Listens for the Week #11
Every week, I offer three recommendations: something new, something classic, and something I love. This week, I've taken a break from my Miles Davis discography dive to focus more on pop and soul, visiting some classics and modern essentials. On top of that, after seeing the rock band black midi live, I've been hooked on their abrasive and messy sound.
Weyes Blood - And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow (2022)
This is the highly anticipated new album from Weyes Blood, a beloved pop singer embodying the strange yet elegant sound of baroque pop. Her last album, Titanic Rising, has been celebrated as one of the best pop albums in recent years, with gorgeous production and outstanding vocal performances throughout. And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow does not disappoint as the follow-up to such a masterpiece. In many ways, it builds upon the foundations of Titanic Rising. It contains the same rich and luscious production, with each track given the time to breathe and evolve into a wall of gorgeous sound. Weyes Blood, as expected, gives one of the best vocal performances of the year, with her signature silky and delicate tone working so well over the dense instrumentals. It's not an album anyone will be able to appreciate fully from one listen, but it's one where, from that first moment, anyone can tell it's special.
Madonna - Ray of Light (1998)
Madonna is one of those artists I've heard plenty about over the years but one whose work I've never felt compelled to listen to. After trying Ray of Light, however, my mind is completely changed. Madonna has a soft, subtle tone, making those moments where she belts her voice to its maximum potential all the more powerful. Furthermore, the gentleness of her voice contrasts well against the dance-pop production, as a louder and more animated voice coupled with the dance grooves and chattering drums of this record may have been overwhelming. The second half of this album is far calmer, composed chiefly of ballads and far slower songs. While I prefer the more upbeat, dance-inspired first half, I can still appreciate the different styles Madonna tackles in only thirteen songs, and that versatility only makes me more excited to explore the rest of her discography.
Something I Love
black midi - Cavalcade (2021)
In only three albums, black midi have quickly become one of my favourite bands of all time. Their brand of messy and cartoonish avant-prog makes for some of the most unique rock music this century. Songs like "John L" sound manic, with Geordie Greep giving a deranged performance which builds on the wild, screaming instrumentation. The other vocalist, Cameron Picton, offers a far more subdued and relaxing performance, creating a dichotomy between the more unhinged and softer songs. It's an album as colourful and messy as its cover, but that's the appeal of black midi: they're unpredictable, they're loud, and they're unapologetic in the crazed sound they have crafted.