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Frightened Rabbit
Pedestrian Verse
Atlantic

After hearing these Scottish indie-rockers’ second LP The Midnight Organ Flight some time ago, I joked that they were “Death Cab for Cutie for assholes.” Both bands have lyrics that are straightforward yet rhetorically poignant, but where Ben Gibbard takes a sensitive defensive, Scott Hutchinson takes a cathartic offensive. With this album, Pedestrian Verse, a definite sense of maturity is present in both the lyrics and music.  Many of the themes are still prevalent: heartbreak, betrayal, and anger against religion, but previous lyrics that resorted to in-your-face boldness such as “you can’t find love in a hole/it takes more than fucking someone you don’t know to keep yourself warm” have turned slightly more subtle and imaginative in “Let’s promise every girl we marry we’ll always love them though we probably won’t/ While the knight in shitty armor rips the drunk out of her dress.” Unfortunately, Hutchinson still has a propensity of using vulgarity to evoke astonishment, and thus half of this album is unplayable on the radio. Musically, the album spent much more time in the production stage.  Frightened Rabbit’s songs typically have a slow build, but this time the arrangement is more advanced. The simple guitar riffs and haunting chorus refrains are now accompanied by a bigger focus on drums and consistent mild-distortion which gives Pedestrian Verse a more cohesive experience than in past albums. You may not yell along to the bare-bones howling of Hutchinson with your ex-girlfriend in mind, but you can immerse yourself in the slow, cleansing burn this album offers. – Lawson Chambers

Iceage
You’re Nothing
Matador

These nihilistic Denmark punk thrashers made quite a splash with their 2011 debut, and with this second full-length album, they’re poised to do the same thing all over again. With buckets of angst in hand, the band charges through half an hour of energetic punk rock that rivals black metal for messy guitar buzz, The Cure for misery-imbued vocals, and classic hardcore for pure dissatisfaction. Iceage display tight songwriting and stylistic variation that implies a diverse background of influences, straying outside of the punk and hardcore flavors that inform the sound of their music. A few dirge-like moments of solemnity break the forward rush, but for the most part, guitar, bass, drums, and Elias’ breathless, tired vocal howls join in a headlong sprint to the finish line, traversing the familiar territories of heartbreak, disillusionment and alienation with existential grace. – Eric Pansen

Autre Ne Veut
Anxiety
Software

Anxiety is the second album from pop singer Autre Ne Veut  (real name: Arthur Ashin). Perhaps the easiest way to describe this album is ‘experimental R&B’ but that does not quite do it justice. Each track is evocative of 80s electro pop with hip-hop style drums but many more styles are utilized. A wide variety of synths fill up the instrumentals to point of saturation (in the best way possible) at the album’s loudest moments. Ashin’s vocals are passionate to say the least. He pushes the limits of his range and holds no energy back. The singing is personal, dark, and maybe a bit unsettling at times which truly sets it apart. Despite how catchy the songs can be, it is not the feel good pop record of the year. Ashin is singing simply for himself which makes his songs all the more cathartic. The drum beats are powerful and punch through the mix melding nicely with the large variety of sounds that occur in the background. Glitchy edits are common making the songs noisier, more rhythmic, and reminiscent of industrial and IDM. Everything in the production is cleanly polished from the soul inspired melodies to the electronic beats. Anxiety is a record that always feels like R&B without necessarily always sounding like R&B. – Patrick Boyle

Reviews curated & edited by: Nathan Kerce

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