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Reycism: The Year in Reyview, Chapter 4

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#HuntySUGGESTS: Come Together, La Di Da, Stay the Night, Mood, Beat Goes On

Following 2015's impossibly groovy Ego Death seemed like an impractical task, considering that it came out at the peak of the resurgence of Odd Future nostalgia. Each member rode that momentum into their own solo work, where they explored the depths of their own talents and ushered a wide variety of dynamic and swaggerish R&B projects over the past 2 years. On Hive Mind, The Internet has reconvened for a fuller and more galvanized consolidation of their own sound, but with increased polish and more of a spotlight on The Internet's backing band. Hive Mind is the album where they finally found their rhythm as a group, and songs like the polyrhythmic "La Di Da" and the immersive "Come Together" wouldn't be half as effective without the contributions of each member of the group. From Patrick's wiry basslines to Steve's slick guitar chords to Syd's pillowy vocals, Hive Mind is an album filled to the brim with indelible grooves that seems like a product of the ultimate team effort.

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#HuntySUGGESTS: monsoon daydream, ruby, warriors rose, love faded

People used to love to shit on Ben Khan for being a "Jai Paul-biter", but his self-titled debut is a fully-formed declaration of his own singularity and individuality. Ben Khan is a kaleidoscopic musical melange of a wide variety of sounds and influences, and Ben uses a vast arsenal of samples to make this album distinctly his own. This album definitely expands on the musical horizons of his previous work but it sounds so much more new and different, and it's weirdly difficult to describe this album because its energy is just so distinctly unconventional and celestial. Songs like "monsoon daydream" and "ruby" may lack the hammerblows of big pop choruses, but their atmosphere is something you can't really qualify into words

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#HuntySUGGESTS: Gladly, Devotion, Affection, Holding On

I think that the quality that really distinguishes Tirzah's debut album Devotion from so many other minimalist pop records this year is its stark amount of intimacy and honesty. Devotion is an unguarded collection of 11 simple and breathy vignettes, though its "lived-in" and candid nature is what makes it so much more cutting. The lyrics are blunt and honest and chronicle the tribulations of adulthood and love. The piano-led lead single "Gladly" is a prime example of this, leisurely meandering about with a kind of confidence that almost feels like she's reading her own diary entries to the listener. It's that particularly nuanced and almost blemished quality that captures the true stripped-down and laidback beauty of this album and made her one of my favorite discoveries this year.

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“Toss your dirty shoes in my washing machine heart / Baby, bang it up inside”

Top Songs: “Nobody,” “Washing Machine Heart,” “Two Slow Dancers,” “Why Didn’t You Stop Me,” "Geyser”

It took me a long time to finally come around to this album. I had “Nobody” on repeat for the better part of summer and was initially disappointed when Be the Cowboy, the fifth studio album by Japanese-American singer-songwriter Mitski, had a decidedly less poppy sound. Whereas “Nobody” is an irresistibly catchy disco-pop anthem that perfectly captures the crippling despair that an endless cycle of loneliness and self-deprecation entails, the rest of the album is scattershot, consisting of brief indie rock vignettes tinged with evocative lyricism and rich instrumentation. “Geyser,” true to its name, is a burst of pure emotion that slowly builds and builds to a rapturous cacophony of guitars, synths, and percussion. Like many other songs on the record, it is a skewed, vulnerable, nostalgic portrait of a love song that is all at once deeply confessional and beautifully poetic. “Pink in the Night” details an infatuation so deep that it causes a person’s skin to literally glow in the dark. “Washing Machine Heart” recalls a dysfunctional relationship by likening a person’s heart to a washing machine, always willing and able to clean another person’s impurities for little to nothing in return. The heart-rending “Two Slow Dancers” completes the collection, a mournful waltz dedicated to the fear of getting older and the fleeting nature of youth. Overall, Be the Cowboy is a gorgeous record that cements Mitski’s status as one of the greatest songwriters of her generation.

 

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“If you like the feeling of a hard rain falling / I have a sea-full, I can give you an ocean”

Top Songs: “hard rain,” “two nights,” “deep end,” “sex money feelings die”

so sad so sexy is the fourth studio album by Swedish singer-songwriter Lykke Li. It is by far her most accessible record to date, featuring productions from many a number of producers in the pop/R&B sphere, including Rostam, Jeff Bhasker, Malay, DJ Dahi, Ali Payami, and Illangelo. What sets so sad so sexy apart from its predecessors is the notable trap influence on the record. This is best seen on “hard rain,” the album’s best song. It is a dreamy, atmospheric, desolate breakup song that glides across musical and emotional landscapes with utter ease. It is a bubbling storm of heartbreak and dejection backed by a dichotomy of rap-like verse and sing-songy refrain and captivating, layered production from Vampire Weekend’s Rostam. “two nights,” another highlight, is a somber, sparsely produced piano ballad that chronicles a distraught Lykke Li as she contemplates her lover’s whereabouts. The song features some of my favorite emotionally charged moments on the record (“Two nights in a row, where'd you go?” / “You've been dancin' with somebody / On the streets with somebody”) and also features Aminé for some reason (???). “sex money feelings die” is a nice moment of lightheartedness in an otherwise heavy record, an ode to the hedonistic pleasures of life with a repetitive refrain that is way catchier than it has any right to be. so sad so sexy is by no means perfect, but it cultivates a hauntingly beautiful atmosphere of heartbreak and inner turmoil in a uniquely impactful way.

 

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Cheryl - "Love Made Me Do It"

Speaking of thotty single mothers: Hey Cheryl! After breaking up with former One Direction heartthrob and current cut-rate Justin Timberlake wannabe Liam Payne, Cheryl cobbled together her inevitable response song. Yes, it’s a predictable maneuver, but it’s hard to argue with the efficacy, given that “Love Made Me Do It” is just a wonderful piece of pop magic. I’ll admit that I was not sold on first listen, but I took a step back and remembered the mindset you have to go into a Cheryl project with: it’s all about the fun, not the feeling. Aided by an incredibly diverse pantheon of collaborators, including Australia’s Sweetheart Kylie Minogue, yesteryear’s adult contemporary chanteuse Natasha Bedingfield, former-bandmate-turned-songwriter Nicola Roberts and Xenomania queen Miranda Cooper, this track really had everything going for it from conception. The chorus is catchy as hell, the pre-chorus is super fun when you take it in the spirit intended and the verses are minimally wordy but still effective in telling the story. There’s really not much to critique here.

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CHVRCHES - "Graffiti"

In perhaps what was 2018’s greatest revelation, I encountered something I had never heard before: a CHVRCHES album that I didn’t like! Yes, in the wake of 2015’s fairly fantastic Every Open Eye, the trio had a lot to live up to and in my eyes, they plummeted from the heights in the wild spectacle that was 2018’s comeback album Love is Dead. Despite being underwhelming on the whole, Lauren and those two other guys whose names I can’t be bothered to remember managed to release one of their best songs to date in the form of the very first track on the album: “Graffiti”. This song is synthpop distilled down to its very core components; certainly simple, but beautiful in its simplicity. It’s well-trod territory lyrically, since youth rebellion songs used to be pretty dime-a-dozen, but in a modern context, the subject matter feels apropos again.

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K.I.D - "Prodigal Daughter"

Ugh, it’s bittersweet to be posting this entry, because this is emblematic of the end of a looooong love affair with the collaborative work of Kara Lane and Bobby Lo. I first became aware of the duo when they were a trio, still operating under the guise of The Boom Boom, back in 2013. The duo’s evolution into K.I.D demonstrated so much growth and in the five years since, they’ve really increased their profile, despite numerous setbacks and roadblocks. The release of their long-awaited debut album Tired All the Time came as sad news earlier this year, because it was announced concurrently with the band’s breakup. The album is highly polished melancholy in a garage pop package and this ambitious concept reaches its height with “Prodigal Daughter”. It’s a modern retelling of the biblical parable of the Prodigal Son, replete with millennial ennui and a production style worthy of an epic tale. It’s a song with both forward motion and deep emotion, spurred by Kara’s gorgeous vocals and Bobby’s top notch songwriting.
 

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Urban Cone (feat. Blenda) - "Sugar"

Urban Cone was an act I stumbled upon a few years back after giving the 2015 single “Sadness Disease” a listen and liking it. In the time since their last album, there had been only intermittent progress on the release of new tracks, most of which didn’t really click with me. That changed earlier this year with the release of “Sugar”. This is an irresistible pop jam. There’s just no other way to say it. From the extreme, but appropriate use of falsetto to the vocal filtering in the prechorus, this song is programmed to catch attention, which it definitely achieves. There’s also a fantastic feature from the mysterious Blenda, who apparently has never done any work in the music industry prior to this track, since I can’t find any credits for her listed on other registration entities. Though this track was part of Urban Cone’s last hurrah, due to their announced breakup upon the release of the 10-18 EP, it felt like an appropriate way to go out.

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