Initial Reactions (2011): Lucinda Williams, St. Vincent, Justice

Lucinda Williams – Blessed – (ind): I don’t think I’m being lazy when I say this sounds pretty much like a new Lucinda Williams record. I loved Car Wheels (SO good), but everything I’ve heard her do since sounds like a facsimile of that record. This is no different. It’s not bad or anything; "Blessed" is a really memorable tune for all of the right reasons. So I’ll commend it for all of the Lucind-heads and move on. ("Blessed")

St. Vincent – Strange Mercy  – (ind): Suffers not so much from a lack of craftsmanship as a lack of tunefulness. Makes a strong first impression with "Chloe in the Afternoon." Otherwise, not a memorable track to be found. Falls into the same category as My Brightest Diamond, only St. Vincent dwells in post-modern abstract pop rather than neo-classicism. Yawn-fest, for the most part.

Justice – Audio, Video, Disco. – (ind): Basically Ratatat (French edition), right? Or is it the other way around? Which came first? Where am I? It all dissolves into philosophy from there. This sort of sound has a shelf-life of exactly one album. Once you’ve heard it one time, you’ve heard enough. I suppose I just prefer my IDM with the emphasis on the "I" rather than the "D,"  and that not so much for “intelligent” as “introspective.”

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.

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Quick Review (LP): LP4 by Ratatat

Ratatat
LP4
XL; 2010

My Rating: C+

Best Tracks: “Neckbrace”, “Mandy”, “Party With Children”

Dug LP3, but this is more of the same and not much else. The sounds are all cool, but fresh ideas seem to be running short. It would be great to see these guys broaden their horizons in some way – concept albums, choral arrangements, acoustics/organic instruments, vocals – because music like this needs a deep, deep bag of tricks. The thing is, I feel like I already own this record, so why get it a second time? Nothing to hate here, but not a whole lot to love either.

Pitchfork review
Pixeled Depictions review
Metacritic reviews

Quick Review (LP): Swim by Caribou

Caribou_Swim_cover_art_hi-res_ Caribou
Swim
Merge; 2010

My Rating: C

Best Tracks: “Leave House”, “Jamelia”

I think this is roughly IDM, emphasis on the D in this case. Well, I’ve been hearing good things about this outfit, but I’m afraid I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I don’t even think I’d enjoy having this on in the background. As “neat-sound” music I’ve heard neater this year (see The Books, Ratatat, and Lydia Burrell). This is just a sort of drone, and I’m sorry to say that the fascination with it is lost on me. At the best, it’s an average, less melodic and far less interesting re-hash of what Justice pulled off a few years ago. “Leave House” has some life to it, but otherwise I found it a snore-fest. Anyone care to help me out on this one?

Pitchfork review
Metacritic reviews