Great New Albums from Frank Black, M83, Crystal Castles

Apr. 14, 2008
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Anyone looking for new music couldn’t go wrong with any of these three killer albums:

Black Francis – Svn Fngrs
For Frank Black’s second album under his old Pixies-era nom de plume, he finally gets it right. Between its aggressive quirkiness and the shameless Kim Deal surrogate cooing backing vocals, Black’s last disc, Bluefinger, felt forced, but on this seven-track mini-album, the songs come easily—they’re sweet and funny, and this time out they really do recall The Pixies, right down to the stabbing bass and the petroleum-slick, alt-rock guitar hooks. It’s one of Black’s spunkiest solo jaunts, and easily one of his best, which, despite the unevenness of his solo discography, is still really saying something.

How can such an ostensibly happy album sound so sad? For his latest, poppiest release, M83’s Anthony Gonzalez set out to explore youth, but instead of an accurate account of his younger days he created a shamelessly nostalgic tribute to high-school experiences that only exist in John Hughes films. Fittingly, the music nods to Hughes’ ’80s. The ambient electronica of previous M83 albums has been almost entirely replaced by the proto-shoegaze synths of New Order, Cocteau Twins and Tears for Fears, a swap that’s already alienated some M83 fans, but one that makes the group more accessible. As beautifully romantic as each track is, Saturdays=Youth is ultimately a bittersweet listen. Nobody’s youth was actually as pure and perfect as the one evoked here.

Crystal Castles—Crystal Castles
All throbbing, distorted electronic beats; manic Atari blips and bloops and stylish, girl shrieks, Crystal Castles’ self-titled debut lives up to the promise of the duo’s vicious, buzz-generating singles—which, thankfully, are included here along with a wealth of new material. The disc alternates between a suave, electro-strut and hyper, noisy freak outs, but even its most abrasive moments are contained in tight, three-minute pop songs.


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