Music preview: Artists kick off new year with fresh albums, innovative music
(Katelyn Dang/Illustrations director)
By Ashley Kim, Zinnia Finn, and Isabella Durgin
Jan. 3, 2022 4:23 p.m.
In the wave of New Year’s resolutions, fresh music marches in as a soundtrack for accepting the past and ushering in new horizons. Artists are embracing the multiplicity of emotions a year can hold, with this winter’s releases welcoming honesty, pain and optimism.
Read on to hear the Daily Bruin’s picks for the chilly season’s highlights.
[Related: Music preview: Artists’ recent singles suggest fall albums will showcase growth, maturity]
“BRIGHTSIDE” by The Lumineers
The sun is still shining on The Lumineers.
Famously characterized by Spotify’s 2017 Wrapped as part of the stomp and holler genre, The Lumineers are brightening up winter days with their album “BRIGHTSIDE.” The Jan. 14 record will arrive on the heels of the group’s November 2021 EP “A.M. RADIO,” full of gentle golden tones and the fourth studio album’s title track. Co-founder, singer, and guitarist Wesley Schultz stated the indie folk-rock band’s song transports listeners into the idealistic, romantic-leaning mind of a teenager.
The music video for “A.M. RADIO” does just that – rather than the strangely tinted clips of clouds released as visualizers – as the band is taken back to Schultz’s New Jersey high school to let love and music play out. Artists of all aspirations dance, play and illustrate as they move through quaint, homey scenes, setting a path for an optimistic, nostalgic tone to triumph in the upcoming album.
And with this venture, it’s time for The Lumineers to crank up the light.
– Isabella Durgin
“Capri Sun” by FKA twigs
FKA twigs has her eye on the stars for the new year.
In honor of her astrological sign, the genre-bending artist has dubbed her Jan. 14 mixtape after Capricorn suns in a playful reference to the popular children’s drink Capri Sun. On Twitter, the British singer mentioned the project – her first major one since 2019’s “Magdalene” – with taunting joviality, alluding to past transgressions and typical Capricorn traits.
Yet, no mention of horoscopes or childhood can be found in the mixtape’s lead single “Tears In The Club” with The Weeknd. With sultry smooth dance moves that jar when they abruptly shift, FKA twigs invokes her avant-pop background in the accompanying music video while sonically leaning toward a fuller-bodied pop sound. She twists and cries in clubs and nearly any other setting, from doctor’s offices to water-filled glass jars, and an enlarged version of FKA twigs chases The Weeknd as their hazy vocals collide and meld.
Despite a timely January release, FKA twigs aims to prove that Capricorns are always in season.
– Isabella Durgin
[Related: Music preview: Post-pandemic summer albums reflect optimistic attitudes]
“Laurel Hell” by Mitski
Mitski is digging deep and branching out.
After stepping away from social media and announcing an indefinite break from touring in 2019, the singer is back and set to release her sixth studio album, “Laurel Hell,” on Feb. 4. Three singles from the album – “Working for the Knife,” “The Only Heartbreaker” and “Heat Lightning” – have been released thus far, all with lyrics that carry Mitski’s characteristically urgent yearning.
Despite lyrical similarities to past tracks, the singles sport novel instrumentations, with the upbeat synth in “The Only Heartbreaker” reminiscent of an ‘80s dance track – a contrast from the artist’s prior rock and punk roots. The corresponding music video takes the tune in a completely different direction, however, and features Mitski emotively dancing through a burning forest, reaching beyond the shore before falling beneath cracked earth. Like a brooding storm, the most recently released “Heat Lightning” also walks the line between pop and experimental, with an eerie atmosphere that favors heavy bass but later swells and blends with staccato synth after a dissonant piano solo.
Musically, Mitski forecasts an emotional journey – perhaps even to the underworld and back.
– Zinnia Finn
“Once Twice Melody” by Beach House
The third time may be the charm for most, but Beach House is still flourishing on the fourth.
Four years after its last release, Beach House is set to put out its eighth studio album, “Once Twice Melody,” on Feb. 18. The eighteen-song double record is divided up into four chapters, the first two of which were already released in November and December. Based on the songs that have been released thus far, this album will retain Beach House’s distinguishable dream-pop sound and ethereal, lush instrumentals, while also branching out into more upbeat rock sounds.
The videos that accompany each chapter capture the iridescent experience that comes with listening to each song, featuring psychedelic colors, funky typography and tidal movements that will put viewers and listeners into a sublime headspace. Similar colorful motifs are present in the sweet but aching lyrics, such as in “Over and Over,” where the vocalists croon, “Lilac, lily / Anemone in poses / Soft, frail and blue / The violets too / And roses.”
Time and time again, Beach House is proving that its music is year-round.
– Ashley Kim