We’re not even half way through September and we’re already spoiled for music. For me, the month started off with Nine Inch Nails’ Hesitation Marks. I’m a huge NIN fan so I was very excited when earlier this year, Trent (we’re on a first-name basis) announced the return of NIN.
When the first single, “Came Back Haunted,” was released in July, I had mixed feelings about it. There were sections of the songs that I loved and that filled me with hope for the new album. But then there were parts that were a bit boring, a bit too radio friendly. However, I remained optimistic since it’s not fair to judge an album on one single.
Unfortunately for me, the majority of Hesitation Marks doesn’t sound like the good parts of “Came Back Haunted.” Now, it also doesn’t sound like the radio-friendly parts, instead, it just sounds rather low-key and boring.
Pitchfork gave this album a 7. I would have given it a 6 but apart from that, I actually mostly agree with the review. It does indeed sounds “skeletal and spare” and is “in tune with the spartan grooves of the xx and the elastic electro of the Knife.” And while I guess some people like that, it’s not my thing. Thankfully, while Trent changed things up on his latest album, the live show sounds as intense and loud as ever.
My feeling on NIN’s latest have me a bit concerned about Arcade Fire’s upcoming release. While the actual album isn’t out until October 29, the first single, “Reflektor,” was released on Monday. Just like “Came Back Haunted,” I absolutely love parts of it while I find other parts a bit dull.
Produced by James Murphy, “Reflektor” is down right disco and easily the dance-iest track the band’s ever released. While some Arcade Fire fans are going to hate this change, I quite like it, well, most of it. I do find that even though the song sounds different than anything Arcade Fire’s ever released, it’s still predictable because it sounds exactly like what you think a James Murphy-produced Arcade Fire song would sound like. Personally, I was hoping for something a bit more interesting and boundary-pushing. But then,
While Monday was all about Arcade Fire, Tuesday was about the new MGMT and Okkervil River. I haven’t been enjoying MGMT since their first album and that’s not changing with the release of Optimizer. It’s just too psychedelic and weird for my taste (but if you like that kind of thing, then you’ll likely really like this album).
But I quite like Okkervil River’s latest, The Silver Gymnasium. Unlike Arcade Fire, Okkervil River is sticking to its existing sound and delivers another guitar driven-album that’s packed with story-driven lyrics, controlled melodies and an appropriate does of synths But while it’s a solid album that existing Okkervil River fans will enjoy, I don’t think this album will be winning the bands any new fans. It just doesn’t contain any songs that are going to break the band.
That can’t be said for Said The Whale’s Hawaii. Powered by “I Love You,” a fast-paced, catchy-as-hell track that’s ideal for a commercial placement, Hawaii is going to be the album that makes this Vancouver band famous (“I Love You” is already in heavy rotation on SiriusXM’s Alt Nation). The rest of the album is also pretty good and something any power pop fan is going to want to check out. While Hawaii isn’t out until September 17, you can stream it now over on Indie 88.1 FM.
So that’s what I’ve been listening to in the first chunk of September; here’s hoping the second half is just as strong and diverse.