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Albums of the Week

Arctic Monkeys
“AM”
Domino, Sept 2013

Arctic Monkeys has changed quite a bit over the years. Alex Turner, lead singer, started out as a cute, innocent-looking boy and has transformed into a handsome, stylish man. The same maturity can be heard in their music, which goes from speedy and instantly appealing to slow and distant. Still, their passion emotes clearly.

“Fluorescent Adolescent” shaped what Arctic Monkeys is known for today: a British indie rock group that likes to discuss very mature subjects in the lyrics. When I first heard their single, “Why Do You Only Call Me When You’re High” off “AM,” it left high expectations for what the rest of the album would sound like.

The very sexual music video features Alex as a wasted man wandering the streets, trying to find a lady’s house while hallucinating and seeing people do what isn’t exactly “safe for work” acts. It’s an image of their music: dirty, rude and not so innocent. The same could be said for the rest of the songs on the album. The lyrics have an “after midnight” feel, which sometimes get shadowed by falsetto backing vocals.

Though slower than their original material, “AM” rattles with thrilling lyrics and powerhouse melodies that will excite their fans. They are the darlings of indie rock to break out—topping records by being the first independent record-label band to earn a number one spot on five consecutive albums.

“AM” is potentially my favorite album of the third quarter of the year, and I’d suggest it to anybody.

The Naked and Famous
“In Rolling Waves”
Republic, Sept 2013

The Naked and Famous’ 2010 single “Young Blood” appropriately appeared in teen shows and movies, such as Disney’s “Prom” and “Skins,” while the music video showed acts of teenage angst and tenseness. Their new album gives the same feel of teen angst with a much darker and mature sound.

I notice a lot of symbolism between the song titles and the way the song is written. For example, the drums sound like crashing waves in “Rolling Waves.” “The Mess” reminds me of “Girls Like You” (“Passive Me, Aggressive You,” 2011, Republic Records), in that the beginning evokes simple beats and vocals by Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers. They build up to a storm of sound without really changing their vocals.

Their single, “Hearts Like Ours,” off the album sounds like the upbeat greatness they used to make. Yet, only “Hearts Like Ours” and “The Mess” captivate a sound from their old music. Overall, “In Rolling Waves” sounds as if The Naked and Famous are growing and showing a darker mood. Though a good idea, they don’t totally master it; the music’s upbeat musicianship is a dichotomy against the somber lyrics. It’s like laughing while you’re saying you’re sad. They don’t seem to have the charm from their previous album, “Passive Me, Aggressive You.” That disappoints and makes the album a little boring.

Maybe it will grow on me over time, but for now, after listening to it two or three times, it’s just a let down.

Touché Amoré
“Is Survived By”
Deathwish, Sept 2013

As far as hardcore bands go, Touché Amore is pretty great because their lyrics are like paint on a canvas of the hardcore genre: emotionally charged and backed by heavy guitar. They exceed in the creation of another brilliant new album, “Is Survived By.” The first track, “Just Exist,” builds with its predominant drum solo.

“Praise / Love” remains deeper than any other work I’ve heard from them. Jeremy Bolm turns poet: “I’m amplified by a microscope / Every word I say becomes a joke / Sweat poured down and it blinded me / myself exposed for everyone to see / A glutton for praise / A glutton for love / Abuse my name for all of the above.”

The sound of this album is great as well. Guitarists Clayton Stevens and Nick Steinhardt play gritty chords, which are also symphonic, with elongated, treble tonalities. The drums crash and the bass is thick, altogether making an aggressive yet enticing album.

It’s safe to say “Is Survive By” is my favorite album by Touché Amoré. It is definitely the highlight of their music thus far.

Saves The Day
“Self Titled”
Equal Vision, Sept 2013

There’s no doubt about it: Saves the Day’s recent self-titled album uplifts more than 2011’s “Daybreak.” Don’t get me wrong: It’s a very good album, but it seems as though grey clouds have parted. Saves the Day comes back with their eighth studio album as energetic as ever. Vocalist Chris Conley’s distinctive, somewhat nasally voice cuts right through the bouncy melodies to create an almost perfect pop-rock album.

The first two tracks, “Remember” and “In the in Between,” set the optimistic mood for the rest of the album. With titles like “Ringpop” and “Lucky Number,” it is apparent all of their songs are super sweet—maybe a little too sweet for some. “Verona” tells a story about a bright relationship: “After the end when he tells he loves her/she promises not to let go/They hold on to hope.”

This album shines with sweetness and I can’t get enough of it.

Chvrches
“The Bones of What You Believe”
Glassnote, Sept 2013

Almost every time I turned on the radio a few months ago, I heard this captivating piece of synthpop. “The Mother We Share,” a single by Chvrches, kept people in debate: They either loved them or hated them. I would hear a radio DJ ask viewers’ opinions, and not a single one remained in between. They either obsessed over or revolted them. I am on the obsessed bandwagon.

Their debut album “The Bones of What You Believe” is just a great as their single. The album starts with “The Mother We Share”—a pretty big risk if you ask me because it can be very difficult to live up to a single that big, especially when it comes to a new band. Fortunately, the following tracks are also great.

Chvrches stands out in the swarm of today’s synthpop groups because of lead singer Lauren Mayberry. Her voice is perfect for this genre: It’s powerful and cuts through the music with strong emotion. Her ability to present excitement in music really gives life to each lyric on the album. Lauren Mayberry essentially keeps Chvrches afloat at the high rank it holds today. If she keeps doing what she’s doing, Chvrches will continue to thrive in the future.

Washed Out
“Paracosm”
Sub Pop, Aug 2013

“Paracosm” contains good characteristics of Washed Out’s previous albums but it’s too much the same. They never do anything out of their range, which is something I often complain about from their previous album reviews. It sounds rather monotonous after a while. They may have tried to use new ideas but they keep them the same aesthetically. Though maybe a great method for this group in particular, I’m personally not a fan of it.

The album opens with a calming tune, featuring chirping birds before leading into their signature, ambient sound. When listening to the slow tempos closely, a reggae-like sensation emerges. The nature theme becomes very obvious: the cover showcases bright flowers almost beckoning the opening song’s birds. The vocals in each song slow down and laze about, which may or may not put listeners to sleep.

Overall, “Paracosm” seems too drawn out for me. I don’t see any highlights, but I’m also more of a fan of uptempo music.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, 910tix.com. Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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