Music Review: From Coldplay to Bieber

Song: Adventure of a Lifetime
Artist: Coldplay
Rating: 5/5 stars

Disco-rock would be the last thing I’d expect out of Coldplay, yet they prove that they can completely pull it off with this four minute infectious jam. Coldplay’s last release, “Ghost Stories,” was a laid-back, emotional, mid-tempo album that had very little excitement behind it. Many critics and fans saw this release as sub-par to their earlier efforts. In my opinion, all of Coldplay’s recent releases have been lacking any real thrill, being more focused on electronic effects instead of melody and instrumentation. This new single was a real game-changer for me. It was fresh, new, and it didn’t even sound like Coldplay. The track opens with a high pitch guitar riff, then immediately picks up into a Nile Rodgers jam with pulsating rhythms and energetic vocals. The sound is full of the excitement that has been lacking from their recent releases. The song sings of newfound love, which further adds to its overall optimistic tone. The bass line is fantastic, enveloping listeners in a swirl of pounding fuzz. The production of this song is superb, hardly missing a beat or losing pace. This is just one of those songs that you can play again and again without rest. The bouncing, joyful feel of the song feels fresh and youthful. It seems as if new life has been poured into the band. This song’s fresh feel makes you almost forget that this will be on their seventh studio album. As I listen to this song, it makes me more and more optimistic for “A Head Full of Dreams”, their next album which will be released in December. With such collaborations as Beyonce, Noel Gallagher and Tove Lo, we can only expect the album to improve upon this single. So if you haven’t checked out this single yet, I think it’s about time that you do.

Album: Purpose
Artist: Justin Bieber
Rating: 3/5 stars

I would just like to start this review off by saying I am not a fan of Justin Bieber. I found his earlier music repetitive and uninspiring. He would just follow typical music trends and insert them into simple three chord progressions, singing about girls and heartbreak. His sound hadn’t evolved much from his 2009 album “My World”, with most of his songs having little music and lyrical depth. Yet there is no denying that Bieber is incredibly talented. His new album is a resounding break from form. Taking his personality out of the equation, I was incredibly impressed by how much his sound has changed. His lyrics have evolved into self-contemplation, as opposed to stupid lists of why he should be “your boyfriend”.

“Purpose” sees the blend of R&B, EDM and Dance Pop in an album filled with lush and warped synths. You can hear the immense influence that Skrillex had on this album, especially in the intriguing effects. However, there are no crazy beat drops. Skrillex’s production has a more laid-back feel of lavish electronic beats. “Where Are U Now” has a strong hook, only to be supplied with a tangled knot of electronic swirls. This album is raw and emotive, and it is just what his fans have been waiting for. I will admit that sometimes his whining becomes a bore. It is obvious that Bieber is apologizing to his fan base for being such a jerk, but it tends to lag on. However these lyrics do have a more personable feel, so this redundancy can be overlooked. In the end, the music and its production are really the highlights of this album. Not only can “Purpose” be enjoyed by his fan base, but also by anyone willing to give it a listen. The album is well-rounded, with dance tracks like “Sorry” and “What Do U Mean?” The pace is also slowed down with emotional tracks like “Life is Worth Living” and “No Pressure”. The album climaxes and chills down at all the right times.

My only complaint is that the sound is incredibly dated. Once again, Bieber follows all the current trends in music like laid-back house and vocal arpeggios. Nothing about the album is really innovative, for it takes from all the current trends in music. However, this is unsurprising; Bieber has been doing this for his whole career. Even so, this album is the best of his work so far. Even if you aren’t a fan, there’s definitely a lot to appreciate from his comeback album.

Album: Wiped Out!
Artist: The Neighbourhood
Rating: 2/5 stars

Three words: too much chill. This is the overall vibe that I got from this SoCal alternative band’s sophomore effort. The album overall is pretty good. The Neighborhood has expanded their lyrical content beyond just heartbreak, but their musical direction has remained the same. What made their first album so great was the atmospheric sense of confusion that the album gave you. “Sweater Weather” was a melancholy jam with fantastic melodies. Their new album still has a gloomy undertone, yet it lacks the atmospheric sound we were used to. The whole album feels like just a long drive by the beach. The tempo rarely creeps above 120 BPM, giving the whole album a laid bac,k retro-surfer feel. The album has emphasis on guitars and musical effect, yet the whole album drags on, always behind the beat. The album does have a few good highlights. “The Beach” has soaring vocals over a winding acoustic guitar.”Wiped Out!” speaks of fear of loneliness with distorted riffs and synth instrumentation. “R.I.P. 2 My Youth” and “Daddy Issues” are nice compliments to the album. However, the album’s tone remains too consistent, with little spark.

I recommend checking out the four songs I listed, but I was disappointed with the rest of this release. Their last album saw so much potential for growth. Listening to “Wiped Out!” made me think that they haven’t done much to evolve musically. This album is very chill, which winds up being its greatest weakness. None of the songs are necessarily bad, but the album as a whole drags on. Just a little more spark is all it needs.

Song: Valerie
Artist: The Zutons
Rating: 4/5 stars

When I first heard this song, my immediate response was that it had a great downtempo interpretation on the Amy WInehouse classic. The song has a driving bass line surrounded by brass and guitar orchestration. After a little investigating, I learned that “Valerie” was originally sung by The Zutons; the 2007 Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse version is actually a cover. This gave me a whole new outlook on both interpretations. Amy’s interpretation has more swing and production, while The Zutons has raw emotion and depth. Listening to the the original gives more basis behind the lyrical content. The way that The Zutons sing invokes feelings of longing and desperation. Their take feels more personable, with more emotion behind the lyrics. Don’t get me wrong, I love Amy Winehouse’s take. Her ability to transform the song into her own shows all signs of musicianship and originality. Yet The Zutons’ interpretation swoons and flows around a delicate chord progression. The brass orchestration adds layers to a stripped down original. The song has elements of punk rock, funk and alt-rock. These British rockers know when to turn up and lower the volume of the song. The mood of the song constantly evolves in this four-minute jam. If you like Amy Winehouse’s take, then maybe it’s time you give the original a listen.

Matt Golden
staff writer

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