Review Round Up

21 Sep

Rostam ‘Half Light’

Vampire weekend’s chief architect Rostam has been busy of late, rebranding himself as a post-pop auteur, shaping deep cuts by Carley Rae Jenson, Solange, Haim and Frank Ocean. On his proper debut album ‘Half Light’ he collects some solo songs that have been knocking around for years and puts them together with some new material. ‘Half Light’ effectively conveys Rostam’s imagination, enthusiasm and the diversity of his interests; but what it has in ambition, it loses in coherence. Fifteen tracks is probably a handful too many.

On opener ‘Sumer’ he unwinds a complicated melody, while orchestral flourishes adorn the background. It gives the impression that ‘Half Light’ may take us in the direction of ‘Person Pitch’, and to that end he sounds not dissimilar to Panda Bear. Elsewhere his voice, always on the verge of breaking in to tears or laughter (I can’t quite tell which) recalls Devandra Banhaet, Anohni or, fittingly, a more whimsical Ezra Koenig – without ever quite carving out its own identity. Similarly, he confidently unrolls tracks influenced by Ska, pop, trap, r&b and indie rock without ever hitting upon a sound that is truly his own. Still, ‘Half Light’ is further proof of Rostam’s prodigal talent for understanding, and breaking down, genre.


Foo Fighters ‘Concrete and Gold’

Foo Fighters albums come along reliably every three or four years, and ‘Concrete and Gold’ is just that – another Foo Fighters album. Certainly nothing more, but perhaps a little less. It certainly doesn’t compare to their career best ‘The Colour and The Shape’ or their recent stand out ‘Wasting Light’. In fact it contains less hooks, less surprises and less reasons to listen than even 2015’s disappointing ‘Sonic Highways.’ Admittedly Foo Fighters have always been a singles band but the singles on ‘Concrete and Gold’ are more auto-pilot than ‘Learning to Fly’, more over-long than ‘everlong’. Only the magnified harmonies used through the album add colour to what is otherwise a fairly middle of the road rock album. Bloated and dull, but always reliably proficient, ‘Concrete and Gold’ is the sound of a great band running out of new ideas and losing touch with old ones.


Prophets of Rage ‘Prophets of Rage’

A lot of people have already theorised about why Prophets of Rage (who include members of legendary bands Rage Against the Machine, Public Enemy and Cyprus Hill) sound so off-point despite sticking to a formula they’ve all successfully used in the past. For my money it’s the absence of the four letter word that links the band to their main forefather. RAGE. Prophets of Rage’s music is recognisably propulsive thanks to the same rhythm section, the same legendary guitarist using the exact same instrument and shredding better than ever. But one vital ingredient is missing. Zack De La Rocha. I never realised just how necessary his incendiary lyrics, uncensored anger and room shaking vocals actually were to the success of the band. In his place are Chuck D and B Real, two rappers who at best sound like tame approximations of not only De La Roche but also of their past selves. There is seldom any bile or originality in their uncomplicated rhymes either, which are delivered with little of the passion that their platform demands. There will always be a place for energetic, well intentioned political punk rock, and ‘Prophets of Rage’ is an enjoyable record – it just never motivates, agitates or inspires like you feel it should do.




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