Rihanna’s first original song in six years is this insipid ballad from the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack. With a hackneyed and predictable melody, arrangements from a first-time piano lesson and a guitar arpeggio that even Sting would have dismissed as obvious, Lift Me Up is a complete disaster. We didn’t see this kind of emptiness coming. It is a song for background music in a mall. If we lose Rihanna, what do we have left? XAVI SANCHO
This Jimmy Ruffin composition is one of the most beautiful songs in the great Motown songbook. For this reason, and because Bruce Springsteen has a keen ear and is a noted fan of classic soul, it is included on Only the Strong Survive, the latest album by the New Jersey musician. The problem is not that Springsteen covers it badly; rather, it is that he does it without ambition or grace. It’s a carbon copy, with the only difference being Springsteen’s voice substituting Ruffin’s. This song, like the entire album, will appeal more to newcomers to soul music than to aficionados. FERNANDO NAVARRO
The Söderberg sisters come from Sweden, although they show such overwhelming talent in composing road folk with an American air that they seem to hail from the US Midwest. Palomino is the duo’s sixth album and the perfect example of purist-proof maturity. The song that gives the album its title reflects the sisters’ hallmarks: fine melodies, precise folk instrumentation, country voices and remarkable courage. Those vocal harmonies stand out, driving the stories of search and redemption. It may be cold in Sweden, but these sisters’ songs keep us warm. F. N.
Pistol, the first single from the Texas band’s third album, could fit into any of their two previous albums, and the difference would hardly be noticeable. On Pistol, the sound of Greg González’s band, at once delicate and sad dream-pop, capable of surrounding you like cigarette smoke, comes up with a hypnotic riff, accompanied by the usual vocal display – all that androgynous reverb – which here acts as brushstrokes of a sound painting under construction. The images are full of helplessness, anger, and despair: someone has broken up with someone else, and one of them misses the other so much that they find it unbearable, and they are in the middle of the desert, shooting into the sky. A powerful and welcoming sound universe engulfs the listener, saying that, whatever happens, you are safe. Or you will be, someday. And that’s good news. L. F.
Bizarrap’s Sessions 50 arrived in time to encourage Leo Messi, a fan of the musician, ahead of the World Cup in Qatar. In fact, the union of these two Argentines (Duki and Bizarrap) came from a soccer bet: if Argentina wins the Copa de América, we do a BZRP Music Session. Messi’s side beat Brazil in the final in July of last year, and here is the song. It’s pure hip-hop, but with those autotuned choruses that are characteristic of Bizarrap. Here, however, the one who stands out is Duki, a renowned artist who uses the song to retell his life story, from rappers’ fights in the street to stardom. The Sessions 50 videos are simple and addictive. Another work of genius from Bizarrap. CARLOS MARCOS
The veteran trio from Hoboken have announced an album and tour for 2023. And their fans, who may not be legion but are faithful and passionate, wonder what it will contain, knowing that it will most likely look like There’s a Riot Going On. Their last studio work before the pandemic had great moments but was too long. Fans hope that it will be similar to the group’s penultimate release, the colossal Fade, even knowing that 10 years have passed since its release. What does Fallout, the preview single, tell us about all of this? Nothing too exciting, unfortunately. It resembles Yo La Tengo so much that you may feel you’ve heard it before. That is not what we hoped for from them. I.L.P.
If most of us got jet lag we would try to take a nap. Margo Price was in Vancouver and wrote a hit song instead. The result was this spectacular string-adorned ballad that will appear on her next album, Strays, due out in January. Price sings about a pregnant woman in a clinic, reflecting on a life of poverty and addiction, as she urges, “Make a decision.” It sounds autobiographical: Price, the daughter of a farmer who lost his land, moved from Illinois to Nashville at the age of 20. After struggling for more than a decade, Jack White signed her to his label in 2016, launching a career that led her in 2019, closer to 40 than 30, to being nominated for a Grammy for best new artist. I.L.P.
The Arcs is a quintet led by Dan Auerbach, from The Black Keys, who released their first album in 2015. Theirs is a slightly vintage and psychedelic pop, a side project of musicians who dedicate most of their time to other things. The death of one of its members, Richard Swift, in 2018, seemed to have put an end to the group, but, apparently, they had already recorded, or at least composed, a large part of what will be their new album. It will be released in January as a posthumous tribute to Swift. This release is what is expected of them, light southern psychedelia with a Nashville aroma, played with the exquisite taste of five hardened professionals. I.L.P.
He was never an easy-going guy. On his first two albums, one could hardly make out the true tone of his voice among so much distortion. Due to the dark and complex lyrics, we only knew that love, for him, was a dark and dangerous place. Now, the restless Yves Tumor, whose real name is Sean Bowie, has turned to grunge guitars and noise. We could say that he has become more annoying than ever, in the good sense of the word: the listener has to work to understand. In the same vein as his latest installment, The Asymptotical World EP (2021), the American returns with an experimental track with a punk attitude and dirty production (the mix is the work of British Alan Moulder, an old acquaintance from bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine). BEATRIZ G. ARANDA
A master of evocative and subtle electronica for more than two decades, and an artist when it comes to making perfect pieces for the individual to lose themselves in a world of sound, the Italian Gigi Masin, who is already close to 70 years old, continues to maintain his status as an icon in the world of ambient music. He returns with a six-song album dedicated to his wife, who died last year. The album opens with this almost eight-minute song, in which everything develops organically and fluidly, with a melody that gains strength and weight as the seconds tick by. B.G.A.
A typical flamenco motif, the loss of a mother, underlies the latest album by Niño de Elche: Flamenco. Mausoleo de celebración, amor y muerte (Flamenco. Mausoleum of celebration, love and death). It was only a matter of time before Rosalía joined him. The duo collaborates with Refree, who also plays the guitar. The performers show more skill than the producer by singing as they always do, that is: very well. S.C.L.
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