In Brief: The Killers are probably always going to strike me as a highly inconsistent band. I can’t decide whether I want them to be more serious or more silly, and they often swerve in one direction when I’d expect them to go in the other. But they make a good case for both sides of their personality on their fifth album, which shows some genuine maturity in places without casting off their fun, glammy side. I’d say it’s their best work since Hot Fuss, actually.
Artist: Sylvan Esso
Album: What Now
In Brief: The duo’s second album features some clever sonic experimentation and the occasional brave lyric. But it too often falls back on the old cliche of making music about making music. And the highlights generally aren’t as strong as they were on the first album.
Artist: Flint Eastwood
Album: Broke Royalty EP
In Brief: While this EP features a bolder sound than 2015’s Small Victories, the production tends to de-emphasize the songwriting. It’s fun, but I don’t connect with it as deeply as I do with some of Flint’s earlier songs. Also, the re-inclusion of two of those songs is mildly distracting.
Artist: Flint Eastwood
Album: Small Victories EP
In Brief: Flint Eastwood fits nicely among some of the other female-fronted dance-pop and electronica artists that I listen to, who emphasize wit and songcraft above mere sex appeal in their quest to get their music heard.
Artist: Paper Route
Album: Real Emotion
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.
In Brief: The cover art says it all. Bright, pastel colored, cartoonish, seemingly slapped together with little rhyme or reason, and totally radical. It’s not quite the dreamworld full of glassy seas and funhouse mirrors that was M83’s last album, but there’s a lot of cheesy charm amidst these 15 tracks all the same.
Artist: The 1975
Album: I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful, Yet So Unaware of It
In Brief: I go back and forth between “bold experiment” and “sprawling mess” when trying to describe this 17-track opus. It’s not at all what you’d expect based on its singles, and at times the detours can try my patience, but they cover a lot of stylistic ground here, and I’m actually drawn to their introverted side more than I would have expected.