Face+Heel – Our Princes’ Quarry
The debut album from British duo Face+Heel is an enigmatic exploration of guitar sounds and electronic production, bridging the gap between electro-pop, dance and rock. Consisting of duo Luke Taylor and Sinead McMillan, Our Princes’ Quarry dissects the love/hate relationship Taylor has with his hometown of Aberystwyth in North Wales.
While easy to dismiss Our Princes’ Quarry as just another indie album, it’s full of involving ideas and small intricacies that elevate it from a good album to a great, multi-genre crossing one that never stumbles. From album opener Pier Video, a sombre electronic ode to Taylor’s old video shop that was partly recored on an unrented copy of Girl Interrupted, through to sax and bass number In Your Room and the creepy two-minute instrumental title track, this album is a myriad of engaging sound scapes.
McMillan’s soft and airy vocals are dominate throughout, with Taylor’s hushed harmonies providing the ideal backup, no more so than on the delicate indie-synth burner Tripping At The Royal Welsh. When Taylor does step into the spotlight on Pier Video or the acoustic The Big Machine, he brings another dynamic to Face+Heel that only enhances their nostalgic sound.
Verdict: Tremendous debut from a duo you’ll be hearing more from soon.
Royce Da 5’9″ – Layers
If you heard Royce Da 5’9″‘s Tabernacle: Trust The Shooter, his prelude mixtape to long awaited sixth album Layers, you’ll be happy to know the album lives up to the hype. Layers may be Royce’s best effort yet, and much like the title, the Detroit MC delivers bars littered with metaphors and intricate lyrics over engaging beats as he allows fans a glimpse into his world.
Tabernacle, first heard on the mixtape of the same name, opens Layers and sets the scene for what’s to come. A deeply personal and lyrically awarding track about the death of his grandma, birth of his son and first encounter with Eminem, it is the perfect showcase of Royce as a lyricist. From there it just keeps getting better. Hard looks at Royce’s journey in the rap industry and his continued struggle to survive in the game, Misses details his relationship with his side piece, while America looks at the struggles the black community still encounter.
The big features are kept to a minimum, with Pusha T and Rick Ross making their presence felt on the title track and Mr. Porter and verse from Tiara on Quiet the other noteworthy appearances. The lack of guests isn’t a bad thing, as it puts the focus squarely on Royce and his lyrical dexterity, with the Detroit legend once again proving his worth.
Verdict: The definitive Royce Da 5’9″ album. You have to cop this one.
Lil Uzi Vert – Lil Uzi Vert Vs. The World
Those not familiar with rising Philly rapper Lil Uzi Vert, he’s the next in a very long line of Internet rappers combining heavy auto-tune, trap inspired beats and scatter brain lyrics. Think iLoveMakonnen or Lil Yachty. Over the weekend Vert dropped the previously unannounced mixtape, Lil Uzi Vert Vs. The World, and it’s surprisingly decent.
Short at just nine tracks, the tape gives newcomers at peak into the world of Vert. Possibly inspired by cult film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (the cover art, Vert’s purple hair and the fact there’s a song called Scott And Ramona), Lil Uzi Vert Vs. The World is a cohesive project with great production credits (Metro Boomin, Don Cannon, Maaly Raw).
While similar in style to the aforementioned Makonnen and Yachty, Vert’s flow is more defined and less chaotic. While autotune plays a huge part, it never overshadows his bars, often contributing to the tapes overall sound. Standout tracks include the Boomin produced You Was Right and Baby Are You Home, opener Canadian Goose and the melodic Ps & Qs.
Verdict: For fans of iLoveMakonnen and Lil Yachty only.
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