Our friend and music-meister, Luke Graves, is back with another round-up of new albums to check out in the February issue of Original Fuzz Magazine. See which ones made the cut and listen to the newest Listen Up! playlist.
Photo by Brad Elterman
The flourescent I-Want-My-MTV veneer of MGMT’s latest release is quickly exposed to reveal something far more sinister. With their fourth studio album, Little Dark Age, Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser trade in the tie-dyed blouses and psychedelic jam sessions of records past for Robert Smith wigs and apocalyptic synth-pop ballads on modern relationships, social unrest, and impending annihilation.
Holding a mirror up to 2018’s ever-increasing absurdity, the album’s opener sees the duo ranting about selfies and social media, with the following titular track mourning societal collapse and the current political climate lamenting, “I grieve in stereo, the stereo sounds strange.” Transitioning between 80s anthems, electro funk, muzak interludes, and pure pop, the final product here resembles something more akin to a stimulant bender as a means of coping, compared to the hallucinogenic romps of the band’s previous records. Yet in the face of total uncertainty and near-certain despair, the closing track “Hand It Over” offers a democratic call to action and perhaps even a glimmer of hope, “Oh this time, it’s yours and mine, hey it’s time to hand it over.”
Little Dark Age released on February 9 via Columbia Records.
Earlier last month, the Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit comprised of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg released Ruins, the pair’s first album in four years. After a brief hiatus and having recovered from arduous touring and recording schedules over the past decade, Johanna and Klara return in full force, with the album’s namesake taking on quite literal meaning this time around. Harkening back to their folk rock roots with the likes of R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and Wilco's Glenn Kotche, the sisters Söderberg rise from personal devastation with grace in one hand and a strong whiskey drink in the other.
Ruins released on January 19th via Columbia Records.
“I think that I'll stay inside, if you don't think that they'd mind, I can't let it find me,” Aaron Maine confides on his most recent record, The House. Maine’s seventh release under the synth-pop pseudonym Porches, The House depicts danceable reflections on identity & isolation and autotuned anxieties of modern life. Judging from his many personas and musical projects over the years, the Pleasantville, NY native is no stranger to a new name and letting his work speak for itself, though Maine’s penchants for dulcet choruses and memorable melodies are as present as ever.
Featuring such collaborators as (Sandy) Alex G, Devonté Hynes (Blood Orange), Norwegian musician/model Okay Kaya, and Aaron’s own father, Peter Maine, The House is perhaps the most universal and complete realization of Porches—and Maine himself—to date.
The House released on January 19th via Domino Records.
Ought return this month with their third studio album and follow-up to 2015’s Sun Coming Down. With Room Inside the World, the Montreal-based post-punk quartet deliver their most accessible listen yet while expanding upon previous sounds. Ought’s signature guitarwork and pointed existential observations are well on-display here, with the band exploring new sonic landscapes and lead singer Tim Darcy’s discontented vocals soaring more prominently than before.
Standing at the pulpit, Darcy delivers his exceptionally-sung, malaise-ridden sermon as jagged guitar riffs and sharp drum patterns interject and punctuate his oration. Darcy’s emotional urgency here emphasizing the present and the fleeting interactions and mundanities therein that often pass by unremarkably. More members of the congregation soon emerge and bring with them new energy in the form of angelic horns & strings, organs, synths, and a multitude of voices that ring out, most evident on the standout track “Desire”—the altar boys, choir, and clergymen here all in perfect orchestration to produce a holy 40-minute service without misstep.
Room Inside the World releases on February 16 via Merge and Royal Mountain Records.
Also check out:
- Nils Frahm – All Melody (January 26, Erased Tapes Records)
- Rhye – Blood (February 2nd, Loma Vista)
- Ty Segall – Freedom’s Goblin (January 26th, Drag City)
- Son Lux – Brighter Wounds (February 9th, City Slang)
- Superchunk – What a Time to Be Alive (February 16, Merge Records)
Luke Graves is a latchkey designer, printmaker, and occasional writer of words based in Nashville. Find more of Luke's contributions, here.
This feature is brought to you by Original Fuzz Magazine. Find more articles in this month's magazine, here.