Lupe Fiasco gives us another winner | WBEZ
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Jim DeRogatis

Lupe Fiasco gives us another winner, Bjork slightly less so, Father John Misty a pointless hype

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Catching up with some recent reviews on Sound Opinions that haven’t been posted on this blog, the clear winner is Tetsuo & Youth, the fifth album by Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco. Despite his contentious relations with the major-label system and his vacillating convictions about whether he even wants to be part of the hip-hop game, the proudly intellectual (some would say, less kindly, “nerdy”) artist never has sounded more vital or necessary, giving us a nuanced and humanistic portrait of the joys and troubles of life on the streets—specifically Chicago’s West Side, but it could be any big, segregated American city—that is all the more powerful for its refusal to pander to gangster clichés. Lupe says more about the problems in America today in a few lines in “Deliver” than many other rappers and political commentators could say in an hour. (“The pizza man don’t come here no more/Too much dope/Too many niggas on the porch… Too many niggas getting shot.”) And he rarely skimps on the humor, either—just try to name another rapper who can so effortlessly name-check Morocco Mole and Secret Squirrel.

Lupe Fiasco, Tetsuo & Youth (Atlantic)

Rating on the 4-star scale: 4 stars.

Hear the full review on Sound Opinions.

Meanwhile, the good news for longtime Bjork fans on Vulnicura, her ninth solo album, is that she’s passionate again about just making music, following several years of digital tomfoolery and multi-media experimentation with the Biophilia project. The bad news is that, while her vocals are a bit more straightforward and less operatic than on her last few releases, we’re still a far cry from the rock fury and pop sweets of her best albums (say, Post, Homogenic, and Vespertine). Then, too, the much of the album tends toward the monochromatic as she ponders the heartbreak from the end of her long romance with American artist Matthew Barney, only really coming to life as she chases the glimmers of hope in songs such as “Atom Dance” and “Mouth Mantra” during the last third of the disc.

Bjork, Vulnicura (One Little Indian)

Rating on the 4-star scale: 3 stars.

Hear the full review on Sound Opinions.

Finally, for all of the laurels being heaped upon I Love You, Honeybear, the second album since indie-rock veteran and former Fleet Foxes drummer Josh Tillman embarked on his fabled West Coast psychedelic odyssey and reinvented himself as Father John Misty, the hurdles toward liking much less loving this disc—the saccharine Laurel Canyon over-production, the at-times plodding rhythms, the allegedly humorous but really passive-aggressive love and loathing (both self-directed and, more troublingly, toward womankind), and the pretentious logorrhea (berating a girl for her malapropisms one minute, pleading “Save me white Jesus” the next)—not only prove insurmountable to this listener, but leave him wondering what the hell his fans are hearing that I most certainly am not.

Father John Misty, I Love You, Honeybear (Sub Pop)

Rating on the 4-star scale: 1 star.

Hear the full review on Sound Opinions.

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