By: Beau Bridge and Courtney Miller
The Summer Set – Stories for Monday
The Summer Set’s latest album very much echoes their previous records, featuring an all-around pop sound with a hint of rock. Although their sound seems to have matured on the opening track “Figure Me Out,” the rest of the album, while fun, leaves the listener wishing for more of that depth. They deliver the same themes over and over again: youth, nostalgia, and their signature we-did-some-crazy-shit, most prominent on “All My Friends.”
“Figure Me Out” is the best track on the album musically, with excellent drum beats and substance behind the lyrical story. It reads as an autobiography of the band, unsure where they fit in: “I’m a bit too pop for the punk kids, but I’m too punk for the pop kids.”
“Jean Jacket” is the only other track that experiments with saxophone and a groovy, out-of-character bassline. It has the makings of a great summer album with catchy hooks and riffs, but there’s nothing risky about their music. –CM
Explosions in the Sky – The Wilderness
I’ve always found Explosions in the Sky to be great study music. With mostly instrumental songs, their previous albums have been studying gold. Alas, all good things must end. This album, though recognizably Explosions in the Sky, doesn’t contend with 2003’s The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place.
The entire album is minimalistic and heavily reliant on percussion. There is a cultivated monotony to the track, like they decided to deconstruct their sound and left most of it at the side of the road.
“The Ecstatics” builds into a powerful pep talk, full of motivation. “Tangle Formations,” which follows, keeps the energizing feel, climaxing in a rollicking tune. A drummer’s epic, “Logic of a Dream” sounds like a majestic death march. Other tracks like “Disintegration Anxiety” and “Landing Cliffs” are relaxing, calming tunes, with the latter adding in a dreamy, subdued quality.
Overall, still great study music, but only for content that’s exciting in itself. –CM
Brian Eno – The Ship
For any fan of ambient music, Brian Eno’s newest release is a bountiful one, both innovative and recognizable. Listeners of 2016’s The Ship will immediately identify with the chorus’ over-sustained vocals and light strings that have typified Eno’s most well-known works: 1978’s Ambient #1: Music For Airports and 1983’s Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks.
The four tracks that make up this album inevitably build off one another to form the sense of a movement rather than an album. This will be no surprise to those familiar with Eno’s early ambient works mentioned above. Aside from the thematic inspiration of the sinking of the Titanic — which is depicted vividly through the pieces’ progressions — Eno actually provides verbal narration in a couple of tracks that pull off as omnipresent poetry. A must for Eno fans. –BB