Album reviews: Prince - Welcome 2 America and LUMP - Animal

Prince – Welcome 2 America

★★★ ☆☆

The idea of ​​opening Prince’s famous Purple Vault under his Minneapolis studio to unlock the 8,000 unreleased tracks inside has long threatened to be Pandora’s box more than Tutankhamun’s tomb. After seeing its imperial phase give way to a post-millennium period littered with new age jams and quasi-spiritual concept records, I can say the prospect of that first fully excavated album – recorded and mothballed in 2010 – to explore the allure of a Paris canal cruise.

For three tracks with deep ambient funk (the title track), lounge jazz (“Running Game [Son of a Slave Master]”) And tired orchestral soul (” Born 2 Die “) meet all the low expectations of the late descendants of the funk-pop legend. Their redeeming mark is a rich political and social seam. Racism, Poverty, Online Misinformation, iPhone Addiction, Sex Tapes, Surveillance Culture, and Politicians Lying Upward; When background singers take on the heavy melodic lift, Prince puts some weighty – and more and more relevant a decade later – records of truth in the background.

Then he rediscovers his imaginative peak-time vigor and Welcome 2 America becomes an unexpected blast. The bursting “1000 light years from here” presents a distant science fiction utopia of “good life” and “freedom” in stark contrast to earthly injustices; “Same Page, Different Book” insults warfare in crunchy funk raps just a block or two away from his 1988 hit “Alphabet Street”. Power pop merges with tropical ska (“Hot Summer”), funk metal merges into driving soul pop (“Yes”) and closes with a sunny emancipation groove “One Day We Will All B Free” with a touch of Toller Reset: “One wonders who controls the nations if we never have peace”. The vault, it seems, actually contains diamonds and pearls. MB

Lump – animal

★★★ ☆☆

A second LUMP album was not planned. The duo – consisting of Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay (from Folktronica group Tunng) – was initially billed as a one-off project that culminated in a celebrated album of the same name in 2018. But now, three years later, we have Animal, a continuation of her fancy, cinematic and expansive sound – or as LUMP describes it, “half cute, half dark and creepy”.

The genesis of LUMP – which Lindsay and Marling met at the bowling alley at an aftershow by Neil Young, where he promised her to deliver her “weird, shaky” instrumentals – feels like an album that dodges and races, goes and then sprints away, appropriately unconventional on from protocol. Several tracks have a break point in the middle where a lonely guitar solo, an unidentifiable screech or something hyperventilating like someone signals a gear change within the songs themselves. Between the piano-led dream landscape of “Red Snakes”, the shimmering electronica of “Bloom at Night” and the poppy “We Cannot Resist”, Animal feels restless until its six and a half minute end. who reads the credits of the album.

“Paradise” is the highlight. This eerie, pulsating track overlays instrumentals and weighs them down like a rock falling to the ocean floor before splintering like water spurting out of a geyser into a theatrical, eruptive finale.

It’s rare that an artist can operate in a completely alternate universe, and that is exactly what this part-time collaboration enables Marling to do. For this reason alone, LUMP will always be interesting. It also helps that the music is actually pretty good too. ON