Kanye West and Kid Cudi- Kids See Ghosts
Maybe it's due to my lowered expectations, but I actually found Kids See Ghosts, the new collaborative effort from Kanye West and Kid Cudi, to actually be a slight improvement over West's week old album Ye. The operative word here being "slight". Much like Ye, Kids See Ghosts is seven tracks over 23 minutes, and as such, never really gets a chance to develop into a fully formed entity. Some would call an album like this an EP. Mr. West and Kid Cudi disagree.
Kids See Ghosts starts off with a genuine head-scratcher of song, "Feel the Love", which is a rather straightforward hip-hop song until about the halfway point, at which West gives a bewildering attempt at what I can only assume is scat singing, nearly derailing the song before coalescing into the beat. As far as openers go, it's...memorable. The album's second song is "Fire", and is built around a sample of the novelty song "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" by Napoleon XIV. The song contains little details of note.
However, the album vastly improves on the Louis Prima-sampling "4th Dimension", and on the five and a half minute long "Reborn", the later of which is a passionate ode to redemption and features prominent vocals from Cudi on the chorus. Musically these songs are a bit richer than the album's first two tracks, and more closely approximate the rich colors found in the Takashi Murakami cover art. The album hits its high point on the penultimate track, "Kids See Ghosts", which features a minimal drum beat and an eerie, otherworldly synth line that snakes its way through the song, like something from a haunted house soundtrack.
Overall, Kids See Ghosts feels like the sort of album that would've had its moment back in Summer 2009, when the hype for Kid Cudi's debut album was reaching a fever pitch, but before the MTV VMA controversy in September of that year nearly ended West's career. As it stands now, Kids See Ghosts is a decent-good album nine years too late.
Anyway, here's a track list I worked out, taking the best songs from Ye and Kids See Ghosts. It only comes out to about 36 minutes, but I feel like it's a much more fleshed out album than its source material...
1. I Thought About Killing You
3. 4th Dimension
4. Wouldn't Leave / No Mistakes
5. Ghost Town / Freeee (Ghost Town, Pt. 2)
7. Kids See Ghosts
8. Violent Crimes
Verdict: Kanye name-dropping Herzog & de Meuron on the title track made the architecture nerd in me smile.
Snail Mail- Lush
How is it that some pieces of music are so apt at embodying a particular season? Snail Mail's debut album, Lush, contains no lawnmowers or cicadas or birdsong, but it might as well, considering the fact that the album's lethargic indie rock strumming is practically synonymous with summer. Now, I know I just called the album "lethargic", but you really have to take my word for it when I say that I never meant that as an insult. Far from it. But lethargy and teenage ennui go hand in hand on Lush, an album where the 19 year old Lindsey Jordan broadcasts bedroom rock odes to the summertime blues.
Nowhere is this sense of sun-kissed sadness better represented than on the album's fourth song, "Heat Wave". The song is only five minutes long, but transitions seamlessly from one distinct section to another and then to another, giving the song a sort of epic feeling of sprawl to it, not unlike Sonic Youth's "Teen Age Riot". The song, like many of the songs on the album, contains something of a non-entity of a chorus, a chorus that comes and goes without the listener ever really recognizing that what they just listened to was the song's refrain. But whereas for some artists this quality might be the sign of poor songcraft, in the case of Snail Mail it actually helps bolster the album's hazy laid-back attitude. The bulk of the music on Lush is made from your standard guitar/bass/drums/perpetually bored sounding indie rock singer, and as such, the album isn't exactly reinventing the genre. But what it does it does well. An exciting debut by an up and coming artist.
Verdict: Anthems for a Nineteen Year Old Girl