Luke LaLonde — ‘The Perpetual Optimist’
THE GOOD: Canadian indie rock artist and Born Ruffians frontman Luke LaLonde offers up an environmental second solo effort.
THE BAD: No gripes.
THE NITTY GRITTY: LaLonde sings of a changing climate and the earth as a whole throughout “Optimist.” He’s panicked, but you’d never know that thanks to the exuberant spirit of pieces of this folk/rock collection. Tracks such as “Waiting for the Light to Change” and the title cut are upbeat, jangly, rousing moments where the melodies and LaLonde’s soaring delivery grab you immediately.
More introspective chapters — such as “Go Somewhere,” a ballad for LaLonde’s father, and the chugging love song “Any Day Now” — are even coated in thin layers of hope and redemption. “Any day now/I will love you ’til the day that I die.”
But what makes “Optimist” truly great is how it completely stands apart from LaLonde’s work with Born Ruffians. It’s a different beast altogether. These songs required an unusual setting, and the man definitely rose to the occasion.
BUY IT?: Yes.
Bombay Bicycle Club — ‘Everything Else Has Gone Wrong’
THE GOOD: British indie band Bombay Bicycle Club comes back after a half-decade hiatus.
THE BAD: Nope.
THE NITTY GRITTY: In early 2016, the group decided to split, do solo projects, and (believe it or not) sell off its equipment and take straight jobs. The time apart didn’t last too long. By late 2018, band members were getting the itch to perform again and maybe do something to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of their debut, 2009’s “I Had the Blues but I Shook Them Loose.”
Soon, the desire to create new music instead took over. “Everything Else” is the end result. The album is typical BBC music in that it flirts with guitar-based rock, synth pop, tight harmonies and even a splash of folk. The band’s personality has always been none too specific, and “Everything Else” continues this trend. Better bits include insanely catchy tracks such as “I Can Hardly Speak” and “People People,” but it’s tough finding anything completely disagreeable here.
BUY IT?: Sure.
Tame Impala — ‘The Slow Rush’
THE GOOD: Australian singer/songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist Kevin Parker (on record, he IS Tame Impala) comes back with his fourth.
THE BAD: Longtime fans may think Parker is playing it safe throughout “Rush.” Doesn’t matter. The end results are still riveting.
THE NITTY GRITTY: Parker got married a little over a year ago, and while it would be easy to say the pop tendencies of the new album were conceived by a man suffering from newfound domestic bliss, most of “Rush” probably was completed BEFORE the wedding even happened.
Yet, the album hails from a different place than “Innerspeaker” did a decade ago. Parker remains knee deep in psychedelics and otherworldly sounds; the music is trippy and “chill.” Yet, his vocals have never been this important; the arrangements are never this tight. The songs sound more “planned” these days.
Whether it’s the popping “One More Year” or the hypnotic flow carrying “Lost in Yesterday,” Parker mixes a newfound soul with heady past tendencies for a logical step forward.
BUY IT?: Oh yeah.