ALBUM REVIEW: Bad Bunny, Let's Eat Grandma & Flume [POP TRIPLE FEATURE]
Bad Bunny, Un Verano Sin Ti
Este es el mundo de Bad Bunny, solo estamos viviendo en él (This is Bad Bunny’s world, we’re just living in it.) Like most Americans, I’ve been a fan of his particular style since 2020, when he ruled the pandemic era with his extremely fun second album YHLQMDLG. Since then, he has found massive success inside and outside of the record industry, securing not just one but two major motion picture deals. Many lesser artists would wane their musical abilities in order to fit this new packed schedule, but not Bad Bunny. After smashing the charts with El Último Tour Del Mundo, he has re-emerged with more artistically sound reggaeton, salsa, afrobeat, acoustic trap and more on Un Verano Sin Ti (A Summer Without You). The title delivers on its promise big time, maybe a bit too much. With an hour and 20 minutes of new material, hardcore fans will be set for a long time while casuals like me may be a bit intimidated.
As I said in my Ethel Cain review, I am definitely ready for a long album. With that being said, I think there are a few tracks that could’ve been relegated to a deluxe. What holds it all together are the seagull and wave sound effects found on some of my favorite cuts like “Ensename a Bailar” and its follow up duet with Bomba Estereo “Ojitos Lindos”, as well as the general nods towards summertime and breakups. Unlike the recent Kali Uchis or Rosalía records, there is not a whole lot of substance to dig into lyrically. The sooner the listener accepts that this is a banging summer album similar to Post Malone’s Beerbongs and Bentleys, the quicker it starts to stand out in its own regard. The opener “Moscow Mule” and especially it’s follow up “Después de la Playa” continue to innovate on a production end while Bad Bunny ups his game performance wise. On the latter track, he is on fire, making for one of the best songs of 2022 hands down. “Yo No Soy Celoso” sees him delving into bossanova while singing about heartbreak and jealousy, while “Me Fui de Vacaciones” goes full dub to praise Puerto Rico and the Carribean in general. If you’re looking for an album to listen to on a boat with some baddies, this is it right here. Love this shit, Bad Bunny is the man.
Let's Eat Grandma, Two Ribbons
It’s been four years since we've heard a new record from the acclaimed UK duo Let’s Eat Grandma (wild name), and a lot has changed since then. For starters, the eternal G.O.A.T. of new electronic music SOPHIE, who was a major co-signer of them, tragically passed in early 2021. Her contributions to “Hot Pink” and “It’s Not Just Me” were essential to their sound at the time, and her absence is definitely felt on this new record of theirs, Two Ribbons. Secondly, the group has undergone some changes to their sound, for better and worse. Art pop and PC Music stylization is pretty much out the window in favor of pure synth pop and adult contemporary. While I enjoy the switch ups all around for the most part, I must say that cutting some of the glitz and oddness has definitely muted out the overall sound.
There is a heavy Chvrches influence that bleeds through on cuts like “Levitation” and “Sunday” that I actually like quite a bit, it reminds me of when that group knew their sound a bit more than they do now. Whether through ‘80s nostalgia or girlish vocal presence, Chvrches influence definitely looms heavily. Another major influence, especially in the first half, are vintage electronic groups like New Order and even Kraftwerk. I really enjoy the jubilant analogue stylings of “Hall of Mirrors” and “Watching You Go”. My favorite tracks, however, are the ones that diverge from the formula, like the firework show on “Happy New Year” or the Everything But The Girl adjacent “Sunday”. While nothing here is truly bad, these two tracks should’ve been the blueprint, because they are some of my all-time faves from the duo. Overall, I enjoy the double-faced style of electro and acoustic split in half by the interlude “Half Light”, although I think the pair could’ve crafted a more idiosyncratic sound with the ingredients here.
Eh. Fun. Some good tracks with Virgen Maria, Caroline Polachek and Kučka. Good fodder for a wild glitchy DJ set. Not much in terms of improvement or stylistic changes from Flume since his last record. Cool while it’s on, forgotten when it’s off.