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Mace & Crown | February 21, 2018

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Monarch Music Minute - Spoon, Drake and Zara Larsson

Lindsey Lanham | Staff Writer

‘Hot Thoughts’ – Spoon 5/5

Possibly the most underrated indie band to ever grace the scene, Spoon have returned with yet another striking masterpiece.

Three years post “They Want My Soul,” “Hot Thoughts” has managed to take Spoon’s traditional minimalist style and add a funk aesthetic. “Hot Thoughts,” released on March 17, is ten tracks full of hits.

Title track “Hot Thoughts” is the lust-filled hit that starts off the album. The psychedelic-influenced song was the first to be released, and just a taste of what the album achieves. Layered with electric guitar riffs and a horde of bells, the track features lines such as, “Hot thoughts melting my mind / Could be your accent mixing with mine.”

The rest of the album continues to impress. “First Caress” is easily the best song off the album, with fun piano melodies and a solid beat. The lyrics, “And when you say the wrong thing / Oh, I know I hear the right thing,” give the song an exhilarating, “Hot Thoughts” vibe.

“Can I Sit Next to You” and “Shotgun” have traces of reggae infused alternative rock with little splashes of disco. A sound that should play more like a jumbled mess, Spoon have effortlessly combined it to make a sleek, vibrant impression.

Even closing track “Us,” a five-minute, jazz-filled instrumental, is nothing but enjoyable to listen to. Each song packs a punch, making sure that “Hot Thoughts” is enjoyable from start to finish.

An obvious step outside of their comfort zone, Spoon has succeeded in writing an album that goes beyond their typical shy style. Each song makes its own genuine impression and the album is never boring, making “Hot Thoughts” is an absolute hit.

Spoon make their stop at the Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville on July 19.

‘More Life’ – Drake 4/5

Drake’s broken heart has always been the forefront of his songs. Too much emotion, too much whining and not enough actual songwriting has been his aesthetic for the past decade. It seems, finally, that Drake is done complaining and ready to grow up.

Dropped on March 18, “More Life,” starts off with “Free Smoke.” It’s a misleading start with a simple, radio-ready beat and unremarkable lyrics. Shortly after, we get “Passionfruit,” the height of “More Life.” Even though it’s Drake’s typical unrequited love song (“You got issues that I won’t mention for now,” he says), the track stands out with quick lines and a damn good beat.

Other notable tracks include “Portland” and “Teenage Fever.” “Portland,” featuring Travis Scott and Migo’s Quavo, is a strong, heavy track. Lines like, “Bitin’ everybody, which is ironic ’cause your next album probably won’t ever see the light of day,” give the track a savage twist.

Drake features his mom leaving a voicemail on “Can’t Have Everything.” After spending four minutes complaining about how the world is against him, his mom steps in. She clears her throat and says “I’m a bit concerned about this negative tone that I’m hearing in your voice these days.” It’s a fair accusation, and as his own callout might mean that Drake is moving in a new, less self-deprecating tone.

Anticipated as a low-key playlist, “More Life” is a full-length album showcasing Drake at the top of his game. It’s not perfect and has its dull moments, but overall it’s everything that a hip-hop album should be. A mix of many different influences while still paying homage to traditional Drake, “More Life” will definitely be remembered as one of his best.

‘So Good’ – Zara Larsson 3/5

Zara Larsson is a refreshing young face in the pop scene. At only 19-years-old, she has made it clear she has little time for anyone’s sh*t. Her raw and unpolished attitude is what makes her so appealing, and the world was waiting to see how she was going to put it into an album.

Released on March 17, “So Good” is not the badass, edgy girl album everyone was anticipating. It’s a bit cautious, Larsson clearly holding back. Title track and hit single “So Good” doesn’t even begin to touch what Larsson accomplishes in some of her other songs.

“Never Forget You” is, musically, the most intricate of the album. It’s a fast song with a mix synth beats and repetitive lyrics. MNEK backs her in this track, giving the song the extra push it needs.

“Ain’t My Fault” presents Larsson as a surprisingly decent rapper. “I Would Like” proves she doesn’t need help from feature artists to make her songs great. These tracks showcase Larsson’s talent and range.

The height of the album, though, happens to be at the end. “Symphony,” is carried by Clean Bandit, with Larsson featured as a guest artist. A new twist on the typical radio-ready pop sound, “Symphony” brings in a string ensemble to accentuate the “symphony” title. The lines, “I just wanna be part of your symphony / Will you hold me tight and not let go?” are a bit corny, but the song is still enjoyable from beginning to finish.

While not a bad album by any means, “So Good” just isn’t remarkable. At it’s worst, “So Good” is just dull, overdone ballads. At it’s best, the album mixes different ages of pop with confrontational lyrics.