It’s a good week for albums, thanks to artists like Carly Rae Jepsen, Tyler, the Creator, DJ Khaled and The National, all fan favorites who put out full-length projects today. Jepsen’s, Dedicated, is another installment of euphoric dance pop. DJ Khaled’s, Father of Asahd, sees the preeminent emcee and collaborator bringing together an A-list of featured artists — and letting SZA shine solo on a standout track. Tyler, the Creator makes another statement of identity and production prowess on Igor. And British-Indian songwriter-producer Khushi comes out with “From Me,” a new single heralding an album to come.
“Want You in My Room,” Carly Rae Jepsen
When “Want You in My Room” starts, you might think it’s just another 80s throwback. But the new song, from Jepsen’s latest release Dedicated, unfolds into something much more. “I’m like a lighthouse, I’m a reminder of where you’re going,” she sings, cheeky and confident in equal measure. You can feel how much fun she’s having: “On the bed, on the floor… I don’t care anymore!” she insists. “I wanna do bad things to you!”
This is a Jepsen all grown up and moved on from the winks of “Call Me Maybe,” in control — but still delightfully playful. She echoes that in her production choices, from sliding synths to hints of electric guitar to a jazzy sax outro. Since this is Jepsen, you can’t help but enjoy it.
“Earfquake,” Tyler, the Creator
Rapper-producer Tyler, The Creator‘s new album Igor is a lush and creative body of work, full of rich beats and new arrangements that see him experimenting with static and instruments at every turn. “Earfquake,” the album’s second track, is also one of the prettiest: it has elements of funk and soul, but stays fresh with his vocal stylings. On the surface, it’s a love song of regret; “Don’t leave, it’s my fault,” he laments.
But the more interesting story here is the background noise and the many layers of sound he’s applied; in a note prior to release, he asked listeners to “fully indulge” in what he’s made. Tyler has always been a provocative and confessional artist, from his Odd Future beginnings to his 2017 album Flower Boy. Now, he sounds a little happier in his own skin, ready to play around with his skill set.
“From Me,” Khushi
It’s apt that Indian-British singer-songwriter-producer Khushi served as a tour opener recently for British experimentalist James Blake; they share a moody, atmospheric style, and have traded production credits on each other’s work. But as on his new track “From Me” off an upcoming album, Khushi is defining his own evocative sound as a solo artist, too, after spending the last three years in a band called Strong Asian Mothers.
Here, he leans into reverberating echoes, delicate falsettos and hums, building tension to cinematic release. But the lyrics are intimate, delivered in a kind of confidential whisper. “I’m kind of stuck in a hole, kind of stuck holding on, been carrying weight so long,” he admits. “Somebody lift it from me.” This song might just have that effect.
“Just Us,” DJ Khaled feat. SZA
One of DJ Khaled’s greatest strengths has always been bringing together A-list artists in unexpected combinations (Remember smash hit “I’m the One,” with Justin Bieber, Chance the Rapper, Lil Wayne and Quavo?) His new album Father of Asahd follows that pattern, presenting a who’s-who of hip-hop and featuring the likes of Cardi B and 21 Savage, Travis Scott and Post Malone, and Meek Mill and J Balvin.
But on “Just Us,” he lets SZA shine solo, only interjecting every so often to echo her lyricism. Following SZA’s acclaimed 2017 debut Ctrl, she’s contributed her voice to collaborations with artists like Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd and Travis Scott; it’s a pleasure to hear her doing her own thing here once more, unhurried and expressive. “This is how an angel sounds,” Khaled interjects at one point, not a wholly unwelcome note. “Just Us” is sweet and melodic, a ballad with a languid hip-hop beat, brought to life by SZA’s style.
“Rylan,” The National
Music from The National is easy to sink into. It’s not quite a warm bath: maybe a hot springs, a serene and lovely place that still holds plenty of surprises. On their eighth album You Are Easy To Find — which also has an alternate life as a 24-minute film from director Mike Mills starring Alicia Vikander — the veteran indie rock band expand their well-worn home turf to include a variety of new voices. Frontman Matt Berninger still leads the charge, his baritone a comforting touchstone. But on songs like the achingly lovely “Rylan,” he’s joined by vocalist and British musician Kate Stables. “Rylan” isn’t new to longtime National fans: they’ve played it in live settings going back to 2010 or 2011. This is the first official recording, however — and sees the band settling into a well-worn, welcome groove.