J. Cole – KOD
Positive: There are moments of brilliant originality on KOD. The title track is like J. Cole’s “HUMBLE.” with its minimal instrumental and a flow that incorporates current hip-hop trends but sounds uniquely like Cole in all its transitions and signature “I don’t need features” bravado. Songs like “ATM” and “Kevin’s Heart” are modern and flawless.
Negative: There is something wrong with Cole’s attitude on many of KOD’s tracks. He is throwing a lot of shade on trap rappers and the likes of Drake (as usual). How very dare he when he is clearly using trap sounds in the majority of these tracks? And can we talk about the fact that the flow on “1985” is literally stolen from “Started From The Bottom”? Add to that the most basic of “political” stances trying to pass as controversial, as well as the ultimate cringe-ness of the “meditate, don’t medicate” climax on the otherwise phenomenal track “FRIENDS”, and you’ve got an album that is far from perfect.
Why? Because regardless of everything that is wrong with KOD, J. Cole is one of the best rappers in the (mainstream) game today.
How? Completely disconnected from reality.
When? While cruisin’ with the top down.
For fans of: Isaiah Rashad, Joey Bada$$, Kid Cudi
Kali Uchis – Isolation
Positive: You know how the summer heat makes time go slower? That slumbering pace is perfectly captured by Karly-Marina Loaiza on tracks like “Miami”, “Tyrant”, and “Nuestra Planeta”. Then there are sweet bangers like “Your Teeth In My Neck” and “Dead To Me” and even the The Cure infused dream pop tune “In My Dreams” (with a secret Damon Albarn feature). It cannot be denied that Isolation is a strong pop album with something from everyone.
Negative: It’s hard to say what exactly Kali Uchis’ sound is. With amazing features by Steve Lacy, Jorja Smith, and Tyler, the Creator, Loaiza seems to allow for them to take over the track and decide its direction. Although the team that worked on this album is to die for, it is sad that a sense of continuity is lacking because of it.
Why? Because you’re ready for the summer already!!!
How? Turn your heating back on, wear a summer outfit, pretend your ceiling lamp is the sun.
When? There’s no time like the present.
For fans of: Lana Del Rey, Little Dragon, Steve Lacy
Wye Oak – The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs
Positive: How exhilarating tracks like “The Instrument”, “The Louder I Call, the Faster It Runs”, and “It Was Not Natural” are! The rhythms, the transitions, the melodies, all of it. A good portion of this album feels hopeful, ambitious, uplifting. There is a darkness present in these tracks that make you feel like the first time you laugh out loud after a long and painful sadness. A euphoria grounded in genuineness, if you will.
Negative: Are there absolute bangers on this album? Maybe not. Although the general vibe is quite magical, having listened to it numerous times I still have trouble remembering specific songs. I look at the titles and think “This song was great, how did it go again?”. Also this album loses its focus a bit around the halfway point and gets lost in a slightly boring flow that distracts from a strong track like “You of All People”, which would have stood out a lot more if surrounding songs has a different pace.
Why? Because we all deserve to feel that we have an obligation to be happy (paraphrasing Hector and the Search for Happiness here).
How? Privately, or on headphones at least.
When? With a ray of the first sunlight after darkness in your face, moving positively into your future.
For fans of: The Japanese House, Feist, Local Natives
The Last Shadow Puppets – The Age of the Understatement (April 2008)
Positive: We love the bromance, the northern tongues, the Turner-esque poetics, the bad boy antics, the mod feels, the 50s France vibes, I could go on. I have a long relationship with this album that might well have its roots in an intense celebrity crush on Alex Turner and therefore a need to consume everything he was involved in. I remember making my parents listen to The Age of the Understatement in the car and them being quite impressed with my taste. Did I have a clue what the Puppets were on about? I highly doubt it. But I loved them nonetheless.
Negative: Fast forward to Bristol 2016 and there I am reunited with my favourite bad boys, this time accompanied by my real crush. In all those years Kane and Turner had gotten comfortable with their image, had lost the need to impress and thus impressed more. In the light of Everything You’ve Come To Expect, the pair’s debut is a bit of a pretentious effort to be something they were not. The most important aspect of aforementioned bromance was missing: the humour.
Why? Because pretentious as it might be, this album is unique and doesn’t give a shit about trends. Kane and Turner had the balls to realise a vision, although it might not have been what their fans were expecting. And it worked.
How? From personal experience I can say that this is an excellent album to listen to while taking a bath. The echo on a song like “The Time Has Come Again” with make your bathroom feel like a bonafide spa.
When? When you want to feel old.
For fans of: Miles Kane, Alex Turner