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Arts in Review

Soundbites: Young Thug, Kiiara, Atomic, Sia

Reviews for the latest from Sia, Young Thug, Kiiara, and Atomic.

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Kiiara

Low Kii Savage

“Gold,” the first single from 20-year-old Kiiara’s debut, low kii savage, was released in a timely manner. Spliced vocals and reverby percussion and bass complete a minimalist chorus which I wouldn’t be surprised to find, two months from now, has taken up the mantle from tracks like Major Lazer and ’s 2015 release, “Lean On” as a breakout summer anthem.  

While the rest of ***low kii savage reflects the millennial trend of sensationalizing oversimplified emotions (See: “Feels,” both the track and the expression), it might not suffer as much as one would think. After all, the record won ***me over, and I’m critical of releases which are purposely vague or don’t engage with their audience in ways at least slightly different from the Top 20.

It’s perhaps because the lyrical component of this record is so touched-up, and so lacking of any actual message, that I can easily ignore it and think of Kiiara’s voice more as another instrumental component rather than a lyrical one. And the end product — watery, synthetic, and metallic — is, although not ground-breaking, masterfully executed.

Pop is pop is pop, but at five tracks, low kii savage gives us enough auditory breadth to appreciate it based solely on its aesthetic offerings.

Martin Castro

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Young Thug

Slime Season 3

Young Thug’s latest release, Slime Season 3, sees him refine his already individual style of delivery over eight tracks. Despite the relatively short length of SS3, it’s still plagued by a few tracks that could be considered throwaways, like “Worth It” and album closer “Problem.”

Once we get the fact that Thugger isn’t lyrically at his best on this project out of the way, (although he’s not at his worst — we can at least understand what’s being said), it’s a much easier project to stomach. Opener “With Them” is reflective of both the project’s spacious instrumentation and the kind of lyricism Young Thug brings to the table, seeing how the first lines we hear on the entire record are, “She suck on that dick on the plane / and I just called her airhead.” It’s interesting to note that Young Thug’s at his best on this project when he’s crooning as opposed to straight rapping, although tracks like “Memo” strike a good balance of both: the pre-chorus rapped, while most of the chorus is sung.

Overall, Slime Season 3 gives us a collection of tracks that, while more cohesive than Young Thug’s previous efforts, is still lacking in narrative and lyrical terms. But growth is growth, I suppose.

Martin Castro

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Atomic

Mogwai

Post-rock heavyweights Mogwai have changed a lot since their 1997 debut Mogwai Young Team, and while they haven’t let go of their trademark guitar tremolos, they have heavily incorporated synthesizers into their work. Atomic, originally recorded as the soundtrack to Mark Cousin’s documentary, Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise, builds upon Mogwai’s 2014 release, Rave Tapes, which featured heavy synthesizer use.

Atomic conveys a sense of a gruesome dystopian future, and when compared to the other soundtracks Mogwai has produced, Zidane: a 21st century portrait and Les Revenants, it becomes clear that Atomic is more identifiable as a Mogwai record. Rather than being a side project by the band between records, Atomic feels and sounds like a natural next entry into their discography.

Atomic’s quiet moments create a more optimistic, ideal vision of the future, particularly in “Are you a dancer” and “Ether.” But when the guitars begin to screech and cymbals crash, it’s a disquieting anxiety that comes to mind: “SCRAM” and “Bitterness Centrifuge” in particular highlight the nerve-wracking unease of an age when nuclear destruction was only the press of a button away.

Whether or not you’re a fan of Mogwai’s earlier work and feel that they’ve lost their way in experimentation, or you approve of their willingness to dive into something new and get lost in it, Atomic will surely be considered amongst their best work.

Glen Ess

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Sia

This is Acting

In today’s pop world, many artists tend to stick to a certain theme and rely on their writers to pen them a smash hit. Despite many songs becoming commercial successes, one might wonder what the compositions that didn’t make the cut sound like.

This is where Sia’s This is Acting comes in. The singer-songwriter’s album consists of rejected pieces written for today’s top artists: from Rihanna, to Adele, or even Katy Perry.

Don’t be discouraged by the somewhat harsh description of the album though. This is Acting is far from sounding like unpolished studio sessions or early demos. Sia’s diverse vocal talents are evident throughout the album; each song sounds drastically different from the one before it, and Sia herself sounds like she’s singing from different perspectives. Even though she is attempting to embody the sound of different artists, her personality still shines through each song, and makes it her own. The amount of talent it takes to switch between different styles is insane, and Sia makes it seem effortless on her part. She turns each song into a diamond in the rough, and who knows? Maybe some artists are wishing they didn’t reject her masterpieces.

Michael Chutskoff

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