Peaches–I Feel Cream
Who said getting older meant a lower libido? At 40, Peaches’s is inflated to the point of being one balloon away from a kid’s birthday party. I Feel Cream, the Toronto singer’s pleasuring fifth disc (and that’s meant in every way imaginable) and follow-up to 2006’s equally suggestive Impeach My Bush, is a gnarly showcase swathed in her sassy swagger, distorted electronica and sexual ooh-ahs. But that coitus craving isn’t always bathhouse-dirty; lyrics are met with a cheekiness–“Never go to bed without a piece of raw meat”–that inspire giggles over bed bumping. If anything’s hot, it’s the hooks, lingering like the smell of sex. Two of the catchiest: “Talk to Me,” a shouty wailer that dips in disco, and “Show Stopper,” which elicits images of Britney Spears’ hooha-flash with its “panty-dropper” reference. And for all the bang-talk and bad-girl boasting, “Lose You,” a breathy-voiced melancholy lament, is like watching an R-rated movie with a Miley Cyrus cameo; it’s jarring, especially after tracks that live on their attitude. It’s also refreshingly vulnerable. And, like the entire disc, damn good.
Chase Pagan–Bells & Whistles
Chase Pagan’s vox is a hip-and-happening old woman who thinks gaudy accessories make her look younger. The Arkansas native is Bon Iver–folk’s latest champ–on acid and estrogen. And his sophomore disc makes for a similarly kooky follow up to Oh, Musica! that bridges folk and cabaret that’s only listenable once you’ve learned to tolerate his frilly voice (strangely, it sounds similar to the way people talk to toddlers). After cozying up to it–to some, an impossible feat–shifting attention to the character-focused lyrics, like those on twangy gender-commentary “Don’t Be Gay (Working Title),” and some dainty melodies is somewhat easier. The best ditties actually avoid the, uh, bells and whistles (unlike “Gun and the Sword” … ugh) and balance Pagan’s tendency for over-embellishment with laid-back production. “The Lonely Life,” a country foot-stomper, accomplishes that, as does much of the last half, like the basic piano-led beaut “Train-a-Coming.” It’s the rest that’s more annoying than fingernails against a chalkboard. (Out June 9)
Utada–This is The One
Screw being original: The Japanese warbler went to the hip-hop gods to give her experimental sound a mainstream make-over. The end-result on her second LP is about as predictable as watching re-runs of The Golden Girls–meaning, you know these urban beats like Rose’s St. Olaf stories. Hit-machines Stargate and “Tricky” Stewart mold them–“On and On” is a fun blender-made club grinder, but “Taking My Money Back” would’ve worked better in the hands of Mary J. Blige. All of it’s pretty listenable. Just safer than abstinence.
Melody Gardot–My One and Only Thrill
Melody Gardot shouldn’t be making music; she nearly died at 19 after a car hit her while she was riding her bike. She’s lucky. And so are we. The Philly singer’s smoky, nuanced voice belies her 23 years, and on her sophomore jazz/blues CD–much of it written by her–she lathers on the strings on a slew of solid whimsical winners, like “Baby I’m a Fool” and the title track. Latin rhythms are infused during a few tracks, too, like an up-tempo “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Love’s the central theme here – and there’s little doubt you won’t fall in it.
The High Strung–Ode to the Inverse of the Dude
One of the best cuts on this indie-rock trio’s fourth disc, “The Lifestyle that Got Away,” exerts a pop bounce that’s more infectious than the swine flu. The curious title is as appealing, and to inquisitive minds: It’s about nasally-voiced singer/songwriter Josh Malerman questioning his sexuality as a teenager. The rest is sorta gay, too. Happy gay. Guitar-built rock melodies get monotonous, but “I Got Your Back,” a cute laid-back charmer that’ll win over Juno fans, leaves big smiles. The whole disc is almost as good.
Chris Azzopardi’s “lifestyle” never got away. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.