Featuring albums from Måneskin, Rihanna, Wolf Alice and The XX, this is the first in six-part series where I listen to 30 albums across the month of June before giving them honest reviews. There’s going to be something for everyone so… enjoy!
Måneskin – Teatro d’ira – Vol. 1 (2021)
When Italy won Eurovision 2021 with a non-conforming, sprawling, fiery rock band, I could not have been more excited. ‘ZITTI E BUONI’ was one of my favourite songs from this year’s contest, and it makes a change to see something so fresh and exciting win Europe’s biggest music contest. Since their win, Måneskin have become international superstars, with their most recent album, ‘Teatro d’ira Vol. 1’ topping viral charts and winning widespread acclaim with a huge legion of new fans discovering the band. ‘I WANNA BE YOUR SLAVE’ is my favourite of the eight-track album, which sees frontman Damiano exploring his sexuality and relationships. ‘LA PAURA DEL BUIO’ is another favourite – although in honesty, there isn’t a bad song here. Måneskin are the most exciting artist to come from Eurovision in a very long time, and I’ve seen people say that they have a chance now to become as famous as ABBA. I don’t know if they’ll manage that one, but they definitely have the talent, drive, and individuality to do it.
Ryan’s Rating: 8.5/10
Rihanna – ANTI (Deluxe) (2016)
Maybe I should be ashamed by this admission, but I’ve owned this album since it came out over five years ago and I’ve never listened to it. Maybe once at the time, but completely forgot to ever revisit it. I think the awful, monotous sound of ‘Work’ featuring Drake haunted me since it dominated that summer, because the other 14 tracks are pretty good. ‘Desperado’ has been my favourite Rihanna song for a while – it just exudes this effortless cool energy which is rare to find. I went into this album with the suspicion that it wouldn’t be topped – and I was right. The whole album just has this therapeutic, chilled out vibe which makes it fit really well together beyond having many stand out songs. It has a resurgence at the end, with my second and third favourites being the second and third last on ANTI, ‘Goodnight Gotham’ and ‘Pose’, the first of which is an experimental interlude with extremely dark undertones. I should have listened to this sooner.
Ryan’s Rating: 7.5/10
Rihanna – Talk That Talk (Deluxe) (2012)
I was definitely feeling a Rihanna vibe, because I moved straight onto her sixth studio album, Talk That Talk. This was even more my kinda thing, especially as it reawakened 2012 me and my slightly more electropoppy tastes. ‘Where Have You Been’ has been a banger for years, often lost in amongst her extensive list of bops, but it gives the album an energy which you can tell instantly is from a few years before ANTI. Rihanna definitely moves with the times. ‘We Found Love’ is another nostalgic throwback, while ‘Birthday Cake’ may only be a demo but it has the purest, most chaotic energy of any of Rihanna’s tracks. It’s so much fun, and follows on from ‘Cockiness (Love It)’ which is yet another great track. ‘Drunk on Love’ samples the melody of The XX’s ‘Intro’, but incorporates it in a classy and beautiful way. ‘Fool In Love’ is an excellent album closer. This feels like Rihanna at her very best.
Ryan’s Rating: 9/10
Wolf Alice – Blue Weekend (2021)
To put it simply, this will take some beating in the running for album of the year. There simply isn’t a bad track in here as the album effortlessly breezes from ponderous, rousing ballads like ‘The Last Man on Earth’ to the forceful punk of ‘Play The Greatest Hits’. For a full review of ‘Blue Weekend’, click on this link: https://ryanwrites99.wordpress.com/2021/06/04/album-review-wolf-alice-blue-weekend-2021/
Ryan’s Rating: 10/10
The XX – xx (2009)
Even though much of this album blends into one for me, I’m absolutely amazed that the quartet (as they were for this album) were able to make such beautiful music younger than I am now. Their famously minimalist production enables it to feel like you’re being given an exclusive, intimate, live show. The unique guitar sounds are the biggest stand-out for me, giving the XX a trademark sound. ‘Intro’ is instantly recognisable as being that song which was everywhere ten years ago, although it hasn’t aged a day. ‘Crystallised’ is another highlight, as Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim trade beautiful vocals over a catchy acoustic arrangement, before both singers go on opposing journeys, singing their own lyrics over each other. And no, it’s not a love ballad. ‘Fantasy’ is just as enthralling, being guided with a haunting synth and Sim’s wandering vocals, making use of echo and choral sounds, before a heavy, dark bassline takes over, with a drum which sounds like a steady heartbeat. Pure ethereal beauty. The five-minute ‘Infinity’, which builds and builds with heartbreaking melodies before crescending into a beautiful climax. Put together, it’s a really nice album to listen, but there’s only really four stand-out tracks for me,
Ryan’s Rating: 7/10