New music critiques: Lianne La Havas appears to be like at love as bittersweet; Psychedelic Furs return with familiarity



Lianne La Havas, “Lianne La Havas” (Nonesuch)

It makes sense that her third album is eponymous because it’s the Londoner’s most confident disc, and the first that she asserted complete control over.

As confessional songwriters go, La Havas, 30, has always been nonlinear, with a circular style that draws the listener in with a taste for syncopation that hints at Joni Mitchell, and Brazilian tropicalia as well as old-school R&B. Here, she crafts a song cycle about heartache, with a narrative arc that begins with fresh possibilities and blossoms with joy before initial infatuation fades and frustration and disappointment settles in. The promise of “Read My Mind” leads to the empathy of “Paper Thin,” but eventually gives way to the plea of “Please Don’t Make Me Cry.”

The story doubles back on itself, with the song cycle beginning and ending with two versions of a song that could have served as an album title: “Bittersweet.” That word aptly describes La Havas’ music.

dan deluca, Philadelphia Inquirer

Psychedelic Furs, “Made of Rain” (Cooking Vinyl)

Twenty-nine years is a long time between drinks, and yet it seems as if no time or trend has passed between the last Psychedelic Furs album, 1991’s “World Outside,” and their dreamy new disc. The tense charm that made the Furs great then — in the hits “Pretty in Pink” and “Love My Way” — is still with them, even in the heaviest moments here.

As they have since their start, brothers Richard and Tim Butler and crew craft a spidery, Bowie-like web filled with raspy vocals, hypnotic saxophones, rangy guitars and Richard’s drearily romantic lyrics. Sometimes the effect is acidic and psychedelic (“Come All Ye Faithful’), sometimes icily epic (“Ash Wednesday”) and sometimes gracefully folksy (“Wrong Train”).

For all the familiarity, there’s invention, too, in “The Boy Who Invented Rock & Roll.” It’s an oddly hacking cough filled with wonky sax, distorted guitars and Richard Butler at his most vexingly poetic.

A.D. amorosi, Philadelphia Inquirer

New Releases

• Luke Bryan, “Born Here Live Here Die Here”

• Glass Animals, “Dreamland”

• Cory Wong, “Trail Songs: Dawn”

• Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Dirt and Stars”

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