So we're now at the point where stars are emerging who were born after 9/11. Which is fine and inevitable, obviously, but... oh boy when I found out about Billie Eilish I couldn't help but take a figurative hat off and mourn my own youth. At the age of seventeen I got drunk in a cemetery on New Years' Eve and tried to choose the ugliest-possible outfits with my friends in TK Maxx; Eilish has already released a self-penned album and topped the charts.

I'm tentative to review this since, as this blog has occasionally documented, I've been ridiculously snooty in my review of debuts from artists who've since gone to grow on me wildly. The temptation is always there for (white male) critics to punch downwards to any glimpses of promising young talent, but where Pure Heroine really struggled to string together many melodies or moving songwriting, WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP... does not.

A short intro and removal of Eilish's invisalign paves way for the latest in Ei…

D∆WN (Dawn Richard) - new breed

Another one to add to Foals in that gathering of musicians whose recent back-catalogues have somehow eluded me, former Danity Kane member Dawn Richard has certainly made a name for herself in pushing the boundaries of what is expected of a former girlgroup star. Her distinctive aesthetic, intricate choreography and explosive music videos have somehow only caught attention in morsels by me, and it would seem, the pop landscape - new breed is her fourth to be released almost entirely independently and without the megadollars thrown at her contemporaries.

For whatever reason, Richard hasn't really wowed the critics either; she doesn't quite grab "best of the year" accolades that others like Solange or Janelle Monae have taken home, and always seem to pick up those four star-ratings rather than fives. new breed is her fourth to hover around the 80 mark on Metacritic, and doesn't quite threaten as much as her third album, Blackheart (a fifth - or should I say first?…

James Blake - Assume Form

I'm a little alarmed that it's already been eight years since James Blake released his debut, self-titled album. The post-dubstep comedown and intermingling with ambience and experimental electronics was a confusing time for music and myself as a listener: at first I recoiled and rejected the album harshly, and I've been slow to embrace it since. His second, 2013's Overgrown, was a masterpiece. In 2016, The Colour in Anything wasn't much worse, and now a fourth effort is upon us, he's producing for the likes of Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, and...oh, Beyoncé. It shouldn't come as a shock, then, that certain publications have turned on Blake and started throwing infantile insults about his now-quite-imitable style.

Perhaps it's more personal, though: his partner, actress Jameela Jamil, is famous on Twitter for tackling subjects such as body dysmorphia, racism and feminism, and if there's anything the media loves it's throwing dung at celebrities…

Sigrid - Sucker Punch

It will usually take a popstar one or two mediocre albums to finally produce something that'll later be described as their peak or their best: Lady GaGa took some tweaking to produce The Fame Monster, Madonna had to wait until True Blue or Like a Prayer, and Beyonce is only now producing her best albums after three or four attempts. Every once in a while, though, someone comes along with a perfectly packaged debut and it's frightening. Is Sigrid our lord and saviour?

This blogger says: maybe. Despite Carly Rae Jepsen's best efforts, pop music has succumbed to the trap machine and become a lifeless, sanguine affair the past five years. Occasional singles have come and brightened the landscape temporarily but dissolved in a sea of Bebe Rexha's Spotify algorithm pop and Anne-Marie's blind, insufferable nostalgia. It falls to 22 year-old Norwegian Sigrid, then, to follow in the footsteps of her region's forebears and save us like Robyn, Annie and ABBA have so many…

Foals - Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost - Part 1

Whilst I can't boast the most extensive listening history of all time, I do admit it is odd that this is the first Foals album I've listened to completely. A brief dislike of the band formed on an incredibly shallow level way back in the 2000s, when Never Mind the Buzzcocks reigned supreme and NME were still capable of setting trends rather than limply following them, seemed to focus on frontman Yannis Philippakis esoteric style and aloof weirdness that I found all too draining to deem the band worth a listen. It would appear, four albums later, that I was harsh and unfair.

Whether it was recently working in Oxford - Foals' hometown - or something else, their fifth album - part one of a duo to be released in 2019, apparently - is a breath of fresh air and something I've found immensely enjoyable this past month or so. There's something of a renaissance for bands of Foals' ilk lately, with the likes of the Horrors, MGMT and Everything Everything all maturing fr…

Ariana Grande - Thank U, Next

I wanted to ease back into my groove with a relatively easy person to tackle; someone who's almost inescapable at this point and about whom there is much to be said. The world is currently Ariana Grande's in a way that it is hard to remember anyone else claiming it. As a UK national, it isn't easy to connect the dots with hers and Mariah Carey's impact, because whilst across the pond Mariah racked up the #1s like tennis serves, over here the effect wasn't quite so bombastic. There've been other contenders since Carey's heyday, sure, but even the huge stars like Britney Spears, Beyonce and Katy Perry never really clung onto chart domination in the way that Grande and her boosted Spotify streams have. Perhaps that's a problem of current music consumption. Perhaps Ariana Grande is just that good.

The music has almost played second fiddle to her star-power this past five years and that's presumably something Grande is desperate to avoid: she might have…

Is this thing on? (The best of 2018)

It's been a while.
I don't imagine anyone who subscribed to me almost ten years ago is still using Blogger under the same account, and gave up on any chance of a review of the 2016 opus '24 Hrs' by Olly Murs, but I've been... well I haven't been busy at all, actually. Whatever reasons I had with originally starting up this blog were sort of obscured by my own insecurities: "no one's going to read this anyway", "you're not a good writer", "proper music critics are far more compelling", and so on. If I may be candid for a second, I suppose this hiatus was mostly due to depression. I tried to write it off with a pithy excuse that I found music critique largely pretentious and mean-spirited (and to be fair, with some establishments, it is) but I have certainly been more than culpable in adding to that in the past. My apologies, Rita Ora. 
I've still been compiling end-of-year lists for friends and other sites but never rea…