- St Vincent, Masseduction
St Vincent, Masseduction (Loma Vista) – It only took slightly breathier vocals from Annie Clark (St. Vincent) and a bit more synthesizer to give her new album a sheen melding elements of Xiu Xiu, on the weird side, and, in a poppier vein, Halsey and Charli XCX. What’s intriguing is that, while St. Vincent has upped the ante by amplifying strangeness, tracks like “Happy Birthday, Johnny” and “New York” are human and vulnerable enough to bring listeners to tears.
- Moses Sumney, Aromanticism
Moses Sumney, Aromanticism (Jagjaguwar) – At first listen, Los Angeles-based Sumney, who spent formative years in Ghana, might be mistaken for a tuneful falsetto-based R&B vocalist. But elements of folk, spoken-word poetry, and Moby-style electronica sneak in from all sides, until it’s clear that this debut is a one-of-a-kind concept album praising solitude and introspection, a rarity in these brash and superficial times.
- Pere Ubu, 20 Years in a Montana Missile Silo
Pere Ubu, 20 Years in a Montana Missile Silo (Cherry Red Records) – Cleveland’s Pere Ubu has spent 40 years plumbing the limits of irony and avant-garde composition, but the band has never attempted a studio outing dominated by 1- and 2-minute sonic bursts recalling Ramones. Of course, with David Thomas in charge of lyrics and special effects, tracks like “Plan from Frag 9” could never approach normal, even when the band tries to rock out.