Musicality – Neon Trees, Iggy Azalea, Disclosure, Billy Porter

Neon Trees
Pop Psychology
(Mercury/Island)
Pop to the core, the new album by Neon Trees does not disappoint. The openly gay lead singer, Tyler Glenn, has a voice well-suited for pop. It’s appropriately clear, and he can belt it out with surprising strength. The band sounds like a simpler version of Scissor Sisters’ pop style mixed in with composition similar to The Killers. This CD has many good songs. I really enjoy “Teenager in Love” because it reminds me quite a bit of the pop punk I was addicted to 10 years ago. On “Unavoidable,” I really like the duo of the male and female singers. The harmony they create is catchy and makes for one of my favorites on the album. Another favorite is “I Love You (But I Hate Your Friends).” I really like the beat, and it’s simply fun to listen to.

Iggy Azalea
The New Classic
(Island)
If you’re a hip hop fan looking for the perfect summer party album, this is it. I’m a sucker for good back beats, and this album does not disappoint. It’s R&B with great melodies. The rap isn’t over the top, and it fits in well with the astonishing range of styles adopted throughout the CD. I’m an instant fan with this one. The hip hop compositions are very well done, and many songs seem like obvious candidates to become radio hits. Though the lyrics are rather typical, I enjoy the attention to melodies and atmosphere. My favorites are “Don’t Need Y’all,” “100,” and “Fancy.” This is one album that is definitely staying in my car this summer.
Disclosure
Settle (Deluxe Edition)
(Cherrytree/Interscope)
Disclosure does techno with an experimental edge. What stood out initially about the album is that it’s not in your face or overly dramatic. It’s low-key, but still enjoyable. Though it’s repetitive at times, that’s not out of character for techno in general. My favorite songs are the ones that feature a special guest singer, and that is more than half the album. They add melodic edge that seems to be missing from the more-instrumental songs. A lot of the vocals are R&B, which fits perfectly with the album’s ambience. The Deluxe edition features four extra songs that should have been a part of the regular CD because they are excellent. My favorites are “Latch,” “January,” and “Help Me Lose My Mind.”
Billy Porter
Billy’s Back on Broadway
(Concord)
As a lover of musicals and jazz, I immediately loved this album by Billy Porter. He began doing music and musicals in the ’90s. In 2013, he won a Tony Award for his role as Lola in the Broadway musical Kinky Boots, with music by Cyndi Lauper. I immediately recognized the song “I’m Not My Father’s Son” from the musical. It was one of my favorites off the album version of Kinky Boots. It’s hard to forget a voice as soulful and powerful as Porter’s. Though he could definitely get away with singing any genre, he is perfect for that Broadway style. Some of my other favorites on the album are “But the World Goes ’Round” and “Take the Moment.”

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