I Want to Grow Up
(Hardly Art ***1/2)
nolead ends Los Angeles songwriter Colleen Green specializes in simple, three- and four-chord bubble-gum pop-punk songs that are instantly catchy and sometimes sung in an affectless stoner's voice. (Her Twitter handle is @ColleenGreen420.) On her first two home-recorded albums, that was an entertaining enough formula. What creates welcome tension and makes I Want to Grow Up a more compelling, and frequently thrilling, proposition is the ticking-clock anxiety palpable in such confronting-adulthood songs as "Things That Are Bad for Me" (Parts I and II!!) and, especially, the emotionally frank "Deeper Than Love."
Green lays it uncomfortably on the line on that attention-grabber. "Will I find a love that lasts as long as my life, or will I die before ever becoming a wife?" she wonders. "Nowadays commitment seems like a burden to carry. I don't want to think about it, it's too scary." The claustrophobia of that six-minute inward look is relieved on both garage-rock kickers such as "Grind My Teeth," which bears the imprint of producer Jake Orrall of Jeff the Brotherhood, and the breezily existential closer "Whatever I Want," which makes growing up seem not so scary after all. - Dan DeLuca
nolead begins Jack Ü
nolead ends nolead begins Skrillex & Diplo Present Jack Ü
nolead ends nolead begins (Mad Decent/Atlantic ***)
nolead ends Skrillex and Diplo, the reigning princes of EDM, have combined forces, and for this album, it takes the name Jack Ü. This pair-up shouldn't be a surprise. These two like messy, frantic tracks, achingly slow-build verses, and deep drop choruses. Their first collaborative track, "Take Ü There," was all the above and more: hilarious rage and bone-rattling, headbanging gloss. The original version and its wall-vibrating Missy Elliott remix appear here for maximum mind-messing impact. With the vocal help of 2 Chainz, AlunaGeorge, and Justin Bieber, the DJ/producers complete their vision with vexing, frenetic rhythm and palpitation-filled agit-pop.
Without voices, such fast tracks as "Don't Do Drugs Just Take Some" meander aimlessly. With vocals, Jack Ü is a worthy pairing. The deadwood of "Febreze" and its dull perpetrator, 2 Chainz, is lame, but "Beats Knockin'," with Fly Boi Keno turns trap-hop into a Southern Gothic treat. And AlunaGeorge's sweet, wordy "To Ü" offers Jack Ü its only darling moment. As for the Biebs, "Where Are Ü Now" starts with a honey of a melody and frown-face emotion, only to wind up hollow and repetitive.
Close to classic, Jack Ü - like the ending of Casablanca - is the start of a beautiful friendship.
- A.D. Amorosi
nolead begins Donna Lewis
nolead ends nolead begins Brand New Day
nolead ends nolead begins (Palmetto ***)
nolead ends Remember Donna Lewis' 1996 hit "I Love You Always Forever"? Once in your consciousness again, that perky earworm is unlikely to leave quickly. Lewis' new album, Brand New Day, presents a radical makeover for the Welsh artist. The breathy vocalist recorded it with the jazz trio the Bad Plus, and it's a moody, stripped-down collection that recalls artists such as Holly Cole, Norah Jones, and Rickie Lee Jones.
While pianist Ethan Iverson adds some dissonant flourishes to Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Waters of March," Brand New Day is a restrained, unhurried affair. Lewis reveals her skills as a sensitive cabaret singer, whether covering familiar songs such as Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" and Neil Young's "Helpless," obscurities from David Bowie and Chocolate Genius, or her own compositions (two new ones and, yes, "I Love You Always Forever," which works surprisingly well in this context).
- Steve Klinge