COMEBACKS AND KICK-OFFS BELLY — ‘Dove’
THE GOOD: New England alt-rockers Belly reforms and releases its third album (and first in over two decades).
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: With Tanya Donelly still in front of
the band’s most prominent lineup, Belly picks up right where it left off in 1996. The group reformed for a handful of concerts two years ago and realized there was still NEW music in it. “Dove” is the result of some rather prolific sessions.
What’s great about the record is that the tunes are truly timeless. Belly didn’t radically overhaul or update its sound, and at the same time, the songs don’t sound stuck in the era of “Seinfeld” and Bill Clinton. “Dove” is simply guitar-driven indie rock; Donelly’s female vocals still captivate and hold their own against the delicate thunder below. Tracks such as “Human Child” and “Suffer the Fools” are that perfect combination of grace and power, with swaying melodies riding a fair amount of sheer volume. This reunion feels totally natural. Embrace it.
BUY IT?: Yes.
WE ARE SCIENTISTS — ‘Megaplex’
THE GOOD: New York indie pop duo We Are Scientists gives us its sixth.
THE BAD: Mixed emotions.
THE NITTY GRITTY: There’s good and bad on “Megaplex.” While the writing is focused and the songs are strong, a lot of the band’s quirky indie and new wave elements are toned down. It’s as if “Megaplex” is a bid for the pop market. I’m not saying that’s the case, but the record sounds dull and predictable in spots.
We still get the delicate sway of “KIT” and the melodic punchy closer “Properties of Perception.” Technically, there are NO duds here. However, there’s a certain “sameness,” not just amongst individual tracks but also the group’s catalog in general. These guys aren’t progressing enough from release to release. “Megaplex” is an enjoyable, guitar-based rock/pop record, but it barely leaves any lasting impression. It’s also interchangeable with their previous two or three albums.
BUY IT?: Your choice. Newbies may actually get more out of “Megaplex” than long-time fans craving something fresh.
MIDDLE KIDS — ‘Lost Friends’
THE GOOD: Australian indie trio Middle Kids releases a confident first full-length album.
THE BAD: “Lost Friends” loses momentum across its second half, but not enough to damage the overall work.
THE NITTY GRITTY: The group teased us with a self-titled EP last year. Now, the main attraction is here (and with only two “repeats” from 2017’s mini jam). “Lost Friends” is a driven, catchy set recalling a lot of female-fronted ’90s faves (Belly, Cranberries, Sleeper) and more recent friends (Joy Formidable, Naked and Famous, Metric). There’s nothing starkly original here, but the songs are damn good, and Hannah Joy’s entrancing vocals are their perfect method of delivery.
The album immediately draws us in with the one-two punch of full-bodied openers “Bought It” and “Mistake.” From there, the record rarely stumbles. By the time we reach the set’s second half though, songs begin to blend together. Still, this band is just getting started. “Lost Friends” accomplishes much, leaving us hopeful for the group’s future.
BUY IT?: I would.