Album Audit is a weekly Interns feature, recapping and reviewing the album releases of the week with a cheeky score out of five.
HAIM - Something To Tell You
Album Of The Week
Despite how extroverted and immediate first single Want You Back was, HAIM's second album is not as accessible as their debut. Something To Tell You is a breakup record. In fact, there's only a handful of songs that don't deal with heartache and, as such, it's a more downbeat HAIM. The best thing about that though is the record reveals itself to you slowly, proving itself to be a far more complex and emotionally deep record than its predessecor.
That doesn't mean HAIM aren't still masters of pop licks. Nothing's Wrong strikes with an immediate melody straight away and wins over with groovy guitar plucks while Found It In Silence gets almost as dancey and grand as their Calvin Harris collaboration Pray To God. Even its title track, which is a slow-burner, soars with a beautifully melodic chorus.
The moments that won't grab you on first listen, however, end up being the most rewarding. Kept Me Crying plods along with steady, blues-influenced percussion and hooks you with its layered hook that has Danielle singing, "I'm only just someone you call on when it's late enough to forget". Walking Away has them working with Rostam of Vampire Weekend fame on their most explicitly R&B song to date. It gives us a chance to hear their harmonies stripped bare.
There are no grand, complicated realisation that the three sisters have made here but its the simplicity that connects. The general message is heartbreak sucks but there's always someone to fall back on. In HAIM's case they have each other and it's that connection between the three of them that make even the record's coldest moments feel warm. When Danielle starts in solitary on Right Now, Este and Alana march behind with thundering drums.
Something To Tell You is hardly revolutionary but it didn't need to be. It's the work of three musicians who gel together expertly, finding the confidence to dig a little deeper. They're not going for chart smashes as so many do on their sophomore record. Instead, they've delivered a record that will keep them on their trajectory to greatness and ensure that no one will forget who HAIM are. 4/5
21 Savage - Issa Album
Just one week shy of the one year anniversary of his breakthrough project Savage Mode, 21 Savage dropped his debut album Issa Album, and you can see his growth. Unlike other hyped rapper Lil Yachty, Lil Uzi Vert and XXXTentacion, 21 feels solid and less part of a trend. He's gradually built his career by releasing great songs and collaborating with a small but worthy list of collaborators.
Issa Album features production by Metro Boomin, Zaytoven, DJ Mustard and Southside, among others. Those four are among hip-hop's finest right now and that coupled with the fact there are no features on Issa Album gives you the impression 21 has ambition to be one of the greats.
The record won't make him a great but it's likely to be a key moment in his journey to the top. It's a multi-dimensional effort that's at its strongest when the beats are icy and the stories are autobiographical. "Rags to riches, nigga came from the bottom," he raps at the beginning of the album on Famous, a song that tracks his rise to the top with an undeniably genius flow. Thug Life tips its hat to 2Pac while vividly and honestly depicting life on the streets. Elsewhere on Numb, he raps about numbing the pain with the money, comparing his life before and after fame over a surprisingly emotional Metro beat.
21 remains consistent throughout most of the record but its the few moments that get sunny that don't work. FaceTime would be better suited to a D.R.A.M. or Yachty record and Special is a failed attempt at getting soppy. On most other contemporary rapper's albums, these would be the obvious hits but 21 is better when he's a little icy and desolate. Bank Account captures that perfectly and will most definitely become this album's most remembered moment. 4/5
The Kite String Tangle - The Kite String Tangle
Many producer musicians fall into the trap of creating records just for the sake of keeping alive the long form process, and end up with an album where four or five of the songs are virtually indistinguishable. This record bucks that trend with vigour, as the 11 songs on this record each show off contrasting side to The Kite String Tangle. His ability to bring together different instruments, samples, synths and of course his own vocals allows Danny Harley to take cues from a stack of different genres to craft this kaleidoscopic masterpiece, as well as an album that makes sense as a long form of work. His vocal ability means that he doesn’t have to feature different vocalists on every song, and the common theme of his sultry and often beautifully understated vocal gives the record a common theme to follow.
Being an accomplished musician doesn’t always automatically guarantee and accomplished debut album, but The Kite String Tangle’s self-titled debut LP shows exactly why there was so much hype around Danny Harley’s new project four years ago. It’s a fantastic example of what a producer, instrumentalist and vocalist can achieve if they don’t rush a first long form project – and that an album can have a common theme and still be fantastically diverse. 4/5
By Zanda Wilson (Full review coming soon)
The Kite String Tangle is out this Friday.