Initial Reactions (2011): Feist, Ryan Adams, Still Corners, Beirut

Feist – Metals – [ind]: If I had to compare Feist’s career trajectory to anyone right now, it would be Norah Jones. What I mean is, after two great albums, she has reached the point where she is running purely on charm and an amazing voice and beginning to suffer from a complacent and narrow vision. Not that I’m trying to hate – that’s not it at all – but quite frankly this album seems to substitute a sort of languid jazziness for songwriting chops. I know she probably got sick to death of "1234", but would it really kill her to throw an upbeat track or two into the mix? Another one like this and who will care? ("Caught a Long Wind", "Bittersweet Melodies", "Get It Wrong, Get It Right")

Ryan Adams – Ashes & Fire – [++]: This definitely sounds like Adams pre-Cardinals, which, depending on one’s perspective, could go either way. The good news is that Adams sounds a little wiser, a little more patient, a little more balanced, and completely ready to focus on the things he does best. Excellent melodies abound, and there’s a sleepy Saturday morning feel to the album that recalls Love Is Hell and the lovelier, nostalgic moments on Cold Roses. Furthermore, I’m detecting the ghost of Richard Manuel in many of these tunes, which is always a good thing. Overall, I’m thinking that this might be one of the best albums of his career, and it could wind up being one of the best of any artist this year. ("Lucky Now", "Ashes & Fire", "Dirty Rain")

Still Corners – Creatures Of An Hour – [++]: More like Endless Winter! Very atmospheric, ghostly stuff. Pretty nice, though not incredibly original what with the voluminous…VOLUME of atmospheric and pretty post-punk outfits making music these days. Still, Creatures is well executed, and our lady Tessa Murray positively haunts these tunes. It’s like they took the last few Camera Obscura albums and boiled ’em down in The Cure’s early records. Also, sounds like Memoryhouse, but more David Lynch. Should make for some pleasant twilight drives in the darker seasons. Overall, shows promise. And I like the dude’s vision. ("Endless Summer")

Beirut – The Rip Tide – (++): I’ve always loved the "Old World" element in Zach Condon’s outfit, but on this one he indulges a heavier pop element for the better. Condon has such a profound gift for rich, memorable melodies that the synths and such, instead of sounding kitschy or tacky, further highlight the wonderful old/new paradox that makes Condon’s music rise above the fray. A keeper for sure and a possible year end sleeper. ("Santa Fe", "Goshen")

REACTION KEY

[****]: Enthusiastic. Frequent rotation. A buyer. Contender for year’s best.
[++]: Positive. Good stuff. Possible grower?
[ind]: Indifferent.. Underwhelmed. I don’t expect to come back to this one.
[—]: Negative. A real screw-up. Don’t even bother.

Quick Review (LP): Faith by The Cure

The Cure
Faith
Elektra; 1982

My Rating: B (70/100)

Best Tracks: "Primary", "Other Voices", "The Drowning Man"

There’s a darkly appealling something about this record, and I can see how it represents a sort of proto-Disintegration for sure. It’s a mixed bag to be sure, dense and threatening drudgery, yet oddly challenging and inviting of repeated listens.

NOTES
– "All Cats Are Grey" has a nice ambience to it. Sort of sounds like Tears for Fears.
– This is a conflicting record – it’s so dense that I can’t imagine listening to it on a regular basis, but I do like it as a whole.
– "Faith" is nice enough, but I don’t understand why it is thought of as amazing.
Gotta agree with the Pitchfork guy. The album does have that Twin Peaks thing going on at times, that misty, lost in the woods, nature-goth feel.
– "Primary" and "Other Voices" are each great singles. What is it about the early Cure sound? Not really melodic, not incredible musically, but catchy and so interesting.
– Very cool album cover. At first, it reminds me of half a woman’s face, with one eyelid shut. Turns out it’s a picture of an old church in England.
– In sum, this one’s all about the overcast atmosphere. It’s even creepy at times, and I have to say that I think I’ll be coming back to this one.

ATTRIBUTES
Cohesion (5/5)
Concept (5/5)
Consequence (4/5)
Consistency (3.5/5)
Songs (4/5)

My review of The Cure’s Three Imaginary Boys
My review of The Cure’s Seventeen Seconds