Lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living

The Official Chart for November 22

The term that best describes Bieber’s recent singles, both lyrically and vocally, is “whiny.” But on “What do you Mean” and “Sorry,” there’s something about the beat that makes this work; perhaps its the anxious bounce of the rhythm that performs the vulnerability that Bieber’s vocals are trying for. Beiber keeps up this self-pitying tone – which is almost de rigeur post Drake – for the whole album, which gets very boring very quickly, with one exception. In “Love Yourself” the title phrase is perfectly poised on the ambiguity between patronising pseudo empowerment rhetoric and a euphemism for “fuck yourself,” and that pushes the passive-aggression underlying this whole male self-pity jam trend to a moment of clarity. It’s so, so, gross, but perhaps Bieber has done us a service by producing such a perfect, I guess, artifact of 2015 normative masculinity.

CL continues her long march towards actually releasing her solo album with another banger.

Tkay Maidza continues to be the best Australian rapper, as far as I am aware, although I don’t know if I like this new track quite as much as I like her previous, the fabulously unexpected sino-grime of “M.O.B.

I was lamenting a few weeks ago the apparent narrowing of grime production. I few of the sounds I’ve been missing turn up on Murlo’s new E.P.

I only just discovered that Maya Jane Coles had released a new album this year, although it’s under her Nocturnal Sunshine alias, which she uses, I guess, to make tracks that sound like 90s dance group Sunscreem (that’s a recommendation, in case it’s not clear).

I do like The Sounds, so I guess it makes sense that Spotify would recommend I listen to makthaverskan, who turn out to be another Swedish new wave band, although they tend more to the gothier, Cure-esque end of new wave. Or, on this, their most recent track, a slightly poppier At the Drive In.

The Official Chart for November 15

Salute is a really great album; it’s thematically coherent and uses a carefully chosen range of musical styles (primarily from 90s R&B) that complement those themes. I begin by gushing about Salute in order to make it clear that when I say Get Weird isn’t as good as Salute, that doesn’t mean Get Weird isn’t good. The singles, “Black Magic” and “Love me Like You” are both very fun (especially with their teen-movie pastiche videos), and I like the 80s synth-funk of “Weird People,” too, although I suspect they were going more for Prince than for the Huey Lewis and the News sound they end up with. But it doesn’t have the awe-inspiring focus of Salute; and it’s probably nor coincidence that my favourite track on the new album is the one that’s closest to the sound of their last, “Hair.” Read more↴

The Panthers and the precariat

I’ve always thought “lumpenproletariat” was a bit of a zombie term. Marx invented the term but never really theorized it, instead presenting it – on those few occasions when he used the term more than in passing – through images of heterogeneity:

Alongside decayed roués with dubious means of subsistence and of dubious origin, alongside ruined and adventurous offshoots of the bourgeoisie, were vagabonds, discharged soldiers, discharged jailbirds, escaped galley slaves, swindlers, mountebanks, lazzaroni, pickpockets, tricksters, gamblers, maquereaus, brothel keepers, porters, literati, organgrinders, ragpickers, knife grinders, tinkers, beggars – in short, the whole indefinite, disintegrated mass, thrown hither and thither, which the French term la bohème (The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte).

Indeed, this untheorizable diversity, which “endlessly proliferates categories to encompass the spectacle of the metropolis,” may be the point of the term, as Peter Stallybrass argues in a dazzling essay on Marx and heterogeneity. But “lumpenproletariat” was taken up by Marxists as if it had a secure place within Marxist theory, as if the lumpenproletariat was a definite class with a particular role or characteristics; usually, this Marxist deployment of the term has served only to give a theoretical cover for moralism. Read more↴

The Official Chart for November 8

New Rustie! Also three-month-old Rustie that I’ve only now heard. In much the same overdriven neon Tangfastic vein as his previous work, although these new tracks seem a bit more, I don’t know, frantic? Read more↴

The Official Chart for November 1

f(x)’s aesthetics are always top notch, but I’ve generally found their music to be pretty hit and miss. The same is true of their new album, which is largely forgettable but has two fantastic tracks. One is the title track, “4 Walls,” a great slice of garage, and the other is a piano-led house track called “Rude Love.” Read more↴