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Disappointments from 2020

1Green Day
Father of All Motherfuckers

Could’ve benefited from a swedish songwriter or two. Take The Money and Crawl is as good as this thing gets. Everything else is neutered pop-punk that borderline sounds like it belongs in a car commercial.
Music to Scream To

Bad in a quirky way. This is clearly a Poppy self production, and the effort put into it seems to amount to twiddling knobs at random and making her cat meow into a microphone. Her goth-rap-noise boyfriend probably had a hand in walking her through FL studio to make this, which makes me giggle.
3Neon Trees
I Can Feel You Forgetting Me

I can feel myself forgetting this band. It sucks too because I really liked the kitsch new wave that Pop Psychology brought to the table! This just feels like that but not memorable in any way whatsoever. It did have two decent radio-ready singles in Used To Like and New Best Friend, but other than those two everything feels insipid and shallow, with very little standing out instrumentally or lyrically.
4Beach Slang
The Deadbeat Bang Of Heartbreak City

How many fucking times can you sing the same song? Tommy in the 80’s is an imitation of ‘Alex Chilton’ by The Replacements, which you can’t really make sound bad so that’s the standout track here. Beach Slang still manage to fit the niche of depressed 40-something alcoholics, but they’ve filled the damn thing and it’s spilling everywhere and it’s just annoying and a mess and I need to clean it up. Go to therapy damnit
5Myles Oliver
Find Me Tomorrow

I’m pretty sure this is someone on this sites project so sorry for putting it here but I marked it early on as disappointing so it’s here. I just don’t like the production too much, it feels *too* full and idk like maximalist??? There’s definitely some good ideas and stuff here with some polishing. Hidden Future Memory is really good.
6Lady Gaga

My issue with Chromatica is that it passes by in an instant. It’s the same rhythm with the same sounds, the same tones across the entire album which runs for a bit too long for what it’s trying to do. There’s very little in the way of standout tracks, and while I will applaud Gaga on her aesthetic / overall ‘era’, the album itself is just meh. 911 is a sleeper hit. Sine From Above is maximum camp thanks to Sir Elton John and that absolutely ridiculous drum ‘n’ bass outro.

7La Roux

Girl needed some Supervision making this shit. Previous album Trouble In Paradise had these moments where everything flourished and sounded full and lush - it was great! Unfortunately for some reason she split from her bandmate who was basically the entire instrumental suite. There are a lot of good ideas here, but they’re stuck in between songs that go on for way too long or hiding in the middle or the end of tracks. Gullible Fool is a good outro. Automatic Driver is fine too, and is basically the album in a nutshell.

8Rina Sawayama

I think RINA set my expectations too high. The EP released earlier was a concise package that was front to back, top quality thanks to Clarence Clarity having full contrul as producer. On Sawayama, things just don’t go over so smoothly. I think what she’s doing deserves acknowledgement and certainly applause - she’s pretty successfully imitating a lot of different styles of pop music while putting a spin on it. Parodying the pop-star while criticizing consumerism on ‘XS’, putting on an amazing villain laugh and shutting down annoying dates on the bubblegum metal during STFU!, and going full house on Comme des Garcons. Rina does great vocally with these sounds and in some ways does make them her own. But I just can’t help but think that I’d rather listen to a house album (shit - Chromatica) or a Sleigh Bells song than have ‘STFU!’ play sandwiched between two traditionally ‘pop’ sounding songs.
9Rina Sawayama

In addition, lyrically this album doesn’t hold a candle to the EP. Though a lot of the songs sound fine, lyrically they feel awkward or stilted.

While it’s disappointing when comparing it to RINA, there are still some good tracks here. Love Me 4 Me sounds like a new-jack track on steroids, complete with a killer guitar solo. Bad Friend is actually my favorite cut. Probably the best lyrically, with an amazing hook that sounds better every time it plays. ‘Who’s Gonna Save U Now’ is the superior twin of STFU!, with front to back, high energy stadium rock vibes.

So yeah, I’m being hard on Rina because I got a taste of nirvana with her EP and didn’t get it with this. Regardless, she deserves your time and attention, and I truly hope her career goes well.

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