Popjustice Advent Calendar 2018 - Dec 23rd | Page 7 | The Popjustice Forum

Popjustice Advent Calendar 2018 - Dec 23rd

Discussion in 'Charts, rates etc' started by NecessaryVoodoo, Oct 24, 2018.

  1. 2014

    2014 Staff Member

    Dec 6


    Ryan Beatty - Boy In Jeans
    Reviewed by @Jonathan27

    When I was in college, I took a Queer Studies course. During that course, I learned plenty of insights into how queer identities are shaped, but one of the things that has stuck with me was this: as queer people, our sexuality goes through multiple transitions. From the outside, there’s simply coming out publicly. But internally, we have to negotiate our sexuality with the perception of it we learn based on our environment. Most of us don’t get to grow up knowing another queer person, so it’s a lonely journey in realizing that you are not only different, but you also have to consider how that difference will affect others’ perceptions of you. We come out twice in theory - once to ourselves and again to the world - but in reality we have to come out every time we get close to someone. This often times splits our identity and the presentation of it; we have our inherent identity and our social identity.

    Boy in Jeans is at its core an American coming of age story, but it benefits from navigating social hurdles only now becoming visible in media. I wasn’t lucky enough to have an album like this during my adolescence, yet I can’t help but be taken back to long drives on back roads and unanswered text messages, paranoia and internalization of desires. This is in part due to Beatty’s emphasis on traditional American imagery: school dances, nights spent staring at the bedroom ceiling, summer love that fades like a sunburn. It’s this fleeting romance to which all other threads of Ryan Beatty’s story return.

    Much of Boy in Jeans juxtaposes traditional American ideology with burgeoning expressions of sexuality. “Haircut” opens the album and likens coming out to its title subject, an arbitrary modification to your identity that changes how you are socially perceived. This transitions into “Euro”, a reformation of identity; no longer burdened by secrecy, now he must form his own self presentation where his sexuality can exist as a facet of his identity. This paints youth with shades of recklessness and release. “Money” alludes to the inherent insecurities queer people feel through their perceived flaws (“Call me good, call me bad, don’t care what you say just call me back”). Guilt infects Beatty’s lyrics on the songs that grapple with reality. He ponders if he’s become a liability for his parents, touching on his own lack of self belief on “Pink Floyd” and how facing his sexuality has led to uncertainty. Coming out means expressing a new identity socially and intrinsically; what does an inner dialogue no longer riddled with fear of exposure sound like?

    This renaissance of youth leads to recklessness; “Crash” likens impulsive desires to a car wreck, racing down the highway towards a temporary destination. As queer people we aren’t inherently accepted by everyone; we feel we have to earn it, and when we fall in love we cling to it so desperately in fear that it may dissipate as quickly as it came. This shapes the other major theme of Boy in Jeans: first love. Beatty is in the unique position of coming out to someone else while exploring his sexuality simultaneously.

    “Cupid”, the first song to directly address a romantic relationship, is also the first to utilize alternate voice to differentiate reality from his perception of it. Beatty’s vocals are pitched up, echoing the stream of consciousness that unravels in the lyrics as he sneaks out of a school dance to meet his lover. “Pitch black, I’m on the opposite side of the fence just to give you a kiss.” The teenage frivolity of kissing is lost though, killed by circumstances. Feverish lust can only flourish in the shroud of darkness, and as Beatty’s natural vocal comes through against a choir of pitched layers it’s desperate and determined. “What do you want from me? I’ll give it to you, you just gotta ask.” In the moment it’s enough to know someone else wants you just as badly. Like a fever dream it’s here and gone, metamorphosing into a single line: “this is not real. This is a real memory. A real. Memory.”

    There’s something indescribably beautiful about seeing someone you love in uninhibited joy, and Beatty is awestruck on “Bruise”. Recounting the same night that found two boys disappearing from a dance, this time the narrator is inoculated with desire. Beatty’s voice becomes more urgent with each chorus, electric guitar cutting the skyline. It’s here that we find the titular theme: “Boy in jeans with the bleach blonde imagery, boy in jeans 1995 fantasy.” The verses breathe life into the world around them: there are strangers now, faceless characters shifting like tectonic plates. There’s the girl Beatty left dancing as he chased his lover, crying on his shoulder when he returns. The words are pitched down now: “I’m selfish, ‘cause all I can think about is you.” This guilt seeps into the most intimate moments on Boy in Jeans, ejecting its narrator from fantasy. Reality splinters his desires and suddenly there’s a chasm between Beatty and the boy he loves.

    This culminates on “Party’s Over”, a wistful plea as eyes lock across the room. Production flutters under falsetto as the physical world and dream state converge with possibilities that all lead to dead ends. Beatty is content to settle at this impasse, detailing a summer of love that blossomed into talk of forever. He likens his lover to a god, sex the consummation of something sacred as radio drenches the room in familiar sounds. Often young sexuality is expressed with apprehension. When you find someone wholly accepting of you for the first time, when what feels right can be right, it’s next to spiritual. This also alludes to the liberation that loving openly allows: some point to religion as the sole driver of purpose, yet it can be found just as easily in the eyes of another. Beatty recounts a moment of disarming vulnerability where his lover finds him crying. It’s met with assurance, and for maybe the first time there’s no hesitation: “Tears of joy, I pray to the open sky: this is the one I wanted. This is everything.” Beatty keeps this in the back of his mind: “Summer’s over when I die.” This is the most honest self he’s expressed, and keeping it means crystallizing in a world that threatens to suffocate him.

    Beatty spends the final stretch of Boy in Jeans locked in penultimate crisis. “Summer’s over when I die.” This is the most honest self he’s expressed, and yet suburban suffocation threatens to crystallize him. The only thing keeping him here has been the only thing that’s anchored him to sanity. “I’m not ready to say goodbye” he declares, but the outcome is already determined. Drums bubble underneath the chorus, words of Hollywood hopefuls interspersed in the background. The weight of the future feels insurmountable when you’re young, a shot in the dark and a prayer that threatens to be swallowed by fear. The narrator’s decision ends in ellipses before skittering synths reveal a new world on “Rhinestone”. Here Beatty doesn’t need the shelter of night to express his desires; he wears it like a gem fastened to his jacket. Still, he beckons to his old lover to meet him in the clouds: “It’s better when you’re right next to me.” Sometimes, we meet people who we are meant to know forever. Others drift in and out of our lives as time passes. Yet it’s the ones driven from us by life’s circumstances who seem to weigh on us the heaviest. In their absence it’s merely the ways they shape us that remind us how important they were to not only our lives but our future. “Rhinestone” feels assured in a way none of the songs before it could ascertain, and there’s a glimmer of the past keeping Beatty looking towards the future. Forever changed, forever known.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2018
  2. Fuck. Aside from the great review, I would actually love to hear more about the whole Queer Course. I am completely spellbound by that summary.
  3. Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
  4. RJF


    2014 likes this.
  5. I’m so happy you reviewed this album and did it such justice!
    Jonathan27 and DirtyKnees like this.
  6. Dec 7th


    Mai Lan - Autopilote
    reviewed by @Island

    I know some of y'all have been wondering where the bops have been this year?

    Well they've been right here this whole time. That's right, French artist Mai Lan's Autopilote has all of the bops. There are smooth bops, mellow bops, semi-trashy bops, crazy bops, uplifting bops, and somewhat emotional bops. I first heard of her when @NecessaryVoodoo was promoting her song "Vampire" in her thread and in one of the year-end threads. Her album was originally supposed to be released last year, but she released it at the top of 2018 and I have to say that it still holds up as one of my favorite albums of the year.

    Mai Lan's thin voice may be an annoyance when listening to the album, but when she's singing, she has a nice breathy tone to it as heard in "Autopilote", "Haze", and "Blaze Up". The bookends of the album are in French and they're a little slower, downtempo, and spacier.

    Most of her songs involve a more talky tone that works with the electronic experimental production and the kooky lyrics that she's singing. The theme of the album is basically to let go of your worries and to have fun. Be yourself! Be crazy! Be weird! Let go of your reservations and the perceptions people have about you. Just don't waste your time on people who put you down and just live it up!

    The album is full of weird, quirky, and overall bonkers lyrics that express her affinity for having fun, partying, catching the attention of boys, sex, and overall self-freedom. "Pumper", "Vampire", and "Nail Polish" are probably the most bonkers tracks on the album and thankfully they are all in that order. All three of these songs have different themes but overall, they're all just plain old fun. The lyrics are pretty nonsensical but you're able to just bask in the craziness and dance like it's nobody's business. "Pumper" is basically about wanting and enjoying sex but with a catchy melody and pretty out there lyrics.

    "Get a pumper/Cause this heat is hard to bear/You can get it, fill it, drive it, like a fireman would do it"

    "Vampire" is that Halloween bop about how she's going to catch and eat her prey, but in a very humorous fashion. She's nice enough to tell us what she's going to eat her prey because she's so bloodthirsty. Kesha's "Cannibal" found dead and buried.

    "I'm here to build up an empire/cos I'm a vampire/better hide in your bunker/gonna cook you with pepper and lime/watch your former jawline/gotta need to be filled up"

    "Nail Polish" is nonsense song where she raps about fighting and food and inner strength. The song makes no sense but it's such a fun song.

    "Legs, bust, arms/on your knees, it's bomb/gotta keep the crown/bitches going down"

    I don't know either, girl.

    "Haze" brings the album back to a slower electronic beat with more straightforward lyrics about longing for a past lover's return. The vibe is very eerie and mysterious as she sings about her worries, doubts, and longings while trying to reassure herself.

    "Missile" is a bit of an unconventional party song with more industrial beats while maintaining that spooky vibe as she raps about feeling that dick (I presume). Pain's gone high like a missile girl yas get it.

    "Dial My Number" is that sexual anthem where she tells her partner what she's gonna do and how she's gonna do it. No chill at all.

    "Put you in the ground don't need a shovel/I'm gonna get you where you chill/Walk on your back with fucking heels"

    "Blaze Up" lightens up the mood of the album as she sings in her breathy tone attached to a more straightforward pop beat. It's the feel good song of album as she sings about letting go of the pain and being there to help those having a hard time. This song is most similar to Kiddo era Tove Styrke.

    "Clermont" brings the vibe back down to a more electronic and moody feel. It's a dark dance song at heart, but the lyrical content reflects overcoming someone constantly putting you down for their own personal gain.

    "Shut up and die/don't spit and shit on my pride/just give up, shut it up/you poison me to get high"

    "Time to Fade" continues the moody electronic atmosphere, with a few trippy elements attached to it.

    "Technique" is that anthem that tells you what to do with your day. It's a bonkers song that is just utter nonsense, which also makes it amazing. What song mentions pizza, paper, laptops, nails, and noodles in the same song? She'll tell you how she lives her life and honestly, we should follow her instructions.

    "Moisturize. Take computer breaks"

    The last song on the album, "Pas d'amour", is admittedly my least favorite song because I just don't think it goes anywhere. She's sing-talking in French and it just meanders in my mind, but it is a nice end to the album as it brings it back to the space-y downtempo vibe that started the album.

    If you're looking for a unique electronic album full of nonsense lyrics and bonkers sounds, then this is the album for you. It's not a straightforward pop album, but it's more of a moody dance album with a few crazy uptempo thrown in there. The album may be quite moody in sound, but the production is very atmospheric, trippy, and quite experimental where you can't help but have fun to it. The production and her delivery completely make the album a fun experience because you can't help but to vibe and laugh along to whatever she's spitting. There's not a lot of albums like this and it really has been quite the hidden gem in 2018.

    I recommend this album if you're a fan of Tove Styrke, Charli XCX, and Uffie. It might catch you by surprise.

    Take computer breaks.

  7. [​IMG]

    My impacT
  8. Speak up wench

  9. ‘Dial My Number’ is very very good.
  10. londonrain

    londonrain Staff Member

    The pepper and lime line in Vampire remains iconic.

    Queen of frightening bops.

    Thank you for that great review, @Island!
    Island likes this.
  11. Island

    Island Staff Member

    Second year in a row where my review choice is your impact!
  12. I'm hyped like hell for High as Hope and (@constantino's) Be The Cowboy.
  13. you might wanna lower those expectations a bitsy, sis...

  14. @2014

  15. Two more I wasn't familiar with on the list to check out, thanks for the great reviews @Jonathan27 and @Island !
  16. Will 2014 release my album on my birthday? I guess I have to wait longer to find out ddd.
  17. 2014

    2014 Staff Member

    Dec 8th


    NAO - Saturn
    Reviewed by @eddy2375

    “Saturn's shift is an astrological episode that occurs when the planet Saturn returns to the position it occupied relative to your birth. It reaches this position after approximately 29 or 30 years. It's about letting go of what doesn't serve you. You know, letting go of relationships, jobs, any past regrets.”

    Above is the capsule definition of the Saturn Return concept from “When Saturn Returns (Interlude)”, the fourth track on Saturn - a useful backgrounder for those of us less astrologically inclined. But if you’re thinking NAO’s second album is little more than Mystic-Meg-by-way-of-avant-soul, please be seated. By the singer’s own admission, the Saturn Return is basically astrology speak for finally coming of age - realigning your life in accordance with the responsibilities, realisations and decisions of adulthood and stripping away the flotsam of past trials. So simple when written down and yet so headfuckingly, body-achingly difficult in practice.

    Have you ever felt like the rug is slowly being pulled from under you, without really knowing how or why? When the friends, partner, and/or career that you’ve always pursued and held dear are cast in a new, uncompromising light? Where the things that are truly important to you - whether you want to admit them or not - are beginning to crystallize themselves and it dawns on you how far your present life is from honouring those things? This is the crux of NAO’s Saturn, which takes us on an emotional, veritably cosmic journey through the ongoing navigation of the singer’s own Saturn Return.

    The opening hat-trick of “Another Lifetime”, “Make It Out Alive”, and “If You Ever” reintroduces NAO as she laments a relationship whose end was tellingly of her own making. “In another lifetime [...] I swear I won’t run from you”, the Nottingham-born songstress pledges, but why did NAO run? Inevitably, letting go of what doesn’t serve you includes owning up to one’s self-destructive tendencies. As Jennifer Jason Leigh’s Ventress imparts in the sci-fi thriller Annihilation from earlier this year, “Almost none of us commit suicide, and almost all of us self-destruct”. But sometimes you need to burn the house to the ground (“Make It Out Alive”’s skittish chorus) to clock that you never really needed it to begin with.​


    Glimmers of hope arrive like dawn sunlight with the simmering, warming “Saturn”, a duet with Kwabs. The title track casts the two British soul musicians as lovers calling out for each other but finding the other out of reach… for now. Instead of despondency, here NAO acknowledges that their stars aren’t quite aligning just yet and is happy to wait for when/if they do. This newfound acceptance continues with the rousing “Orbit” - one of many tracks with masterful strings courtesy of the Chineke! Orchestra - in which the singer lets bygones be bygones with her soon-to-be-past lover (“if I lose you I lose you”). It’s just one example of the self-compassionate wisdom threaded through Saturn that people of any age could do well to adopt.

    NAO has lost none of her playfulness during the entirety of this spiritual awakening and it’s a joy to hear her let her hair down with the daydreaming “Love Supreme” and “Yellow of the Sun”, an apparent ode to friendship with adorable Thelma & Louise references. Elsewhere, “Gabriel” and “Curiosity” show that she isn’t intent on neglecting pleasures of the body while she’s busy nurturing her heart and soul, even if her “kryptonite lover” isn’t the most sensible option for her when it comes to a sexual partner. The former’s cheeky R&B is one style of several - jazz, Afrobeat, and NAO’s trademark “wonky funk” among them - that form the sonic galaxy of Saturn, deftly realised by NAO and her returning cohort of co-producers including GRADES, Loxe, and Mura Masa.

    “A Life Like This”, the album’s closing track, is undoubtedly its best and brightest. “When the design is done, I’ll adjust to you”, a hopeful NAO contemplates amid a rousing, ethereal soundscape of pianos, strings, and synths. Life is filled with challenges and change, but NAO has emerged on the other side of her Saturn Return more reflective, measured and appreciative of life’s pleasures than before. A fitting climax for an entrancing voyage of an album, “A Life Like This” lays down a mantra for us all to live by, and Saturn’s emotional impact expands far beyond NAO’s own universe as a result.​

  18. [​IMG]

    Dec 9th


    Miya Folick - Premonitions
    reviewed by me

    Despite frequent comparisons to iconic voices such as Tori Amos, Sinead O'Connor and Dolores O'Riordan made by music journalists and bloggers, L.A.-based artist Miya Folick pleads ignorance to such influences. Freely admitting that beyond listening to a lot of Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro and other singer/songwriters of that era growing up —as well as a more recent obsession with the Cocteau Twins— she is by no means a music obsessive, preferring the company of silence to a constant life soundtrack. Therefore she claims any similarities are either happy coincidence or product of a type of subconscious osmosis, through music heard on the radio or played by friends.

    The one more contemporary reference point she has made sure to drop into almost every press interview given this year is Björk's Post.

    Interviewer: H-

    More specifically; that desire to craft a sound world where each song is quite different in mood or tone, but still somehow connected as a whole piece. And while perhaps not as eclectic as the dizzying amount of influences Björk crammed into Post; much like that album, a constant presence running throughout her debut album Premonitions is a unique voice. Assured and powerful. An effortlessly swooping thing that's an absolute joy to listen to. There's classical training there, a potential opera career cancelled when she came to the realisation that as well as not realistically having the kind of voice for the discipline she, "didn’t particularly like operas as productions; I found them really boring and they’re always, like, weirdly sexist and homophobic and racist."

    This sort of u-turn that suggests a somewhat restless spirit has become a bit of a recurring theme throughout Miya's life so far, including enrolling at NYU and then USC to study acting before becoming disenchanted with the types of TV parts she was attending auditions for. Turning back to music, she took up the guitar and started to write songs. Later via the unusual route of Tinder she recruited collaborators and band members, honing her live chops by performing gigs around Los Angeles. Her first collection of songs —the six track Strange Darling EP self-released via Bandcamp in 2015— was a quiet storm of lo-fi singer-songwriter confessionals, while later releases like singles Pet Body, God is a Woman and the Give It To Me EP married a glimmer of pop sheen to squalling alt-rock guitars.

    When it came time to record the songs that would become Premonitions, Miya had a clear vision for how she wanted the album to sound. This included a determined moving away from that alt-rock sound, fully embracing pop partly because of how much more fun and dynamic the songs would be to perform live for both audience and performer, so... clutching a copy of Post warmly to her chest (probably), she enlisted the aid of Justin Raisen (co-producer of Sky Ferreira's stellar Night Time, My Time, Angel Olsen's Woman and more recently Lawrence Rothman's Book of Law) and Yves Rothman as co-producers and collaborators.

    Working together over the space of six months they crafted what they affectionately dubbed "domestic pop", partly inspired from events that were happening in Miya's life during recording, but also consciously written to be from a more universal viewpoint after the personal introspection of her earlier songs.

    So befitting the experiences of most millennials swiftly entering their quarter century (I... vaguely remember it) set to ebullient, bubbling instrumentals there are lyrics here about: relationship breakdowns (the title track and Cost Your Love), the awkwardness of parties and joys of your own company (Leave The Party), putting up with a friend who just won't shut the fuck up about a boyfriend (Stop Talking), and dealing with feelings of emptiness (Stock Image).

    As mentioned previously, the star of the show is undoubtedly Miya's arresting vocal turns, but the music itself is never bland or lacking in character, with thoughtful little production choices within each track that reward repeated and close listening. For instance: there's the strings which slowly envelop opening track Thingamajig, taking up the same patter as the wordless vocal loop that acts as its quiet foundation, the subtle change of rhythm the second time the whooping sugar rush chorus to Freak Out hits, or the sound of something rewinding before the euphoric chorus to dreamy closer What We've Made.

    With such a strong debut album, what comes next for this talent? Along with her first headline tour of the USA early next year, she has already spoken about recording the follow up to Premonitions and turned out a surprising guest turn on Canadian hardcore band Fucked Up's latest album. She has also expressed a desire to make a return to acting, so who knows what the future holds except for Miya herself?

    Listen to: Stock Image, Stop Talking, Deadbody, Baby Girl, What We've Made
  19. OspreyQueen

    OspreyQueen Staff Member

    Just listened to Leave The Party, and...

    I paint my pinky toes
    I eat my Cheerios
    Imagine myself in elaborate music videos
    I tweeze my eyebrows
    Too thin and I frown
    Read Wikipedia 'til my eyelids fall down

  20. Mai Lan, NAO and Miya all being on this page, whew the talent! Whew the taste!

    eddy2375, Kuhleezi, Island and 2 others like this.
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