My Dear Melancholy, (2018)
An EP by The Weeknd
I, for one, am quite pleased that Abel Tesfaye seems to have turned away from the commercial pop and frantic self-reference of his Starboy album (2016). Gone is the orange and electric blue album art and the huge cross that dangled from his neck. His moody, unsmiling, face is back. (On “Beauty Behind the Madness,” it was fragmented. Here, it’s half in shadow.) He has returned to his carefully constructed air of mystery and to his habit of starting his songs very slowly, waiting for a languorous yet epic buildup, and, after approximately 40 seconds, actually starting the song. “Call Out My Name” is a special favorite from this collection. As with past successes-“The Hills,” “Often”-we’re not quite sure what it means, but we’re sure it’s sensual. There’s no groundbreaking personal development of artistry, but The Weeknd has returned to doing what he does best.
Joshua Judd Porter:
An Album by Frankie Cosmos
Longtime darling of the indie and DIY scenes, Frankie Cosmos, real name Greta Kline, is back with her 3rd album Vessels. Though Kline has not undergone a real sonic shift since her first project released on Spotify Zentropy, Vessels still feels fresh in a way that other artists could only dream of sounding. Clocking in at 18 tracks in 33 minutes, this is Kline’s longest album to date and may also be her most introspective: her focus has seemed to have shifted from the city she lives into the body she inhabits. The songs have the ability to walk the thin line between delicate and dainty and Kline provides the listener a range of moods from melancholically sweet tales of love lost (the end) to moments of more millennial apathy (the appropriately titled track Apathy). Kline seems to be one of the few artists in the indie scene who can be open and vulnerable without coming across as melodramatic or whiney and this album is no exception.
Best tracks: Apathy, Jesse, I’m Fried, My Phone, The end, Same Thing
CARE FOR ME (2018)
An Album by Saba
Saba has recently made himself visible after a long period of silence on social media. CARE FOR ME contrasts with the optimistic verses in his 2016 album, Bucket List Project, in which he shares his hopes and aspirations for his career while enlisting the contributions of fellow Chicagoan rappers. In his new album, however, Saba discusses his deeply personal reflections on tragedy in his unique, mellow-rap fashion with a more serious, contemplative undertone. His emotionally charged verses are refreshingly powerful compared to the monotony of empty themes in the top charts. Each song seems to represent a different phase in the musician’s life, transitioning from more melancholy, distorted sounds to hopeful themes of recovery from life’s hardship.
Favorites: BUSY / SIRENS, LIFE, CALLIGRAPHY, LOGOUT, SMILE, HEAVEN ALL AROUND ME