The Decemberists – I’ll Be Your Girl
Positive: I mean, good for them that they’re trying something new. Single “Severed” is a valiant attempt to incorporate synths in the folk pop sound that The Decemberists have so comfortably made their own.
Negative: Rather than doing what they are good at, The Decemberists have decided to try and become cool and relevant. The attempt blew up in their faces and the result is the least cool thing they have ever produced. I’m sure there is a niche for this music, but it’s somewhere in the 50+ market and even there it will probably be met with indifference.
How? With little to no witnesses.
When? During a Sunday afternoon when the in-laws are visiting and you don’t want to make too much of a statement with your music choice.
For fans of: Eels, The Shins, Bright Eyes
Moss Kena – Found You In 06 (EP)
Positive: Refreshingly anonymous, there is not much we know about Moss Kena apart from his music. The 20-year-old Londoner has been keeping to himself working hard and is now finally starting to share his work with the world. His tunes show that modern pop does not need to sound formulaic to work.
Negative: Unquestionably poppy, Found You In 06 is not the epitome of originality. It draws on trends from dance pop, R&B, and rap, and blends them all into a very agreeable and radio-friendly mash.
Why? Listen to this EP before it blows up and it’s ruined by being overplayed!
How? Subtly showing off how ahead of the crowd you are.
When? When you want to feel like a hip youth.
For fans of: The Weeknd, Jorja Smith, Justin Timberlake
Cleo Sol – Winter Songs (EP)
Positive: You know when someone is such a good singer that they make complex melodies sound effortless? Think Lauryn Hill, Amy Winehouse, Erykah Badu, and now also Cleo Sol.
Negative: Although the tracks on Winter Songs are beautifully soulful and have moments of brilliance, they are not the most solid tracks, and can be slightly forgettable. However, this EP is an indication that Cleo Sol is on the right track. Someone just needs to write her some good songs.
Why? Because a diamond in the rough is still a diamond.
How? Eyes closed, phone on airplane mode.
When? When you want to ease into a new day.
For fans of: Elli Ingram, Lianne La Havas, Denai Moore
Panic At The Disco – Pretty. Odd. (2008)
Positive: Though largely ignored upon its release, Pretty. Odd. marked an important move away from the emo pop that made Panic(!) At The Disco famous. It sparked arguments between guitarist and songwriter Ryan Ross–who wanted to use this album to pay homage to Beatles-esque baroque pop–and frontman Brendon Urie, who was much less interested in this new sound. The album is a strange little exploration into new territory, and it is amazing that the band was given this freedom when they had had such success with A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out (2005). It ultimately led to Ross and Jon Walker (bass) to leave the band to form a new group. Panic then put the exclamation mark back in their name to mark a return to their emo origins with Vices & Virtues (2011). Pretty. Odd. is full of ambition and catchy pop tunes with Panic’s signature elegant poeticism that Ryan Ross took with him when he left the band.
Negative: The immense talent that brought Panic(!) At The Disco into the forefront of the mainstream emo movement fell apart with Pretty. Odd. Creative differences became impossible to ignore and the members never equalled the success of their debut record. Although the album has euphoric highs on songs like “When The Day Met The Night”, the group’s dissonance is clearly present throughout. How else could they have made such a drastic style change? It had to be a fluke.
Why? You might be surprised by how decent this record is as long as you see it as a standalone project.
How? With no shame.
When? A sunny spring morning when your mood is bright and your mind is open.
For fans of: The Hush Sound, The Young Veins, 60s pop.