If you’re anything like me, you often struggle to find new music in the sea of options. That’s the beauty of developing your musical taste though; you can listen to anything and then pick and choose your favourites. Recently, I decided to delve into some calm and relaxing music. This is a review of three albums of varying genres that were mostly recently released and all feature female singers.
I will be reviewing each album on four characteristics: album cover, replayability, catchiness and talent. These aspects will be discussed with a score out of 10 assigned to them before concluding with my overall opinion. Remember, music is all about preference so my judgement is subjective!
Pod – The Breeders
The Breeders, formed by Kim Deal of The Pixies, were a significant American band of the 80s and 90s. Their alternative album Pod was completed in just a week of rehearsal and ten days of recording and although it wasn’t commercially successful, it did receive positive reviews.
The album cover is an abstract piece of concept art that utilises a soothing colour scheme, setting a dreamy tone. A track that encapsulates that tone is When I Was a Painter, in which the repetitive guitar and soft drums lull and cocoon the listener gently. The album’s fun and steadfast tunes make it very replayable. The vocals are distinctive, clear, and youthful, particularly apparent in Fortunately Gone. On the other hand, the lyrics are vague, silly, and repetitive. Opened is a good example of their non-traditional structure, like modern prose.
The album’s predictability and consistency lend themselves to a comforting listening experience, with catchiness being a secondary focus. The talent displayed in the record is considerable but not overly inspiring, using standard guitar riffs and “good” or “nice” singing. Interesting aspects of the instrumentation are the guitar distortion, male vocal harmonies and the violin heard in Oh! Perhaps what stands out most is the production style: a little dissociative, a little thin and authentic but not rough. It directly confronts the listener with an unfiltered sound.
Album cover: 7/10
I think this album is unique and nostalgic. It’s the brisk yet syrupy taste of late summer and solitude. It is intimate and honest, and with the harmonies and style, the band made bold decisions that paid off. It’s an album that you don’t have to turn up to be impacted; you just have to really listen. My current favourite tracks are Hellbound and Oh!.
“Fortunately gone – I wait for you.”– Fortunately Gone
Punisher – Phoebe Bridgers
Phoebe Bridgers is well-known for her indie ballads and sad pop. Her album Punisher follows the success of her debut album Stranger in the Alps and features collaborations with musicians such as Conor Oberst and Lucy Dacus.
Its cover is lacklustre and fails to pique interest; I also dislike when the artist includes themselves in their album cover. It does set a particular tone of pensiveness and calm, showcased especially in the song Chinese Satellite. The slow, deliberate pace that Bridgers sings with throughout the album effectively makes the listener feel gloomy. As the album progresses there are moments of hopefulness but the overall mood remains consistent, making this album rather replayable.
One positive aspect of this album is its inclusion of creative and engaging song titles like DVD Menu. The actual songs, however, are super forgettable. The album is littered with never-ending vague melody lines, and the lack of focus makes them not catchy at all. The backup vocal tracks work well but several songs would be stronger without the male vocals, which can be jarring. Bridgers’ own voice is soothing like a birds’ call, for example in the blue-grass inspired track Graceland Too. The lyrics precariously balance on the borderline between sweet and pretentious. Her talent and the talent of the multitude of collaborators featured is showcased successfully.
Album cover: 4/10
This album fails to live up to its hype despite the critical acclaim it has received. I found it pleasant, but mawkish and gauzy. It hit me like a big cloud of topsy-turvy fog and just didn’t have much to offer in terms of real content and emotion. My current favourite track is Kyoto, the catchiest and most upbeat on the album.
“Baby, it’s Halloween, and we can be anything…”– Halloween
To Hell With It – Pinkpantheress
PinkPantheress, a young rising artist, gained a large following on social media platforms like TikTok with her debut album to hell with it (stylised in all lowercase), which she self-produced in her bedroom to capture the angst of youth.
The cover of this album is nice, despite the lack of creativity and artistic intent displayed. It’s fairly original and aesthetically-pleasing. On the other hand, it does create a contrast. At odds with the album’s darker and more ominous cover, the songs featured in to hell with it are lively. Ergo, the replayability of the album is around average. While the danceable and upbeat nature of the music makes for a fun listening experience, it can also become tiring and stale over time.
As you may have gathered, I find this album distinctly catchy. Of course, there are some songs that don’t resonate with me musically, but still… The vocals are bright, with a feel-good quality contributed to by the softness of the harmonies. The synths are lo-fi and bloom over delicate guitar jingles, particularly notable in Last valentines. Although, the texture is thin for my liking. Pinkpantheress also experiments with reggae-like, exotic drum beats throughout the album, although the songs with more traditional and faster drums work better. The lyrics are pretty okay – personal, but still relatable. Overall, the artist shows potential as a talented musician, but definitely doesn’t dazzle.
Album cover: 4.5/10
This album is the wagging tail of a puppy: cute and fast. One of its positive aspects is its lack of melancholy. Despite the dejected obsessiveness of the longing lyrics, it creates a comfortable ambiance that I recommend everyone welcome. It’s a dulcet experience, albeit inexpert and simple. My current favourite track is I must apologise, because of the pretty chorus.
“Wrote you a song, do you wanna hear it now?”– Just for me
That’s a wrap for this music review; hopefully you’ve been inspired to try something new. I definitely had fun broadening my horizons! If you have any ideas for more album reviews feel free to let us know in the comments!