MuteMath – Play Dead: My sympathies for the obsolete are climbing higher every day.

Artist: MuteMath
Album: Play Dead
Year: 2017
Grade: B-

In Brief: It’s chill and yet energetic, stripped down at times and yet very dense and “jammy” at others. A deliberate contrast to Vitals at times, yet the parallel writing process of both albums shows through occasionally. While I don’t think this is MuteMath’s best work, I have to separate my negative feelings about the recent departure of two band members from my opinion of the material on this album that was recorded while they were still very much a part of the creative process.

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Everything Everything – A Fever Dream: Shame About All of Our Neighborhoods

2017_EverythingEverything_AFeverDreamArtist: Everything Everything
Album: A Fever Dream
Year: 2017
Grade: A-

In Brief: With relentless, hypnotic rhythms, hypnotic guitar and synth melodies that sear into your brain, and politically-charged lyrics, Everything Everything has, well, just about everything I’ve been hoping to get out of an indie rock record in the year 2017.

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Arcade Fire – Everything Now: It goes on and on, I don’t know what I want.

2017_ArcadeFire_EverythingNowArtist: Arcade Fire
Album: Everything Now
Year: 2017
Grade: B

In Brief: While I really enjoy the disco-rock sound and the theme of media oversaturation, it’s a genre exercise that has its limits, and the repetitive choruses make those limits painfully clear. I enjoy this one more than a lot of Arcade Fire’s fanbase seems to, but I think they need to change things up and truly surprise us again when they get around to making album #6.

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Coldplay – Kaleidoscope: I want something just like about 40% of this.

2017_Coldplay_KaleidoscopeEPArtist: Coldplay
Album: Kaleidoscope EP
Year: 2017
Grade: B

In Brief: While I feel like this EP’s release was a bit overhyped, and I’m not inclined to trust rumors of the band having recorded their final album, there are some genuinely exciting new directions taken here that I’d love to see the band explore a little further… and also some embarrassing attempts at pop culture relevance that I wish they’d bury once and for all.

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Paper Route – Real Emotion: Love is every shade of blue.

2016_paperroute_realemotionArtist: Paper Route
Album: Real Emotion
Year: 2016
Grade: A

In Brief: A more expansive and immersive album than Paper Route’s first two, that stretches their sound in a lot of interesting ways while remaining true to their band-driven synthpop/electronic rock origins. Absence is a tough record to beat, but this one comes darn close.

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The Temper Trap – Thick as Thieves: We just want you to feel safe and sound.

2016_TheTemperTrap_ThickasThievesArtist: The Temper Trap
Album: Thick as Thieves
Year: 2016
Grade: B-

In Brief: The Temper Trap’s third album reprises pretty much everything they did well on Conditions, minus that album’s hodgepodge feel. Distancing themselves from the more electronic sound of their self-titled second album doesn’t strike me as a huge positive or negative, but I’m mildly disappointed that the band isn’t really adding anything new to their signature style this time around.

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Coldplay – A Head Full of Dreams: Quit while you’re a head.

2015_Coldplay_AHeadFullofDreamsArtist: Coldplay
Album: A Head Full of Dreams
Year: 2015
Grade: B-

In Brief: An enjoyably upbeat, albeit overly mushy and commercialized, record that I’d be willing to accept as a decent swansong if Coldplay actually followed through on their threat to call it quits after seven albums.

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