There’s a lot happening in the music world, and we here at Heavy Blog try our very best to keep up with it! Like the vast majority of heavy music fans, our tastes are incredibly vast, with our 3X3s in each Playlist Update typically covering numerous genres and sometimes a different style in each square. While we have occasionally covered s non-metal topics in past blog posts, we decided that a dedicated column was warranted in order to more completely recommend all of the music that we have been listening to. Unmetal Monday is a bi-weekly column which covers noteworthy tracks and albums from outside the metal universe, and we encourage you all to share your favorite non-metal picks from the week in the comments. As is tradition, we’ll be highlighting a few albums and tracks that struck our fancy over the past few weeks. Head past the jump to dial down the distortion:
Caribou – Suddenly
Nick already covered this album in our Editors’ Picks for February far more thoroughly and beautifully than I ever could, but I’d be doing this gorgeous album a disservice if I didn’t mention it here. Dan Snaith has been a preeminent name in electronic music since the release of Up In Flames all the way back in 2003, and he has yet to release a collection of soulful electropop that hasn’t held me in rapt attention. His 2010 record Swim struck me hardest due to its darker tone, and subsequent record Our Love, while excellent, didn’t grip me with the same emotional power. 2020’s Suddenly is a different story. In turns Caribou’s most emotionally intimate and uplifting record, Suddenly has been on constant rotation since it dropped, and will most likely end up making the rounds throughout the year. It’s excellent.
Musically, Suddenly is as lush and detailed as we’ve come to expect from the man who brought us the gorgeous soundscapes of Andorra. Opener “Sister” is a meditative, minimalist composition that packs an emotional wallop. Follow-up “You and I” mixes ‘80s synth pop and and more modern production elements into one of the project’s most effective and straightforward tracks to date. But the album steps out of its more subdued and introspective shell in tracks like “New Jade”, which layers hooky melodies with an ease that only an artist with the skill and experience of Snaith could pull off. But it’s “Home” that in many ways defines the album, and may well become Caribou’s defining statement with a hook so catchy that there’s a high likelihood that it’ll lodge itself in your brain for months to come.
The music is everything a fan of Caribou could hope for, but it’s the lyrical and emotional core of Suddenly that make the record a true standout in the project’s discography. After a few traumatic years between releases, Snaith bares his heart here in a manner that feels equal parts introspective, subdued, joyous, and sorrowful. It’s the work of a real human being, adding flesh and bone to a genre of music that all-too-often feels bereft of genuine emotional expression. Suddenly is an enrapturing record that is easy to get sucked into due to its musical approach, and will keep you coming back for more because of an emotional core that transcends trend by presenting with eloquence and honesty something that electronic music desperately needs: raw humanity. A fundamentally excellent release.
Beach Bunny – Honeymoon
For me to write about this kind of album, it has to be really good. It’s not because the type of indie rock/pop on Beach Bunny’s Honeymoon is “objectively” bad, it’s just really not my style. But Honeymoon has managed to worm its way around my defenses and nestle right in my heart, whispering sweet guitar lines, impactful lyrics, and a groovy sensibility in its silken voice. Most of all, Honeymoon has introduced me to an indie rock that is as tight as any technical release, careful with its allocation of ideas, notes, and themes.
You can hear it in the effective angst of opener “Promises” or on the more melancholy sounds of “Rearview”. Everything about Honeymoon just feels aware of not only its place but also the place of everything surrounding it. That’s what makes the vocals on “Rearview” so satisfying to hear, for example. The guitars aren’t just something in the background of them. There’s a relationship in composition and pacing that they share so that, for example, when the vocals arrive at the chorus, the guitars amp up their energy to match them. But because the track becomes inherently more lively after this first chorus, infected with its energy, the guitars don’t quite back down to the more muted sounds of the opening track.
This solves one of my biggest problems with indie pop/rock, where disparate parts are great and all but the music never coalesces into anything bigger. This is far from the case here, as Beach Bunny work together, bonded over the beating heart of Lili Trifilio and her amazing vocals, to create a sum that’s not just the whole of its parts but a synergy between them, more emotionally effective and musically addictive as a result. And addictive it is; Honeymoon is one of those albums which you simply can’t put down and even when you do, you’ll find parts of it zipping around in your head. So, what are you working for? Take your first hit.