BJORK – Biophilia
THE GOOD: Legendary Icelandic songstress Bjork returns with her seventh solo epic.
THE BAD: She’s an acquired taste – you either appreciate the art or cringe at its many quirks.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Biophilia is being billed as the first widely available “app” album; each of its 10 core tracks accompanied by an app that allows you to change up the tune or play a game related to the song.
But does the music NEED these gimmicks?
Thankfully, no. However, Biophilia is a rather low-key affair as far as Bjork records go. Depending upon the cut, the electronic rhythms are either tapered or non-existent. The woman’s vocal flow is accompanied by custom-made pipe organs and harps, ghostly choirs, and the occasional brass section. Comparing it to past works, the new album is probably closest to the introverted Vespertine (2001). However, no two Bjork discs are the same.
Lyrically, the singer still paints emotionally strong yet positively eccentric word pictures. For example, the buzzing crackling “Virus” ends up being a song of devotion. Like a virus/Patient hunter/I’m waiting for you/I’m starving for you. Now that’s love.
BUY IT?: Apps or no apps, yes.
COLDPLAY – Mylo Xyloto
THE GOOD: England’s biggest are back with their fifth.
THE BAD: Mylo works incredibly well as a seamless whole; a record conveying a multi-layered colorful upbeat mood. But are there any great individual songs here?
THE NITTY GRITTY: This is definitely a case of “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Mylo is an album that will screw with your Ipod if you leave it on shuffle; songs are split into multiple cuts while the lyrics are supposed to tell some futuristic love story. But if you don’t let the concept bog you down, Mylo is simply another enjoyable Coldplay record. Innovative? Hardly, but then these guys never were.
Tracks like “Charlie Brown” and “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart” come with a frothy dose of electronics across the top accentuating the rock solid backbeats below. To the other extreme, “Us Against the World” and “U.F.O.” are intimate and fragile. Then you get an occasional big goofy anthem like “Every Teardrop is a Waterfall” (this year’s “Viva la Vida”). Coldplay always seem to give exactly what you expect while having the decency to shake up the formula a little.
BUY IT?: Sure.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
THE GOOD: Oasis founder Noel Gallagher begins the post-Oasis phase of his career.
THE BAD: This debut is a very strong collection of songs, but Gallagher plays it safe stylistically.
THE NITTY GRITTY: High Flying Birds is the guy’s new “collective.” We’ll see if their line-up stays intact on a second album. Musically, the record comes off as simply another Oasis collection with Noel taking lead vocal duties on all the songs. But is that necessarily bad?
Maybe a slightly new direction would have been more interesting, but Gallagher proves that he still knows how to write a great pop song (in fact, 10 of them). While every track may not be a potential single, there certainly aren’t any clunkers in the bunch. From the steadily rolling “Dream On” to the infectious sheen covering “AKAâ¦Broken Arrow,” Gallagher delivers the full-bodied Beatle-esque goods effortlessly.
And the usual big sound we’ve come to expect is here too – Noel not shying away from string sections, regal trumpets, loud guitars and solid backbeats. Birds may rock like it’s still 1996 but the album is never boring; Gallagher isn’t just going through the motions.
BUY IT?: Oh yeah.
NEW RELEASES – CD
COMMON – The Dream, The Believer
NEW RELEASES – DVD
COLOMBIANA with Zoe Saldana
DOLPHIN TALE with Harry Connick Jr. and Ashley Judd
MARGIN CALL with Kevin Spacey and Paul Bettany
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS with Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams
STRAW DOGS with James Marsden and Kate Bosworth
WARRIOR with Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy