Another Friday, another great new batch of music for your eardrums. Here are some new albums that are worth your time.
Lorde: Solar energy
Lorde’s long-awaited follow-up for Melodrama is a more sparse affair, reveling in chilly atmospheres and subdued production as Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor provides her observations on the culture of wellness and the ups and downs of the pursuit of happiness. . She looks less tortured than she has been in previous outings, but there’s also a lot of satire here, poking fun at GOOP-type scams. Listen carefully to the contributions of Phoebe Bridgers, Robyn and Clairo.
Angel Olsen: Aisles PE
Angel Olsen is one of the sharpest lyricists of her generation, so an ’80s cover EP would seem to rob her of one of her greatest strengths. But this collection of covers like “Eyes Without a Face” by Billy Idol and “Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats is a demonstration of how great a cover and opening up new emotions in even a well-known song. In his hands, these huge pop hits shed their Reagan-era cheese for something urgent, human and magnificent. Her rendition of Alphaville’s “Forever Young” loses the awkward sense of ballroom dancing for true, dreamy romance. They might be covers, but they are some of Olsen’s best work to date.
One of the cohesive bands of American rock canon is back with interrobang, an album that plays on Switchfoot’s strengths by bringing back some of the retro vibes of surf rock that the band cut their teeth into in the mix. The result is something a little darker than what we’ve been hearing from the San Diego band lately, with Jon Foreman’s voice sounding more desperate and the band with him.
Nathan Salsbourg: Psalms
Nathan Salsburg, of Louisville, has been making quietly moving folk for years now, but his latest effort is something new: a collection of Psalms set to his Americana style, sung in the original Hebrew. “I wanted to do something Jewish, if only for myself,” Salsburg said in a press release. “It occurred to me that the Psalms would be a great place to look as they are written largely in the first person and part of what they are are injunctions to be sung. It was a wonderful, almost daily practice. Fans of Will Oldham, Joan Shelley, James Elkington, Spencer Tweedy and Noa Babayof will discover their contributions throughout the ten track album.
Sturgill Simpson: The Ballad of Dood and Juanita
Sturgill Simpson is back with another attempt to redefine a genre as American as it gets. Simpson and his new support group, dubbed the Hillbilly Avengers, have crafted a mythical bluegrass tale of the American West. A concept album, Dood and Juanita’s ballad follows a badass from Eastern Kentucky named Dood whose heart is melted with love when he meets Juanita. But when outlaw Seamus McClure kidnaps Juanita, Dood must leave for the border on a rescue mission, with only his mule and an old dog named Sam for company. It’s a classic thread and Simpson knows his way around this form, letting the music become exciting, playful, sad, and romantic, all in the right degrees. This is what happens when a talent at the top of their game takes a real challenge, and succeeds.