There is a possibility that Monastic Living won’t make you angry, of course, but I’m willing to bet to the contrary. Angry, hurt, or—at the very least—a little cheated.
March 25, 2015 was a tumultuous time in music history—it was the day Zayn Malik left One Direction.
Whether you’ve been a One Directioner since the inception of the band, a casual listener, indifferent towards the group, or a staunch opponent of all things good in life, you probably remember the uproar on the Internet in reaction to the news that Zayn was headed in a different direction. Fans lamented the loss of one of the more favored members, and worried about the future of One Direction. How could the group of boys who had been through the X-Factor, four albums, and world tours suddenly be splitting apart? How could the band possibly go on without arguably one of their strongest singers?
At just 19, Julien Baker exudes a maturity beyond her years. This singer-songwriter has created a unique debut album, with tracks that are not quite sad nor joyful but something in between – accurately portraying the ups and downs of life itself. Above all else, Sprained Ankle is raw. The album is essentially nothing more Baker and her guitar. This simplicity is refreshing; it allows each lyric and tremor of Baker’s voice to be heard. Her musical style can be described as a quiet introspection scattered with bursts of emotion. These songs are so revealing, so confessional, that listening feels almost like an intrusion. It’s as if the lyrics have come straight out of private diary.
It’s hard to put my finger on it, but something’s just not quite right with EL VY’s debut, Return to the Moon. A side project of Brent Knopf of Menomena and Matt Berninger of the National, EL VY carries quite a heavy set of expectations. While I’m not familiar with the work of Knopf, The National has long been one of my favorite bands, in large part thanks to Berninger’s dry, imagist lyrics and dolorous vocal delivery. And while it’s perhaps unfair to compare the two bands, it is nonetheless telling that the moments where this collaboration works best are when EL VY sounds the most like The National.