The 1975 share their surprisingly eye-opening look at society in their dynamic, sweet new record A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships.Read More
If yesterday's review of Little Mix's new album didn't prove that musical preconceptions can be false, DNCE certainly will. The dance rock group, probably more known as Joe Jonas's new musical project, is here with one of 2016's grooviest records yet with their self-titled DNCE.
DNCE is no Jonas Brothers rip off. It's like the lovechild of The 1975 and Two Door Cinema Club. It's laced with sugary guitar chords and a R&B flair, creating a textbook definition of funk rock. The album kicks off with the eponymous track 'DNCE,' beginning with a sweet harmonies as the group spells out the band's name. It carries through with some bright, punchy synths and optimistic brass above the sweet instrumental. Jonas' vocals are full of groove in a very smooth way. 'Body Moves' follows up with a crunchy bassline and some sweet melodies backing it. The choruses burst with funky flair, the bridge bursting with a crunchy guitar riff that builds up with brass support to lead it into the sparkly break.
A lot of this album feels like a big party. 'Cake By The Ocean' is one song that really finds itself in that setting. The dancey bassline repeating throughout the record, the choruses exploding with sparkling synth chords and great melodies. The guitar work is fantastic, while understated, especially in the second verse. It rings so groovily and sugary, it feels likes its dancing completely separately from the track. 'Doctor You' follows up in much the same way, Jonas' vocals smoothly and sensually resonating above the crunchy riff. The melodies are the ear candy of the song, very bombastic and proud. The song 'Naked' later on in the record also features the bombastic vibe. some falsetto vocals from JinJoo Lee giving the song a fresh palette.
There are a lot of great songs on this record, but several of them are just that - good songs building off the same vibes. No track is a carbon copy of the other, but often times the songs cling to a specific vibe. 'Be Mean' has the same proud and bright vibes of 'Naked,' albeit a bit masochistic, but doesn't try to move on from that. Laidback tracks like 'Almost' ring sweetly in the otherwise upfront tracklist, but 'Truthfully' repeats this formula, with less build to a climax and with more of a pop vibe. The easygoing, lazy 'Good Day' has that laidback structure that really builds the entire album, except that it doesn't use other elements to make it seem otherwise.
DNCE is a surprising threat to pop and funk music. This unexpected group abandons preconceptions and has an infectious sound that ranks amongst the top contenders of the genre. DNCE is a great debut - a great album to jam out to in any scenario. There's promise in this band.
Favorite Tracks: Cake By The Ocean, Doctor You, Almost
Least Favorite Track: Zoom
Rating: 80 / 100
Some bands love to bring the groove forward. One of the most effective bands who strive for that is Two Door Cinema Club, here in 2016 with their followup to 2012's sophomore Beacons, entitled Gameshow.
The band hit it big right from the start, the single 'What You Know' from their debut record Tourist History becoming a pop hit. The Irish trio have since then stripped back some of their energetic drive, ushering them into a more refined, groovy sound that forms the foundations of Gameshow.
The groove kicks off immediately with 'Are We Ready? (Wreck)' with the infectious guitars and bass getting you moving right on the first track. Even the vocals have a certain swagger to them that makes you want to get up and move around. Big drama fills the chorus to give it some tension, too. Similar vibes carry to title track 'Gameshow', its reckless abode pairing with a big, crazy attack gives it a sweet drive. 'Lavender' follows up with a similar thickness. The lovely melodies are paired with a subtle vocoder that whispers behind Alex Trimble's infectious voice. The guitar and synth punches in the chorus really give it an extra sense of optimism and energy.
Electronics play an important role on this record. Synths make their way into nearly every song, whether its background or lead. Often times, they contain some strong nostalgia with them, such as in 'Fever', as the dreamy synths wash over bluesy guitar before taking on an 80s soundscape, complete with strings et al. Closure track 'Je Viens De Là' also has a nostalgic atmosphere, a mix of disco and 80s flair blending to one funky conclusion. The choruses are generally simplistic before elements build into dancey synths and guitar chords. The aesthetic of the album is accurately portrayed through the synths of 'Ordinary', paired with a glitchy aspect that makes it fresh. The fat bass synth punches in 'Bad Decisions' and 'Surgery' also add to that vibe, the drive of 'Good Morning' and its great lyrics doing much the same.
An issue that seems to repeat throughout the record is that the band doesn't really know what to prioritize and what to put in the background. There are tracks like 'Surgery' that blend indie rock and 80s nostalgia seamlessly, complete down to the brim with a chill solo that satisfies both genres. They seem to want to be The 1975 too much on this record, but they haven't gotten that balance of funk and indie appeal. An example is 'Invincible' - the pizzaz is all in the background, leaving the more underwhelming portions starkly in the front of all the action. The guitar is good but it's almost lost amongst the synths.
Two Door Cinema Club are still on the road of solidifying this sound of theirs. It's getting there, but Gameshow is that final crossroad. You can hear the gradual understanding of their own sound and ideas in the record, and it's bound to show off in the next record. Gameshow stands on its own as a good album, nonetheless - it just lacks that cohesion that could've bumped it up one step further. We'll be drowning in funk for days with this one, though, so there's no need to rush.
Favorite Tracks: Lavender, Gameshow, Surgery
Least Favorite Track: Invincible
Rating: 78 / 100
2016 is off to an extremely strong start. Here’s just a list of all of the new albums I’ve listened to from January to March and links to reviews, if applicable.
Doing it a bit different this time, doing it by rating, from greatest to worst. Alphabetical just seemed trivial.
5-Star Albums (8.5 - 10)
- AURORA - All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend: 10
- Panic! At The Disco - Death Of A Bachelor: 9.5
- Deftones - Gore: 9.5
- Dream Theater - The Astonishing: 9
- Foxes - All I Need: 9
- Daughter - Not To Disappear: 9
- Lacey Sturm - Life Screams: 8.5
- HÆLOS - Full Circle: 8.5
- Weezer - Weezer (White Album): 8.5
- LIGHTS - Midnight Machines: 8.5
- The Last Shadow Puppets - Everything You've Come To Expect: 8.5
4-Star Albums (6.5 - 8)
- David Bowie - ★: 8
- BANNERS - BANNERS: 8
- Savages - Adore Life: 8
- Kanye West - The Life Of Pablo: 8
- Jack Garratt - Phase: 8
- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - This Unruly Mess I've Made: 8
- Sia - This Is Acting: 7.5
- Grizfolk - Waking Up The Giants: 7.5
- The Drones - Feelin Kinda Free: 7.5
- Yeasayer - Amen & Goodbye: 7.5
- Kendrick Lamar - untitled unmastered.: 7.5
- Textures - Phenotype: 7.5
- Rihanna - ANTI: 7
- Megadeth - Dystopia: 7
- Hands Like Houses - Dissonants: 7
- Miike Snow - iii: 7
- BABYMETAL - Metal Resistance: 7
- The Jezabels - Synthia: 7
- Amy Lee - Recover, Vol. 1: 7
- Steven Wilson - 4 ½: 6.5
- Chairlift - Moth: 6.5
- Porches - Pool: 6.5
- Polyphia - Renaissance: 6.5
3-Star Albums (4.5 - 6)
- ZAYN - Mind Of Mine: 6
- Mogwai - Atomic: 6
- Låpsley - Long Way Home: 6
- Baauer - Aa: 5.5
- Asking Alexandria - The Black: 5.5
- The 1975 - I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It: 5
- Explosions In The Sky - The Wilderness: 5
- School Of Seven Bells - SVIIB: 5
- Krallice - Hyperion: 4.5
- Future - EVOL: 4.5
- Anderson .Paak - Malibu: 4.5
- Wiz Khalifa - Khalifa: 4.5
2-Star Albums (2.5 - 4)
- Killswitch Engage - Incarnate: 4
- Cozz - Nothin Personal: 3.5
1-Star Albums (0 - 2)
- None! :D
Top Albums Of 2016 (so far)
- AURORA - All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend
- Panic! At The Disco - Death Of A Bachelor
- Deftones - Gore
- Dream Theater - The Astonishing
- Foxes - All I Need
- Daughter - Not To Disappear
- Lacey Sturm - Life Screams
- HÆLOS - Full Circle
- Weezer - Weezer (White Album)
- LIGHTS - Midnight Machines
Top Songs Of 2016 (so far)
- AURORA - 'Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1) (Acoustic)'
- Panic! At The Disco - 'Emperor's New Clothes'
- Deftones - 'Hearts/Wires'
- Foxes - 'Better Love'
- Lacey Sturm - 'Rot'
- AURORA - 'Through The Eyes Of A Child'
- Deftones - 'Phantom Bride'
- Dream Theater - 'Moment Of Betrayal'
- Daughter - 'New Ways'
- Jack Garratt - 'My House Is Your Home'
The infectious grooves of 80′s pop has been making a comeback in modern pop lately, The 1975 jumping directly on the bandwagon and pioneering the rock front of it. With this year’s I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It, the band has added more dimension to their music, but not enough to justify the annoyingly long runtime, much like its album title.
The first quarter of the album is the funkiest rock you’ll hear this year, as if indie met ‘Uptown Funk’. Sadly, the sound gets old fast. Right after the symphonic and disjointed intro named after the band, ‘The 1975′, that is just off-putting enough that it actually works comes the funk-filled single ‘Love Me’ that immediately gets the album to its foundations. The song is endearing in a feel-good kind of way, but after a listen or two it just gets annoying. The next song, ‘UGH!’, is just my reaction when the next four songs all sound the same. Things start to change after the Hiatus Kaiyote sounding track, ‘If I Believe You’, when sweet ambience topped with piano is brought to the field with ‘Please Be Naked’. The song introduces what the good moments on the album are: sweet, soft, and warm. After the following song ‘Lostinmyhead’, things start reverting back to the funk. Starting with the single ‘The Sound’, the funk gets good in ways (it has a great solo), but it’s far too along in the album for anything to be amazing. The closure track is the best song on the album - ‘She Lays Down’ is a barebones acoustic track featuring nothing but an acoustic guitar and vocalist Matthew Healy’s warm vocals over it, singing with a fond recollection in his disposition. The song just has an emotion to it that feels like a good, nostalgic memory, something that if was captured in the rest of the album instead of placing focus on the 80′s revivalism, would have made it a much more enjoyable listen. There were touches of this in the middle of the album with the brief symphonic and sweet tastes, but it never quite reached it.
The 1975 are funky, and if you grew up in the 80′s listening to pop or you’re just a sucker for the genre, this album is for you. If you’re looking for something that is consistently feel good in more ways than funk flair, this isn’t for you. I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It is just as it’s title says: so long, you stop caring before the end. Sadly, the most powerful moments come at the end when it’s far too late. Their next effort should look to capture the feeling better, combining it with their signature 80′s sound. That’ll be an experience.
Favorite Track: She Lays Down
Least Favorite Tracks: She’s American, UGH!, Change Of Heart