Neneh Cherry, Beck, St. Vincent Lead This Week's New Releases
Album Of The Week- Neneh Cherry - Blank Project (Smalltown Supersound): Can we bestow upon Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet) some kind of fellowship or genius grant yet? From his own career peaks Beautiful Rewind and greatest-electronic-album-of-all-time candidate Pink to his sublime hands-off production on dabke king Omar Souleyman's perfect bar mitzvah rave soundtrack Wenu Wenu last year, his gloriously spacious, yet dry and upfront production on the "Buffalo Stance" maven's true indie comeback album the first great release of 2014. Neneh Cherry sings, scats, jazzes, raps and totally Yoko Onos out over Hebden's rattling blend of mic-on-the-rimshot snares and drum 'n bass and a little bit of collapsing jazz. And when there's a grand exception to both the no wave style and the sometimes illegible melodies, it's Robyn with both on "Out of the Black." I'd lying if I said the barrel-rolling percussion of "Cynical" two tracks earlier wasn't just as hooky, with only drums tying her to the terrestrial earth. Your move, St. Vincent.
Beck - Morning Phase (Capitol): Is this lower-stakes orchestral better than Sea Change, or is it just impossible for Beck to disappoint us now? If it's the latter, it's because the wayward-Scientologist-hipster-folkie has spent more than a decade dulling our senses, veering dangerously close to picking up the mantle for Most Boring Artist in the World. Since boring can so easily shift into pretty though, this transformation-and from what, anyway, Modern Guilt?-is his most listenable record in some time, sweetening the textures of Sea Change into more legible, edible nuggets with lifesaving harmonies and a worthy classic-rock closer with the unmemorable title "Waking Light." Cheer up, you don't even remember what the closer of Sea Change sounds like.
St. Vincent - St. Vincent (4AD): The weirder she gets, the weirder we wish she'd get. The more she shreds, the more we want her to shred. The closer she gets to writing direct, the closer we wish etc, etc, etc. St. Vincent is more there-there from a one-of-a-kind talent, who sounds like she builds her synths out of Legos and her lyrics out of McSweeney's, with the snappy "Birth in Reverse" the best thing she's ever done, and a few worthy, even funky(!) follow-ups: "Bring Me Your Loves," "Digital Witness," "Regret," "Rattlesnake." Meeting us halfway is more than we can say for Beck these days. But after four albums and one David Byrne horn jam of too-little consequence, she's exhausted from trying to distract us from the half-great album she should be making. St. Vincent could at least outsource it to Neneh Cherry. See who else made the list here.
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