Poppy Ajudha – Femme (EP)
Positive: Serving as a strong intro into UK contemporary R&B, Ajudha has been listening closely to the likes of Jamila Woods and Solange and translated this influence into a lingering, dreamy EP. “Spilling into You” is by far the most intriguing of the five tracks, with an impressive feature by Kojey Radical emanating J. Cole and Isaiah Rashad. Like Jorja Smith before her, Poppy Ajudha knows how to integrate American trends with her English roots.
Negative: As a first EP, Femme is by no means perfect. Ajudha’s sound does not push the envelope as much as some of her peers in the contemporary/alternative R&B genre. However, there is a potential here for commercial success which makes me excited for Poppy Ajudha’s first full length album.
Why? I remember listening to Jorja Smith’s EP Project 11 back in 2016 and thinking “she might really be someone some day”, and here we are in 2018. I don’t want to compare the two artists for their sound as it is radically different, but I have a similar inkling listening to Femme, and cannot ignore the feeling that this might be the start of something big.
How? Indoors. With the sun shining into your window it’s almost like it’s actually spring!
When? While the Beast from the East rages.
For fans of: Jamila Woods, Nai Palm/Hiatus Kaiyote, Laura Mvula
U.S. Girls – (In) A Poem Unlimited
Positive: Art pop is often more art than pop. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that technically, it’s not ever really pop. It sounds like U.S. Girls have found a middle ground by adding 70s ABBA glam and exciting rhythms to punchy political lyrics, and I am here for it. This album is everything I expected and hoped for.
Negative: I don’t see much wrong with this album, yet I fear it will be largely overlooked. I don’t want to say “if this were a dude he would be lauded by all” yet I believe this might be a factor. Alas, the X factor for women still often includes skimpy outfits and Instagram-able moments of wokeness. I much prefer the sincerity of Meghan Remy, but I am but one.
Why? Because you can be more than a YAS KWEEN with a knack for finding the perfect GIF to represent your inner struggles.
How? Silent disco style.
When? When divisions within the feminist movement are bringing you down.
For fans of: Cate le Bon, Julia Holter, Jenny Hval
Kendrick Lamar – Black Panther: The Album
Positive: This record feels like a musical lecture on contemporary hip-hop (with a few digressions into R&B). It masterfully moves between Ab-Soul’s lyricism, Travis Scott’s trap, Vince Staple’s electro rap… I could go on. All of this greatness is tied together by the alleged G.O.A.T. Kendrick Lamar. He surely feels like a puppet master / “godlike genius” (which is a term now) on Black Panther: The Album, which is by no means an official soundtrack, yet perfectly represents what the film is all about: unapologetic black excellence.
Negative: Little of this album is actually featured in Black Panther. On top of that, Kendrick has not performed any of these songs during his current European leg of the DAMN. tour (yet). It makes this record feel like a bit of an enigma. Was it just made for the hype? Is our inability to question its near-genius and societal relevance being abused?
Why? I’m sorry to say that you can’t spend every waking hour engulfed in the wondrous world of Wakanda. This album allows you to take that feeling you had in the cinema home.
How? Every which way.
When? Your heart does that thing when you realise Donald Trump is still POTUS and you need to calm the fork down.
For fans of: Any of the featured artists including SZA, Ab-Soul, Khalid, Schoolboy Q, etc., etc., etc.
Metronomy – The English Riviera (2011)
Positive: Metronomy at its best, this album gives you that same feeling as if you’ve been lying in the sun for too long and find it hard to move. The air is so hot it’s visible. You forget about responsibilities. Seasonal depression becomes a distant memory. A breeze comes along in the form of “The Bay,” “Corinne,” and “Love Underlined”. You are lifted up from your sun-induced slumber and are left to wonder what the hell just happened.
Negative: We now know that Metronomy is basically just Joseph Mount’s concoctions and that a band is really only involved once an album is toured. This is admirable in many ways, but also makes The English Riviera feel like an exploration of lonesome nostalgia, whereas before the sentimentality of this album felt more like a yearning for summer heat. Are you OK, Joe?
Why? In case you hadn’t noticed: it’s freezing and we’re all over it.
How? In surround sound.
When? A ray of sunlight appears and your soul is ready to get lifted.
For fans of: The Whitest Boy Alive, The Maccabees, MGMT