By Kwame Anderson
Frank Ocean- Channel Orange (Def Jam) – Frank Ocean has made an amazing album. The best albums are just that because they encompass all that is the human experience. We love, we laugh, we cry, we are our sins and sanctities. Channel Orange succeeds at being a well-decorated portrait. “Thinking Bout You” is honest (I don’t like you, I just thought you were cool of enough to kick it), maybe its game, the enduring quality, is the doubt. “Sweet Life” is the excess and the logic– why see the world when you got the beach– the characters are deified by their flaws. “Pyramids” is every angle: the exultation of the woman, the exploitation of the woman, the man who endures the path his woman has chosen but cannot offer her better. “Forrest Gump” is the celebration of the love in reflection, though you hurt me, I am your biggest advocate. Musically, conceptually, lyrically this is the album that disproves the cynical critic.
Purity Ring-Shrines (4AD) – A conversation had recently revolved around the idea that music as is understood now is comprised of completely different stuff than genre-mixing. It is not unlikely for a person to naturally be as up on Schoolboy Q as St. Vincent; the spectrum is wide and multihued. Take Purity Ring, whose music owes as much to the future pop of Braids and Bell as it does Clams Casino and DJ Screw. The beats would not be out of place on a Z-Ro album, the lyrics are the mysticism of Bjork. “Grandloves” works for the same reason Usher’s “Climax” works. “Lofticries” is basically a weirder Aaliyah song. This album could be screwed and chopped easily. Shrines is like thowed fairy music.
Twin Shadow-Confess (4AD) – Twin Shadow‘s Confess is genius in that it took every sound, melody, and arrangement from every song you loved in the ‘80s and matched it with a dude who is sort of an asshole. Confess is filled with songs you’ve probably slow danced or won a karate or breakdance championship to, but in a good way. “You Called Me” is a song where the character admits that he doesn’t give a damn about your dreams and beckons that she “give it up”, but I feel like she would if she heard the song. You might hear “The One” and think The Cure made a new song. “I Don’t Care” is majestic and grand, and yet when he exclaims how he doesn’t care as long as you dance around the room while he lies, you feel a bit of the romance. Twin Shadow is not about love or commitment, but he is about the moment, and this album is full of songs that are great for the moment when one might say, “Don’t say anything else girl, what time is your roommate coming home?”