Wiz Khalifa & Curren$y revisit an overlooked era of hip-hop in their collaborative record 2009, not offering too many interesting tracks but putting their own modern touch in late-2000s hip-hop to provide for a refreshing listen.Read More
When Tove Lo came out of nowhere in 2014, she took the pop world by storm. Two years later, her sophomore record Lady Wood is out to do just the same.
Lady Wood shows a maturity of sound in Tove Lo; the poppier sensibility of Queen Of The Clouds is gone and replaced with more personal, evocative music. What remains is the flawless sense of melody that she has; nearly every track has a captivating melody that is often times elevated by atmospheric instrumentals; 'True Disaster' is an early example, the bouncing bass synths pound below Lo's dramatic vocals as the chorus introduces dreamier, smoother melodies, each reiteration adding harmonies that build on top of each other to create one climactic, sensual final chorus.
The radio pop sensibility isn't completely lost, though. The single appeal of 'Influence' is almost palpable, the badass yet subtle vocal line screaming sexual desire: "You know I'm under the influence / So don't trust every word I say / When I'm under the influence / It's a blur, but I want my way," her being under the influence of lust. Wiz Khalifa features for that extra flair, his verse elaborating on the club scene and how easy it is to pick someone up by being natural (for him, sure). 'Cool Girl' has wobbly synths and a brooding synth that bassily supports the track with more badass delivery, the swagger of Tove Lo's vocal being supported by the bouncing, epic synths in the chorus while she warns, "I'm a cool girl / Ice cold, I roll my eyes at you, boy."
You really come to appreciate that this album isn't written to be something for radio success. That's just a convenient by-product of the record. Not pigeonholing herself to one sound that would offer easy success allows for some fantastic songs, like the infectious 'Vibes,' the beautiful acoustic guitar line in the verses serving as support for Tove Lo and Joe Janiak's verses. The choruses are filled with cavernous bass and slightly distorted vocal lines like BANKS's signature. The end of the song comes to a brilliant duet between Lo and Janiak, making you wish that was more prominent in the song without taking away from its quality. Beautiful harmonies are the signature of 'Imaginary Friends' and its slowly expanding choruses. The energetic synths dance innocently above the groovy beat and atmospheric soundscape. The climax of the fantastic instrumental of 'Flashes' results in an epic, confident moment towards the end of the record before 'WTF Love Is' takes the record out on a groovy, albeit a bit underwhelming ending.
Tove Lo really stepped up her game on Lady Wood. She always came off as an artist who really didn't care about the standard as much as she did the message of her art, and that's always worth much respect. She took risks in this record and they definitely paid off for her. Lady Wood is a great record all around with few, if any, dull moments, and that's a big statement to make for a pop artist with such a reputation. It's full of desire and a lack of satisfaction, but in the sense that these are things she searches for rather than things she lets take over her - it's normally the latter for most artists who sing about it. She knows how to sing and what to sing to get her point across, and that's true talent. I already can't wait for the next record.
Favorite Tracks: Vibes, Imaginary Friend, Cool Girl, Flashes
Least Favorite Tracks: WTF Love Is, Lady Wood
Rating: 86 / 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'
Bringing you the soundtrack for stoners everywhere this year is Wiz Khalifa, offering up Khalifa. Wiz brings his signature trap rap game to the table, continuing to appeal to only stoners and those who think doing drugs make them cool. It’s an album that has little to offer to consumers outside of it’s intended audience but does have some small moments.
The greater majority of the album has little to offer instrumental. Most of it is trap beats on top of repetitive synth lines. There are some surprising moments on the album that over some variety, though. ‘Elevated’ - the only standout track on the album - has a great instrumental featuring a piano/synth line on top of an atmospheric bass synth, with a wonderful piano outro to top off the song. ‘Call Waiting’ also has a notable instrumental, featuring use of brass and being particularly jazzy. ‘iSay’, which features Juicy J., ruined by the lyrics, would be another great track with it’s driving piano instrumental. Much of the album just gets repetitive and stays relative to a formula of simple beats and minimalist noises that don’t offer any color to spice up the tracks.
Lyrically, it’s exactly what you’d expect from Wiz Khalifa. Besides exceptions in ‘Elevated’ and ‘Zoney’, while they do share similar themes with the rest of the songs, actually makes good use of the lyrics, the album is almost completely about getting high or being drunk. The lead single, ‘Bake Sale’ with Travis Scott and ‘Lit’ with Ty Dolla $ign are probably the lyrical low points on the record, literally offering nothing of worth besides the sentiment of weed. There really isn’t much to say lyrically about the album... ‘Elevated’ has some substance, but overall the album doesn’t have great lyrics at all. ‘Zoney’ features his son Sebastian on it, making the ending a pretty cute moment, but that doesn’t save the entire tracks from what it is - another average song on the album.
Wiz Khalifa brought little to the table with Khalifa, though if you’re looking for a record to put on whilst getting high, this might be just the album to party to. Other than the pop appeal and angst magnets, Khalifa is a flop. If you don’t fall under its demographic, there’s little chance you’ll enjoy it. There’s nothing worth focusing on - the instrumentals are repetitive and the lyrics sloppy and lack any meaning. Perhaps for his next record, reducing the amount of drugs in the studio may help the quality. Maybe.
Favorite Tracks: Elevated
Least Favorite Tracks: Lit, Make A Play, Most Of Us