CD Reviews: Britney Spears, East India Youth, Beyoncé, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks

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Artist: Britney Spears
Album: Britney Jean
Rating: 2/5

Britney Spears’s latest album Britney Jean claims to be her most personal record yet but can we see her through all this auto tune? The album ticks all the boxes for generic pop record with mid tempo ballads and obligatory appearance from will.i.am.

Gems includes the William Orbit produce ‘Alien’ whose chorus brings you in and doesn’t let go but Britney’s been singing about how lonely it is being a celebrity for 10 years now, we wish she’d move onto something else. The lead single of the album ‘Work Bitch’ serves to please the DJs in Ruby Lounge but other than that is really only suited for your power walking playlist.

While Britney Jean does include some smashes it also includes many failures. Auto tune is expected with any record nowadays but Britney’s duet with will.i.am, ‘It Should Be Easy’, takes it to another level where you can’t even recognise the femme fatale’s voice. Not even a signature moan is thrown in.

Britney’s duets are always hit an miss, such as the infectious ‘Tik Tik Boom’ with T.I. however her song ‘Chillin’ With You’ with her sister Jamie Lynn Spears has to be the musical definition of throwing a dog a bone.

Final Word: It just didn’t work, bitch.

Kieran Murphy

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Artist: East India Youth
Album: Total Strife Forever
Rating: 5/5

East India Youth is the colonial tinged moniker for the rather less exotically named William Doyle, who is so fresh on the scene he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page to copy from. This 23 year old British virtuoso’s  second LP that serves up a seductive brew of feverish electronica, delicately spiked with measures of krautrock, pop, ambient and choral. ‘Looking for Someone’ finds fantastical synths swirling around an uplifting refrain of harmonised voices that hits on Animal Collective or Foals. ‘Dripping Down’ rolls with a swooning, nostalgic vocal over a scratchy drum machine, then bursts into a jubilant ambient disco midsection, before reclining into a reverberating gospel finale. ‘Hinterland’ is swampy and brilliantly dark. However, Doyle’s grandest statement arrives on ‘Heaven, How Long’, which whispers claustrophobically within cobwebbed walls, growing ever more neurotic and beautiful, until it transcends with a gorgeous, glittering chorus that sounds like an attempt to record the explosion of joy in your brain when your favourite song comes on at 1am (and in doing so becoming your new favourite song).

Final Word: Cue  countless, ongoing arguments of ‘I discovered East India Youth’ into 2014.

Ciarán Mangan

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Artist: Beyoncé
Album: BEYONCÉ
Rating: 4/5

Beyoncé surprised the world with the release of latest album, BEYONCÉ. An impressive feat if you consider that the production of this album involved thousands of people from recording to making the videos for all 18 songs.

Jay-Z, Frank Ocean, Drake and even daughter Blue Ivy all appear on the album, but the most compelling guest vocal is the inclusion of writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in one of the songs. ***Flawless samples Adichie’s address on feminism at TEDxEuston. This is most important in both realizing and defending Beyoncé’s image as a powerful icon for women in music.

BEYONCÉ is marketed as a visual album and the accompanying films serve to heighten the musical experience. But they also exist to make the weaker tracks, notably Superpower and No Angel, seem unforgettable. The flaws on the album are relatively minor and will do little to lessen the album’s commercial and cultural impact. BEYONCÉ is the star’s best work to date.

Final say: Who run the world? I think we already know.

Kevin Long

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Artist: Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks
Album: Wig Out at Jagbags
Rating: 4/5

The newest album released by Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks is definitely worth a listen, it is a more than modest attempt at middle aged folk rock . Each songs incorporates a slightly different style and makes it difficult to pin just one genre on the album. What is remarkable about this albums is that Malkmus, since leaving his old band Pavement in 1999, has managed to prove himself as more than a front man but, what was described by The Boston Globe as, “one of indie rock’s most celebrated free spirits.

Wig Out at Jagbags isn’t trying to be a serious record and Malkmus sure as shit isn’t concerned with the same poetics and heft as with Pavement, so it comes as almost a surprise that less driving gimmicks are used throughout the LP. Had the spirit of “Chartjunk” overtaken more of this album, it would at least offer a reason to turn over the record, fire up the sound system, and spin to your heart’s content.

Final say: You have been welcomed into a very warm, laid back place

Harvey Fitzgibbon.

 

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