LORDE — ‘Melodrama’
THE GOOD: New Zealand pop sensation Lorde comes back after a long hiatus with an ambitious sophomore effort.
THE BAD: Nope. “Melodrama” was worth the wait.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Whether the 20-year-old ever shakes up the mainstream again with a song as big as “Royals” is irrelevant. Lorde now has two solid albums under her belt, and “Melodrama” proves she can run with a concept as well. Teaming up with Jack Antonoff (Fun., Bleachers) and a bevy of other producers, Lorde offers a record that embraces solitude.
Lorde wrote the songs during a time of upheaval many people her age experience. She broke up with a longtime boyfriend and later moved out of her parents’ house. Inspiration came from being really “alone” for the first time. From the beat-heavy breakup of “Green Light” to the intimate revelations spread throughout “Liability” to the emotional intensity coloring “Supercut,” the album paints a vivid picture of turmoil and growth. It’s musically multi-faceted, too, ranging from banging electronics to reserved ballads.
BUY IT?: Yes.
FEIST — ‘Pleasure’
THE GOOD: Canadian singer/songwriter Feist returns with her fifth album and first in six years.
THE BAD: Depends upon your expectations. Those craving another breezy pop gem like “1 2 3 4” aren’t going to get it.
THE NITTY GRITTY: “Pleasure” is a raw, intimate affair built with stripped-down arrangements. Feist confronts her inner demons while getting reacquainted with bare-bones indie rock, modern folk and even a touch of the blues.
One can detect echoes of P.J. Harvey across the “plugged-in” moments and strains of Cat Power during the quieter bits. “Pleasure,” however, is distinctly Feist. Even when she sounds defeated, her warm voice is unmistakable and her breathy, unassuming delivery always welcome.
This time, that voice is accompanied by ghostly harmonies, spontaneous guitar, distinct bits of keyboard that sound either majestic or playful, rudimentary drumbeats and lo-fi atmospherics stolen from the world outside. The end result sounds very impulsive at first, but repeat listens bring out the songs’ deliberate brilliance.
BUY IT?: Surely.
SHERYL CROW — ‘Be Myself’
THE GOOD: On her 10th set, singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow revisits her ’90s rock heyday.
THE BAD: No big problems.
THE NITTY GRITTY: “Be Myself” finds Crow bringing back producer Jeff Trott, whom she worked with during the ’90s and early 2000s. So that slight country detour taken on 2013’s “Feels Like Home” (which wasn’t all that genuine anyway) has been abandoned. Although, those still craving a little Southern swagger will find it on the charming “Rest of Me.”
For the most part, “Myself” is a down-to-earth, gutsy, guitar-fueled Crow album in the tradition of her self-titled effort (1996) and “The Globe Sessions” (1998). Yeah, we’ve been here before. But when the woman turns on her self-assured attitude, it’s tough to resist that confident voice belting out those slick melodies.
Pick any track — the flirtatious “Roller Skate”; the melancholy “Strangers Again”; the low-burning, infectious “Alone in the Dark” — they’re all good. Crow doesn’t break new ground on “Be Myself,” but she does deliver the pop/rock goods.
BUY IT?: Why not?