Punk by Young Thug
Jeffery Lamar Williams, AKA Young Thug returns for his first solo studio album since 2019s So Much Fun, which was his biggest success to date and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. The album begins with “Die Slow”, which keeps up with Young Thug’s theme of opening his albums with semi-introspective tracks that start slow, instead of his usual upbeat style. This song has a very spacious atmosphere, and ended up being one of my favorites on the entire tracklist. Superstar features from across the industry shine on their respective songs, like J. Cole, Future, Juice WRLD, A$AP Rocky, Post Malone, Drake, Travis Scott, Doja Cat, Mac Miller, and even the lead singer of the famous pop band fun. (Nate Ruess). Young Thug’s vocal diversity shines on tracks like “Love You More”, where he shows once again that his voice is his greatest instrument and pulls off notes that few people in the hip hop industry could pull off. While not as consistent as some of his past albums with a couple duds in the tracklist, this project continues Jeffery’s theme of being So Much Fun and prevails as one of the leading influencers in the trap genre.
Blue Banisters by Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey released her second studio album of 2021 on October 22, following her Chemtrails Over The Country Club project. This album is over 15 minutes longer than her last project, and the added length adds a more complete feeling to the album. Slow, folk-like production is prominent and this is definitely a singer-songwriter record, meaning Lana writes these songs by telling personal stories and narratives in each one of the lyrics. In “Arcadia”, Del Rey references multiple Californian cities, and instances like this paint pictures of classic American imagery that she portrays in much of her music throughout her entire career. “Thunder” is an unusually upbeat track about Lana’s relationship, and ends up being one her catchiest songs in recent memory. Despite many positives, the album is not perfect. The hip hop interludes that were included seem very out of place and don’t serve a purpose. Although Lana is an amazing vocalist and that talent shows up on most of the tracks, tracks like “Dealer” are some of her weakest vocal performances on any track. Overall, this is another installment of Lana’s minimal production albums that focus on her singing and storytelling, and is another solid album in her discography.
FUTURE PAST by Duran Duran
On Oct. 22, legendary rock band Duran Duran released their fifteenth studio album, entitled FUTURE PAST. The album sees the band sticking with their synth pop and synth rock sound, which is as relevant as it has been in a long time due to the revival started in 2020 by pop icons such as The Weeknd and Dua Lipa. The intro track “Invisible” is a powerful and catchy opener with a funk beat. The third track on the album, “Give It All Up”, is a standout, but for the wrong reasons. The track feels awkward from the beginning and the vocals are mixed weirdly compared to the rest of the album. “Anniversary” is a standout single, and the accompanying music video stands out as well, giving the album as a whole more personality. “Beautiful Lies” is arguably the most fun song on the whole record, with its standout disco dance beat. The track “Wing” sounds like it takes a lot of influence from rock band King Crimson, and ends up being one of the best songs on the album with its interesting songwriting and vocal melodies. The feature on the track “Hammerhead” by English rapper Ivorian Doll was very unexpected, but worked surprisingly well, almost like an adventurous Gorillaz song. For a band that’s been around as long as Duran Duran has, they show little signs of slowing down and still seem to have tricks up their sleeve.
Faces (Reissue) by Mac Miller
While not technically a new release, Mac Miller’s team recently released a reissue of his critically acclaimed 2014 mixtape, Faces. The tracklist is the same, with the addition of a bonus track entitled “Yeah” after the last track of the original. This song is grand and emotional, and fits as an end to the mixtape, even after the already-great original closer, “Grand Finale”. As for the original content of the mixtape, this may be Mac’s best project he ever released. “Therapy” has one of the best instrumentals on a Mac Miller song and he flourishes on the beat. “Funeral”, “Wedding”, “Birthday Party”, “Diablo”, and “Ave Maria” are all classic Mac tracks, and the rest of the mixtape might as well be too. It seems like each song is better than the last and he keeps the same energy throughout. It’s amazing that this project is now on streaming and a lot more accessible to a wider range of people.