Last Updated: 5:13 PM, June 26, 2012
Posted: 10:38 PM, June 25, 2012
Albums of the Week
You could accuse Adam Levine of being a lot of things (and we all have), but he’s certainly not afraid of success.
Clearly spurred on by last year’s smash hit “Moves Like Jagger,” Maroon 5 has ditched the pseudo-soul and middle-of-the-road rock of previous years in favor of a more direct, dance-pop feel for their fourth album.
It’s a new approach that works wonders; just about every track comes complete with the kind of dynamite chorus that seems custom-built for radio. It may sound like a horribly premeditated attitude, but a couple of listens to irresistible gems such as “One More Night” and “Love Somebody” is all it takes to realize that Levine and Co. deserve much credit for knowing what they want — and achieving it in such style.
“Write Me Back”
ANOTHER week, another R. Kelly scandal. The controversial star’s latest transgression appears to be the small matter of $5 million in unpaid taxes — but for all his private issues, his professional output is still largely beyond reproach.
The Chicagoan’s 11th album continues in the vein of his 2010 release, “Love Letter,” by paying homage to his musical heroes. This time, it’s soul legends such as Barry White, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder who are given kudos through Kelly’s slick R&B cuts.
As polished and sincere as “Love Is” and “Fool For You” undoubtedly are, it’s a little disappointing to hear him interpret his influences in such an unrelentingly derivative way. So once he’s paid off his bills with the IRS, this album might land Kelly with the odd plagiarism lawsuit. Never a dull moment . . .
Downloads of the week
“Castle of Glass”
IN the empty rage and vapid noise of the new Rick Rubin-produced Linkin Park album hides an unexpected bit of beauty. “Castle of Glass” finds the band toning it down to produce a moment of introspection that balances intensity with melody surprisingly well. Even though the group is unlikely to ever completely shake off the nu-metal tag, it’s good to see they’re capable of more interesting things when they really try.
THE FLAMING LIPS feat. ERYKAH BADU
“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”
IT’S a real shame that the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne and Erykah Badu have been bitching it out like divas on Twitter over a prematurely released video to this track (she’s in it so wanted to see it first), because their cover of the 1972 Roberta Flack hit is magnificent. Taken from the Lips’ new album of equally wacky collaborations, it’s a 10-minute prog-rock epic that sounds like Pink Floyd indulging in a cosmic makeout session. Sheer bliss.
“Cruising California (Bumpin’ in My Trunk)”
THE Cali punks are back with a distinctly predictable new album, “Days Go By,” much of which feels like it was transplanted straight out of the mid-1990s. But this is the one song that comes out of left field — thanks to a chorus worthy of the Black Eyed Peas and Dexter Holland’s hilariously bad white-boy rap. Ridiculous stuff, but it’s all the more enjoyable for that very reason.