Album Reviews

The Weeknd, “Beauty Behind the Madness” review

If your only exposure to The Weeknd was via the VMAs earlier this week -- which included Kanye's much-publicized dancefloor get-down -- you might be surprised to hear the 25-year-old's new album, especially its symphonic production, dark and tragic rhythms, and addled lyrics.

Gardens & Villa, “Music for Dogs” review

This is what happens when a band gets stuck. Last year, California indie-pop outfit Gardens & Villa released “Dunes,” its follow-up to a promising debut, and showed themselves to be capable of writing good pop melodies and worming steadily into your ears and heart.

Teen Daze, “Morning World” review

Though it has pursued Teen Daze from the outset, it’s almost unfair to critique his music through a lens as loaded as chillwave. Coined by satirical blog Hipster Runoff, the genre has the pedigree of Geico’s “Cavemen” TV series, or any joke that outlives its punchline.


HEALTH’S NEW ALBUM “DEATH FIST” IS LIKE A —HEY, CAN YOU HEAR ME? You can? Sorry. In the eight years since their self-titled maximalist noise (or is that a really melodic construction site?) debut, sheer volume has been a comforting constant for the L.A. quartet's fanbase.

Wilco, “Star Wars” review

Surprise. Wilco, of all artists, has sprung an album on us. A free album. And while releasing a record without warning is hardly even a surprise anymore -- hell, this is at least the second group this year that isn’t charging a single cent, either -- this has the vibe of the most wholesome and traditional of surprises.

Ducktails, “St. Catherine” review

Let’s get one thing straight: Ducktails is not Real Estate. Though many will find them through internet radio algorithms, similar artist suggestions and press releases predicated on that nigh un-Googleable band, Ducktails’ only shared point of reference with Real Estate is their guitarist, Matthew Monadile.

Lil Wayne, “Free Weezy Album” review

Lil Wayne is a complex soul and “Free Weezy Album” is his therapy project. We don’t know if “Tha Carter V” will ever materialize, but if it does we should expect it to be devoid of the gripes he covers on “FWA.” On this album, which he suddenly dropped as a Tidal exclusive on July 4, Wayne talks about a rough patch he's hit in his life: There's his time on Rikers Island, his nasty beef with Cash Money Records and a slew of past breakups.

Vince Staples, “Summertime ’06” review

Vince Staples has a lot to say, and he’s going to make us listen. “I hope you understand / They never taught me how to be a man / Only how to be a shooter” could be the subtitle of “Summer ’06.” It’s an unflinching, hard and unsentimental look at Staples’ world, chronicling the harsh reality of life as a Crip in north Long Beach and the success that followed with a terminally unfeeling delivery.

Miguel, “Wildheart” review

Since emerging on his sophomore LP “Kaleidoscope Dreams,” Miguel has strove for R&B stardom untraditionally. In appearances and promos for that album, he presented himself as fashion rather than sex symbol, buttoned up in cherry suits, summertime leather jackets and a pompadour coiffed perfectly enough to make even Janelle Monae a little green.

Tyga, “The Gold Album: 18th Dynasty” review

These days it's hard to tell what is more intriguing: Tyga's music or his entanglement with the Kardashian clan. The title of his new album, "The Gold Album: The 18th Dynasty,” may or may not reference the 17-year-old Kylie Jenner, who turns 18 soon and is rumored to be dating the pint sized rapper.

Elijah Blake, “Shadows and Diamonds” review

Modern R&B tends to strut the line between the ultimate cheesy experience (Ne-Yo) and the drug-addled creep (The Weeknd). Elijah Blake, a songwriter who cut his teeth writing tracks for mega stars like Rihanna (“No Love Allowed”) and Rick Ross (“Presidential”) lives in this position of purgatory on his debut, “Shadows and Diamonds.” He follows the typical formula of heartbreak, piano-laden melodies and concepts about being cheated on and doing crazy things to his lover in return.