Fifth Harmony seem to have settled on a sound, and that sound is tropical-house&B bangers. It’s a bit like when The Saturdays were all “why have different sounds on our albums when we could just make massive rave bangers?” and they were right to make that choice. Tropical house isn’t as good a sound as generic rave, but it’s a good sound and works well for Fifth Harmony. Leads singles “Work from Home” and “The Life” are both breezy and summery, as is Vybz Kartel cover “Gonna Get Better.” There’s also a note-perfect Prince pastiche (with sadly #problematic lyrics and a slightly underwhelming Missy Elliott verse), “Not that Kinda Girl.” I think my favourite track, though, is a departure from their tropical house sound, the lovestoned “Dope,” that kind of reminds me of Kehlani.
New Girli single “Too Much Fun” is extremely banging. In this interview she approvingly quotes The Streets, and Girli’s lyrics definitely share the precision and pathos that were evident on (especially) The Streets’ first album.
Anna Wise has apparently collaborated frequently with Kendrick Lamar, but I don’t think you’ld guess that from her solo EP, The Feminine: Act I, which is the kind of poptimist-friendly pop I’d associate with Robyn; specifically, the best track on the EP, “Go,” sounds quite a bit like “Who’s that Girl.”
Some surprisingly 90s dance sounds from Africaine 808’s Basar. There’s the kind of jazzy techno I associate with Gilles Peterson; something kind of Asian Dub Foundation-y; and even gospel dance that reminds me of Alabama 3.
Yumi Zouma’s debut album Yoncalla continues in the style of the pretty synth-indie of their previous two EPs (from which I would especially recommend “Second Wave“). But perhaps a bit more synth and a bit less indie, ending up in Sally-Shapiro-esque places, as on “Remember you at All.”
When I read that Beth Orton was making a more dance-inspired album, I assumed this meant a return to her 90s sound. That’s broadly true of “Snow,” the first track on Kidsticks, but much less true of the rest of the record. Except for the rather naff single “1973,” the album is pretty understated, in a way that I haven’t yet decided is best described as “boring” or “a grower.” Repeatedly listening to “Flesh and Blood” while writing this is pushing me towards “grower,” though.
“Sunday Love” is the third lead track from Bat for Lashes’s upcoming album, and the most like her previous records. IDK if the fact that it’s also the track of the three that’s got me most excited about the album is a sign of the deplorable conservatism of my taste.
I’m wondering if the popularity of tropical house will lead to a diffusion of a whole range of dance versions of Carribean music styles. It could be a good thing, if Dragonette’s ska track “Lonely Hearts,” and Danish soca banger “Wild Child” from Kongsted and Cisilia are anything to go by.