of a tale so enriching that puts the artists emotions into a symbolic use that comes off as vibrant and colourful, which this album dishes with high capacity. You really take a step back, and understand the efforts. Genre specific-wise, there's also a lot going on that might not truly sink deep, as country has become more pop-pushing and folk has been on the edge of disappearance.
Thirdly, which is the only thing I couldn't cross my mind seeing, was that the lyrics weren't really clicking for most tracks like their first single You And Me and Capsized. It's not to say that the weight was not there, but more to the point of it being felt as if it was rushed. Some lyrics felt grown out, others cliche, but all in all, enough for the average listener to enjoy, though I would've liked to see more fleshed out, in-depth lyrics that coincide with the current tracks.
Other than that, there are a few tracks I really couldn't get into, but maybe it wasn't more of a scope for the general audience, but more of a personal experience. But otherwise, this album is extremely solid.
Favourite Tracks: From A Closet In Norway, Love Gone Wrong, Break The Cycle
Least Favourite Tracks: Capsized, Second Guess
This album is truly mesmerizing in every possible way. Some tracks you will love, others you will burn through but still remember because there's always a gem for everybody here. Trust me, this album is gold.
It's all about the bass. No, but seriously, this 4-song EP may have just put Meghan Trainor, rising pop star on the map. Incidentally, this EP may just be the breakout album to skyrocket her even further to success. Of course, since there's only four tracks on this EP, I'll just get into the nitty gritty real quick.
There's a lot of talk for Meghan Trainor since All About That Bass, the single which got her to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, became popular on YouTube. I will say that the single was enjoyable at best, but the message should not be overlooked. And that kind of shows that the singer is much more self-aware with her music and in most cases, does not seem to be affected with peers of similar genres. The single was also catchy for the most part, but does show something that isn't that broad of a topic to for the world. Apart from that, the EP is damn near impressive.
A four-track EP may feed off to people as a lesser deal, but the truth is, it sets up for quite an extensive breach leading up to her debut album, which could come in months or years, and the EP could prove to be the tipping point.
There's a sense of resurgence that Meghan Trainor installs into this EP that doesn't come across as too stylish, too poppy, too shallow nor even too ventured into mainstream. It has the thin line of threading all of the categories, but justifies it as an EP of the current scope of music now.
The tracks Title, Dear Future Husband (which sounds just like Olly Murs' Dance With Me Tonight track, which coincidentally or incidentally, sounds similar to Christina Aguilera's Candyman) and Close Your Eyes all provide solid foundation, hooking melodies (for the first two tracks), and vocals that does not seem to cheat. What do I mean by that?
The reason I believe that this EP was good is because of Meghan Trainor's voice alone. There are no mis-timed vocal inflections nor weird falsettos that jeopardize the tracks nor feel annoying, and there is a sense of confidence and potent songwriting that sticks out and does not seem to be let go. This is in part with straight-forward lyrics and very good instrumentation and production that simply lends to her strengths. Apart from some phrases being cringe-worthy, this is an EP you definitely have to check out.
EP Rating: 4/5
Favourite Tracks: Title, Dear Future Husband, Close Your Eyes
Meghan Trainor's Title EP will possibly raise the ceiling for her debut album, and I am keen to listen to it.
There has been quite a few albums whiz me by in the last couple of weeks (even months), and it's actually quite tough for a reviewer to take. So having since finally drowned out what I wanted to review, and what I don't want to review at all, I've chosen to. Considering the next review is more straight-forward, this review is roughly tricky. The Script's new album, No Sound Without Silence has finally drowned on me, but let's talk about this album, and a band that has softly and slowly, gone missing.
There's a large chunk of audience that still remembers some of the hits by The Script, tellingly their major ones which are We Cry, The Man Who Can't Be Moved and Breakeven; all of which are singles from their debut self-titled album, which their new album is a prequel to. Now, the reason that those singles were so well-known and beloved by fans was because they were the band's breakout hits. It was 2008, which incidentally broke them into the mainstream. Of course, this allowed the follow-up to two albums soon after, and neither have been deadly on-par with their first album, nor even come close to being good. And what's really maddening? The band simply took off in a much more simplistic, streamlined mainstream direction that completely fell flat in my eyes. What's so bad about that direction?
There's a lot of bands associated to renaissance by heading into another direction, and Maroon 5 is a latest example. Yes Maps was a commercial success and Superheroes did not even come close (and you could say Maroon 5 was much more appealing than The Script any day of the week), but what really mattered was whether or not the audience loved it. While I liked the first album, the new singles come across as intimidatingly foreign. They did not seem to have passion nor versatility, both which carved The Script out of their comfort zone completely.
Take for example album #3. The single, Hall of Fame barely scraped the surface of The Script; it lent the voice of Will.I.Am, and while he was trash, the band itself lost focus. There was neither powerful undertone messages (other than the straight-forward one) and the band's precision for tenacity such as instrumentation power was weakened by chunks. When you re-listen to their old hits, there was a theme to it, and while Danny O'Donoghue did had a sense of unique tone, the band carried the tracks, not just the lead singer alone. Undoubtedly, No Sound Without Silence was pretty much the album that The Script did not need.
From the get-go, Superheroes was a messy single. It tried to blend mainstream essence along with guitars that seemed out of place, and parts of raw vocals that just did not fit at all. This made me feel wary of the album on a whole. And going into, the reception was not warm.
There's a lot of struggle this album faces. One of which includes lyrical ineptitude and depth, instrumentation problems and lots of improvement to be made.
To be fair, Danny O'Donoghue does have a lot of space to work his vocals around these songs, especially tracks like The Energy Never Dies and It's Not Right For You. Otherwise, tracks like Flares and Army of Angels truly show the opposite. And don't get me wrong, the drums on the album is very good. Paint the Town Green was a great track that infused a lot of rock sounds, pop melodies and jarring lyrical forwardness that seems to not be found anywhere else on the album. I for one, would love to hear more of tracks like these, but I guess not.
The other problems also include the band's direction: the shift from #3 back to their anthemic, heartfelt melodic rock, felt as if the band had lost touch of their old material somewhere along the way. Never Seen Anything "Quite Like You", Man on a Wire and No Good in Goodbye all seem to sound like solid tracks. But there's the problem there: it's not. They each suffer from lyrical implosion, instrumentation failings and are streamlined to the point of mediocrity. There is nothing likable about any of the tracks that had the topic of love in it. As such was it with the more toned down tracks like Flares and Army of Angels, which I had stapled above. In fact, the ones that worked are Without Those Songs and Hail Rain or Sunshine of which had an underlying message that didn't necessarily needed to speak to the audience.
Now, it may seem like I'm trashing on the album, but I'm not really. Disappointment has been spewing all across this review because I still brand The Script as a band that had fallen off after their first album and had never necessarily peaked again, despite the talents seemingly there. Such of which also includes other bands which I guess you already process and know about.
Favourite Tracks: Pain the Town Green, Without Those Songs, Hail Rain or Sunshine
Least Favourite Tracks: Flares, Army of Angels
The Script's No Sound Without Silence is essentially a step back in a forthcoming direction and undoubtedly, with renewed resonance and energy, I'm not sure if the band can actually turn things around in future albums.
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.