What's new? What's worth a listen? Every week, a Daily Beacon writer reviews some of the world's newest albums, keeping you posted on brand-new hits and flops. This week: hypnotic sounds that cross genre boundaries.
Outer Peace—Toro Y Moi
Since 2011, Toro Y Moi, otherwise known as Chazwick Bradley Bundick, has been a powerhouse creator, consistently releasing albums on biannual schedule. His psychedelic mixture of punk and alt motifs, overlaid with ruminative, wavering vocals, has generally been well received; although, it has been noted by certain critics that his music falls into a somewhat predictable niche.
“Outer Peace” offers a hypnotic, colorful array of sounds that interact beautifully throughout the course of each track. The palette is complemented by percussion that is driving, though in comparison to melodies and harmonies, a bit perfunctory. There are some memorable lyrical moments, and Toro Y Moi’s voice processing fits the kaleidoscopic mood that his instrumentation evokes.
In this album, Toro Y Moi is more indebted to the hip-hop/R&B scene than ever; however, he has his own interpretation. His ability to take common tropes of the genre and apply a dream-like, serene filter over them is certainly commendable, though this reviewer could’ve used more experimentation, especially considering his past work.
Act One - Music for Inanimate Objects—Subjective
Subjective is a newly minted electronic and dance duo consisting of producer Goldie BME and sound engineer James Davidson. As this is their debut full-length album, the critical and popular reception of the group remains to be seen. Goldie has been a successful artist in his own right; his 1995 album “Timeless” topped UK charts at number 7. Davidson is not as well known but has been described by Goldie as an “exceptional engineer and unsung producer in his own right.”
Goldie and Davidson create unique, textured soundscapes that don’t adhere to the frenetic clichés of the electronic genre — the careful combination of piano, strings, drum, bass and synth is, on a first listen, mesmerizing.
“Act One” is evocative of a movie soundtrack. Many of the songs are more of a slow burn than invigorating dance bops. It’s the sort of music one could easily stare out of a car window to. This can be frustrating, as the producers readily demonstrate their ability to produce a gripping tableaus of sound, but the music has its way of convincing you to stick around, to take pause, to sit down and truly listen. That’s a rare feat.
Phoenix—Pedro the Lion
As a group, Pedro the Lion has had a somewhat rocky history. David Bazan, the primary songwriter and vocalist, has been the only constant amidst a swirling, rotating cast of supporting musicians. This hasn’t stopped Bazan and co. from releasing several full-length albums, EPs and singles, one of which coming in at number 24 on Billboard’s“Top Independent Album” list.
The classic rock instrumentation of the album combined with the full, low-register vocals of front man David Bazan are a bracing tonic in an indie scene populated by groups with over-refined voices. The record avoids a stale, overplayed sound with inventive rhythmic and tonal decisions; although, sometimes these aren’t coherent with the overall sound of the album.
While Pedro the Lion considers some interesting sonic ideas in their newest release, their sound ultimately falls into a predictable but pleasurable niche. David Bazan’s verse, however, is the aspect of the album that leaps out at a listener — his lyrics have a religious bent to them, conjuring images such as sitting on a piano bench at church, swaying along to hymns with one’s family. Bazan also contemplates the relationship between guilt and pleasure in life — including the pleasures of music itself. The verse is thoughtful and poetic.