5 Albums for the Week #3

Here are the recommended albums for this week.

î Sam Smith - In the Lonely Hour
We fell in love with Sam Smith since we've heard his great track 'Nirvana'. His voice is instantly recognizable and he has been featured in several top singles like Naughty Boy's ubiquitous 'La La La' and Disclosure's 'Latch'. But he has also been building his own career, delivering wonderful songs that are both larger-than-life and intimate. It's easy to project ourselves into his lyrics: everyone who as ever loved and been loved will discover a personal past or present story in his words. That is Sam's most wonderful ability: writing simple yet true and universal love songs, many of which tell about undisclosed feelings, unrequited love and pain for wanting the unobtainable. Sonically, 'In the Lonely Hour' lingers in several pop subgenres, offering r&b aesthetics, acoustic cuts, electronic ballads and soul ramblings. Some songs are more upbeat, others are pure confessional whispers that make us blush, as if we're not meant to listen to them. It's one of the grand albums of the year, that's for sure, and it certifies Sam Smith as one of the most interesting and promising young artists in the music industry at this moment.

î GusGus - Mexico
The Icelandic group GusGus have released their ninth album, 'Mexico', once again on Kompakt label. After the acclaimed 'Arabian Horse' and the minimalistic '24/7', Daniel Ágúst and friends have created an album that resides somewhere in the middle of those two last LPs. The new record is still an adventure through techno and deep house sonic topographies, but it is also reminiscent of their early work. Their music always sounded avant-garde, whether because of their menacing and dark grooves, imaginative basslines or massive beats; at the same time, there was this omnipresent sexual tone in most of their songs, something one still manages to find in 'Mexico'. Some tracks are so raw, acid and nonchalant that it's impossible to fight the urge to jump into the dancefloor and just do nasty things against strange and sweaty bodies. Albeit not as immediate as 'Arabian Horse', it's a strong evidence that there isn't quite anything like GusGus in the music scene and that they are still a relevant act after almost 20 years in the business.

î Ronika - Selectadisc
Veronica Sampson sure loves the 80's. Under her moniker Ronika, she has crafted a debut album that trully serves as an ode to that milestone period of music history and one can only thank her for such a sugary treat. 'Selectadisc' is a fun and electrifying record, one filled with synthetic props and pop melodies where icon figures like Madonna and new artists like La Roux seem to be master influences. Throughout fourteen songs, Ronika takes us into a retro world composed of rainbow chorus and neon flashes; it's hard not to get lost in it and just feel young again, as most of these songs have a genuine feeling of naivety and umpretentious joy. Some of the tracks have been previously released, some of them dating from 2010, but they add perfectly to the overall mood of the album, which is a cohesive ride down memory lane: synth-pop, disco and funk, all are presented with skill and sophistication. Also worth mentioning is the vocal collaboration with jazz singer Charles Washington in two songs. If you want to have fun after a hard day's work, listen to 'Selectadisc'.

î Glass Animals - Zaba
Glass Animals are an English four piece band composed of Dave Bayley, Drew MacFarlane, Edmund Irwin-Singer and Joe Seaward. They are longtime friends and started producing music a couple of years back. Since then, they talked with Paul Epworth and he decided to help them produce their debut album: 'Zaba'. Glass Animals are a indie rock and trip-hop act, which means they might have easily slipped into uninteresting and monotonous compositions; but they eluded the clichés of those genres and crafted a nice and inventive LP. There are strange landscapes: from dark and shadowy tropical forests to urban jams, but all the tunes in 'Zaba' sound experimental and outlandish, riddled with small effects that suggest an unpredictable fauna and a constant sense of danger. The vocals are whispered, as if one should be quiet to avoid waking up some lethal creature. This is a mystical voyage into a world that is not free of perils, and it demands your attention and surrender to its laws. In the end, you'll love 'Zaba', it's freshness and daring structures making you come back again and again.

î Joakim - Tropics of Love
Joakim Bouaziz has always been difficult to categorize. He hasn't a predefined musical style, his remixes are always unexpected and his original songs have an experimental aura that transcends genres. In his fifth album, 'Tropics of Love' all of the above statements are true, even if it is one of his most immediate recordings (maybe the previous 'Nothing Gold' was an easier listening). There are glances of balearic, leftfield, disco, synthpop, electronic, ambient, pop, downtempo and all in between. The whole album can be devided into three sections, each one introduced by an interlude track, and all of them sound different: the first is more exploratory and user friendly, the second ventures into strangeness and disjointed landscapes and the third is the most ethereal of them all. Luke Jenner, Akwetey and Guillaume Teyssier lend some vocal contributions to a few tracks. It's not an easy ride, that's for sure, but as with all of Joakim's work, you'll like this album not for what you can expect from it, but for what you discover throughout the journey. From the start to finish, every song in the album will be sonically diverse and as unforseen as the attitudes of a person with multiple personality disorder.

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