Monday, 11 November 2013

Lady Gaga - ARTPOP

There are so many good names you can make out of Lady Gaga's album title, ARTPOP. CHARTPOP and CHARTTOP if you're a little monster for instance. Alternatively there's CHARTFLOP, ARTFLOP, FARTPOP, SHARTPOP and ARTPOOP if you're hoping to see Rocket Number 9 blast Gaga off to Venus for good. She must be aware of these incredible names, right?

ARTPOP which the star began recording straight after releasing 2011s Born This Way appears to be Gaga's most piercing body of work so far. While the last album sank comfortably under your skin, ARTPOP tries to sock you in the face time and time again. A number of previously performed or referenced tracks, such as 'Princess Die' and 'Ratchet', (which allegedly featured a verse from motor-mouth MC, Azealia Banks) didn't end up making the cut. Luckily it's to no avail, as the 15-strong set is busting with beats which make the album sound as busy as the album cover looks. A more fitting name probably would've been ArtEDM, as you can clearly hear it's wompy synth influences dominating almost every song.

Although the star commented that her favourite track on the album was ever changing, it currently stood at the trap-laced banger, 'Jewels n' Drugs'. It's easy to hear why, as it sounds nothing like the rest of the album. Assisted by rappers T.I, Too Short and Twista, Gaga tells her man that she's neither interested in his money or jewels - just his love and his drugs.

Love and drugs appear to be two cornerstones within ARTPOP, coming into play throughout the album, most prominently on its lone ballad, 'Dope'. While she may scream and sound as if she's on the edge of tears for the duration of the song ("I'll keep searching for an answer cause I need you more than dope") she manages to keep it together for the rest of the LP. The S&M dungeon sounding 'Sexxx Dreams' and the triple genre 'Manicure' have been favourites since they debuted at the iTunes Festival back in September. We also get reacquainted with Gaga's other other love, fashion on 'Donatella' and the appropriately titled, 'Fashion!'. Sadly, there's no need for both of these. Most songs about fashion and fashion culture in general end up sounding too similar, as there ain't too many (Fifth) avenues you can travel down lyrically. 

Closing the same way the current wave started, the lead single 'Applause' ironically doubles as a fitting curtain closer. It's almost as if we came full circle around that giant orb/thing in between her legs up there. If you're big on the sounds of DJ White Shadow, Zedd and even David Guetta, this is definitely for you. If you like none of the above OR Gaga herself, it's obvious you should steer clear. 

But for me, there's not a single Fartpop in sight. 

Key Tracks: G.U.Y, Sexxx Dreams, Jewels N' Drugs


Saturday, 2 November 2013

Thor: The Dark World (Film)

Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Christopher Eccleston,  Idris Elba, Kat Dennings, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgaard, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

At long last. Although it feels like a lifetime has passed since the God of Thunder's original outing, it's been a mere two years. Crazy that. I'm also pretty sure I'm one of about 17 people that feels that way, as 2011's Thor seems to be the most underrated adaptation taken on by the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far.

Although the first instalment managed to gross almost $450 million and achieve a 77% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, for some reason, the character still hasn't been able to resonate with viewers the way say, Iron Man, Hulk and maybe even Captain America have. But fear not Thor fans, as that's sure to change after one viewing of Thor: The Dark World.

The film picks up after the events of The Avengers, with Thor comfortably back home in Asgard, and Jane, Selvig and Darcy (Portman, Skarsgaard and Dennings respectively) taking residency in London. Doing their sciencey stuff or whatever. Our hero is brought back to our world after Jane is possessed by the Aether – an omniscient force sought after by the dark elf, Malekith (Ecclestone) who wants to inhabit the Aether for himself . Thor is forced to band with adopted brother and current outlaw Loki (Hiddelston) to free Jane, crush Malekith and keep Asgard in check. Easy.  

Kenneth Brannagh's out and Game of Thrones director, Alan Taylor's in. So in. Taylor's used his days on Thrones to his full advantage, as Asgard has never gleamed with such prestige. The battle scenes do bite from Lord of the Rings in part, but that’s to be expected. Mother Frigga (Rene Russo), Jane and the other earthlings are utilised much more than in the previous instalment, while screenwriters Christopher Yost, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have paid special attention to how much Loki is adored in the real world, without overdoing it. 

Alas, The Dark World is not without it's problems, as a few pivotal plot points are almost blink-and-you'll-miss-it fast while The Warriors Three might as well have been left out completely. Oh, and it may be a bit too Star Wars-y for it's own good. Other than that, the film is a strong yet emotionally raw addition to the franchise, and features many more surprises and teasers of what the Marvel team have in store over the next couple of years.

Hopefully we'll get another sequel.