Love is in the air this week for new albums. Mac Miller released his ode to amour, Usher longs for something more on his new set, and Laura Jane Grace has her fist pumping punk take on love songs. And in addition to that, we’ve got new records from Preoccupations, Dawes, AlunaGeorge, Taking Back Sunday and many more. Here are the albums you need to hear this week.
Against Me! – Shape Shift with Me
It’s funny, when you become the face for a cause, sometimes people can forget that you are a normal human with everyday worries and concerns. Laura Jane Grace has really picked up the ball and ran with it for the transgender community, and she would absolutely tell you that she’s proud to do so, but as an artist and creative person, she has multiple things she wants to express. Shape Shift with Me is about being in love and the sometimes dumb feelings you get when that happens.
Grace recently said in an interview with Rolling Stone that she wanted this to be a relationship record, and that there have been “an infinite amount of records talking about what love means from a cisgender perspective. I wanted to present the trans perspective on sex, love and heartbreak.” After hearing that, rollicking songs like “333,” where she passionately screams, “All the devils that you don’t know, can all come along for the ride, I wanna be as close as I can get to you,” make so much more sense.
Mac Miller – The Divine Feminine
Mac Miller is a man in love and he doesn’t care who knows it. As he’s recently said in a number of interviews, The Divine Feminine, his fourth studio album, is comprised of nothing but love songs. Now, of course, that can mean a number of things; that can refer to a track like “My Favorite Part” featuring his current muse Ariana Grande, or it can be something like “Cinderella” featuring the king of Ratchet n’ B, Ty Dolla $ign.
But I should be clear, this doesn’t seem like a toss away or something outside of his normal discography; Mac has grown so talented as an artist and producer that he’s capable of calling his shot and crushing it. He says I want to make an album of love songs, and then he assembles CeeLo, Anderson .Paak, Kendrick Lamar and Bilal and does it easily. He’s always come off like that as an artist, but there’s an effortlessness here that only comes with confidence and experience. Mac has clearly earned that.
Usher – Hard II Love
The very first words you hear when turning on Usher’s eighth album is “I f*cked up, man,” clearly, he’s still holding on. Hard II Love is the first studio effort we’ve heard from the R&B veteran in four years, after several stops and starts. With that in mind, it seemed like this record could have been a little unfocused, but there is a clear vision here and that is Usher is a man harnessing a lot of regret.
Though the singles for the LP — tracks like “No Limit” featuring Young Thug and “Rivals” featuring Future — seem a little more front facing, Hard II Love is clearly a conceptual album. The opener, “Need U,” ends with a conversation between Usher and actress Priyanka Chopra with the two talking about their expectations about love and what they want in a partner. It’s an odd way to start the record, yes, but it’s also something that strikes you as a concerted effort to be serious. That you feel included in their conversation. And that thankfully, this album isn’t just a harried effort from someone who should be out of the game already; he’s carved his own lane.
Here are the rest of the week’s new releases:
Preoccupations – Preoccupations
AlunaGeorge – I Remember
Die Antwoord – Mount Ninji and Da Nice Time Kid
Dawes – We’re All Gonna Die
Taking Back Sunday – Tidal Wave
El Perro Del Mar – KoKoro
The Gaslamp Killer – Instrumentalepathy
Mykki Blanco – Mykki
Touche Amore – Stage Four
Kool Keith – Feature Magnetic
Cymbals Eat Guitars – Pretty Years
Chinx – Legends Never Die
Young Guns – Echoes
Turnstile – Move Thru Me
Tinie Tempah – Youth
Trentemøller – Fixion
Bad Suns – Disappear Here
Petula Clark – From Now On
Robert Glasper Experience – ArtScience
Aaron Lewis – Sinner
Brujeria – Pocho Aztlan
Meat Loaf – Braver Than We Are