It feels strange to say that this sound isn’t much different than prior Radiohead albums. But it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve grown up on Radiohead, going back to 1995 when I was 10 years old watching ‘Ok Computer’ for the first time… freaked out of my mind. I’ve grown so expected to hear drastic changes in their sound from album to album that I’ve learned to gauge each one as if it was from an entirely new artist each time.
I was pleasantly surprised, as usual, listening to The King of Limbs. It doesn’t seem like 4 years ago Radiohead released ‘In Rainbows’ but that is in fact the case. The two albums are structured very similarly. About 10 songs, very full, and long instrumental transitions to carry the songs from one to another. The King of Limbs is actually only 8, but you wouldn’t guess if you just listened to the album straight through initially.
The King of Limbs carries a little more jazz than Radiohead typically uses, to which I am a fan. The opening song, ‘Bloom’, begins with a very progressive upbeat jazz bassline that stays consistent over an eclectic array of ambient strings and random electronic sounds. It’s a great intro to the album and if you weren’t prompted, it’s hard to tell where one song begins and another ends.
Thom Yorke comes up with great melodies in his singing to compliment the instruments, and in some cases, his own voices. He harmonizes over his own vocals a few times, one of his better features I think, and a somewhat rare talent in the genre he uses.
Every band gets to a point where they start to run low on their creative juices and don’t venture out as much in search of new sounds. Radiohead has probably been venturing for new sounds longer than most bands have been in existence, but I will admit, it seems like they are running out of new styles to create. It’s tough. The Radiohead of 1993 is nothing like the Radiohead of 2011, and if their has ever been a sound that I believe the group is satisfied with, it’s the one they currently have now. The songs don’t sound dull or repetitive and still test your listening skills to their fullest extent.
I haven’t had to say “It’s not as good as their last album”, and I don’t believe I’m going to for a while. I just think the formula might stay the same.
Alright, so I’m trying something new. I have a pretty big opinion on what’s good in music, what’s horrible in music, and what’s a little over hyped. I want to add my opinion to an already over saturated sea of opinions. But, I think it’s worth it. ;)
So, with that… Lupe Fiasco’s L.A.S.E.R.S. I’ve had a week to listen to this, pretty much non stop, taking in every track I could. My friends encouraged me to listen to this multiple times to truly give the music time to sink in, and I believe it’s only fair, so I did. To be honest though, my initial opinion didn’t change much.
I want to start by saying it’s great. I love it. It’s an album from start to finish, with full complete songs from an “artist” who actually deserves the label. Most albums are 1-2 songs here and there, and that’s about how many months we spend actually paying attention to their career. This has great artistic thought placed on every track, and for that I praise it.
But, I don’t judge it simply on the rap standard anymore. I judge it on the Lupe Standard now. How does it fair against other Lupe albums, and artists who compete against him on his level? That is where I feel this album came up short. With the constant album release date push-backs, controversy of Lupe’s last album, and all the distractions that came along with the hype, the album looks unfinished. I immediately noticed it has less tracks than his 2 prior. Most of the tracks I’ve been hearing about in the months leading up are not included anymore, and are just on youtube or mixtapes. Songs I thought would help complete. Cut down to 12 tracks, it just seems unfinished. That’s a normal standard too, so I guess that’s more a compliment to his previous releases.
Also, there was nothing that really blew me away. I really just heard “same ol-Lupe” on new beats. He provides 20% of the hooks, give or take, so it’s really just relying (for him) on his verses and their delivery. Like I said, good as usual, but as usual. He’s choosing instrumentals that are modern, which is great, incorporating a lot of “thick” synth sounds, which is common for almost any beat you hear on the radio, but it’s not anything I haven’t heard someone do. People like Chiddy Bang were influenced by Lupe Fiasco, and now I think it’s a little bit of Lupe being influenced now. He emulates a lot of trendy rappers and their antics to get a little spotlight, even borrowing from some pop.
I want to stress that I still think it’s a great album, but every time Kanye West drops something, I’m dying to hear the new sounds and styles that get incorporated with his flow, and with this, I wasn’t thrown anything I haven’t seen. My complaint is that he didn’t reach the standard that is set too high, which is unfair, but when you’re an incredible MC like Lupe, you gotta just keep raising the bar.
Songs to listen to :
All Black Everything
Out of My Head featuring Trey Songz