The Wrap Up: January 2022

Big releases from The Weeknd and FKA twigs kicked off the year with style in an otherwise quiet January.


Welcome back to your monthly album catch up on Either/Or!


For the first time in 2022 we are rounding up all the biggest and best releases from the month gone by with tons of album reviews and a monthly mix of all the sickest tunes.


The first month of the year tends to be a slow one for music releases, and while January 2022 wasn't exactly an exception to the rule, it did feature a number of high profile releases to kick off the year in a big way. Below we've got four of the finest records from January reviewed, as well as a playlist packed full of great tracks from the past month.


And if January's offerings weren't quite enough to whet your musical appetite, we're taking a look ahead to what promises to be one of the biggest months of the year for music in an insanely stacked February. It's all ahead, so let's get stuck in.


 

Old Dead Young - Broken Social Scene


There aren't too many bands who you'd be truly hyped about dropping a B-sides and rarities compilation, but when it comes to Broken Social Scene there's plenty of reason to get excited about unearthing the hidden gems contained within the supergroup's spectacular discography.


BSS have consistently conjured indie rock greatness over the past two decades, and as such Old Dead Young isn't lacking for quality while filling in the gaps all the way from the band's 1999 ambient debut through their scintillating expansion into elder statesmen of alternative rock by the mid 2010s, throughout an hour long set that flows every bit as smoothly as an A-side collection.


It's clear to hear why this instrumentally focused, relatively low-key group of tracks didn't make the cut on their respective studio albums, but the anthemic power and intricate beauty of BSS shines throughout Old Dead Young in its best moments, ensuring that this compilation surpasses the majority of similar throwaway efforts for its cohesion and consistency.


7.0 / B-


Best Tracks: 'Do The 95', 'Canada Vs. America', 'Death Cock'


Listen on Spotify

 

SICK! - Earl Sweatshirt


By his own admission Earl Sweatshirt had an entirely different album envisioned prior to the 2020 lockdown, before the anger and restlessness he witnessed in people throughout the pandemic caused him to "lean into the chaos" while creating SICK!.


The resulting work is a suitably feverish and claustrophobic experience, with the backdrop of our COVID world making for an ideal subject matter for the former Odd Future prodigy to craft his minimalist hip-hop experiments around.


It's been a transition for fans and artist alike since Earl insulated himself even deeper into his singular sound back on Some Rap Songs in 2018, but SICK! is on the easier and more accessible side of Earl's post-Doris output thanks to its dark electro soul beats being offset by a tasteful selection of jazz instrumentation.


All of which is not to even mention the undeniably majestic sound of one of the best flows in the rap game. Sweatshirt is still perfectly capable of creating magic every time he picks up the mic, and while the 27 year old has grown increasingly sparing and shrewd in his musical approach over the past decade, it's no less resonant when Earl drops bars like only he can.


Fluid, calculated and captivating, SICK! is the sound of Earl Sweatshirt on his best form in years.


8.0 / B+


Best Tracks: 'Tabula Rasa (feat. Armand Hammer)', 'Lye', 'Fire In The Hole'


Listen on Spotify

 

CAPRISONGS - FKA twigs


"I'm still that mysterious bitch", FKA twigs spits in the opening seconds of CAPRISONGS, and it's a pretty accurate self assessment - if you'd asked fans of the enigmatic, iconic Tahliah Debrett Bennett to predict what the follow up to 2019's massively acclaimed Magdalene might look like, they could hardly have envisioned this.


Gone is the epic, sweeping electronic balladry that saw twigs capture the minds and hearts of so many over the past decade, replaced with a genre bending set of collaborations that touch on familiar twigs sounds like trip hop, R&B and electronica while also veering into warped takes on grime, dancehall, trap and hyper pop amongst other repurposed mainstream styles.


What sounds like it should be a disjointed affair is brought together by the same instrument that has made twigs a superstar since day one - her angelic vocal abilities, which reign supreme across this free flowing, wildly fun 48 minutes.


While CAPRISONGS may rightly be accused of lacking the profundity of albums LP1 and Magdalene, that would be missing the point of this pointedly billed mixtape. Twigs isn't searching for absolution here or exploring the depths of human nature and relationships - she's just flexing her chameleonic chops on one of the best party albums you're going to hear this year, and the result is an infectious, euphoric and always engaging celebration of the trailblazer in its director's chair.


8.0 / B+


Best Tracks: 'ride the dragon', 'meta angel', 'oh my love'


Listen on Spotify

 

Dawn FM - The Weeknd


The first blockbuster release of 2022 arrives in the form of Dawn FM, as Abel Tesfaye takes an eerie trip back to the eighties through the portal of a psychedelic radio station on The Weeknd's sixth studio album.


Brought to life in no small part thanks to sinister host Jim Carrey (an inspired piece of casting on Tesfaye's part) and co-producer Daniel Lopatin AKA Oneohtrix Point Never, Dawn FM acts as a kind of sequel to 2019s After Hours, with themes of isolation, betrayal and lust all playing out to a slickly produced set of vaporwave and neo-soul ballads.


These 16 tracks and 51 minutes are smoothly layered with a classic disco aesthetic that feels more than a little indebted to Random Access Memories and the legendary Daft Punk as a whole, (sometimes pointedly so, as with the 'Giorgio By Moroder' copy and paste of 'A Tale By Quincy') whom Tesfaye has obviously taken notes from in recent years after another inspired collaborative choice for Starboy back in 2016.


Musically speaking, Dawn FM hits all the notes you've come to expect from Weeknd by this point, with a well produced set of surefire hits to follow the chart topping behemoth of After Hours and rack up yet more streaming records for the Canadian superstar, yet the soul searching emotion that informs Tesfaye's best work is lacking on Dawn FM, a record that never quite manages to reach the depth of its predecessor, and instead favors an admittedly intriguing yet less satisfying adventure in some sort of sci fi dystopian limbo.


Ultimately there's a lot to enjoy in Dawn FM's concept and execution, so while it may be a long way from the holy grail of Trilogy or even a later career highlight like After Hours, Weeknd's sixth studio album has to be commended for embracing a stranger side to Tesfaye while playing the hits.


7.5 / B


Best Tracks: 'Sacrifice', 'Out Of Time', 'Here We Go...Again (feat. Tyler, The Creator)'


Listen on Spotify

 

Either/Or's January 2022 Mix




The 18 best tracks of January, curated by yours truly for your aural pleasure.


Fontaines DC - Jackie Down The Line

Broken Social Scene - Do The 95

The Smile - You Will Never Work In Television Again

Parquet Courts - Watching Strangers Smile

Gang of Youths - in the wake of your leave

Big Thief - Simulation Swarm

Father John Misty - Funny Girl

Black Country, New Road - Snow Globes

Pavement - Be The Hook

Beach House - Only You Know

Mitski - Love Me More

Charli XCX - Beg For You (feat. Rina Sawayama)

The Weeknd - Out Of Time

Earl Sweatshirt - Lye

FKA twigs - ride the dragon

Grimes - Shinigami Eyes

Let's Eat Grandma - Happy New Year

Japanese Breakfast - Nobody Sees Me Like You Do


 

February's Most Anticipated Releases



04/02


Animal Collective - Time Skiffs

Black Country, New Road - Ants From Up There

Mitski - Laurel Hell


11/02


Big Thief - Dragon New Warm Mountain, I Believe In You

Eddie Vedder - Earthling


18/02


And So I Watch You From Afar - Jettison

Beach House - Once Twice Melody


22/02


Kanye West - Donda 2


25/02


Gang Of Youths - angel in realtime.

 

For reviews of the above and much more this February, subscribe and follow Either/Or on Instagram and Twitter! Thanks for reading.

166 views