I've found myself without much time since moving back to University. I've not been able to find the time to sit down and actually properly listen to many albums at all, thus explaining the recent lack of posts. Here is a short bumper edition of reviews of 4 new albums that I have been able to listen to extensively and thus (again due to time constraints) briefly analyse. I hope to return to writing full- length reviews soon.
"They hammer nails to the cross, and the blood on the floor is yours...". So intones Kjetil Nernes sardonically in a hoarse half- whisper on the opener to Arabrot's self- titled 6th full- length, "Ha Satan Deofol." The Norwegian mud- slingers' new record is an absolutely ravaging contest between titans, or more thematically God and the Devil, all stabilized by a backbone of skull- crushing filth. There are moments of everso- slight anthemic clarity, like the twangy swagger of "Throwing Rocks at the Devil" and the cascading, shimmering brutality of "The Horns of the Devil Grow." It's a record of destructive, viciously sarcastic righteousness, and proves the duo are as apt at thrilling nastiness as always.
Bill Callahan- Dream River
Former Smog mastermind Bill Callahan's trajectory further and further into wilting, breezy prose and arid backdrops comes to a head that could be best summarized as just that on "Dream River." Stripped back even further into the climbs of woozy, inoffensive Country lullabies, there's not much in the way of engulfing substance here. The gentle acoustic roll of "Ride My Arrow" contrasts the sinister lyricism Callahan has made his A- game (sample lyric: "Some people find the taste of pilgrim guts far too strong, but me, I can't get by without them for too long"). "Spring", with its spectral, cascading tremolo immersions will have Callahan's sultry assertion "I just wanna make love to you, with a careless mind..." circulating your skull. Other than those notable highlights however, "Dream River" is dozily forgettable.
In a way, the artwork for MGMT's self- titled third album album is a perfect showcase of what this album represents. It depicts Andrew Vanwyngarden and Ben Goldwasser, both equipped with unkempt haircuts and '60s floral shirts outside a hair- stylist in what seems to be a dead- end American town on a lazy, sunny Sunday afternoon. If "MGMT" is anything it's a continuation of the "fuck you, we'll do what we want" attitude the group threw at their label and fans with 2010's "Congratulations." "Alien Days", the incessantly catchy '60s psych of "Introspection" and the punchy "Your Life is a Lie" offer the casual listener something in the way of easy listening. But the record is more oddball than comforting, something which the unnerving haze of album highlight "Mystery Disease" and the glistening dream- scape of "I love you too, Death" prove in abundance. "MGMT" sees the band finally seem comfortable doing what they want on their own terms.
Summer Camp- Summer Camp
Up until now the output of singer Elizabeth Sankey and multi- instrumentalist boyfriend Jeremy Warmsley has always felt like a cutesy, whimsical love- in of almost overbearing proportions. Not only is their second full- length the most illustrious they've done to date musically, but lyrically it sees them at their most prolific and mature. There's a new- found air of melancholy hanging over much of the record right from the off via the gradually epic (and ironically titled) "The End." Things get both bleak and violent on the White Stripes- esque piano balladry of "The Fighters," whilst "Two Chords" revels in its own extravagance. There's a healthy dose of warmth too though, as provided for in the gorgeous "I Got You" and the rabble- rousing closer "Pink Summer." "Summer Camp" is a pop record that may resonate on a surprising level with many listeners.