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

The Official Chart for January 31

I mentioned Aubrie Sellers last week, and her album is now out. The “garage country” description might suggest an abrasive sound, but it’s more attractively scuzzy – in places it reminds me of REM’s accidental glam album, Monster. Aside from “Loveless Rolling Stone,” which I mentioned last week (and which is perhaps the apex of the “attractively scuzzy” aesthetic), other standouts are “Dreaming in the Day” (a prettier take on the sound) and “Losing Ground,” which seems like an admirably honest take on depression.

I only heard of Chairlift a couple of weeks ago, which turns out to have been good timing, because they’ve now got a new album out. It’s great, almost a sampler of styles in contemporary electronic pop, from the beautiful “Crying in Public” (which is arguably too beautiful for the ugly experience of crying in public, but if pop can’t romanticize ugliness, what can?) to the banging “Moth to the Flame” (I spent ages trying to figure out what the synth clangs that open the song remind me of – turns out it was “Spending All my Time” by Perfume, which is also banging).

Big release of this week is obviously Rihanna’s Anti. I remember when Talk that Talk came out, I was disappointed and kind of annoyed by how half-assed and thrown together it seemed. Anti is just as thrown together, but I find that I don’t mind. Part of this I’m sure is that Rihanna is, increasingly, such a blessing as a pop-cultural figure that we’re lucky she deigns to release music at all; part of it is that I ended up warming to Talk that Talk quite a bit; and part of it is that while Anti is disjointed, when it’s good it is really good. Lead single “Work” is currently my favourite track, with its repetitive beats and the arrogant laziness of Rihanna’s vocals. Bonus track “Pose” is also very good.

I admired Dawn Richard’s Blackheart when it came out last year, but I found I got less out of it the more I listened to it. I think there’s something rebarbative about the production; the distinct elements all mix together in a way that I think is supposed to be enveloping, but I found muffled and alienating. I found that even more the case with her last single, “Dance,” so I’m pleased to find that her new track, “Not above That,” has a much lighter touch.

A few other things. A new track from Kitten which, despite the soaring backing vocals and the bells, somehow doesn’t quite have the overwrought overdramatic quality that I likes in their earlier songs. Still, it’s been stuck in my head a fair bit, so maybe I’m underestimating it. Bosco is a singer from Atlanta who seems interested in reviving the kind of twinkly dance-R&B that was big five-ish years ago, which is a goal I approve of. The Erised appears to be a bunch of Ukranian d&b producers pursuing electronic indie-pop as a side project, which ends up sounding not entirely unlike Chairlift.