Music reviews: Fall Out Boy; Joey Bada$$; Mikky Ekko
Fall Out Boy
American Beauty/American Psycho
Chicago pop punkers Fall Out Boy make a speedy return after regrouping in 2013 and promising to Save Rock and Roll, with a sixth album of candy floss grandstanding.
On American Beauty/American Psycho, the boys deliver more of their anthemic teenage confessions at breakneck speed. Lead single Centuries mashes up the intro to Suzanne Vega’s Tom’s Diner with their trademark synthed-up disco rock, frontman Patrick Stump insisting: “Some legends are told/ Some turn to dust or to gold/ But you will remember me/ Remember me for centuries”.
Despite their punkish fist-pumps FOB still manage to make Maroon 5 sound like Motorhead, and bassist Peter Wentz’s lyrics are as deep as a five-year-old’s poetry competition – for example, on the title track Stump gets to sing “I’m the best worst thing that hasn’t happened to you yet”.
Listening to the album in its entirety is physically exhausting.
As a complete album it grates on the nerves, but take any one of these 11supersonic tracks on their own and you’ll find a bombastic hit single that’ll be played to death in teenagers’ bedrooms the world over.
Cinematic Music Group
The 20-year-old Brooklyn rapper who broke through the East Coast mixtape scene three years ago releases his much-delayed debut album with claims to be taking it back to the classic old-school style of hip hop's 1990s boom-bap. But does it live up to the myth and expectations put on the young up-and-comer?
The production and wordplay certainly evoke that golden age, no more so than on Paper Trail$, co-written with DJ Premier, its pounding beat and slick flow of rhyme referencing both the style and lyrical content ("Cash ruins everything around me") of prime time Wu-Tang Clan. Tracing the struggles of Joey's young life, the album's samples and beats sound both classic and fresh, and aren't simply derivative of that bygone age - they all come from a place of respect for his influences.
Spitting out rhymes with a vivid hunger, this is real street hip hop, beats switching from the manic swagger of No99, to the chilled autobiographical Piece of Mind with its jazz musings reminiscent of The Roots. The young Bada$$ is certainly coming good on his promise.
The US singer-songwriter became a household name in 2012 through his collaboration with Rihanna on the emotive ballad Stay, the massive hit he co-wrote and performed on.
Now it's time for John Stephen Sudduth aka Mikky Ekko to step out of the shadows of the Barbadian pop minx and into the limelight with his first fully fledged album.
Admirably not content to fling out a half-baked album on the back of the Grammy-nominated duet, Ekko has taken his time to produce a debut of soulful pop, cherry picking a who's who of heavyweight soundmen to work with: Ryan Tedder, Benny Blanco, TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek and hip-hop producer Clams Casino.
Opening confidently with the triumphant Watch Me Rise ("I'm still standin'/ I'm still climbin'/ Even when the rest are fallin'"), it's followed by the infectiously zesty Smile, before the tempo slows with the smooth passion of R&B singles U and Pull Me Down.
He's not about to run off with Rihanna's crown any time soon, but with the slickness of Time, Ekko has certainly established himself as an artist in his own right.