Pusha T, Miley Cyrus, Sleigh Bells Lead This Week's New Releases
Album Of The Week: Pusha T – My Name Is My Name (GOOD Music) - Despite Pusha's slightly smaller zest for language (and let's face it, his brother was slightly wickeder), this is virtually a Powerpoint presentation on why the rap sounds of 2013 are unattractive—just compare the Auto-Tuned buffoonery and die-already 808s of the Rick Ross and Chris Brown tracks to Kanye's minimalist clanging and delightfully out-of-nowhere samples on "Numbers on the Boards." Pusha's austere beat choices were always the one of the best things about him and this schizophrenic album is designed to half-oblige us: "Let Me Love You," "Suicide," "S.N.I.T.C.H.," "Nosetalgia." Miley Cyrus might as well have designed the rest to cater to fans he doesn't have.
Miley Cyrus – Bangerz (RCA): In 16 tracks that run the gamut from the safely palatable ("We Can't Stop"'s manipulative four chords, as well as "Wrecking Ball"'s better but equally blocky ones) to the shockingly godawful (her rapping on "SMS [Bangerz]" and the "Cotton Eye Joe" riddim of "4X4" didn't have to be charmless), the most famous person in America's poor taste and judgment manages to make pop look stupider and crasser than it actually is. Good points: the desperation of throwing everything at the wall always results in a left-field gem, in this case a Future duet called "My Darlin'" based on "Stand By Me." Her showbiz-trained singing is fantastic—she can put Katy Perry and Drake through a wall on the gospel tones of "Maybe You're Right." And her penchant for cracked-twang country frills is actually looser here than on anything on the great Breakout – those vocal curlicues make the Madonna-esque "Do My Thang" and the theatrical "Fu" the best and only truly autonomous thing here. Sure, "I'm not as stupid as you sound." But old Levis were one of the "7 Things" she appreciated about her lover a mere five years ago, when her brains could draw tears.
Sleigh Bells – Bitter Rivals (Mom + Pop): Alexis Krauss is too sweet to her musical life partner Derek Miller to properly sell the lines "You are my bitter rival/ But I need you for survival," and her music's too thin to properly counterbalance her tweeting voice. But if you overrated Reign of Terror for sticking to the crunch even with the illusion of arena surroundings, don't underrate this one upon realizing they're never going back to speaker abuse. Sleigh Bells, the inventors of candy-metal, deserve their shot at trading blunt hooks for songwriting strokes like the "Bad" horn stabs that keynote terrifying highlight "Sing Like a Wire" or the acoustic intro that helps make "Bitter Rivals" dynamically surprising on their flattest production to date. Not easy listening. But when did they ever promise that? See what other new releases made the list.
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