Written by: Youeal Abera and Neil MacAlister
God’s Favorite Customer by Father John Misty
According to Josh Tillman, the man behind the Father John Misty moniker, God’s Favorite Customer is his first album since 2012’s Fear Fun that isn’t a concept album. Arguably, however, this new album is very much built around a cohesive concept: Tillman himself. Such self-indulgence makes sense, coming from an artist often deemed the most self-absorbed man in indie rock, and perhaps that’s why God’s Favorite Customer feels like such a perfect addition to the Father John Misty canon.
The album was reportedly conceived after Tillman secluded himself in a hotel for two months in order to work through issues of depression and mental health, and these struggles find themselves addressed throughout the album, depicted with either wry humour (“Mr. Tillman”) or tender eloquence (“Please Don’t Die”).
It’s the most personal Misty album since his opus I Love You, Honeybear, but where that album dealt specifically with Tillman’s struggles with intimacy, God’s Favorite Customer instead offers short snapshots into various aspects of his current life, from his romantic and artistic relationship with his wife on “The Songwriter” to his upbringing and his drift from religion on the title track. It’s an album that grows on you with time, offering a brief sojourn into the self-centred yet brilliant mind of one of indie rock’s most enigmatic voices. – NM
Kids See Ghosts by Kids See Ghosts (Kanye West and Kid Cudi)
It’s fairly remarkable that West can really go three-for-three with weekly albums, but he may have outdone himself with Kids See Ghosts. Unlike ye — his rambling, troubled solo album concocted in just a few weeks — West’s joint album with Kid Cudi has been in the works since late last year, and the time spent is palpable.
Kids See Ghosts is a carefully constructed, immaculately written exploration of depression and perseverance that’s immediately reminiscent of Cudi’s career-defining debut album. With the same seven-track runtime as the rest of the Wyoming Sessions, Kids See Ghosts is a brief yet dynamic exploration of persistence in the face of overwhelming darkness, soundtracked beautifully by everyone from Bon Iver to André 3000.
In October 2016, Kid Cudi checked himself into rehab for “suicidal urges,” but promised to return “stronger, better. Reborn.” This statement proved prophetic for his and West’s new album: the standout track, fittingly titled “Reborn,” combats dark thoughts with hopeful energy.
The final track, “Cudi Montage,” features Ye and Cudi addressing their darkest thoughts over a Kurt Cobain guitar sample, accompanied by cries to “stay strong” and closed out by West’s repeated prayer “lord shine your light on me, save me, please.” This is pure inspiration music, and a true return to form by two remarkable artists in need of such a comeback. – NM
Die Lit by Playboi Carti
Since the summer of 2017, Playboi Carti has attained considerable success. He created one of that summer’s biggest anthems with the release of his single “Magnolia.” Even queen Beyoncé posted a video of herself dancing to his record on Instagram. However, with the recent release of his debut studio album Die Lit, it looks like Carti will be having another successful, exciting year.
The album offers what Carti is known for: fun, party-bumping tracks that everyone can Milly Rock to.
It opens with the track “Long Time (Intro),” which finds Carti rapping about the long road he travelled in order to reach the place of success and financial comfort he now enjoys. Die Lit also dons big features from the likes of Travis Scott (“Love Hurts”), Lil Uzi Vert (“Shoota”), and in particular, Nicki Minaj (“Poke It Out”), who spits the most dexterous guest feature on the entire album.
Although some state that hip hop is in a place where newer rappers all sound the same, there’s a distinct element in the persona and art of Playboi Carti. It’s difficult to label what this defining element is, but it will be great to see what his bright future and career will bring us next. – YA
Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino by Arctic Monkeys
There’s something intriguing about Arctic Monkeys, as well as the art that they make. Their work seems to bring listeners on a nuanced, mystifying journey that is different from what you’ll find elsewhere. With their latest release, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino, such is still the case.
The album opens with the track “Star Treatment,” and the combination of the band’s calming instrumentals with the serenading, distinctive voice of Alex Turner works to relax the listeners into bliss.
Some bands allow their lyricism to take a back seat to their instrumentals, but as proven with this record, it’s the lyrics of the Arctic Monkeys that paint the picture for listeners.
From “One Point Perspective” to “Four out of Five” to “The Ultracheese,” I can confidently say that this latest release from Arctic Monkeys is best appreciated with a clear state of consciousness.
Perhaps one of the best decisions I’ve made this year is choosing to listen to Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino on a warm, late spring day, sprawled out in the backyard without a care in the world. – YA