So, last year was really front-loaded with albums I was interested in. I mean, January and February really peaked the year for me last year and I found the second half of the year to be kind of meh. This year, it’s exactly the opposite. There hasn’t been much to hold my interest so far this year, but things are starting to heat up now and this summer looks really interesting.
form/a is an EP from Half Waif – the production name for musician and producer Nandi Rose Plunkett. Every reviewer/critic seems to place Half Waif in a different genre – EDM, electro-pop, avant-pop – but every critic I’ve seen seems to agree with my assessment – this is a really good EP from a promising artist.
At 6 songs and ~20 minutes, form/a is a meditation on self-doubt and personal history. The music is heavy on synthesizers and drum machine beats that serve to buoy a plaintive, airy voice above them.
I find the whole album to be hypnotizing, though it opens and closes with its strongest tracks, “Severed Logic” and “Cerulean”, respectively.
Recommendation: Buy It
Songs I have a play list for: Severed Logic, Wave, Frost Burn, Cerulean
Songs I will Thumbs Down: None.
The Valley is the second album from Australian pop songstress Betty Who (Jessica Anne Newham). Once again, her mostly upbeat synth-pop straddles the pop and dance charts (the first single off this album hit #1 on the US Dance charts in 2016).
On her second album, Betty Who has taken a step more into the pop sound predominant in the 2010s, as compared to the heavily 80s inflected pop sound of her first album.
Echoing the favorite subject of pop artists ever, The Valley centers on love, heartbreak, and getting on without them. It’s nice that this is the rare album that doesn’t have a song that is maudlin and dragging for this subject. She sticks to up-tempo beats for the most part, and the few slower songs aren’t downers.
While the album isn’t perfect (Warren G feels totally out of place on Free to Fly, and Some Kinda Wonderful just doesn’t appeal), The Valley is a solid album that is well worth your time.
Recommendation: Buy It
Songs I have a playlist for: You Can Cry Tomorrow, Human Touch, Wanna Be, Beautiful (Feat. Superfruit), I Will Love You Always Forever
Songs I will Thumbs Down: Some Kinda Wonderful