Album of the Week
Sampa The Great
September 13, 2019
Sampa The Great has finally unveiled her mammoth, long-awaited debut studio album The Return. At a towering 19 tracks The Return stands as one of the years most arresting statements of artistic intent, with Sampa using each second of her personal odyssey to showcase the full palette of her unparalleled vision. Armed with her poetic lyricism, rapid-fire flow and economic storytelling, she delves into themes of home, heritage, displacement, the weight of fame, cultural politics and freedom. The dense, genre-splicing arrangements that populate The Return are impossible to pin down, incorporating an extraordinary range of different styles and reference points amid moments of breathtaking inspiration, moving between Afrobeat, experimental R&B, neo-soul, golden-age hip hop and influences from her native Zambia. Simply put: Sampa raps out of her skin on The Return and as she does so she sounds fearless, exuberant, indestructible, inexhaustible – free. FIlled with lush, polyrhythmic instrumentals and carried by its communal spirit, The Return is Sampa’s giddy, triumphant celebration of her musical and cultural heritage. It’s a joy to behold.
September 6, 2019
Collarbones complete a stunning comeback with the release of their first record in five years, Futurity. Touching on themes of devotion, romantic hope and queer futures, Collarbones’ fourth LP is an album about crushing that remains deeply skeptical about its own fixation on crushing, carving out a space to unpack its own romantic tendencies. Futurity matches this emotional instability with a constantly shifting sonic palette that morphs between the warped bass of deep desire and hazy, sensual Frank Ocean-style ballads. 12 years into the Collarbones project, Marcus Whale and Travis Cook manage to uncover new boundaries to their musical partnership, throwing themselves into the indulgent, sincere fantasies of pop music with their most ambitious, accessible and genre-pushing release to date. Full of euphoric highs and fragile lows, Futurity is an album that feels everything. It’s the sound of throwing your all in, even if you’re terrified of the outcome. Futurity is all-consuming, an overwhelming wall of emotion that simultaneously crushes you beneath it while allowing the eternal promise of a perpetually slightly-out-of-reach future.
Forever Turned Around
August 30, 2019
Forever Turned Around is the achingly beautiful second record from Chicago two-piece Whitney. Where their debut was marked by breezy nostalgia and resplendent horn sections, its follow-up is a more pastoral offering, the duo tinging their playful melodies and moments of anthemic release with a pervasive anxiety and lyrical allusions to social, political and environmental disaster. Musing on themes of confusion, fear, loneliness as a natural fact of life and relationships between both lovers and friends, Whitney produce a record which is less immediate than its predecessor, but feels more lived-in and enduring. Still, the relationship that defines the album is the musical friendship at the heart of the Whitney duo, who take their songwriting to new, refined heights on Forever Turned Around, weaving horns and bittersweet guitars into their always meticulous arrangements with a more invisible, organic touch. By getting more in touch with the world on Forever Turned Around, Whitney offer a warm, welcoming hug to anyone barely keeping it together while a world crumbles around them.
Tropical Fuck Storm
August 23, 2019
Braindrops is the stormy, chaotic second full-length from Melbourne outfit Tropical Fuck Storm. Knotty, compelling and thoroughly weird, Braindrops bends and warps the eccentricities of the group’s 2018 debut to even more harrowing and electrifying extents this time around. With their second record, Tropical Fuck Storm continue to hone their brand of surreal and apocalyptic psych-rock, while bringing sharp electronic influences into the fold. Suffused with a dystopian atmosphere and a sense of breathtaking spectacle, Braindrops inspires feelings of awe and anxiety in equal measures. The quartet’s murky polyrhythms, interlocking guitar riffs and semi-dissonant harmonies oscillate between moments of turbulent cacophony and precarious quiet. A tumultuous listen that never fails to surprise at every turn along its spiralling descent to madness, Tropical Fuck Storm’s second LP is their soundtrack to the end.
August 16, 2019
Emily Alone is the hauntingly beautiful third record from Florist. Stepping away from her bandmates, frontwoman Emily Sprague excavates a painful period in her life that covers the unexpected death of her mother, the breakdown of a long-term relationship and a cross-country move from New York to LA. Writing, performing and producing the album entirely by herself, Sprague fills Emily Alone with a ghostly presence, coloured by hushed, enveloping acoustic guitars and double-tracked harmonies. In its lightness, you feel the imprint of everything she’s lost. Despite its title and spectral sound, Emily Alone is not a self-absorbed record. Sprague’s simple and plainspoken lyrics are full of the kind of mundane, everyday moments that healing happens in. Her songwriting emerges from underneath the weight of her losses with a strangely uplifting comfort, turning solitude into a blanket of quiet strength. Emily Alone is a curiously beguiling and beautiful record, the kind that’s best saved for those moments when you want to detach from the world and feel something bigger than yourself.
August 9, 2019
A seasonal cycle that begun with the solitary winter of For Emma, Forever Ago finally reaches its natural conclusion with the autumnal thaw of Bon Iver’s stunning fourth record, i,i. For an artist whose career has so far been defined by constant reinvention, Justin Vernon’s latest release is a chance to step back and pause, a rare moment to breath and survey the landscape, tying everything together with a subtle delicacy. The intimacy and humanity of his earlier work remains in tact, but it’s now buoyed by years of experimental tinkering and infused with a warm, generous beauty. Fragmented and impressionistic, i,i is a record governed by feeling rather than theme, its layered textures and cryptic lyrics housing seemingly infinite moments of harmonic, atmospheric and melodic brilliance.
Made with a revolving cast of collaborators that counts James Blake, Moses Sumney and Francis Starlite among them, Justin Vernon ends i,i worlds away from the isolated origin story of his Bon Iver project. i,i is something to behold; not only is it the most complete Bon Iver record, it represents the closing of a chapter, the culmination of an entire career. Rarely does an artist achieve such a finished and wholly rewarding discography.
August 2, 2019
IMMUNITY is the remarkably assured debut from the endlessly captivating Clairo. Co-produced by Rostam of Vampire Weekend, IMMUNITY trades the unvarnished, lo-fi authenticity of her earlier singles for a cleaner, more polished palette of plaintive pianos and quietly booming drums that blurs the lines between bedroom pop and indie rock. Infusing her debut record with the sort of confessional introspection that sounds like a whispered late-night secret, Clairo achieves all of this without sacrificing any of her natural charm. Armed with an irresistible sense of melody and her subtly devastating voice, Clairo weaves together a collection of homespun tracks about friendship, romance and the nervous energy of self-discovery during your adolescence. On IMMUNITY, Clairo completes her transformation from viral Youtube sensation to a new kind of pop star all together, staking her claim as a voice of the new generation.
July 30, 2019
Following on from their 2017 self-titled debut, GODTET release their second album II. A tightly woven musical tapestry, sewn with threads of spiritual jazz, hip-hop, broken beat and dub. Multi-instrumentalist and producer Godriguez sits at the helm of an impressive 5-piece ensemble. II was recorded largely in a single session in Melbourne, while GODTET were visiting for a string of shows in 2017. This spontaneous conception is not lost on the final product, with the album channeling an exciting, raw creative energy, while still maintaining a sense of cohesion and maturity. The second coming of GODTET is a miraculous union of sonic textures. A genuinely moving expression of instrumental music from one of Sydney’s most unique musical collectives.
July 23, 2019
Narratives of a near-future technological dystopia have been a dominant theme in recent electronic music. On her debut album MANIFEST, Melbourne producer Corin contravenes the bleak and Earthbound tropes of this conceptual underpinning and develops her own unique mythology. Each track on MANIFEST embodies a different aspect of the Mother Of Technology, a kind of science-fiction Mother Nature whose fragmented soul is scattered throughout cyberspace. Constructed with a vivid and warm sonic palette, Corin is able to situate her music in a cavernous, cosmic space without losing its sense of intimacy. Decorated with crystalline sequences and imposing percussion, the album gives nods to experimental electronica, grime and hard trance whilst maintaining it’s own unique sound. MANIFEST is an intricate and compelling release from Corin.
Warpath Never Ended
July 15, 2019
Warpath Never Ended is the vital new album from DISPOSSESSED. A 9 track exhibition of blackened death metal. DISPOSSESSED utilise melodic dissonance, razor sharp guitar-work and crushing rhythmic intensity as a vehicle to doze over the empty rhetoric of a self-proclaimed nation state built on lies, murder and exploitation. With an unapologetic disregard for lip service and symbolism, Warpath Never Ended makes listeners acutely aware of the complicity and entitlement that all settlers have benefitted from since colonisation. Tackling the police violence, systemic inequality, historical and current-day injustices that face First Nations people, DISPOSSESSED amplify the voice of resistance that won’t rest until the oppressive structures of colonialism are dismantled and Indigenous Sovereignty is restored.