the best albums of the moment

the best albums of the moment

The introspective country of Angel Olsen, the return to grace of two Radioheads, the undiminished passion of Arcade Fire, a rise in arty fever in Brooklyn, post-punk in Leeds… Find our latest rock reviews, regularly updated.

s Angel Olsen, “Big Time”

Angel Olsen’s versatile background might seem confusing. But it is the opposite. From her debut as a rough alt-folk, twelve years ago, to this new album of sumptuous introspective country, the American takes us on a long musical quest… The young 35-year-old artist did not long describe herself as a girl “lost” for nothing. Better, she attributes the inspiration of her songs (where she is not afraid to expose herself while preserving a secret part)… to her cat, saved in extremis from a painful and mysterious past. Angel Olsen grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, adopted at age 3 by an elderly couple, who already had eight children. Happiness built on a misfortune, that of being pampered without knowing where we come from, who we are. This would be the common thread of a work that has gained in confidence and ambition at each new stage… Read more

s The Smile, “A Light for Attracting Attention”

Here it is, the album we’ve been waiting for, since, it depends, Kid A, OK Computer or even The Bends. The one where the trust placed in Thom Yorke is no longer necessary to tame his latest musical research. Because The Smile, a trio formed with Jonny Greenwood, guitarist and second creative force of Radiohead, and Tom Skinner, jazz drummer (Sons of Kemet), is a divine surprise. The announcement of the project with progressive and experimental coloring, like its double-meaning name – happy or tense smile? –, could worry. In one listen, followed by many others, the doubt is removed: as if freed from the constraint of doing “something else” or “deliberately complicated”, the two old accomplices seem happy to make music together as never before. Because if Yorke’s usual themes – alienation, crushing of the individual – still irrigate most of the songs… Read more

r Lykke Li, “EYEYE”

In 2018, Lykke Li became commonplace by tripping over the R’n’B or trap carpet of his latest album, So Sad Sexy. The Swede, who conquered us with her passionate pop spleen on Wounded Rhymes (with the indestructible I Follow Rivers) then his successor I Never Learn, reconnects today with its lucky producer and arranger, the excellent Björn Yttling, on EYEYE, an album delivered with a strong concept: everything is calculated, from its calibrated duration to its recording – in his room in Los Angeles, with minimal vintage equipment. Completed with mini-films, the songs dig the same painful furrow that has always irrigated the writing of the singer: the infernal spiral of passionate, addictive love, which inevitably leads to suffering and lack. The work of definitive rupture? Maybe… Read More

r Sharon Van Etten, “We’ve Been Going About This All Wrong”

Those who flock together are alike. The two icons of American introspective rock, Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen, not happy to have recorded a superb single together (Like I Used To), now join together remotely solo. The “big pop” turn brilliantly orchestrated by Olsen in 2020 is today approached in style by Van Etten, who drops – with the exception of the catchy Mistakes – the (successful) detour to synthetic 80’s terrain from his previous album to focus on the voice and arrangements of a timeless classicism. “We have been on the wrong track from the start”, announces the title of the album. Who might as well have been If your name is melancholy (already taken, it seems). Because Sharon Van Etten, decidedly, is not very good at optimism, blissful or not… Read more

q Arcade Fire, “WE”

After a sensational debut with Funeral (2004), the Montrealers of Arcade Fire have become accustomed to confronting the great evils of the time: the era of entertainment (neon bible2007), the emptiness of the middle classes (The Suburbs2010 ), eroded passion (Reflektor, 2013) or digital alienation (Everything Now, 2017). With, from chapter to chapter, a growing inclination for a monumental sound, between stadium rock à la U2, mutant electro-pop à la Daft Punk and disco-dance à la ABBA. So much so that the identity of the group has been diluted, like the spirit of the times, in a wild populism. WE, sixth album by the troupe led by Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, manages to reconnect with a certain simplicity, under the orders of the Englishman Nigel Godrich, famous producer of Radiohead. Split into two parts and collected over seven tracks, the album… Read more

s Big Thief, “Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You”

The program would be that of change, of resolutions after a painful awakening. The confinement shook everyone, starting with Adrianne Lenker, singer and tormented soul of Big Thief, whose breakup with her partner, followed by a stay in the hospital before a life-saving isolation irrigate the pieces of this intriguing Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You. We find this fragile and carnal intimacy in Lenker’s writing (studio noises, childish voice and cries of pain or ecstasy), but also the complicit electricity of the quartet and its love for Americana or precious harmonies. Recorded under different skies, this fifth Big Thief album drifts with an always raw and introspective folk-rock and the multiple identity of the group… Read more

s Bodega, “Broken Equipment”

There is sometimes a fine line between artistic ambition and elitism. But at Ben Hozie and Nikki Belfiglio, a couple of intellectual artists in their thirties with multiple talents, united in love as well as at the controls of Bodega, their arty rock project launched in 2016, the requirement is not just an empty word. Even less arrogant snobbery. The Brooklyn group, revealed by Endless Scroll (2018), a feverish first record mixing the darkness of the Velvet Underground and punk energy, did not enjoy excessive success, the fault of a badly fallen pandemic but perhaps, also, of an intransigent integrity: from the texts to the political irony, a music refusing ready-made recipes. On this seductive Broken Equipment, the duo Hozie-Belfiglio, accompanied by three new faces, distills… Read more

r Yard Act, “The Overload”

“Once on Earth, extraterrestrials will inevitably wonder about the meaning of the word”cool”. Let’s give them Yard Act as an example. » The proposal, from an online fan, is as hilarious as it is unexpected. But without offending him, the music of his favorite rock quartet evokes many other attributes. Lively, sharp, concerned, yes. And especially away from UFOs. In a post-punk vein that owes a lot to Gang of Four, Yard Act, from Leeds like its illustrious predecessors, narrates in a nervous spoken word the excesses of capitalism against a background of acid guitars. Not really the pinnacle of cool, even if the group cultivates a certain nonchalance. James Smith, lyricist and chief barker, has both feet on the ground and his head anchored in a humor so british. On this first album… Read more

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