Arts and Entertainment | Music

September album preview: From ‘Crush Songs’ to ‘Late Nights’

New semester, new you, new music. After a somewhat underwhelming musical summer whose highlights included Morrissey begging us to kiss him a lot (um, no) and Kimbra egregiously mispronouncing the names of just about every ’90s superstar (it’s uh-LI-uh, not AH-li-ya, FYI), the industry is back in gear. This month, we’ll be seeing new releases from resurgent cult figures, a Yeah Yeah Yeah breaking out on her own, and a long-awaited full-length album from R&B’s late night king.

Aphex Twin—‘Syro’
Wandering NYC this summer, you may have spotted the Aphex Twin logo spraypainted outside Radio City Music Hall or on Williamsburg sidewalks. If you were in London, you might have seen a green blimp emblazoned with the characteristically askew ‘AT’ floating above the city. A cursory glimpse at Twitter would have shown you thousands retweeting a mysterious deep web URL. This August, the English electronic artist also known as Richard D. James returned. His new album, “Syro,” will be his first release in 13 years, and with track titles such as “s950tx16wasr10 [163.97][earth portal mix],” we’re sure to get more of the knotty electronica that has made James’ name since the early ’90s.

NehruvianDOOM—‘NehruvianDOOM’
MF DOOM is famed for his diverse collaborative projects, featuring a host of hip-hop stalwarts from Madlib to Danger Mouse. What makes his upcoming release under the moniker NehruvianDOOM most exciting, then, is his choice of collaborator: the young New York upstart Bishop Nehru. The two fit surprisingly well, with Nehru’s deft nasality complementing DOOM’s hoarse growl. Their debut single “Om” particularly showcases Nehru’s agile wordplay (“am I being idolised or am I just a pair of idle eyes?”) over a playfully menacing DOOM beat. There’s no news of any further singles, so hold tight until Sept. 23 for more cross-generational excellence from this dynamic duo.

Illustration by Rachael Dottle

Karen O—‘Crush Songs’
For Yeah Yeah Yeahs fans, the news that frontwoman Karen O would be releasing an album of love songs recorded eight years ago was probably the most exciting announcement of the summer. So far, we’ve only heard “Rapt,” which at first feels slight and undercooked but swiftly endears itself to the listener. The verses sound like acoustic Yeah Yeah Yeahs—you can imagine the missing Nick Zinner guitar riff under lines like “love’s a fuckin’ bitch.” But the chorus presents us with something entirely new: a mellow, vulnerable Karen O, doubting her lover and herself. O described the album as “the soundtrack to what was an ever-continuing love crusade,” and while it’s sonically closest to her work on the “Where the Wild Things Are” soundtrack, there seems to be an emotional depth and maturity that that album’s joyous juvenilia belied.

Jeremih—‘Late Nights: The Album’     
Jeremih’s rise to fame wasn’t surprising, but his recent critical success certainly was. The singer/rapper who came into our lives with the unpromising and slightly gross “Birthday Sex” was embraced by everyone from Billboard to Pitchfork when he released the “Late Nights With Jeremih” mixtape in 2012. The slinky album track “Fuck You All The Time” became a breakout hit among the PBR&B demographic and led to a collaborative EP with Shlohmo. While the album’s first single “Don’t Tell Em” shares more of its DNA with Sage the Gemini and Chris Brown’s recent output than with the crystalline minimalism of “Fuck You All The Time,” we have high hopes for this record.

Yelle—‘Complètement Fou’
From what we’ve heard so far, “Complètement Fou,” the third record from French electro-poppers Yelle, is a hard one to pin down. The title translates to “completely crazy,” and production credits from Ke$ha collaborator Dr. Luke suggest a rollicking dance album that is as fun as it is funky. On the other hand, the single “Bouquet Final” is a synth-driven slow-burner that encapsulates the emotional contradictions of falling in love in four bass-heavy minutes. Another track that seems out of kilter with Dr. Luke’s take-no-prisoners approach to pop is “Florence en Italie,” a song that focuses on being overwhelmed by inconceivable beauty. It’s an interesting mix—one that could place Yelle as a last-minute contender for pop album of the year.

noah.jackson@columbiaspectator.com | @noahknew

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