Articles by Alex Swhear
Angel Olsen, “Whole New Mess”
“Whole New Mess” rips the sheen and pageantry away from the “All Mirrors” tracklist.
Run the Jewels, “RTJ4”
Killer Mike and El-P’s alchemy somehow sounds both pointedly different and substantially unchanged.
The 1975, “Notes on a Conditional Form”
The fourth album from The 1975 is deeply troubled, bloated, and frequently brilliant.
The Strokes, “The New Abnormal”
The Strokes’ sixth album doesn’t disrupt their complicated pattern of interesting failures and boring successes.
Destroyer, “Have We Met”
In many ways, a classic Destroyer record: cavernous and twisty and rich with atmosphere.
FKA Twigs, “MAGDALENE”
A deeply wounded album that strengthens the steely fusion of trip-hop and R&B she mastered on her debut.
Wilco, “Ode to Joy”
Jeff Tweedy’s relative calm in the face of turmoil is the defining force underlying the record.
Bon Iver, “i,i”
Central to it all is a Justin Vernon with an altered disposition, more confident and looser—at times, he even sounds content.
Thom Yorke, “Anima”
“Anima” goes to great lengths to differentiate itself from Radiohead’s oeuvre.
Anderson .Paak, “Ventura”
Paak isn’t making bad songs, but his adherence to formula is beginning to define him.
Iron & Wine, “Our Endless Numbered Days (Deluxe Edition)”
“Our Endless Numbered Days” houses many of the most elegant, striking songs of Sam Beam’s career.
Girlpool, “What Chaos Is Imaginary”
While Girlpool’s last album was sugary indie pop-punk, their new one paints in broader strokes.
Sharon Van Etten, “Remind Me Tomorrow”
It’s a fascinating bridge from the moody indie pop of Van Etten’s previous efforts to something a bit thornier, denser, more rewarding.
Mumford & Sons, “Delta”
There isn’t a song here that couldn’t soundtrack the movie trailer for some teen tearjerker.
Kurt Vile, “Bottle It In”
“Bottle It In”‘s pace is unhurried, strutting to a destination without much concern for how long it takes to get there.
Noname, “Room 25”
The organic production has a real pulse to it, which gives the songs a spirited, fluid underpinning that feels uniquely suited to Noname’s reserved but dexterous delivery.
Animal Collective, “Tangerine Reef”
The intentions here are environmentally noble, but the songs collectively feel like a minor mood piece rather than the cohesive statement the band aspires to.
Nicki Minaj, “Queen”
In a summer where scores of hip-hop heavyweights failed to whittle their work into a concise artistic statement, the sins of “Queen” are hardly glaring or unforgivable.
Christina Aguilera, “Liberation”
“Liberation” resurrects Xtina’s considerable presence as a vocalist, though her attempts at navigating the modern pop landscape still verge on aimless.
Kids See Ghosts, “Kids See Ghosts”
While Kanye’s lyrical performances are a marked improvement over his slapdash “ye” verses, “Kids See Ghosts” works best when he allows room for Cudi to shine.
Chvrches, “Love Is Dead”
“Love Is Dead” is saddled with a familiarity that’s as limiting as it is endearing.
Beach House, “7”
“7” may be the most definitive—and enjoyable—break yet from the preconceptions of what a Beach House record should sound like.
Bonny Doon Are Who They’re Supposed to Be
For their second full-length (and debut on Woodsist), the Detroit folk-rock quartet stopped thinking too much and just went to the beach instead.
Who Says There’s No Leaving New York? A Report From The National’s Homecoming Festival
More a family reunion for the Cincinnati-bred band than an actual festival, Homecoming was a wild party with occasionally tender moments.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra, “Sex & Food”
“Sex & Food” is at turns both understated and colorful, confident in what it wants to be but not afraid to wander into uncharted territory.
Car Seat Headrest, “Twin Fantasy”
“Twin Fantasy” showcases Will Toledo sharpening his vision and instincts, marrying the raw passion of his early work with the increasingly impressive sheen of his newest material.