One of the high points in rock history was that period in the ‘90s when hipsters realized that the Beach Boys and Burt Bacharach were dope and that punk didn’t have to rebel against excess. No album embodies this revelation like the High Llamas’ Cold & Bouncy, a merger of mewling electronics with the loungy grandeur of psychedelia’s more pop side. High Llamas leader Sean O’Hagan might not have Brian Wilson’s stunning clarity of vision, but he’s got way better taste. In other words, imagine the Beach Boys’ Friends with decent lyrics.
Young Thug had the world thinking he’d go Hot Topic when he started jamming with Blink-182′s Travis Barker and announced his new album would be called Punk. But Thugger is not to be pinned down, and Punk is all sanguine, drumless soul songs. It’s his most purely gorgeous album, boasting some of his best writing and most atmospheric music. Fans who like his music for his eccentricities might be disappointed, but they can console themselves by knowing that whatever he does next will undoubtedly throw the narrative for another loop.
Power-pop scholar (and occasional WW writer) Mo Troper delivers a 28-song, 50-minute album that works the way all the best rock epics do: silly jingles about peanut butter cups and wet T-shirts paired with songs that blindside the listener with sincerity. Dilettante’s more romantic songs reliably obfuscate their nature a little with absurd titles, so you might find yourself moved by a track called “Skyscraper Sized Bong” and “Tears on my Dockers.” But the most misleading title of all is the album’s. Troper isn’t a dilettante, he knows exactly what he’s doing.
French composer Éliane Radigue, 89, is a beloved figure in avant-garde music, and her 1993 Trilogie de la Mort makes it clear why. The album’s three parts add up to nearly three hours, cumulatively, but the musical ideas therein move rapidly—by the standards of drone music—revealing new tones and textures with each passing minute. Trilogie de la Mort might be the most content-packed drone album ever made, and it deserves at least one deep listen before it falls into a rotation of being what you listen to while falling asleep or feeling hung over.