New Releases: Phoenix, Rob Zombie, Snoop Lion
Every Tuesday, Dan Weiss runs down the week’s new full-length music releases, from charting hits to more obscure depths, the underrated and the overrated, from a critical pop fan’s perspective.
The title tune contains all the paradoxes you need to know: an exclamation point signifying excitement about bankruptcy, a long flute-into-synth intro for five minutes you’ll remember to a song you won’t. People like them for sure, but no one knows why they’re famous, not even them. Trendily, they make like an ’80s retro act with Linndrum and Japanese scales. Daringly, they pretend to be a rock band who occasionally indulges a minor key passage. If only this weird band was weird enough. If only this pop band was pop enough.
Or as Eminem once put it, “vile venomous volatile bitches vain vicodin vin VIN VIIIINNNN.” You’d have to be an expert to assess whether this is Zombie’s most palatable album—or do you? Those who last remember The Sinister Urge and its deathless industrial formulas-as-hooks i.e. “Never gonna stop/ MEEEE/ Never gonna stop/ MEEEEE” will breathe relief at the good snotty humor and inoffensive crunch of titles like “Teenage Nosferatu P****.” No surprises here, unless horror-schtick moving into classic-rock territory counts, with some impressive Zakk Wylde-style fretwork and plenty of Hammond organ solos, all coming to a shrunken head on the Grand Funk Railroad cover. For what it is, reliable.
There’s no reason to care about new Snoop unless it’s a novelty as interesting as “Drop It Like It’s Hot” or his Willie Nelson duets (yup, there’s more than one!), but a reggae album and film plus name-change and Rastafari conversion takes the hash-laced cake. If you’d love to know how a crip still flashing his colors on 2006’s Blue Carpet Treatment has arrived at “No Guns Allowed” here, you won’t find out from the Miley Cyrus duet. The rise of nonviolent “Guns” partner Drake might have something to do with it, and the inclusion of his wife and daughter is genuinely touching. But the sample from indie-troubadour Beirut is purely his producers in Major Lazer’s engineering, and it’s hard to hear the sincerity in the overtly anonymous music. Maybe he saved the insights for the movie.