Album Audit is a weekly Interns feature, recapping and reviewing the album releases of the week with a cheeky score out of five.
Mura Masa – Mura Masa
Album Of The Week
By the time Mura Masa‘s debut, self-titled record was released on Friday, we already had nine of the 13 songs. As a result, there’s little more to discover on the record but you can understand why he’s done it. The album is a collection of individually strong tracks and while it’s a consistent, cohesive record it feels more like a playlist than anything else. And maybe that’s ok.
Mura Masa AKA. Alex Crossan is a supremely gifted producer. He’s mastered the art of making intricate, fragile productions sound accessible and effortless which actually makes the record sound a lot more simplistic than it is. The Desiigner-featuring All Around The World goes straight over your head with the weightlessness of a radio, ear worm and NOTHING ELSE! featuring Jamie Lidell is so genuinely funky that you can almost forget to appreciate the small touches. Crossan is a producer that could’ve easily placed the attention on himself like Jamie xx did on his debut solo record but instead he’s chosen the Calvin Harris format of letting the featured artists lead the way.
Still, Crossan knows how to elevate his lead parts and almost everyone featured on the album is showcased doing their best work. Bonzai is in her element on late night jam Nuggets, Christine And The Queens is given space to embrace her oddities on Second 2 None and Damon Albarn’s spot on Blu packs more of an emotional punch than anything on Gorillaz latest record. There are plenty of subtle moments but Crossan is almost always better when he’s going big and euphoric. 1 Night with Charli XCX is easily one of the best pop tracks of the year and anyone who has seen Nao live will now how elating Fireflies is live.
There isn’t a bad song on here. The only issue is, you’re left wondering who Mura Masa really is. The voice of the record is given to so many others that it often feels as if we don’t truly get to know who he is. give me The ground, one of two featureless tracks, proves that he has a less-guest heavy effort inside him. It’s beautiful and intimate, a reminder of some of the more contained moment on his Someday Somewhere EP. That said, you’re going to be hearing these tracks pulled into different playlists all over the place for at least the next year. 4
Meg Mac – Low Blows
Meg Mac hasn’t put a foot wrong in her career so far. She’s stuck to her guns and grown as a vocalist while keeping that rootsy, soulful aesthetic that houses her vocals so beautifully. With that in mind, don’t expect any big surprises on her debut solo album. Do expect an artist who is opening up more and holding her cards less close to her chest.
“Kindness and all of that/Useless I’m sick of that,” she sings on one of the early tracks Kindness and that, in part, defines the tone of the album. She’s got some strong words to say and she’s going to use this platform to get them all out. On the album’s middle centrepiece Didn’t Wanna Get So Low But I Had To, she sings, “I’m good at lying down.” As cathartic as this may be for the listener, Low Blows is for Mac. It really feels as if she’s challenging herself to be stronger and therein lies the album’s power. Ride It digs its heels in and soars with rumbling brass, the title track growls with its hearty chorus and Kindness sees her step into the role of glossy soul songstress with ease.
She recorded the album Niles City Sound, who worked on Leon Bridges’ record, in Texas and the album’s soulful roots feel authentic. Her declarations of love and heartache sometimes dig as deep into the soul as truth tellers Janis Joplin or Aretha Franklin but there are a few moments that fall a little flat. The story of Brooklyn Apartment (It’s Louder Than the TV and the Radio) doesn’t really connect to the narrative of the rest of the LP and opener Grace Gold promises something grander that’s never really delivered.
Those are the few moments that she steps back from the honesty delivered on the rest of the record. When she’s raw and open, channelling herself rather than retro heroes, Low Blows is captivating. It’s both brave and healing when her soul is stripped bare and while that’s no doubt scary for her, it’s also when she’s at her most empowering. 3.5
WizKid – Sounds From The Other Side
Thanks to Drake, dancehall has crept its way back into the mainstream but it probably hasn’t given enough mainstream attention to actual dancehall artists like Wizkid and Popcaan. Drake has a lot to thank Nigerian artist Wizkid for though. Without him One Dance wouldn’t have had a shred of authenticity. At the same time they recorded One Dance, they also recorded Come Closer which appears on Sounds From The Other Side and is arguably the better of the two tracks. That’s because it’s hard to argue that Drake’s voice sounds better on a dancehall beat than Wizkid’s. Wizkid has an ease and a feel for melody that makes you sink into his major label debut, likely to award him the attention he deserves, without considering it at all.
Sounds From The Other Side doesn’t deviate from dancehall at all but it does open to Western hip-hop slightly. Drake, Ty Dolla $ign, Trey Songz and Major Lazer all feature on the album but their contributions are minute. Wizkid is more than capable of carrying the album by himself and solo tracks like the sunny opener Sweet Love and the shuffling, seductive Sexy prove that.
The LP is a record for the dancefloor and it should be treated appropriately. It’s full of beats intended for communal gatherings and it’s that feeling that makes the whole thing so infectious. The Latino stylings of All For Love are so rich and flavoursome while Daddy Yo’s moombahton infusion is so hard to deny. The only thing lacking from the album is something a little more autobiographical. Ojuelegba from his last record Ayo was a “hustle” anthem and there’s something really celebratory about that. Sounds From The Other Side for the mainstream market but that doesn’t mean he should have to ditch sharing his story and celebrating his success. 3.5
Coldplay – Kaleidoscope EP
Coldplay’s last album A Head Full Of Dreams was a concession that they’d embraced their position as a stadium rock band and would now churn out music for that purpose. While they’ve always been euphoric, anthems like Hymn For The Weekend felt hollow compared to, say, Viva La Vida‘s biggest moments. You can say what you like about how lame Coldplay are, and always were, but it’s hard to deny their appeal through their ambitious Viva La Vida period.
That’s why this EP is strangely satisfying. It’s a messy mixed bag that’s hardly designed to be listened to from start to finish but some of their best recent work is housed on here, and yes, we’re even willing to forget about The Chainsmokers inclusion. Opener All I Can Think About Is You is less glossy than anything they’ve done recently and subtly alluring while A L I E N S twists and turns with genuine mystery. On those two tracks Chris Martin sounds interesting for the first time in a long time. Hypnotised takes us back to the melancholic but simultaneously euphoric work from Viva La Vida like 42 and Death And All His Friends.
Given the strength of those tracks, it’s a shame that they had to disrupt the EP with a live version of Something Like This and the beat-heavy Miracles (Someone Special) which, for unknown reasons, features a puzzling Big Sean verse. That’s Coldplay in 2017 though. The great moments are few and far between but they’re rewarding enough to forgive the band for their prior sins momentarily. 2.5