As Williams’ solo debut album inches closer and closer, the talented singer/songwriter has continued to release more songs for fans to digest. Her latest, titled “Why We Ever” might be my favorite so far.
This melancholy track is a diary entry that feels all too relatable. Although the underlying bass groove of the track is a bit retro and cute, the lyrics prove another all-bearing emotional story. Hayley describes a relationship at its end, but why? Sometimes we don’t really know; “And now I, can’t seem to remember why we ever felt we had to say goodbye.” Apologies crawl into the closing piano-led outro as Hayley anxiously sings, “I just wanna talk about it, sorry for freaking out,” over and over. These words feel significant in so many ways, like they could somehow solve everything but instead, just saying them out loud is a step towards inner freedom. I keep going back to the closing piano melody and find it so beautiful. It flows just slow enough to compliment the lyrics with upper and lower notes to mimic the heartfelt feelings described in the track. It’s pure magic.
As we’ve heard in previously released singles, self-identity is a huge theme in this new chapter of Hayley’s life. Is she happy, mad, sad, hurt, peaceful? It doesn’t matter. Her main goal is honest expression – nothing is off limits on this album.
Saturated in 70’s style synths, Dua Lipa is finally growing into her artistry. Future Nostalgia is her long-awaited sophomore album – a hurdle most artists buckle at the chance to master. Through a haze of masterly produced tracks, Dua proves she’s here to entertain. In an interview with British Vogue, the singer described the album as a whole saying, “It kind of feels like a dancercise class…I’m not trying to take myself too seriously but as a record it does feel more mature.”
Lead single “Don’t Start Now” gave fans a glimpse into the futuristic yet retro sound behind this album. Disco pop and light house intertwine into their own recipe as we listen to a pop singer finally come into her own. “Pretty Please” has a groovy baseline meant for hip swaying while “Break My Heart” is an eclectic disco pop anthem worthy of your widest flare pants. Dua keeps her simple pop-centric lyrics as we hear on the bouncy track “Hallucinate”; “I hallucinate when you call my name / Got stars in my eyes / and they don’t fade when you come my way.”
Standout track “Good In Bed” shows off some cheeky production skills while Dua’s voice dances up and down the scale. The album as a whole pulls at the usual themes of love, relationships, and sex alongside a casual and fun backdrop. Future Nostalgia has definitely proven Dua’s staying power in an industry full of bubble gum pop queens.
Lead singer Ryan Tedder discussed the evolution of OneRepublic’s new single, “Better Days” on his Instagram Live this week. Tedder explained the chorus for the song was already written months ago, then the pandemic hit the United States and the band immediately knew what to write about in the verses.
“Oh I know that they’ll be better days, oh that sunshine bout to come my way” are some of the uplifting lyrics in the chorus of “Better Days”. The song is simple and smart. All people really want during this strange confusing time is a sliver of hope – OneRepublic delivers that with this new track. It’s a feel-good anthem we can all sing once this madness is over.
After listening to After Hours on repeat for a full day, I am going to try my best to put all of my wonderful thoughts into one piece. It’s been four years since The Weeknd released a full length album. Starboy put him on the map as a prominent figure in the music industry (listen to “Starboy”, “I Feel It Coming”, and “Secrets”). Now that After Hours is finally here we can fully digest this emotional roller coaster.
I admire the genre bending heard on the album. It’s not fully hip-hop, rap, R&B, or pop, it’s a little bit of everything. With 14 tracks spanning almost 4 minutes each, I’m impressed with the amount of cohesiveness we hear from track to track. Each song has one thing in common; love. The majority of this album feels like a “It’s not you, it’s me” moment in a relationship. On “Hardest To Love” we hear Abel softly sing, “I’ve been the hardest to love, it’s hard to let me go.” It’s no surprise Max Martin is a co-writer on this record (and many others), leaving his mark on that catchy pop beat. While on “Scared To Live” we hear The Weeknd sing, “I am not the man I used to be, did some things I couldn’t let you see.” Track 10 titled “In Your Eyes” follows suit with lyrics like, “I always look the other way, I’m blind, I’m blind.” Once again, we hear themes of self-realization/deprecation and even shame. The album makes you walk the long road of a relationship and you’re not sure where the road is really going. Most of After Hours is a slower tempo – reminiscent of early Abel minus the abundance of drug references and obscene slang/phrases. These tracks feel more refined and mature in a beautiful way.
Songs like “Snowchild”, “Escape From LA”, and “After Hours” have that classic The Weeknd sound with a simple yet consistent production you can almost predict beat for beat. “Save Your Tears” is a standout hit off the bat. Retro synths and synced lyrics are so addicting to sing to – this one will chart for months on end. Abel always manages to stay in the same type of vocal range and it works extremely well. He flexes his chords when he wants, but it’s always restrained in a subtle way.
Digest After Hours from top to bottom and let the love motif wash over you.