Category Archives: Albums

Caught up in the Melodrama

1200x630bb.jpgLorde | Melodrama |

I rarely write about albums because I’m usually unfamiliar with the artist’s entire discography and I always think to myself that it’s necessary for me to hear how a particular musician has developed their sound through different albums. And I think I’m familiar enough with Lorde’s musical career that while listening to her new release, Melodrama, I had a few thoughts on how the singer-songwriter has either made alterations or improvements to her sound, both of which showcases Lorde’s maturity as a musician. I found her in the beginning to be an indie darling with her debut “The Love Club EP,” (when I was young and was very into electropop). It was a decent album but was just slightly lacklustre and was missing this special something. Then came “Pure Heroine” which of course garnered critical acclaim which was rightly deserved. That album was a refreshing take on pop music that felt different, authentically youthful and goddamn catchy. So it was normal to be excited to hear that Lorde was making new music but after hearing the first single “Green Light” I was kind of dubious about the new album. But “Liability” was then released and my hope was somewhat restored. It was a great ballad track, but it wasn’t what I was looking for in Lorde. I understand that musicians can take different directions with their music but the style of music on “Pure Heroine” had such an effect on me that it was hard to not look forward to it in her new album (she did not disappoint btw).

I think it’s great that Lorde took her time with “Melodrama” and it shows, the album feels complete and carefully thought through. But me being a huge snob had some qualms with some tracks. I’ve heard time and time again that “Hommade Dynamite” is probably the best track off the album and was the single that was never meant to be, but I kind of disagree. The track played out like it was targeting for the top charts (which I’m not too fond off). I feel the same way about the closing track “Perfect Places” (which I’m sure after a few more listens I’ll come around to it but for now I just kind of see to who it’s being catered to). “Hommade Dynamite” did however have one redeeming quality in which Lorde says so gingerly “now you know it’s really gonna blow” and makes an explosion sound which definitely shows her quirky (and down-to-earth i guess?) aspect of her music.

I’ve adored Lorde for her signature sound of layering her own voice over in tracks which presents her distinct originality and even puts her above the rest of other pop singers that just fall into the category of generic. And this was what “The Louvre” delivered – the track had a simple guitar riff in the beginning that built up Lorde’s own layered vocals that echoed throughout the track, giving it some sort of insurmountable depth. The chorus of this track, “broadcast the boom boom boom and make ’em all dance to it” is again something representative of Lorde’s quirkiness – it’s simple, meaningful and pretty memorable.

“Hard Feelings/Loveless” is basically two tracks combined into one and seems to have no bearing on each other (and I’m still not sure why they’re one track instead of two, probably could be how Lorde herself has transitioned and moved on from her past relationship and becoming a whole new person or something like that). Lorde said in an interview that “we can all do whatever we want in terms of instrumentation” and I think she tested that theory in this track (Hard Feelings) because I kind of hear a beat made out of doors squeaking. At times it sounds innovative and inventive, but at other times it really just sounds like a squeaky door.

Lorde also explored new sounds with the addition of orchestral instrumentation in “Sober II (Melodrama)” elevates the outpouring of emotion from the singer-songwriter (it changed my mind on solely looking for electropop when listening to her music). This pretty much goes for “Writer in the Dark” as well, with simply just piano instrumentation, it places focus on Lorde’s Fiona Apple-esque vocals and the emotion poured into this track was palpable. Lorde came across as genuinely hurt, portraying herself as the type to leap into a relationship rather than just dipping her toes in and accepting the consequences of her openhearted nature.

“Supercut” is alike to “Green Light” nothing breathtaking but not terrible either (I probably just need to listen to it on repeat or something).

“Liability (Reprise)” kind of brings a calming close to the emotional album before “Perfect Places.” It seemed like she’s come to terms with not only her shortcomings as a partner but also how the other had their own faults as well (basically it made me feel emotions). Her vocals are particularly raw here (maybe less so than “Writer in the Dark” but felt honest nevertheless) and the beat feels reminiscent of her previous single “Tennis Court” (which felt like a throwback to me).

A significant part of the album is Lorde divulging into a past relationship that has affected her in a big way and it felt like an open letter to her listeners. An open letter about her experiences as a youth under the limelight and the consequences of fame. The album had stellar production that suited Lorde’s unmistakable musical style and the countless commendation is well-deserved.


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Not Everything I’ve Come to Expect

The Last Shadow Puppets |Everything You’ve Come To Expect|

shadow art

I’m not the internet’s busiest music nerd okay, I usually listen to music at my own sweet pace. Own time own target okay, so this review is coming very late because I just got around to it and despite what Alex Turner and Miles Kane may have titled their album, it’s not what I’ve come to expect from their sophomore album.

When ‘Bad Habits’ was released, I was pretty confused. I did hear a something that was reminiscent of their first album. It included the signature orchestra sound that I adore in their music but ‘Bad Habits’ was weirdly upbeat and felt like they were trying hard to step out of their usual calm and composed sound. Trying a bit too hard to me. I don’t know, I’m just not too fond of this track.

Then ‘Everything You’ve Come to Expect’ came out and I was overjoyed to hear more new songs (besides ‘Bad Habits’) from the people who made The Age of the Understatement. Then I heard it and was slightly underwhelmed actually. It was a smooth, slow-paced and mellow track that was perfectly pleasant to listen to but it wasn’t what I thought a Last Shadow Puppet song would sound like. It lacked this dynamic energy and charm The Age of the Understatement had. But it’s more of a song that grows on you, it’s probably the bias I have towards Alex Turner, but the more I heard it, the more I kind of liked it.

‘Aviation’ seemed like similar track to ‘Bad Habits’ but a major step up from it but still just short of that TLSP charm I’m looking for. But ‘Miracle Aligners’ was a godsend (so far) for this album. It sounds very similar to that song ‘My Girl, My Guy’, which may explain why I like the song (what can I say, the hook is catchy). And the video that accompanied that song, my gosh, I haven’t giggled this much in a long time.

I have so many questions. Why are they tan? Why is Alex’s hair in disarray? Who taught them to dance? What’s up with with the flower petals in the beginning? Was Alex’s part dubbed or is he really speaking Italian? You know what, nevermind, I love the video. It’s a sweet representation of their blooming bromance that I am very jealous of.

Throughout the rest of the album, I can’t help but think that Alex’s and Miles’ newfound image of this exaggerated macho attitude has had a direct impact on the album. It sounds as if they’re trying extra hard to come across as suave and debonair. And if you stripped the album off of its orchestrated instrumentation, I think you might just get Arctic Monkeys’ AM. A very popular album, just not my favourite Arctic Monkeys album.

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I’ve Got A Crush On You Karen O


Karen O | Crush Songs |

Blossoming as a solo artist, Karen O has released an LP of ‘Crush Songs’ under Cult Records and is beginning to sound more sincere and vulnerable than ever.

Throughout the LP, it felt like an intimate acoustic session with the singer. The stripped down guitars, her far-off vocals and the lyrics made the whole album even more poignant. It’s cheesy to say this, but Karen O’s ‘Crush Song’s are heartfelt and definitely strikes a chord with the listener. There’s emotions of longing, despair and at times, some comfort. Basically what it’s like to have a crush.

It feels like the inevitable moment of forming a crush and all the frustrations that come along with it. The second track, ‘Rapt’, is the never-ending pondering of whether your feelings will be reciprocated. Do I really need, another habit like you, I really need, Do you need me too, I believe it’s gonna leave me blue. 

It progresses with a similar anguished mood but all is not lost. Halfway through the album, things start to pick up with ‘Day Go By’ where she starts to sound a little more hopeful and rosy. Tracks like ‘King’, ‘Indian Summer’ and ‘Sunset Sun’ maintains the tender moment and it sort of gives it a happy ending, so to say. Until ‘Native Korean Rock’ starts and you finally hear Karen O expressing her honest-to-goodness self. Truly a happy ending I suppose.

Listening to ‘Crush Songs’ feels like you’ve opened a diary full of smitten confessions. Maybe it’s the same story repeated one or two times, but just like a diary, you’re drawn to its sentimental contents and Karen O’s earnest vocals are a bonus.

(For some reason I keep picturing Ellen Page singing these songs in Juno.)

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Childhood’s Sparkling Debut


Childhood  | Lacuna |

I have been anticipating for Lacuna ever since I listened to Falls Away and Solemn Skies. The two tracks were an incredible introduction to the London four-piece. I’ve made my adoration for the track Falls Away quite clear on ‘On My Loop’ but Solemn Skies is another gem from the band. The track is the epitome of alternative pop rock. Contrary to its title, the song is addictive, bouncy and almost radiant.

Many have commented that Childhood is a sub-standard version of The Stone Roses and I don’t blame them. It’s easy to hear the resemblance between the two with their bright and psychedelic guitar riffs that could last forever and drumming that feels so effortlessly fun and easy. It definitely would be difficult for Childhood to ever amount to the legend that is The Stone Roses but at the rate Childhood is going, they could be around for a while.

Lacuna introduces itself with Blue Velvet which initiates a calming ethereal sound with a chorus which is certainly a crowd-pleaser. You Could Be Different is this gritty lo-fi track that has riffs that just dances off of the speakers. As I Am takes a much more invigorating pace making you feel all warm and cozy. Right Beneath Me is one track that accentuates the velvety vocals of Ben Romans-Hopcraft to a whole new level of tranquility. Romans-Hopcraft’s falsetto is somehow able to bring a little more emotion and longing to the track.

Tides is where the band experiments with a slower pace. The track is smooth, has guitar twangs that are out of this realm and the vocals are incredibly gentle. It’s something you would imagine slow dancing to at beach, when the sun is down and the tides of the ocean rolling in and out. Chilliad continues this chill feeling with guitars that are like rays of sunlight seeping through each cloud of nostalgia. Pay For Cool, one my personal favourite, is fast and racy making you feel as if you’re hurtling through the city lights. The riffs are quirky and loose adding to that dangerous excitement of the track. When You Rise manages to end the album boldly that leaves an imprint of the band in your mind.

Childhood made their entrance along with other promising indie alternative bands but they have managged to achieve consistently catchy hooks and now stands slightly above the rest. Lacuna impresses and exhibits the band’s talent from not being able to play a single note a year ago, to making music that just hits all the right notes.


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From Horrifically Good to Extragalactic


The Horrors | Luminous |

From Tim Burton bad boys that were yelling and screaming to gentle and glistening cooing The Horrors have probably done it all, and we love them for it. Notable experimentation can only work in any band’s favor. It shows a range of talent that definitely impresses and that’s exactly what The Horrors have done.  They debuted as an overly edgy gothic punk rock band that had these intense sounds in Strange House. It was honestly terrifying for me but it grew on me for some reason. The same goes for Tim Burton I have to say, it was dark, twisted and maybe awry at times but some sort of element was still reeling me in.

The Horrors progressed on to more albums like Primary Colours and Skying. They did seem to be taming their sound to be more digestible with Badwan no longer straining his vocals in Primary Colours. Nonetheless, their grit still surfaces reminding us of their gothic punk roots. Such as one of my personal favourite Primary Colours track, Who Can Say, has a kind of livid guitars and drumbeats that could last forever. Badwan’s vocals somehow manages to slip its way through the intensity of it all and be both genuine and yet unattached simultaneously, especially when he adds some unsettling dialogue about leaving a girl behind and not really giving a damn. I’m getting ahead of myself but you do see the evolvement of the band. This development of a softer sound kind of stuck with Skying and even after that. Which is where Luminous, The Horrors latest piece of work comes in.

The album aptly named with tracks that are astral. It gives you this illusion of being featherweight and passing by celestial landmarks. Chasing Shadows opens the album opportunely. There’s a glinting quality to it but its fast pace keeps it dynamic. First Day of Spring excites more so than the previous track. The track jitters magically alongside Badwan’s expressively drawn out vocals. So Now You Know is as if it’s a continuation of the unprecedented Still Life, relatively delicate and entrancing. This track is the more prominent of the album and is clear as to why it was The Horror’s chosen single. The track puts you at ease but delivers those punches when needed.

In and Out of Sight and Jealous Sun reminisces their previous horrific ways, sort of. In and Out of Sight still possess the luminous characteristic of the cosmic universe but with an edge. The track is unsettling by the end, like there is a cause for concern. That unrest feeling lingers on in Jealous Sun with moaning guitars, but Badwan’s composed vocals manages to take the edge off a little in the chorus. Even so, the track leaves you uncertain of possible vulnerability. Despite the title, Falling Star curiously takes a much more sprightly direction which could be its unfortunate downfall. The unorthodox and fidgety introduction was unique in its own way but it all became a bit off when the twinkle sets in. Even Badwan doesn’t seem fully comfortable during Falling Star. The epic ending that they were hoping for here regrettably, did not prevail.

I See You seems to be more of the band’s pace; it’s stirring and exciting and did produce that incredible ending that they were aiming for the entire time. Change Your Mind a mushy track about romance that starts out slightly dull but does compensate by showing more spirit in the later half. Mine and Yours, a favourite of mine is almost a like a passionate love ballad from the 80s. Badwan swoons along with elongated guitar twangs and impressive drum build-up that just give this track depth and actual meaning. Sleepwalk however is an offbeat track in the out-of-this-world album, sadly. The track was too concentrated on the bizarre and whimsical.

Despite the unsatisfactory close The Horrors managed to dazzle with their fourth LP Luminous. It is honestly almost like a venture outside of this planet that is extragalactic.


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Tribes’ Day Has Come


Tribes | Baby |

This debut album may have been released a few years back and the band has even produced a second album that was less than sub par since then. However, ‘Baby’ will always be an impressive album to me. It’s punchy, bold and breezy songs keep reeling me in and never leave dull feeling. Although, not every debut album is stunningly revolutionary and ‘Baby’ is no exception. A number of forgettable tracks do surface but the stronger and catchier ones definitely compensates.

Their debut album personally, is a classic alternative rock album (for this era) where the tracks are rock anthems just for you to jam out to. It opens tremendously with ‘Whenever’ where there’s a heavy bassline and a youthful chorus that could propel you to shout to along “if you came back, it’d just be me and you.”

‘Corner of An English Field’ and ‘Halfway Home’ are heartfelt with the guitars sounding rich and sultry. Lloyd’s vocals are absolutely earnest as he expressively sings about a difficult relationship in ‘Corner of An English Field’. Lloyd’s coarse and grit lets the latter track sound like a rugged lullaby that could almost give you goose bumps.

‘Sappho’, ‘Himalaya’ and ‘Nightdriving’ all continue this dark and grungy sound that embodies the album. However, ‘When My Day Comes’ is where the album peaks. The track is vibrant and energetic with a carefree chorus “just been out having fun, now it don’t mean a thing to me or no one, I will live my life when my day comes,” which is the rock anthem that I’ve been longing for quite some time. The hype of the track is continued with ‘Walking in The Street’ which is cheery and pretty upbeat, leaving a spring in your step in some such way.

‘Baby’ concludes with the mellow ballad of ‘Bad Apple’ and the tuneful country track ‘Alone or With Friends’. These last two tracks are pretty humdrum after listening to the bands other dynamic tracks. It was an abrupt halt to the spirit of the album. Nonetheless, Tribe’s debut album is fresh and youthful but still gives you a slight sense of nostalgia of old alternative rock. To this day I still adore it and associate this band with this album.

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A Rightful Tribute to Wes Anderson


Various Artists |I Saved Latin! : A Tribute to Wes Anderson|

I love Wes Anderson movies, i may be labelled as a hipster for it but it doesn’t matter. His movies possess an intriguing element that just reel you into the universe of Wes Anderson. The characters that he brings to life all seem so relatable but all have their own special quality, disorder or issue that makes them so entertaining to watch. It’s the eccentricities and subtle humour that Wes Anderson is genius at and the reason why his movies have attracted cult attention. My personal favourite Wes Anderson film, Rushmore, speaks to my inner ambitions. Max Fischer is determined, although with a lack of focus, but is certain about what he’s passionate about and that’s as quote “going to Rushmore.” Sure it might seem slightly immature to want to go to school for the rest of your life at least he knows where his strengths lie and that’s admiring to me, knowing what you’re good at. Despite his many achievements through his countless curricular activities, Max still has insecurities such as being embarrassed that his father’s a barber instead of some successful hot shot.

I think that’s the reason to Wes Anderson’s success. His characters are all relatively accomplished individuals but is still yearning to achieve something that actually matters. The soundtrack that accompanies the characters through their emotional adventure is able to sum up each milestone moment so aptly. The songs are always whimsy and gentle and it fits in the world of Wes Anderson wonderfully. The songs fills the spaces in the films eloquently and stretches a sentiment that was enveloped within us and eventually leaves a lasting impression. It was only a matter of time before a tribute album was produced in honour of the brilliance of Wes Anderson. ‘I Saved Latin: A Tribute to Wes Anderson’ and my personal favourite quote, is a triumphant tribute and is must listen for any fan. It may be hard to adjust with the original song ingrained in your brain along with the scene vividly replaying in your mind. But the covers here make an admirable attempt to carve a new and colourful path but still essentially preserves the unique characteristic of the original.

Taking PHOX’s ‘The Way I Feel Inside’ as an example, it’s serene adaptation on The Zombies’ original brilliantly upholds the intent of sincerely  expressing one’s feelings. It’s touching to the extent that gives you goosebumps and especially when the vocals start  to a hit a trembling high that is just haunting. It doesn’t emulate the song’s predecessor but attempts to have a new spin at it and possibly do it justice. Just as how Freelance Whales’ cover of the jaunty ‘Let Her Dance’ was refreshingly different. Instead of keeping the upbeat pace, Freelance Whales made it more tame and kind accompanied with this gleam of guitars and keyboards. Despite the distinct change, the track still feels bright-eyed and cheery.

These tracks are just the two of many other marvelous covers in this tribute to Wes Anderson. They’re not the first-hand tracks that made you fall in love with The Tenenbaums, Steve Zissou and Max Fischer and may never compensate the original soundtracks of these cult films. But it was never suggested that we alter the universe of Wes Anderson that we have all come to know and love. It would be as if we were repainting the Starry Night, it just wouldn’t be as right as before. But the concept of  idiosyncrasy and peculiar personalities is still intact. There’s a feeling of susceptibility as you’re listening to this tribute, a similar feeling when you get cosy with a Wes Anderson film and i think that’s what makes this tribute pretty pleasurable.

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Heaving Heavier Sounds


The Maccabees |Given to the Wild|

I cannot stress enough how much I adore this band. This English indie-rock group first captured me with their single ‘First Love’ from their debut LP ‘Colour It In.’ The track was fast and energetic but Orlando Weeks’ cooing vocals was absolutely endearing and wore me down with these touchy-feely emotions. I was hooked even more so when I saw Weeks’ puppy dog eyes in the music video. The Maccabees’ debut may have consisted mostly of nimble and vibrant tracks about tender moments but it was catchy, memorable serving as a very impressive debut.

Their follow-up did not fail to level up to their splendid debut. ‘Wall of Arms’ touched on similar heartfelt subjects but they have taken a different turn from bright and merry tunes. But it is no less dynamic than before. That endearing quality that this band consists is still prevalent throughout this album though with a slight maturity. It is clear that the band is evolving as they go from album to album, especially on ‘Given to the Wild’. Their tracks get heavier and more refined as they grow as a band.

The sounds from third album of The Maccabees’ might be almost unrecognisable compared with their previous work but Weeks’ swooning yelping is always a significant and noticeable aspect in their music. This time round, the band has ditched that high energy from their past two albums and has instead adopted an atmospheric, ethereal but weighty take for this album. The opening title track already has this spacious feel, affirming the assumption that this album is going to be in contrast to its predecessors.

Transitioning from the title track, ‘Child’ has a kind and dreamy introduction. When the beat kicks in and Week’s concerning vocal’s come in, a stirring emotion kind of surfaces. The addition of trumpets along with scintillating guitars makes the climax all the more striking. ‘Feel to Follow’ is an acceleration from the previous tracks. It has frenzied guitars that complement Week’s drawn-out yelping, racing drum beats and brief piano playing making for a stimulating track.

‘Ayla’ and ‘Glimmer’ both have a similar glistening aura that is quite ravishing actually. ‘Forever I’ve Known’ is initially clouded with a woeful eeriness but slowly picks up the pace while Weeks wavers delicately before a fearsome riff takes over. Weeks upliftingly chants “are we so different,” in ‘Heave’ which is just airy and pretty magical. ‘Pelican’ then starts to punch in and touches on the roots of their past work, sounding more dynamic than the other tracks on this LP.

The LP does start to get more energetic in the later half after ‘Pelican’ and with ‘Go’ being such an intense and overwhelming track that wouldn’t have been triumphant if it wasn’t arranged so sublimely. ‘Unknown’ has Weeks softly wallowing with a background set with instrumentals that is fuelled with temper and grit but soon surprises us with a calming female voice crying out “just while, love remembers.” As a whole, it closes off magnificently with ‘Grew Up at Midnight’. A sensation of blitheness comes over you as if you were reminiscing about your carefree childhood.

‘Given to the Wild’ is definitely a more polished and glossier album of The Maccabees. Commencing enchantingly and eventually leading to more hard-hitting and adventurous tracks. It shows that The Maccabees are maturing from cute and cuddly songs to something with a lasting and memorable impact. If you haven’t heard them, ‘Given to the Wild’ is sure to make you genuine fan.

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Drowners’ Mediocre Debut


Drowners |(Self-Titled)|

Alright, I admit what attracted me to the Drowners was the former Welsh model now turned musician, Matt Hitt. His rugged yet innocent attraction had pulled me in and intrigued a new found interest. Being enticed by the dapper frontman of a rock band was inevitable but with Matt Hitt’s good looks, there was almost an instantaneous appeal. No need for a marketing manager when you’ve got his cheekbones. I apologize for the constant mention of this particular character but it is where I first discovered his new project, the almost punk-rock Drowners.

The first listen to ‘Luv, Hold Me Down,’ was relatively promising. It may not be the ground-breaking sounds to represent a new generation of music, or even an uncommon sound of music but it was enjoyable. It did feel as if I had put on a combination an amateur version of the The Kooks and The Libertines. The track felt breezy, youthful and basically fun. ‘A Button On Your Blouse’ bore a striking resemblance to the former track but hey, it’s a Drowners song. Why wouldn’t it sound similar? However, the latter track held a slightly gentler pace than its former but consisted of the same zest nonetheless.

These two tracks gave me high hopes that their debut album could be rather delightful and that they were possibly hiding tracks that could surpass the first two I’ve heard. Or it could also just be the appeal of Matt Hitt misleading me. The LP opened averagely. ‘Ways To Phase a Rejection’ was a like a small tribute to The Strokes that needed a lot of getting used to. It introduced itself with guitar plucks jumping from ear to ear (reminded me a lot of ‘Automatic Stop’) maybe to just give the track a little more depth, even adding on short dialogue in the background at some point. It was acceptable throughout but I was completely lost when a squeaky guitar solo of some sort kind of made me cringe a little.

The next track was as discouraging as the first. Verses were surprisingly short and the chorus was not as snappy as I hoped it would be –“all the girls have long hair/ and all the boys have long hair/ and your were missing out.” Even the reoccurring ‘aahs’ didn’t feel necessary. So far, the band was trying to satisfy with a false sense of profoundness. When ‘Luv, Hold Me Down’ followed after, I kept my fingers crossed that my potential obsession with them could be assured with the next set of tracks just as this track did. Some of it did come through. The likeable quality of the band was able to show through and the instrumentation had taken itself up a notch. ‘Watch You Change’ had a funkier attitude, a twinkly suddenly rough chorus. ‘Unzip Your Harrington,’ one of the stronger tracks, has an easeful melody and a somewhat memorable chorus. Hitt’s supple crooning in the track definitely helps though.

There are still a number of blunders in the LP however, such as ‘Bar Chat’ which is hurried, rowdy and not in a good way. Sure he could be channelling Julian Casablancas again but the track lacks a certain quality that The Strokes possessed.  Even the closing track, ‘You Keep Showing Up’ is lifeless. Hitt’s vocals aren’t exactly full of emotion and expression nor does it sound particularly extraordinary. Singing in an acoustic track without any distinct specialty or even personality n is a cause for a drudging feel.

Even though the better tracks are sprightly and roughly entertaining, the Drowners debut may still acquire this moderate aspect to it, could be the lack of lyrical substance. You’ll appreciate the songs the band has to offer and they’re not too bad to admire either, but they don’t exactly inspire a substantial fondness.

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On My Loop: Gorillaz – To Binge ft. Little Dragon

Sure Gorillaz are known for songs like ‘Feel Good Inc.’ and ‘Clint Eastwood’ but this track is gorgeous. ‘To Binge’ is where synthesizers and “computer” beats are used to it’s full potential. The gentleness of this track from the short and spacy rhythm from the  guitar makes it even more so atmospheric. The smooth voice of Little Dragon and the soul from Damon Albarn makes the story of a complicated relationship involving substance abuse, even more touching. 

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