Required Listening: Lemuria and Charli XCX
Recreational Hate, Lemuria
Back in August, the indie rock gems in Lemuria put a “secret LP” up on their webstore. About a week into December, the band finally announced that the secret release would be a brand-new studio album titled Recreational Hate. However, don’t let the dismal title fool you: The album is full of feel-good, indie-pop riffs, and it’s the perfect way to start out 2018.
“More Tunnel” reminds us that it’s OK to not yet be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. “Christine Perfect”’s cathartic chorus and pop hooks are excellent mood-lifters to start the new year during the dead of winter. The jangling drum beat, tangled guitars and muted trumpets on “Wanted to Be Yours” mingle perfectly with the lighthearted tale of falling for a stranger. It’s an album full of possibilities and new beginnings, all without being gushingly optimistic and retaining the humanity of failure.
In a year where pop music was rather lackluster, its presence in other genres fills the gaps left in 2017. Recreational Hate not only fills but also bridges the gaps between the realism of rock and shimmer of pop. It’s no secret that 2017 has been a rough year in America, arguably even historically, and Lemuria sent this shitty year packing with a bang, equipping us to take on the new year with a refreshingly grounded album.
Recreational Hate stands out as a wonderful hybrid of indie, rock and pop, attaining accessibility without sacrificing impressive musical prowess. Dropped during the turmoil of December, which is saturated with end of the year lists and emotional closure, the album is a pop-soaked sucker punch through the gloom to keep us moving. Lemuria is a damn good band, and their talents have never shone quite as brightly as on Recreational Hate.
— Dominic Polsinelli, Senior Arts Editor
Pop 2, Charli XCX
Next to the bubblegum pink backdrop of the “Boys” music video exists the cutting edge, synth-infused dystopia of Pop 2. Such is the duality of man or, more specifically, the duality of Charli XCX. To solely know her as the mastermind behind Stormzy seductively eating cereal or Tom Daley smiling like a goddamn movie star while soaking wet would be to rob her of her true genius: She's a visionary pushing the boundaries of pop.
Pop 2 is pop 2.0. Distorted echoes of half-completed melodies take the place of tired choruses; rough experimentation takes the place of polished superficiality. Charli XCX’s eclectic mix is a welcome reprieve from both the monotony of mainstream chart-toppers and the hellscape 2017 became. With Pop 2 you could follow Charli XCX down the rabbit hole. Cruising in the backseat of a neon Porsche, you stumble into a glittering fantasy of dizzying afterparties and pulsing strobe lights.
Pop 2 is a mixtape; a sprawling collection of scattered pieces. The swaying vocalization of “Tears are rollin’ down my face, now you gotta go, go, go” in “Tears” stands next to the pounding destruction of “Crashed your daddy’s Lamborghini / Charli, baby / Pull up, pull up to the party” in “I Got It.” The spontaneous electronic crash of “Femmebot” stands next to smooth minimalism of “Porsche.” These songs are not cohesive.
Yet, they all seem to exist within the same futuristic fever-dream. Charli XCX’s impossibly pitched, Autotune-slathered voice coats every track with an otherworldly saccharine sheen. Within the twisted, almost extraterrestrial, expanse of Pop 2, Charli XCX offers up a new way to shape the genre.
So the next time you find yourself pushing 100 mph down a dark highway, allow Pop 2 to blast and let Charli XCX turn the empty unknown between flickering street lights into a supernova.
— Shima Sadaghiyani, Daily Music Editor