Right, let's take a bite out of the musical burger once more. Whose patty has been topped with the processed cheese of success and who has been lumbered with the gherkin albatross of disappointment? I'd relish the chance to tell you (boom, boom).
The biggest album release of this week is undoubtedly Starboy by The Weeknd. As I sit here writing this, it is safe to say it has been The Weeknd's weekend. With number 1 ratings in various most played categories across numerous streaming sites, it seems that this album has justified its lengthy build up. I spent most of that time contemplating where Starboy would sit in a family tree that contains Bowie's Starman, 2001's star child and Freddie Starr which I think is confirmation that I found the album itself a little underwhelming.
Having said that, title track Starboy is marvellous. Sultry and sexy, it is beautifully put together with the assistance of French helmet heroes Daft Punk. The same can be said for final track I Feel It Coming which also features the Parisian duo. As bookends, this album might well be a contender for best of 2016. Bearing in mind the meat in the sandwich, I find it fundamentally flawed. I'm reluctant to use the term 'self-indulgent twoddle' but no other springs to mind. Only Sidewalks, which features Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar feels like it has a beating heart. The rest is a little devoid of emotion.
I expected a lot more after the promising career starter that was 2015's Beauty Behind The Madness. Can't Feel My Face and, in particular, In The Night are fantastic tracks and there was enough to the rest to show that a new talent had arrived. Unfortunately, I get the impression that word of his promise made it back to The Weeknd himself which is why this album feels so rushed. The best tracks are where he has collaborated with more established musicians, perhaps because he has someone to rein him in a little. I look forward to hearing more from The Weeknd but I don't think this is his best work.
Something a little different this week comes in the form of Classic House by Pete Tong With The Heritage Orchestra. Just the track list on this had me excited. From absolutely timeless songs like Right Here, Right Now and Insomnia to more modern hits Feel The Love and Waiting All Night, even chucking in a rendition of Vangelis' epic Blade Runner track Rachel's Song. The idea of incorporating a full orchestra was something I had heard done to great effect in Peter Gabriel's 2011 album New Blood so I was intrigued to experience it again.
Overall, the concept works well. I did, at certain points when the original track drowned them out, feel myself wanting more orchestra but perhaps that's just me being fussy, like a kid trying to cherry pick sweets from a Haribo bag. Old, familiar tracks have a new life breathed into them and invite you to revel in their freshness. It is a compilation album so there is nowhere near the depth of feeling that you might get with a studio offering but I would take it over a 'Now That's What I Call Miscellany' any day.
We end this week with The Great Unknown, the second studio album from Natalie McCool. Having heard a superb 'mash-up' of Kavinsky's Nightcall and College & Electric Youth's A Real Hero from her first album, I had high hopes for this follow up offering and I was not disappointed. Over quirky beats and minimalist melodies, Natalie wields a powerful voice with an underlying fragility that is turned on and off at will, much like that of Evanescence's Amy Lee. The track that really caught my attention was Fortress, a gorgeous, uplifting track about perseverance in the face of hardship. Veering from laidback to energetic, it is the contrasts and the singer's ability to adjust effortlessly that make this album very listenable.
Then again, I might be wrong. I am a Musical Moron, after all...
Tong triumphs with TUNES!
Weeknd falls for his legend
Nat plays it McCool
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