Dig These Discs :: Lighthouse And The Whaler, P!nk, Nelly Furtado, Mumford & Sons, No Doubt
Nelly Furtado breaks the bank with a full slate of hits, P!nk shows off her true colors with "The Truth About Love," newcomers The Lighthouse and the Whaler unleash their sweeping melodies, and Mumford & Sons works the mandolin and banjo to great effect.
"Spirit Indestructable" (Nelly Furtado)
When Nelly Furtado first hit the music scene in 2001, her sweet single, "I’m Like a Bird" sent ripples through the music industry, winning her a 2002 Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Three years later, she emerged like a butterfly from a sexy cocoon with "Loose," her saucy album with a Spanish vibe that featured songs like "Promiscuous" and "Maneater." Was this the same sweet, folksy girl who, several years before, was so like a bird? It was, and her sexy 180 attracted a lot of media attention. The album, produced by Timbaland, was a worldwide commercial success, and was followed by a full-length Spanish album that won her a Latin Grammy. Now, she is back with "The Spirit Indestructable," her fourth English-language studio release -- an album that Furtado admits almost didn’t happen, as she was "seriously considering retiring from her career as a pop musician." One listen to the 18 tracks on her new album, and you will be glad she changed her mind. Furtado seizes on the idea of nostalgia in this album, revisiting the themes of her past in a new, fresh way with influences of reggae, alternative and urban music. The title song, digitally released on April 17, is her ode to the spirit that resides in all of us, and triumphs over adversity: "I had a spirit indestructible, a heart that was made pure, unbreakable and that’s for sure." The song, produced by Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, begins with spare acoustics and morphs into a slamming R&B/pop stunner. She puts on her wide-leg pants and big earrings in "Big Hoops," a swagger song about a young Nelly finding liberation through hip-hop and "music jams" in suburban Canada. The chorus of "the bigger the better" is catchy, and the spoken-word break into a dubstep beat is crafty songmaking. She stays in the past with "Parking Lot," a bouncy electro-pop track about her old stomping grounds. She meditates on personal relationship and life goals in "Bucket List," singing, "In this lifetime, I want you to be in mine, because I took a long look at the bucket list and I saw that at the bottom it said ’Our first kiss.’" She revisits this theme in "Circles," an electronic pop produced by Passion Pits’ lead singer, Mike Angelakos. The nostalgia continues in "Waiting for The Night," a remembrance of a diary Furtado kept as a smitten 16-year-old during summer vacation in her parents’ birthplace of S. Miguel, Portugal. "End of the World" is another sweet love song she wrote with Rick Nowels. She teams up with Dylan Murray for the lost love song, "Be Okay." The reggae track "Don’t Leave Me" takes the viewpoint of a woman at wits end with her love life, and Furtado is her own worst "Enemy" in this dark song produced by Salaam Remi. Furtado tackles spirituality in "Miracles," singing, "I will never again walk alone." She revisits this theme in the unexpected rocker "Believers (Arab Spring)" and "The Most Beautiful Thing," which soars with help from Sara Tavares. Furtado brings the sexy back in "Hold Up," singing, "Wait a minute I wanna talk to ya," with funky auto-tune flourishes. This sexy vibe resurfaces in "Something," featuring Nas. "All of my dreams have come true but something seems wrong," Furtado sings in "High Life," a regret-tinged song about leaving her hometown and never looking back, with a rap break by Ace Primo. She wraps the album up with "Thoughts," a laid-back track featuring The Kenyan Boys Choir singing in both English and Swahili, with a Tiesto Remix. Where most artists would stick to 10 or 12 songs, Furtado gives the full court press to "The Spirit Indestructable." Hopefully, her hard work will yield big returns.
(Interscope/Mosley Music Group)
"The Truth About Love" (P!nk)
Want to know the truth about love? "It’s a bitch," says Alecia Beth Moore, aka P!nk. In "True Love," the hottest track on the album, she captures love’s push and pull perfectly, singing, "Sometimes I hate every single stupid word you say, sometimes I wanna slap you in your whole face...you’re an asshole, but I love you." Likewise, she sings, "You think I’m just too serious/ I think you’re full of shit, My head is spinning, so blow me one last kiss," she sings in "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)." The explicit version (and why wouldn’t you go for it?) chronicles a shit day, dancing alone, fighting, and dealing with whiskey dick. "Seven seconds, that’s all you have to make your point; my attention’s like an infant trying to crawl around the joint," she sings in her opening cut, "Are We All We Are," the title of which sounds like the kids’ call and response during hide and seek. Since she broke out of her teenage girl group "Choice" and hit the pop scene in 2000, P!nk’s life has been charmed, with hits like "There You Go," "Get the Party Started," "Stupid Girls," and "So What." She has sold 40 million albums, making her one of the best-selling artists in history, and has taken home three Grammy Awards and five MTV Video Music Awards for her 17 Top 20 Billboard hits. Earlier this year, VH1 named her number 10 on their list of the 100 Greatest Women in Music. She sings a song of resilience in "Try," singing, "Where there is desire there’s going to be a flame, where there is a flame someone’s bound to get burned/ but just because it burns doesn’t mean you’re gonna die/ you gotta get up and try and try and try." She shows off her piano-playing chops in the slow song, "Just Give Me a Reason," and "The Great Escape," and gives a solid acoustic guitar performance in the sad love song, "Beam Me Up." P!nk rocks headbanging style in "How Come You’re Not Here," asking, "Did you go for a long walk off a short pier?" "I’m not a slut, I just love love," she says at the opening of "Slut Like You," about a girl who operates like the fellas do. In the title track, she harnesses an old-time ’50s sound, singing, "The truth about love, is it comes and it goes/ a strange fascination with his lips and toes." A similar message comes through in "Walk of Shame." Since early hits like "Stupid Girls," P!nk has always embodied this defiant brand of feminism; she may not be standing on the picket line, but she’ll sure as shit play just as hard as the boys do. "The Truth About Love" is chock full of hits just waiting to win awards, rivaling "M!ssundaztood" for potential hits.
"This is An Adventure" (Lighthouse and The Whaler)
This celebrated Cleveland band whose name was inspired by "Moby Dick" has already hit the road on a six-week tour from Seattle to New York City to promote their new album, out in stores last week. In "This is An Adventure," the team of Aaron Smith, Michael LoPresti, Matthew LoPresti, Mark Poro and Steve Diaz build on their initial success of their 2009 self-titled, self-produced album. The 10 tracks show off their melodic, indie-pop folk rock, which critics have dubbed, charmingly, as "rustic." Hit singles include "Venice," with its precise keyboard tracks, sweeping melodies and melodic chorus of "oooh ohh, why don’t we fall in love?" "Little Vessels" is another early critics pick, intriguing with its open plea to "Go, come along and let yourself show, the way it was when you were growing older, the way it was when you were saying hold on tight, you are not alone." A flourish of glockenspiel opens "Pioneers," with Michael LoPresti singing the lyrics, "I was wishing we could go back to before age impaired our speech/ and I was wishing we could go back to the house/ Our hands pressed in the concrete." The bouncy rhythm of "Chromatic" could be the band’s origin story, as they sing, "I was set sailing like a character in a book, I think this is what it’s like to be free." "The Adriatic" rolls along like a ship on the sea, and finishes with gorgeous string orchestration. A steady percussion beat keeps "Burst Apart" moving, and muted cymbal work makes "We’ve Got the Most" soar. "I knew, oh I knew you’ve got green eyes, I feel the wind between the trees and open skies," sings LoPresti in the album’s title track. A similar sound is captured in "Iron Doors." "Untitled" is a chipper song that has each sentence ending on an up-note, with fancy string work in between, closing with the another set of "oooh-ooh-ohh"s. Perhaps it is due to their namesake, but there is a very literary quality to the songs of The Lighthouse and the Whaler. They draw the listener in, like a story being shared before a fire. This slapdash outfit has seemingly found an eager audience for these stories; more power to them as they build on their early success.
"Babel" (Mumford & Sons)
This English folk rock band made up of Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, "Country" Winston Marshall and Ted Dwane emerged out of the West London folk scene in December 2007, and it didn’t take them long to find support for their sound. By 2010, they were performing on U.S. network TV, and received two Grammy Award nominations, playing at that year’s Grammy ceremony. The band members take turns singing and playing guitar, drums, keyboard, bass guitar, banjo, mandolin and resonator guitar. From the success of their sophomore hit, "Sigh No More" comes this new album, "Babel," for which they road tested the songs via their 2011 touring gigs. Their lead single, "I Will Wait" debuted on BBC Radio in August, and on September 22, they played that single and "Below My Feet" on "Saturday Night Live." As with The Lighthouse and the Whaler, the Mumford men say that their songs were inspired by literature, namely Shakespeare, Steinbeck, Plato and Homer’s "The Odyssey." Guitar and frantic mandolin rush you through the title track, as they quickly sing, "I press my nose up to the glass around your heart; I should have known I was weaker from the start, you build your walls and I will play my bloody part to tear them down." Guitar pick work explodes in the opening of "Whispers in the Dark," as they worry that they blew their only chance. A country music sound imbues "I Will Wait," a longing love song with rollicking banjo. "Holland Road" starts out slow and spare, wracked with the pain, with the lyrics, "With a heart like a stone I put up no fight...from your corner you rose to cut me down." A similar haunting banjo pick marks "Ghosts That We Knew," as they sing, "Give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light." In "Lover of the Light," the fast acoustic merge to form a pub rock feel. It merges into "Lover’s Eyes," a slow song with spare acoustics, with the sad lyrics, "There’s no drink or drug I’ve tried to end the curse of these lover’s eyes." The spoken-word quality of "Reminder" gives it a confessional feel. Mumford & Sons urge their love to not hold a glass over her flame in "Hopeless Wanderer," which finishes up nicely with a lightening-fast banjo solo. There is a religious feel to "Broken Crown" and "Below My Feet," with the lyrics, "surround my flesh in ivy and in twine." They close with "Not With Haste," a beautiful arranged acoustic tune that move slowly through its paces. Mumford & Sons does a good job of meshing the English pub rock sound with the bluegrass Americana vibe.
"Push and Shove" (No Doubt)
After a decade spent doing solo projects, the quartet of Gwen Stefani, guitarist Tom Dumont, bassist Tony Kanal and drummer Adrian Young have reunited as No Doubt, with a new album. Their release "Push and Shove" is a mesh of ska-rock, electronic pop and dancehall sounds that that Dumont said the band was, "glad that we took our time on and insisted on making our best effort." The result is a triumph, especially for Stefani, who admits she had writer’s block for the last few years, after the birth of her son, Zuma. She said she shook it in 2009, after the No Doubt band tour. "Get in line and settle down," Stefani commands, in the dancehall/ska-influenced first track, "Settle Down," with comic asides that cause the irony to mount as the song moves through its six-minute run time. Stefani said that the song was inspired by her sense of being overwhelmed, and trying to balance it all. "Looking Hot" recalls No Doubt’s early pop hits, with an island beat break. The band has embraced their songwriting roots, spending a year writing the album’s 11 tracks. They also teamed up with their "Rock Steady" mixer Spike Stent to produce the album, with Stefani saying, "He understands the dynamic...he’s really good at being able to balance it out." No Doubt paired up with Diplo and Switch, aka Major Lazer, for the title track, which also features Busy Signal rapping about being a hustler in Jamaica. In the ’90s-influenced track, "One More Summer," Stefani gives her pipes a workout, singing, "In between the longest days and the shortest nights, it always comes back to you and me." The auto-tune echo effects of "Easy" are a cool flourish, with Stefani singing about being a hustler. Laser-gun sound effects imbue "Gravity" with a playful aspect, balancing more serious lyrics like, "Never really thought we’d ever make it this far, did you?" These effects also stud the fast-moving track, "Undercover," with Stefani singing, "You’re on your tiptoes trying hard not to get caught." She aims for the heart in the tear-jerker, "Undone," and goes for the jugular in "Sparkle," bemoaning a lost love and days gone by in this regret-tinged ska tune with nice brass. "I know that it’s true that I know that it’s you/ You are my heaven," she croons in "Heaven," and cries, "I’ve got you back but you’re so broken," in "Dreaming the Same Dream." After years apart, No Doubt has still managed to keep their core identity intact while expanding on the sound that made them famous. (Interscope)