“Kill the Lights”
Luke Bryan (Capitol Nashville)
On the songs “Fast” and “Way Way Back,” from Luke Bryan’s new album “Kill the Lights,” the perpetually upbeat star takes his first steps toward acknowledging the complexities that come with maturity.
Country music’s reigning entertainer of the year, Bryan fills stadiums with rhythm-driven, good-time songs about partying, friendship, love and the rural lifestyle. He doesn’t divert far from that path on his fifth album: songs like the escapist hit “Kick the Dust Up” and the down-home “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day” could fit on any Bryan collection.
At age 39, however, the Georgia native is expanding his themes and sound, with help from longtime producer Jeff Stevens and his son, Jody Stevens. Bryan loads the album with seductive love songs: “Strip It Down,” ”Love It Gone” and “Home Alone Tonight,” an engaging duet with Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild, all deal with moving an evening from social to sexual. He also tackles disappointment on “Razor Blade” and nostalgia for his youth on “Fast.”
Bryan isn’t taking any big left turns with “Kill the Lights,” but he is showing he can grow in ways that reflect his age and experience.
Beach House (SubPop)
Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally of Beach House are not prolific, and the Baltimore dream-pop duo don’t bother reinventing themselves. Going back to their self-titled 2006 debut, each Beach House album sounds sort of the same, with stately melodies, unhurried rhythms, programmed drums, Scally’s haunting organ lines, and Legrand’s cool, androgynous vocals, which here often recall those of Green Gartside of the brainy 1980s British dance-pop band Scritti Politti.
Following up 2012’s “Bloom” — with a break in between to lead a tribute tour to former Byrd Gene Clark’s 1974 album “No Other” — “Depression Cherry” tweaks that sonic strategy ever so slightly on songs such as the briefly noisy “Sparks.” But mainly it elegantly explores longing, loss, and languor with understated, shimmering elegance and infinite patience. It’s a lushly melancholic record that’s comforting in the beauty of its sadness, all the more so if you brush up against its LP or CD sleeves, which are made of red velvet.
— Dan DeLuca, The Philadelphia Inquirer