The umpteenth eighties ‘revival’ of The Weeknd and other outstanding albums | Babelia


A very successful pastiche of The Weeknd

By Xavi Sancho

The first who said that Renaissance of the eighties was already lasting longer than that decade, which although for many it was already long, in the end it ended up lasting 10 years like all of them, surely he said it as a joke. But there are jokes that come true, usually by dint of repeating them so many times that they stop being funny. The Renaissance of the eighties, fun and colorful, even emancipatory in the aesthetic and conceptual, is nothing more than the definitive move of the system, which has allowed us for a few years to play with the idea that we could try to recover past times more or less our rhythm and taste, to then endorse the idea that what we really wanted to recover was simply the desire to dance. Because we started by saying that if you couldn’t dance it wasn’t our revolution and we ended up finding in the R only the word Renaissance.

If this album by The Weeknd had been released five years ago —it could have come out then, or 10 years ago, or 35 years ago—, perhaps the feeling would have been that, after this, you couldn’t explore any more in those eighties and that played, or focus on the new, or look for something new to engulf. But the truth is that, today, in 2022, the Canadian’s proposal is not the beginning, nor the end, nor the high point, nor the lowest, of anything. It’s just another pastiche. More accomplished than many others, but only surprising within the idiosyncrasy of the artist himself.

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Sunrise FM it’s a concept album. The idea is that we are listening to a radio station in a tunnel that is purgatory. Well okay. The announcer is Jim Carrey and the author of ‘Blinding Lights’, a record single on the US charts, is accompanied in this company by Tyler, The Creator; Quincy Jones, or Lil Wayne. The production is carried out by Max Martin, at the controls of the conventional, and Oneohtrix Point Never, in charge of the more or less radical. The shadow of Depeche Mode flies over songs like ‘Gasoline’ and that of The Human League refreshes others like ‘Take my Breath’. In ‘Sacrifice’, Abel Tesfaye (the name after The Weeknd) is presented as a clone of Prince and Rick Astley, while in ‘Starry Eyes’ it could be George Michael, or even Phil Collins, depending on the evil one applies. There are hardly any bad themes. Neither good. Of course, what Tesfaye offers here is his most coherent and narrative album of his career, an exercise in style around eighties techno pop in music and couple relationships in narrative. The lyrics are full of bombastic phrases about love and the damage it does. Verses that seem to be taken from Chinese cookies, from coffee cups, from friends of those who give you advice about your ex as well as about which cryptocurrency is the best.

There are two ways to deal with this drive, because this drive asks you to deal with it, if you don’t, it eats you up. One is from the references that it handles, which is dangerous for health and from here we do not recommend. The other, from ignorance or amnesia, which greatly helps to appreciate his mannerisms and his workmanship of definitive work. Although, in reality, it is not. Neither achieved nor last.

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Weekend. ‘Sunrise FM’. Universal.

Leonidas Kavakos shakes hands with Bach

By Luis Gago

The sonatas Y partyites by Bach unattainably transcended any previous attempts to make the violin a self-sufficient instrument. Without ceasing to be essentially melodic, here he finally makes polyphonic and contrapuntal challenges naturally his own that very few should have suspected until then. These challenges have remained so for all generations of violinists who have faced these works, with historic setbacks (Jascha Heifetz), miraculous hits (Nathan Milstein) and everything in between. Leonidas Kavakos arrives at them in his absolute maturity and three aspects of his version particularly attract attention: the naturalness with which he faces the jungle of technical difficulties, which produces smooth, fluid versions devoid of any tension; the great variety of bow strokes, even greater when he decides to highlight the danceable rhythms of the partyites; and the richness and relevance of the ornamentation, common in historicist interpretations, but much more infrequent in the modern sphere in which the Greek violinist moves. Mordents, trills, appoggiaturas, slight rhythmic transformations and one or more passing notes sprinkle Kavakos’ performance with fantasy and give the repetitions their full meaning, although sometimes they also adorn without them and when it seems virtually impossible, as in the ‘Prelude ‘ of the Part no. 3, a virtually unbroken succession of sixteenth notes. He is also a master of the translation of polyphonic passages, without a single brusqueness when faced with the fearsome chords of up to three and four notes, and both the three fugues and the The weather in Ciacona they know versions of a piece, with a logic and clarity that have rarely been heard. While so many and so many crash against the wall of this Bach no bass, Kavakos seems to go hand in hand with the composer, with plenty of technical resources and speaking the same language, in a deep and sincere dialogue, raised face to face, all of which undoubtedly makes him one of the best interpreters of these six works .

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Leonidas Kavakos. ‘Bach: Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin’. Sony, 2 CDs

Elvis Costello’s high fidelity

By Fernando Navarro

Elvis Costello must be recognized above all for his ability to be true to himself and at the same time sound relevant. You don’t need to mess around with trendy sounds or forced experimentation to sound modern. He is a modern being from the first day he picked up a guitar and with an overwhelming depth of field. His formula is simple: put all his knowledge at the service of his pride and artistic outburst. His new album is an exercise in trade with his particular youthful impetus, even though he and his usual band are elderly. At times, Costello and his crew show familiar tics, but that high-powered English pop-rock throbs, elegant and somewhat urgent. As if they recorded with the hunger of the first time. Admirable

Elvis Costello and The Impostors. ‘The boy named If’. EMI.

‘FKA twigs: freak forever’

By Beatriz G. Aranda

In ‘Honda’, one of the 17 songs on FKA twigs’ third album, rapper Pa Salieu asks, “Will you still be a freak at 50?” Beyond aesthetics and extreme body language, the compositions of the British, which rest on passionate bonds, do not show a strange way of thinking, but fragility, something that places Twigs above the average. In Caprisongs the themes work as universes, with the melodies breaking on bases afrobeats, and drawing the cosmovision of how hip hop works on a large scale: collaborations (interesting Jorja Smith and Shygirl, in addition to the executive production of El Guincho), automatic tuning —in ‘Meta angel’, upscale and surprising—and flirting with choral music.

FKA twigs. ‘Whimsical Songs’. Young-Atlantic/Warner.

Silvana Estrada ascends to the Olympus of popular song

By Javier Losilla

After The sacred (2016), with guitarist Charlie Hunter, and the EP first songs, the Mexican Silvana Estrada (24 years old) now climbs with withered to that Olympus of popular song in which artists like Natalia Lafourcade and Mon Laferte shine. But hers is a Pan-American gaze, focused on icons such as Chavela Vargas, Mercedes Sosa, Violeta Parra and Chabuca Granda. withered is an album of mourning songs for the loss of the first love. The texts, of an overwhelming maturity, are said with a voice full of nuances, rushing the meaning of each stanza. Musically intimate, sober and resounding, with the four as the hook pennant, it travels through a symbolic space in which folklore is entangled with chamber pop and jazz cadences.

Silvana Estrada. ‘withered’ Glassnote / Sony

Dave Liebman, Coltrane’s heir

By Yahweh M. de la Cavada

If we talk about saxophonists influenced by John Coltrane, we can name dozens; but of direct heirs, of musicians who have known how to take his baton and develop it with dignity, Dave Liebman is undoubtedly one of the few that we could point to. Coltrane has always been very present in his music, although not always as explicitly as on this album, the sixth in his career devoted entirely to the master’s repertoire. Liebman, one of the greatest living saxophonists, approaches this music in the best possible way: starting from the essence of Coltrane, not his language, avoiding an exercise in nostalgia and creating a personal, varied and modern album thanks to the ingenious arrangements , the freshness of the interpretations and a searching spirit that keeps intact his 75 years.

Dave Liebman expansions. ‘Selflessness, the Music of John Coltrane’. Point Time / Distrijazz

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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