A heartfelt comeback from Kanye, a nostalgic return to the 1990s and more in our favourite music picks this month
God’s Favourite Customer by Father John Misty
Josh Tillman aka Father John Misty, might be one of the hippest artists around to have on your Spotify right now, but don’t let that put you off giving his latest album a spin. Written in a hotel over a six-week period, God’s Favourite Customer is a melancholic kinship with heartbreak, desperation and the many different faces of love.
First, the record will strike you with FJM’s signature quirky song titles and the cleverly biting lyrics. Then, it’ll seduce you with painstakingly beautiful orchestration, led by splashes of capricious piano chords and effortlessly sumptuous vocal flairs. And finally, it’ll tear your heart right open with unexpected outbursts of gloomy candour, like the gorgeous “Please Don’t Die” in which he sheds his ironic wise man exterior and reveals his aching innards in all their glorious vulnerability.
There’s not a single thing on this album that feels lazy or uncared for. From the quietest tambourine jingle to the most complex melody arrangement, there’s a jaw-dropping amount of care and deliberation that makes God’s Favourite Customer such a triumph. Trust us, you’ll keep coming back for more.
Please Don’t Be Dead by Fantastic Negrito
How such outstanding artists as Fantastic Negrito manage to remain largely under the radar is beyond us! This Massachusetts-born bluesman’s career first began when he signed a record deal with Prince’s former manager, and subsequently worked with Interscope, toured with Soundgarden, and his 2016 album The Last Days of Oakland won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues album. His latest offering, Please Don’t Be Dead, is an equally scintillating, rich collection of songs that continues to showcase his innate feel for the blues, and is additionally imbued with playful funk motifs and rousing gospel influences.
While the record is an all-round stunning audio feast, it’s Negrito’s vocals, in particular, that’ll leave you begging for more. Channelling everyone from James Brown to Marvin Gaye via Prince, they’re warm, smooth and mind-bogglingly versatile, effortlessly shifting between aggressive howls (“Plastic Hamburgers”) and disarmingly gentle croons (“Dark Windows”). Don’t give it a miss—it might just become your record of the summer.
Version 2.0— 20th-anniversary reissue by Garbage
The holy grail of 1990s alternative rock, Version 2.0 was the album that defined the sound of Garbage and the voice of a generation. Remastered for the 20th anniversary of the release, this reissue package features the whole original album as well as ten additional B-sides from the era, making it the perfect treat for any Garbage fan.
The title itself is a playful nod to the band’s foray into experimenting with new computer technology on the album, which sounds just as fresh and bold as it did 20 years ago. Shirley Manson’s deep, seductive vocals, accompanied by a mixture of noisy guitars, catchy melodies and witty, dark lyrics is the perfect concoction that exudes youthful energy, angsty nostalgia and makes Version 2.0 such an alt-rock staple.
The B-sides included in the package make for a tasty side dish to this classic album, echoing its rebellious, hook-driven nature, but also covering a wide emotional and stylistic spectrum, from the poetically bittersweet Big Star cover “Thirteen” to the spiky and punkish “Lick the Pavement”.
ye by Kanye West
A new Kanye album is always an over-the-top affair that shakes the music world but his latest work, ye, proves to be the superstar rapper’s most low-key and understated record yet. The seven tracks amount to a taut 23 minutes in a to-the-point, no-frills release—whether it's the album cover that’s allegedly a photo Kanye took on his way to the album launch, or the rough, unpolished feel that unites all the songs.
However, ye elegantly (most of the time, anyway) proves how less is more in capable hands. The album is shocking, heartening, funny, self-deprecating, self-aggrandising, intimate, exploitative—all at the same time, as we witness Kanye taking on the issues of his mental health, Trump, addiction, women, his daughter North West and everything in between. Every moment here is precious and Yeezy wants you to know it.
A true standout is the opening track of the album,“I Thought About Killing You” which is a haunting, obsessive musical malady. It begins with Kanye’s fevered monologue describing how “the most beautiful thoughts are always beside the darkest” referring to his fantasies about killing a loved one. It’s simple, painfully honest and manages to pull the rug from under you as it suddenly turns into a completely different, pumping beat-driven track three quarters in.
Bush Lady by Alanis Obomsawin
Now here’s a really special gem that’ll raise the pulse of any melomaniac: the reissue of the rare, 1985 album by the legendary Canadian documentary filmmaker and singer, Alanis Obomsawin. Obomsawin, who’s a Native American born in New Hampshire and raised primarily in Quebec, employs a unique way of blending traditional folk music elements with modern composition on this record, making it an extremely creative and entrancing example of contemporary Indigenous music that lingers with you long after you’ve listened to it.
The album has been remastered from the original analog tapes and sounds incredible: stripped down, quiet and spacious, it wraps itself around you until you become one with Obomsawin’s haunting, mercurial vocals, undulating to the sound of native drums and violins. It oscillates somewhere between the histrionics of experimental theatre and the atmospheric thrill of the occult, and you’re bound to fall in love with it if you’re partial to spending time in the company of such ladies as Björk or Karen Dalton.