Doing this weekly music post thing has encouraged me to seek out more new music, which is good, but is a problem when a record comes along that requires more than a week to really get to grips with. Such a record is Róisín Murphy’s new album Take Her up to Monto, one of the strangest records I’ve heard in quite some time. That strangeness doesn’t prevent it from being very definitely a Róisín Murphy record, quite the contrary; it’s like every strange edge of her previous records but concentrated and expanded upon, until you’re left with an album which feels like the culmination of a trajectory Murphy has always been on, in which lounge and deep house finally become interchangeable.
We continue with lounge week here at Voyou Désoeuvré with Neon Bunny’s new album Stay Gold. Well, by “lounge” I apparently mean the kind chillout synthpop of “Romance in Soul” or “Forest of Skyscrapers“; it’s an even less accurate term for the sad pop of “All I Want is You” or “It’s You.”
The two major food groups in my Spotify Discover Weekly playlists are morose indie synthpop (always appreciated) and alt-R&B (sometimes appreciated), so I suppose it’s no surprise that their algorithms would eventually create a hybrid of the two. It turns out to be really good, at least in the form produced by Moglii and Novaa.
The Lil B tracks on Clams Casino’s album are pretty much what you would expect from Clams and Lil B: woozy synths backing up Lil B’s strangely intoxicating declamatory flow. Which is still a great sound, but it’s also interesting to hear Clams Casino moving in what I thought was a new direction, a much more pop-R&B one, on “Back to You” (featuring vocals from Kelly Zutrau, who is apparently in an alt-R&B band from Brooklyn? Never mind), and “Into the Fire” (with Mikky Ekko) that sounds like he’s auditioning to do some production on Miguel’s next album. Actually, pop-R&B isn’t such a new direction for him, as I see he produced a track for Pia Mia in 2014.
“Vegas” and “Crybaby,” from Abra’s new EP Princess, continue the style she developed on her album Rose, although somewhat incredibly she’s getting even better at it; I would love to understand how “Vegas” manages to deploy three simple synth figures to continually increase the tension throughout the song. “Pull Up” and “Thinking of You” close out the EP and suggest that Abra is planning on going in an even more minimal direction.
Kehlani’s new track is half 90s retro harmonies, half extremely trap drum patterns.
Salt Ashes self-titled debut album strikes me as retro, but in a way I can’t immediately characterise. It’s very dancey dance-pop, but it’s not quite the same retro ingredients in recently popular chart house. Perhaps the presence of “trance” in the Bandcamp tags is the clue that the influence is more early 2000s bangers than classy 90s house. Indeed, “Half the Battle,” my favourite of the new tracks on the album, reminds me a bit of Sunscreem in that strange early-2000s period, when they were contractually prevented from releasing anything except trance remixes.