Album Reviews: Prince - Welcome 2 America and Bleachers

prince
Welcome 2 America
★★★

When Prince died in 2016, he left a number of unpublished works in his vault (a literal vault seems like a very Prince thing). Welcome 2 America is one such album, a collection of 12 songs that he didn’t even release when he was recorded in 2010 – though he felt the world as a whole couldn’t cope with a powerless, groovy polemic like us deal with endless noodle jazz funk albums is a mystery to me.

Perhaps he wanted it to come to us when we needed it, because hearing it eleven years later certainly seems to foresee. At some points, like the title track, it’s a bit of “ok, boomer” as it shakes its fist over technology in general, but it’s developing into an album that grapples with the plight of African Americans and the violent history that is them in gorgeous, technicolor funk.

Songs to stream: 1000 light years from here, hot summer, one day we will all be B free

Bleach
Take the sadness out of Saturday night
★★★

Although Jack Antonoff has not released an album as Bleachers since 2017, Gone Now, he has in between produced everything to do with music for Taylor Swift, St Vincent, Lorde and Lana Del Rey. Is the man really sleeping? The question arises, did he leave something in the tank for his own project?

Bleachers is at its best when it comes to sturdy walls of sound and big, hearty choruses from the epigastric region, and they’re abundant in the first half of Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night.

If it is a sad recording, it is via osmosis. Every song has a consistent line of misery, including the savage “Stop Making This Hurt”. The throbbing chaos of these fist-pumping tracks slowly dissolves in the second half and it feels like you’re flattering yourself to the current soft-soft era of pop. An uncomfortable coexistence of ecstasy and constructed seriousness.

Songs to stream: Stop Making This Hurt, Don’t Go Dark