It’s been a minute. 2018 started off slow in January with few releases of note. Now that February has rolled around though, the hits have started to roll, and the year is starting to take shape. As I’ve been slacking pretty hard, here’s the introduction of Quick Takes: a single post at the end of the month featuring several short, concise, rated reviews that’ll serve as my catch-up when I fall behind. Here’s several records from the month of February I deemed worthy of mentioning.
MGMT – Little Dark Age
“Kids” be damned. MGMT have moved on and reinvented themselves in a big way here. The sound is darker and synthier, more akin to ’80s post-punk than the indie electronica that has dominated their discography up to this point. Despite some lulls (particularly in the second half), the album is solid, and the shift in sound refreshing. A number of infectiously catchy hooks and melodies will insure this one gets consistent year-round play as well.
Various Artists – Black Panther The Album
Despite the hype around this soundtrack album, it is still simply a soundtrack album. There are a handful of great cuts (“All the Stars” is a nice tune and “Opps” absolutely slaps), and some standout features (Swae Lee, Vince Staples, SZA), but the album feels way too bland. The film it’s written around is a blockbuster that manages to be subversive, new and captivating, and this record never reaches that level.
Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy (Face to Face)
When Will Toledo first wrote and recorded Twin Fantasy in 2011 he was a teenager with mountainous ambition, but no tools to fully realize that ambition. Since Car Seat Headrest blew up a couple years ago, he took his Matador record deal as an opportunity to redo that record to its full potential. This magnificent rerecording captures all the rampant energy, wide-ranging emotion, and the huge scope of the original in a sleeker, cleaner, more accessible package. It’s bulky and flawed, but that doesn’t really matter in this case. Twin Fantasy‘s biggest accomplishment is the full embodiment of the indie spirit.
U.S. Girls – In a Poem Unlimited
The latest from Meghan Remy, under the moniker U.S. Girls, is a superb, concise collection of experimental pop. It simultaneously highlights Remy’s varied and complex song structures, dense songwriting, and wonderful voice. Everybody take notes; this is what a high-end, refreshing pop record sounds like.
Screaming Females – All At Once
This one is a real scorcher. The New Jersey trio yank the best bits out of hard rock, punk, and post punk to create a loud and unbridled joyride. Marissa Paternoster’s mind-blowing vibrato-laden voice, and impeccable guitar work remain some of the absolute best in the genre.