2020 Music Reviews

Caribou, Suddenly (2020)   B-
Not sure all of the samples Dan leans on heavily work - "Home" is a decent opening single, but the two tracks that precede it, "New Jade" and "Sunny's Time" are uncharacteristically irritating. It sounds like he's slowly 'tweaking' his sound as years go by, and that's promising: why shouldn't a Canadian mathematician want to play electronic R&B?

Eminem, Music to Be Murdered By (2020)   C-
It feels like he's been whining about his relatives for decades - you're a multi-millionaire, get over it - and those references to the 90's make me think he's in a state of arrested development: an angry twenty-plus year old with something to prove. So it's more of the same, although it is funny when he tries to compete with John Moschitta.

Selena Gomez, Rare (2020)   C+
Ms. Selena has a nice voice and everything, but there aren't as many solid radio hits on this as on previous releases which, in case you missed them, are on the bonus disc (which includes her collaboration with Kygo). She could continue to crank out records like this for years, but I still think she's quite underrated as an actress (which even Woody Allen recognized).

Grimes, Miss Anthropocene (2020)   C
With all the cooing and whispering you'd almost think Ms. Boucher is trying to be Enya (and a chipmunk at other points, like "You'll Miss Me When I'm Not Around") and while I realize she wants a variety of sounds (and collaborators), it's too erratic to be a solid full album.

Halsey, Manic (2020)   C+
She's most likely not going to revolutionize pop music, but this isn't a terrible record - yes, she should have ditched the sound clips and maybe hired a writer or three and maybe tried to stick to a genre, but otherwise it's an easy listen and she has a nice voice: I like the country-tinged "Finally // Beautiful Stranger" and the welcoming "Clementine."

Of Montreal, Ur Fun (2020)   B-
Barnes gets so glammy and exaggerates so much you could imagine the likes of the Village People and Marc Bolan kind of taking him aside and whispering, "Hey buddy, mind toning it down?" Despite the swooning, there are some solid songs on here, especially "You've Had Me Everywhere," which is sweet (in a Hallmark Card sort-of way).

Poppy, I Disagree (2020)   F
Poppy's handlers/controllers must have watched Aggretsuko (a good show) for their latest "reinvention" of their nauseatingly manufactured "pop star," which would explain the black metal-inspired cover and the sporadic creeping up of heavy guitars. It doesn't work and it isn't cute, and the generic bubblegum "image" she began with still dominates the record.

Squarepusher, Be Up a Hello (2020)   C-
He's been at this a fairly long enough time to know better than to crank out B-sides of past material. There's a lot happening ("Mekrev Bass"), but it isn't going anywhere ... sort of like pogo dancing in the same spot. While on meth.

Tame Impala, The Slow Rush (2020)   C
Something of an odd turn for Parker with his neo-psychedelic project - it's not really that trippy and it seems to lean closer to Justice in spots ("Is It True"). It's pretty chilled-out, however, and no one is going to consider him a top-notch lyricist but I'm not sure that's what they expect from him. In other words: if it pops up on some streaming service while you're driving, you most likely won't rush to turn it off ... it just won't blow you away.

Singles of the Year: Halsey: "Clementine," Of Montreal: "You've Had Me Everywhere"