30-Second Album Reviews: August 2021

New music from Lorde, Erez Zobary, Clairo, Kevin Drew, Bobby Sessions, Chiiild, Camie, Jungle, Jake Bugg, BROS, Snoh Aalegra, Barenaked Ladies and many more.

Happier Than Ever album cover

Billie Eilish

Happier Than Ever

Genre: Alt-pop
Sound: Scathing lines delivered in silky tones and surprisingly sentimental acoustic serenades play with a tasting platter of sounds from Bossa Nova to punk
If you like: Lorde, Julie London, girl in red
Why you should listen: At just 19 years old, Eilish is already looking back on her early career with the romantic retrospect pop culture reserves for the struggles of old Hollywood starlets—her new blonde bombshell look and retro musical influences match the part as she cuts down selfish exes, power drunk executives and shuts up body shamers. Longstanding Billie fans need not worry—she still tinges the record with her brilliant pop-noir sound.
Best track: Happier Than Ever


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The Occasion album cover


The Occasion

Genre: Art rock
Sound: Campy, cinematic production evokes horror imagery over ’80s-style electronica
If you like: Daft Punk, King Crimson, The Flaming Lips
Why you should listen: Listening to underground alt-rocker Harkness’s latest is like watching the world’s most chaotic movie marathon: every track evokes a specific, hyper-stylized mood, but no song is quite like the last. You have to see it to believe it.
Best track: I.D.


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Road to Redemption album cover

Swisha T

Road to Redemption

Genre: Hip hop
Sound: Modern vibronic hip hop with insightful lyrics that make you think twice
If you like: Futuristic, A$AP Rocky, G-Eazy
Why you should listen: Raised in Ottawa, smooth-rapping Swisha T is driven to make it mainstream with a rigorously crafted album that includes a relentless mix of rhythmic beats that will keep your ears enticed.
Best track: Long Way


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Loving In Stereo album cover


Loving in Stereo

Genre: Electronic
Sounds: Bee Gees-inspired vocals groove with high-energy dance floor beats
If you like: Franc Moody, Tame Impala, Earth, Wind & Fire
Why you should listen: This British electronic duo gives everyone a very good reason to bust out of lockdown wearing disco pants with this 21st-century Saturday Night Fever record.
Best track: Romeo (feat. Bas)


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Terracotta EP album cover

Lex Leosis

Terracotta EP

Genre: Hip hop
Sound: Lyrical hip hop with funky bass and beats
If you like: Missy Elliot, Lauryn Hill, Haviah Mighty
Why you should listen: Toronto-based queer rapper Lex Leosis has been tearing it up on TikTok freestyle challenges. On Terracotta, the former member of female hip hop group The Sorority—which also included Haviah Mighty—steps up with her uplifting, urgent debut.
Best track: Wanted


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Stimulator Jones album cover

Stimulator Jones

Low Budget Environments Striving for Perfection

Genre: Hip hop instrumental
Sound: Lo-fi hip hop with a perfect marriage of record scratches and beats that’s all mood and vibe
If you like: Mndsgn, Knxwledge, S. Fidelity
Why you should listen: Virginia’s Stimulator Jones has made the perfect chillin’ and grillin’ summer album, with old-school hip hop sounds to groove to while you’re hanging out with friends.
Best track: Chill & Sip


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To Bloom album cover

Erez Zobary

To Bloom

Genre: R&B
Sound: Smooth rhythms that fluctuate from soft to rusty edge tones
If you like: Amy Winehouse, Duffy, Joss Stone
Why you should listen: Erez Zobary lets go of her ex on her latest album. The sultry-voiced singer got her first break in 2019 through the Master in Residence program at Calgary’s National Music Centre. Now, she is offering comfort during heartbreak season(s).
Best track: Breath You Out


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Manifest album cover

Bobby Sessions


Genre: Hip hop
Sound: Old-school hip hop with an undertone of funk and jazz
If you like: Jay-Z, J. Cole, Big Sean
Why should listen: Almost every track affirms this Texas-based rapper’s legendary status. Anyone trying to manifest their success should listen to this uplifting album to elevate their vibrations.
Best track: Young Legend


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Solar Power album cover


Solar Power

Genre: Alternative pop
Sound: Pop savant Jack Antonoff supplies summery riffs and vintage callbacks
If you like: MARINA, Rina Sawayama, King Princess
Why you should listen: After a huge last album and an extended absence, anticipation is huge for Lorde’s follow-up—which makes it all the more impressive that she isn’t afraid to break out of that sad-girl mold and put her lyrical and vocal chops to good use.
Best track: Stoned at the Nail Salon


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Aisles EP album cover

Angel Olsen

Aisles EP

Genre: ’80s alt-pop
Sound: Haunting covers twist and turn ’80s classics into something entirely new
If you like: Alphaville, Men Without Hats, The Cure
Why you should listen: A must if you’re already a fan of the songs Olsen puts her spin on, but don’t ignore it if you’re not an ’80s fan: her vocals, art-rock production, and unique creative vision turn old tunes into arresting, unforgettable earworms.
Best track: Forever Young


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Welcome 2 America album cover


Welcome 2 America

Genre: Funk-soul pop
Sound: Lush tracks powered with funky bass and gospel choruses
If you like: Lin Manuel-Miranda, Michael Jackson, Gil Scott-Heron
Why you should listen: This lost album from 2010 is a beyond-the-grave look at America by the musical legend; it’s a time capsule full of social commentary with a musical theatre vibe.
Best track: 1000 Light Years From Here


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Saturday Night, Sunday Morning album cover

Jake Bugg

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning

Genre: Indie rock/pop
Sounds: A unique Bob Dylan-inspired voice muses over guitar-heavy rhythms, punchy drums and beat-keeping claps

If you like: The Kooks, Declan McKenna, Oasis
Why you should listen: British performer Jake Bugg’s simple, ballad-filled debut album was a hit, but he’s struggled since. He’s finally rolling again with this upbeat, about-last-night record made for summer nights running through the streets.
Best track: All I Need


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Influences album cover

Kevin Drew


Genre: Electronic
Sound: Chill, ambient electronica bounces and hums
If you like: Broken Social Scene, KC Accidental, Aphex Twin
Why you should listen: These laid-back atmospheric tracks from Broken Social Scene honcho Kevin Drew convey remarkable storytelling, even without words.
Best track: Dooms Dive


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My City Of Starlings album cover

Charles Spearin

My City Of Starlings

Genre: Avant-garde
Sound: Eclectic, instrumental-driven art rock that spans genres and styles
If you like: Broken Social Scene, Animal Collective, Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Why you should listen: Broken Social Scenster Charles Spearin’s avant-garde album is highly conceptual and combines elements of art rock and electronica with ease. Don’t worry about it going over your head, though—it’s fun to listen to even without reading the artist’s statements.
Best track: Sometimes It Hurts To Be Alive


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Detour de Force album cover

Barenaked Ladies

Detour de Force

Genre: Rock
Sound: Clever, quick-talking rock with a hint of country twang
If you like: Blues Traveler, Third Eye Blind, Hootie and the Blowfish
Why you should listen: Barenaked Ladies became famous for their tongue-in-cheek approach to ’90s rock, and this album will satisfy fans missing that signature slyness.
Best track: New Disaster


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troubadour album cover



Genre: Alt-folk
Sounds: Flourishing strings, spirited acoustic strums and stirring lead vocals escalate to forge soaring sounds
If you like: Hozier, Florence + The Machine, folklore-era Taylor Swift
Why you should listen: Pretty much this generation’s Joni Mitchell, Toronto-based queer artist Camie’s gift for soulful storytelling while building epically lush compositions is enough to give the most dubious of listeners a case of musical frisson.
Best track: Parasite


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Hope for Sale album cover


Hope for Sale

Genre: Alt-pop
Sound: Hypnotizing, impossibly smooth electro-soul
If you like: LOONY, IGOR-era Tyler, the Creator, Tame Impala
Why you should listen: Montreal’s Chiiild’s heavily anticipated release pulls inspiration from the best of Tame Impala, Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye and more to build a mesmerizing, shapeshifting aural experience.
Best track: Gone


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Temporary Highs In The Violet Skies album cover

Snoh Aalegra

Temporary Highs In The Violet Skies

Genre: R&B
Sound: Stripped down R&B with immaculate beat switches and a smidge of hip hop and snare beats
If you like: AlunaGeorge, Sade, SiR
Why you should listen: Swedish-Iranian R&B singer Snoh Aalegra’s fourth release is rich in smooth, compelling production showcasing Aalegra’s soothing vocals.
Best track: Neon Peach (feat. Tyler, The Creator)


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Saga King album cover

John Orpheus

Saga King

Genre: Afrobeat/pop-hip hop
Sound: Celebratory soca sonics, full of joyful vocals, dance on beating percussion and funky guitars
If you like: Burna Boy, Pierre Kwenders, Pon de Replay-era Rihanna
Why you should listen: Hailing from Trinidad and Tobago, the charismatic Orpheus details personal struggles and overcoming them with an infectiously upbeat sound that bursts with catchy hooks and bouncing dancehall rhythms.
Best track: Fela Awoke (I Will Miss You)


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