Musicality – Florence and the Machine, Mika, Monique Gabriel Salazar, Ryn Weave

Florence and the Machine
How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
(Island)
I have yet to be disappointed by the English indie rock band Florence and the Machine. They have been doing nothing but rising and improving, and they’re keeping that up on this album, their third. It’s serious, enthusiastic and celebratory. Florence Welch’s vocals are haunting and soulful. The brilliant songwriting never sounds repetitive or dull, and every song is its own journey, with zero shortcuts. This album is a treat. My only complaint is that it made me too happy. Even the serious songs made me happy, mostly because the compositions were so good. My favorites are “Delilah,” “Third Eye” and “Mother.”
Mika
No Place in Heaven
(Republic)
British artist Mika’s voice stands out, not because it demands attention, but because it is subtle and very good. I enjoy his clarity. That facet of the album and the well-composed songs make music that’s a delight to listen to. My favorite songs from Mika are the ones where he adds a bit of funk, such as “Oh Girl You’re The Devil.” Conversely, I’m also a sucker for a good piano melody, and the song “Hurts” is beautiful and heartbreaking. Lyrically, this is one of the best albums I’ve heard all year. It reminds me of the storytelling style of songs used in musicals. I’m particularly drawn to the vocals because they don’t take themselves too seriously, making most of the album rather lighthearted. My favorite songs are “Last Party,” “Hurts,” and “Good Wife.”
Monique Gabrielle Salazar
Devil’s Pool EP
It’s nice to get back to the basics sometimes. Monique Gabrielle Salazar, one of Kansas City’s own, uses her voice and the simplicity of a ukulele. Though the ukulele is the glue that holds it all together, it’s the vocals and lyrics that truly stand out. The EP is a rough demo recording, but what it lacks in recording quality, it makes up for in fervor and vocal melody. Use a pair of headphones to really get a good listen. My favorite song is “Blood Pool,” for its addictive melody. Salazar is honest in her lyrics and undaunted in sharing her view of the world. I look forward to hearing more. If you are looking for something new that isn’t synthesized and overly polished, definitely check this out.
Ryn Weaver
The Fool
(Interscope)
If you enjoy pop-alternative and you’re looking for something to round off your summer, this new album from Ryn Weaver is a good one for that kind of mood that can happen between summer and fall. It reminds me a bit of the musical style of Florence and the Machine, using a similar dramatic voice with heart-thumping background music and drums with really good build-ups. This is especially prevalent in songs like “Promises,” which I love. The song “Here is Home” has a slight country feel, mostly in the pacing. Although it’s a little less dramatic than the rest of the album, it’s the song that stayed in my head the most. Other good ones to check out are the title track, “The Fool,” and “Traveling Song.”

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