A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead
Radiohead’s newest album dropped, almost out of the blue, in early May. This record was one of the most fascinating, emotional and gratifying listening experiences I’ve had so far this year. Thom Yorke’s lyrics were more personal than ever as they were tinged with sadness and regret, which makes this record an incredibly powerful one to spend some time with, in solitude.
The instrumental work here is the best it’s been since 2007’s In Rainbows, the album I consider to be the band’s best. The arranged string section on the album’s opening track, ‘Burn the Witch’, is full of energy and menace, which complements the track’s angry, political nature. Yorke’s eerie vocals and Phil Selway’s phenomenally controlled, almost mechanical (in the best possible way) drumming are excellent, as is all of the guitar and keyboard work. The synths and glitchy production style keep Radiohead’s sound interesting and new, despite their welcome return to a more conventional, art rock sound than 2011’s The King of Limbs.
Standout Tracks: ‘Daydreaming’, ‘Burn the Witch’
Teens of Denial by Car Seat Headrest
This is my favourite rock album of the year so far. It is also a definite contender for my overall album of the year, assuming that nothing superior to it is released in the next six months. Teens of Denial is a very human, very relatable, somewhat low-fi, indie rock album that charmed me from the very first note to the very last.
One of the reasons that I didn’t write a full review of this album is because I have been finding it very difficult to articulate why I love this record so much. I guess the main reason is because of how well Will Toledo’s lyrics mesh with the visceral use of instrumentation. The band work incredibly well together and produce a wonderfully fuzzy and entirely unique sound as a group. This is particularly apparent on some of the longer tracks, like ‘Vincent’, where the band creates a mystifying musical backdrop before Toledo begins to weave his tale about how much it sucks to be socially awkward and unhappy at a party.
The band has so much to say on this record, whether that’s through Toledo’s relatable (and sometimes pretty tongue-in-cheek) lyrics and subtly brilliant vocal delivery, a series of very inventive uses of distortion and feedback, or maybe just through impeccable instrumentation and use of harmony. I’ve tried and tried, but I haven’t been able to think of any substantial problems with this record and, honestly, I don’t want to. Teens of Denial is thought provoking and hugely comforting. I’d suggest that it’s almost perfect.
Standout Tracks: ‘Vincent’, ‘Drugs With Friends’