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Mace & Crown | April 22, 2018

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Monarch Music Minute - The Shins, P.O.S. and Charli XCX

Lindsey Lanham
Staff Writer

‘Heartworms’ – The Shins 💿💿💿💿

Courtesy Columbia Records

Courtesy Columbia Records

In an age where indie rock has become a modernized, radio-ready mess, it’s hard for traditional indie artists to take a step up. Fortunately for The Shins, they had no trouble with reminding the world just how good indie rock can be. Produced entirely by lead singer James Mercer, “Heartworms” is the fifth studio album released by the band.

The album starts strong with a loud, indie-pop hit, “Name For You,” a perfect opener. As Mercer sings “Given all the drops in the ocean / Better take it one sip at a time,” the song becomes a statement on sexuality.

Track “Cherry Hearts” is a fun-loving bop. A traditional unrequited love song, it has a different feeling from “Painting a Hole,” which takes on a more depressed feeling. With lyrics such as, “You’re painting a hole / Can you crawl up inside it?” and “Baby, return to your toys / A little mental hideaway” give the song a clinical mood.

From there the album doesn’t slow down. Every track takes on a new sound, each just as entertaining as the last. Mercer has managed to fit many different types of emotions in one album, proving that he is not only a fabulous songwriter but also a talented producer.

The album ends strong with “The Fear.” It’s a well-layered song, bringing many different sounds to a singular song. The track is heartbreaking, especially while Mercer croons “This fear is a terrible drug / If I only had sense enough / To let it give way to love.”

As a whole, the new sound of “Heartworms” is what The Shins will be remembered for. A clear step in right direction, Mercer has managed to reestablish himself as a talented musician after five years.

The Shins make their appearance at The NorVa May 16.

‘Chill, Dummy’ – P.O.S. 💿💿💿💿

Courtesy Doomtree Records

Courtesy Doomtree Records

After living off of only singles and side projects, P.O.S. fans can finally welcome the artist back. Stepping back to his style of hip hop supported by anger, “Chill, Dummy” is the classic P.O.S. sound that fans have begged for.

Stefon Alexander, known better by his stage name P.O.S., has been in the music scene since 2001. He flips around between his own solo work and group acts, going from punk rock to hip-hop. He’s about as versatile with music as it gets.

“Chill, Dummy,” which dropped on Jan. 27, is a bit aggressive and a bit cryptic, but definitely good. It’s a strong return from his last full-length album release in 2012.

P.O.S. delves into the world of social commentary and consumerism. On the track “Infinite Scroll,” P.O.S. calls out society for antisocial behavior with the lyrics, “The streets ain’t talkin’ / ‘cause they too busy talking to they phone.”

“Wearing a Bear” is easily the best track off the album, for no reason other than the line “Some of y’all thought racism was over ’cause the president was black.”

The song “Thieves/Kings” takes on a fast paced, assertive vibe. “sleepdrone/superposition” is still just as bold while P.O.S. raps “I’m Mike Brown I’m Eric Garner I can’t breathe.” The synth reverb is what sets the tone for the track.

The rest of “Chill, Dummy,” is enjoyable. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its awkward moments, like the blocky track “Bully.” For P.O.S., though, the good outweighs the bad. It’s a good comeback that will not only attract a new audience, but remind the old fans why they love P.O.S. in the first place.

‘Number 1 Angel’ – Charli XCX 💿💿💿

Courtesy Doomtree Records

Courtesy Atlantic Records UK

Charli XCX has always danced the line between obnoxious pop, radio-ready hits and well-layered EDM. After the success of her hit song, “I Love It,” with Icona Pop, the spotlight has been on Charli waiting to see what’s next.

Tilting more towards the bubblegum pop vibe, “Angel” takes the listener through wild nights and parties galore. It’s still a well-polished collection of songs featuring many respected artists including MØ and CupcakKe.

“Number 1 Angel” starts off hot with track “Dreamer,” featuring Starrah and RAYE. It’s a typical Charli XCX party anthem with a slowed down tempo. “3AM (Pull Up)” kicks things up a bit. As Charli croons “Go f—k yourself, don’t say you’re sorry,” the song transforms into an ode to independence and self-love. Paired with MØ’s vocals, the song is easily the most complex and enjoyable.

Hit track “Babygirl,” featuring Uffie, is a dreamy mix of old school pop and flirtatious lyrics. Uffie sings, “Wanna drink a little sip with you / Wanna spend a little bit with you.” Another conventional pop hit, the track still manages to be independent from the rest of the album with the alternating vocals and lush vibes.

“Number 1 Angel” ends with fiery song “Lipgloss” featuring CupcakKe. The synth-pop/hip-hop crossover gives the track a bold feeling. Instead of an awkward imbalance of the two genres, somehow Carli and CupcakKe manage to come together and produce a genuinely appealing song.

“Number 1 Angel” is full of pop hits. Each track compliments the other, making the album enjoyable all around. There’s a lack of depth, though, that is common with Charli XCX’s music. Overall, “Angel” is a fun party anthem and nothing more.

Rating System:

💿 — Face palm.
💿💿 — Eh…
💿💿💿 — We’re getting there.
💿💿💿💿 — I’ll listen to it twice, even.
💿💿💿💿💿 — Hell yes!