ALBUM REVIEW: Christina Aguilera - Liberation
Christina Aguilera is a voice of a generation, so I’m a little confused as to why she has gone down a path of self-destruction with her experimental eighth studio album ‘Liberation’. The confusing record hears her fusing together RNB with synths and soul and sadly it just doesn't work. You know you’re in trouble when one of the strongest songs is the hit and miss lead single ‘Accelerate’ because sometimes you wanna vibe to it and sometimes you just wanna skip it. And that’s kind of the perfect way to explain this record as well because there are some okay songs but the rest are messy at best. The album opens with a beautiful orchestral instrumental which is super confusing because it has no flow with the rest of the record. It leads straight into the sonically chaotic ‘Maria’ which is a gritty RNB meets catholic inspired track which will leave you thinking “what have I started listening to”. It dramatically sees her start swinging on the angsty ‘Sick Of Sitting’ which hears her briefly returning to her roots for some ‘Fighter’ inspired vocal runs. She then experiments with reggae on the catchy and seductive ‘Right Moves’ which will instantly become a fan favourite. The rest of the album then sits in the mediocre ballad realm where tracks like ‘Twice’, ‘Like I Do’, ‘Masochist’ and ‘Pipe’ become ultimately skippable. Fall In Line’ featuring Demi Lovato should be a massive and empowering moment because both of these artists are powerhouse vocalists and with their track record their ballads have always been their strongest material. But when you put the two together the magic just doesn’t seem to be there. They’ve written this beautiful and empowering song about how its every womens right to decide on what they do with their body and to have a strong mind to follow their dreams. But where this song falls flat is the production. They are trying to over compensate and instead should just let it be a raw and intimate moment. However she does get it right on the vulnerable ‘Deliver’ which is the albums strongest track by far. The raw ballad will have you feeling so many kind of ways and reflects on her insecurities that sometimes sees her causing self sabotage. This is a very special and honest track that restores my love for her. Because at the end of the day whilst this album isn't great and is by far her weakest record yet, she is still an icon. She still has that instantly recognisable voice that will have your heart racing and immediately have your attention. I just wish it was more cohesive with it’s vision.
ALBUM REVIEW: 5 Seconds Of Summer - Youngblood
Australian four-piece 5 Seconds Of Summer have really proved themselves with the release of their third studio album. ‘Youngblood’ hears them striving towards a bolder and more mature sound that channels 80’s synth rock. This record is full of personality, emotion and groove and it couldn't be a better re-introduction to this band. Forget what you already know about 5SOS because this record is nothing like they have ever released before. There are only a couple of songs that even come close to the try hard angsty pop-rock their previous two albums tried to create. The opening title track oozes pulsating synths and drums and introduces this chaotic but experimental synth sound. The honest track looks at a relationship where they’ve reached breaking point and they push each other away but it’s still so confusing saying goodbye as there are still strong feelings involved. The rest of the album follows lead with the groovy ‘Want You Back’, the Twenty One Pilots inspired ‘Valentine’ and the absolutely 80’s inspired ‘Talk Fast’. It’s bold, different and will have you constantly wondering what they are going to do next. ‘Moving Along’ returns to their rock roots with an injection of indie-pop which polishes it up and will be instantly stuck in your head. But expect a couple of slower tracks like ‘Lie To Me’, ‘Why Won’t You Love Me’ and ‘Better Man’ which aim to swoon you but still give you a groovy vibe. It’s their most consistent body of work yet and hears them truly finding their sound. Their harmonies have never been stronger and their songwriting has never been so honest and raw. Even upbeat tracks like ‘More’ and ‘Woke Up In Japan’ have an emotional undertone that will instantly captivate you. However I’m unsure how I feel about the similarities of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ in the hook of ‘Monster Amongst Men’. But the rest of the album is pretty close perfect that I am happy to ignore that one little flaw because this is definitely their strongest record yet and is an exciting reintroduction to who 5SOS are as artists.
SINGLE REVIEW: Aly & AJ - Good Love
Lets be real for a minute. Aly & AJ were the absolute comeback queens of 2017. The dynamic sister duo bursted back into the music industry with their independently released EP “Ten Years” which heard them introducing a new synth-pop sound full of emotion and empowerment. Lead single ‘Take Me” was an underrated track that experimented with a DIY structure and heard them delivering smooth and dreamy harmonies. The Michalka sisters are currently on a massive tour of America which sees them playing shows for this project for the first time since 2008. To celebrate pride month and reaching the halfway mark of the tour they’ve decided to release the first single from their new forthcoming EP. ‘Good Love’ is a feel good and euphoric love song which describes the feeling of just wanting a true and real love in a time where hook up culture has taken over. “Come on baby, give me good love. Sometimes touch just isn't enough”. They manage to re-create that genuine and magical feeling of falling in love that has your heart bursting with happiness and has you uncontrollably smiling. The 80s inspired synth-pop track begins with simple synth drums and a pulsating synth beat that constantly grows and evolves over the 4 minute duration. The chorus is very vibrant and has an anthemic singalong feel to it which would be great in their live set. But where the production really shines is in the outro with a synth drum breakdown that leads into the girls yelling “give me good love”. It’s very DIY and builds to the euphoric momentum this track gained. One listen won’t be enough and you will be finding yourself pressing replay instantly so you can hear their dreamy harmonies again.
SINGLE REVIEW: Martin Garrix feat. Khalid - Ocean
Is it just me or is Martin Garrix becoming a little predictable now? Sure, he has had some absolute anthems and I still get excited when I hear ‘In The Name Of Love’ or ‘Scared To Be Lonely’ played in a club but all of his structures are becoming very similar and over used. And yet again he’s played on the emotional electronic-pop format with his new single featuring Khalid. ‘Ocean’ is nothing special. It sounds like a b-side to his Marshmello collaboration ‘Silence’ which was an emotional banger and sure-fire hit. This song falls flat in the delivery and try’s extremely hard to be emotionally evoking but just isn’t. The romantic storyline plays on the idea that love’s power is unstoppable and nothing can get in the way. They use the metaphor of an ocean that can’t separate lovers to brings this concept to life but that idea has been done 100 times before. So are the lyrics original? No. Is the production original? No. Is the melody at least original? No. It’s all just a giant collection of recycled parts that are a little average at best. I did expect more from these two but I also expected the song to exactly sound like this at the same time. Oh well.
SINGLE REVIEW: Troye Sivan feat. Ariana Grande - Dance To This
Okay, lets be real for a moment. Troye Sivan and Ariana Grande should've been the collaboration of the year but sadly the vibey single is a little below average. ‘Dance To This’ is not a bad song at all but the issue is that it’s not an INCREDIBLE song and that’s what it should be. Both ‘My My My’ and ‘Bloom’ are impressive anthems which introduced listeners to a funkier and more confident sound and this song sounds like a bit of a step back for both artists. It’s very reserved and I was waiting for a big harmonic vocal moment to happen but it never really did. Troye kicks off the first verse with a relaxed pop vocal delivery that flows into a laid back catchy hook. Ariana then takes over the second verse and delivers her signature vocal runs that flow so perfectly with the two harmonising during the second chorus. But let’s talk about the bridge, because that is something ELSE. While it may only be really short this little production change became an absolute pop moment. This innovative moment is what the whole song should've been like. It’s so different and unexpected that it worked so well but the rest of the track is just a little flat. The idea behind it is cute as it explores a couple not going out clubbing because they prefer the intimacy of being at home with each other as it’s more special however the execution is not great. This mellow pop song isn't bad at all but I expected more from these two. #Fact.
SINGLE REVIEW: Nicki Minaj feat. Ariana Grande - Bed
In the lead up to the release of her fourth studio album ‘Queen’ Nicki Minaj has been struggling to get her hands on a massive hit. However her luck may be changing with the release of her collaboration with Ariana Grande. ‘Bed’ has the world hit written all over it. The sexually driven RNB track hears these two very different artists owning their versatile sounds and fusing them together for a fiery three minutes. Ariana kicks the song off immediately with the catchy hook that hears her serenading her lover and reminding them that she’s waiting for them. “Got a bed with your name on it, with your name on it. Got a kiss with your name on it, with your name on it. Love me good, love me down, don’t turn me down”. It’s so passionate, seductive and has this empowering feel to it that you can help but want to serenade someone in bed to this song. Nicki then jumps on this track to deliver three pure fire verses that hears her offering one of her best raps in years. Its strong, captivating, fun and will have you wanting to press replay immediately. The production is very slow jam RNB inspired and it works so well with the seductive vibe. It’s so sexually driven that even Nicki Minaj tweeted after its release asking “Ok who’s gonna play ‘Bed’ at their next dick appointment?”. Will you?
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Want to listen to some of these songs? Then check out the #BLEACHED playlist on Spotify which is curated each week by Thomas Bleach featuring his favourite new releases.