Summer 2020: Disappointingly On-Brand

Caleb M. S. – Staff Writer

Welcome back from the longest spring break of our lives, made longer by the fact it seemed most artists decided the past five months didn’t exist and were under no obligation to put out new music. Of course, some of the more alt/ underground artists released some phenomenal albums (Perfume Genius in May, Jessi Ware in June, and Fireboy DML in the past month), but by and large, the powerhouses of the music industry remained silent.

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I can’t speak for everyone’s quarantine experience, but my attitudes over the last half year can be distilled to three main movements: confusion and depression, wistful longing, and righteous social-justice anger. And what do you know, there is an album for each!

Quarantine stage one: confusion and depression. The early months of relative isolation filled me with dread, confusion, and loneliness. Who was out there experiencing the same thing? The 1975: British rock icons, proponents of weirdness, and possessors of great hair. The most recent album from Matty Healy and the gang is confusing, convoluted, angry, sad, and introspective. Its strengths lie in the lyrical content of Healy’s musings, which range from straight pissed off to defeated. His artistry is showcased best on the second track, “People:” a ridiculously fast paced and aggressive song, calling for civil disobedience. The weaknesses of the project are apparent by one simple metric: the runtime. Notes on a Conditional Form is an hour and twenty minutes long, and an unjustified hour and twenty minutes at that. Healy injects the project with instrumental tracks, genre-bending interludes, and frankly confusing songs.

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Quarantine stage two: wistful longing. My early to midsummer found me pining after experiences with friends and fantasizing what I would do when this darn pandemic ended. Taylor Swift and Folklore accompanied me through this stage of life. Since Lover, Swift shifted personas again and matured in content and production value. Her artistry on Folklore is greatly boosted by producer Jack Antonoff – frontman of Bleachers and the producer behind Lorde’s Melodrama, among others. Swift’s storytelling and lyrical mastery absolutely SHINE on Folklore, and despite a mild genre shift, the artist feels perfectly at home in the more chilled-out project. Additionally, I could not properly write this review without raving about the inclusion of Bon Iver in the album. Swift knew full well what she was doing and Bon Iver solidifies the maturity of Folklore. Despite my praise of the assistance from the two male artists on this album, Swift is unquestionably the artistic superstar here.

Quarantine stage three: righteous social- justice anger. America mourned and writhed in pain following the murder of George Floyd and rap duo Run The Jewels raged alongside the nation. The artists expedited their album release to drop shortly after Floyd’s murder by police and made it free to all listeners. As with previous projects, the content of RTJ4 is overtly political, abrasive, and delightfully old-school. Atlanta absolutely drips off the album– El-P and Killer Mike are in top form, lyrically and musically. Themes include police brutality, late stage capitalism, camaraderie, and personal liberties. Inversely to Notes on a Conditional Form, the album’s potency is greatly strengthened by the tight runtime of thirty-nine minutes.


People- The 1975 Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless

America- The 1975 the 1- Taylor Swift exile- Taylor Swift

illicit affairs- Taylor Swift yankee and the brave (ep. 4)- Run

The Jewels
ooh la la- Run The Jewels

holy calamaf***- Run The Jewels

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