• Lover

    Lover

    Swift, Taylor

    Taylor Swift sings "If I was a man, I'd be The Man" on a song that arrives just as Lover, her seventh studio album, starts to get underway. It's not bragging if it's true. Perhaps 2017's Reputation didn't dominate the popular consciousness the way her 2014 pop breakthrough 1989 did, but that was partially by design. Hard and steely, Reputation announced the arrival of an adult Taylor -- a conscious maturation that didn't bother disguising its seams. Lover, in contrast, is a bit messier, almost defiantly so. Swift retains Jack Antonoff -- the former fun. captain who has been at her side since 2014's 1989 -- as her chief collaborator, and while the duo remains besotted by the chillier aspects of late '80s synth pop, not everything here plays like a sleek, sexy update on T'Pau. Certainly, "The Archer" basks within the glow of its retro analog synths, dredging up memories of both "Out of the Woods" and "Heart and Soul," yet its iciness isn't the primary color on Lover. Swift does return to this glassiness on occasion, warming its chill on the mini-epic "Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince," but Lover is bright, lively, and openhearted, encompassing a full range of human emotion. Happily, this includes a hefty dose of silliness: never mind the effervescence of "Paper Rings," the closest thing to pure bubblegum Taylor has ever recorded, the inclusion of a spoken introduction from Idris Elba on "London Boy" is giddily goofy. Swift smartly balances these pieces of pure pop with songs that tap into a deep reservoir of complex feelings. Listen closely to "The Man," and it becomes clear the song is neither a boast nor a manifesto but rather a bit of clear-eyed anger at institutional sexism. "The Man" isn't the only place where Swift tackles political issues. On "You Need to Calm Down," she offers an anthem for allies, writing a manifesto that is perhaps a bit too on the nose, but that directness can be an asset. Witness "Soon You'll Get Better," a quivering and candid prayer for healing where she's assisted by the Dixie Chicks; her pleas for her ailing loved one to get better are all the more affecting by being affectless. Swiftian scholars could argue "Soon You'll Get Better" is written for her mother, just like "I Forgot That You Existed" is a riposte against some unnamed online critic, but decoding the inspirations behind Lover diminishes an album so generous and colorful. More than either 1989 or Reputation, Lover seems fully realized and mature: Swift is embracing all aspects of her personality, from the hopeful dreamer to the coolly controlled craftsman, resulting in a record that's simultaneously familiar and surprising. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine (syndetics)

    Format: Music CD - 2019

    Holds: 191 on 35 copies

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  • NFR!

    NFR!

    Del Rey, Lana

    With the creation of her Lana Del Rey persona, singer/songwriter Lizzy Grant stitched together the iconography of a fading American dream with soaring but melancholic pop songwriting, becoming an icon unto herself in the process. Her distinctive approach blurred sadness and longing just as it did past and present, drawing on the influence of classic American pop while integrating modernized touches like trap beats and millennial cultural references. With sixth album NFR! (or Norman Fucking Rockwell for the adult set), Lana Del Rey expands her vision with the most daring and vulnerable work of her catalog. One of the first noticeable shifts is how subtle the album's sound is. Where 2017's Lust for Life had its share of huge drums and booming dynamics, many songs here are free of drums completely and tend towards far more solitary atmospheres. A strong classic rock influence comes through on many songs, with the softly building pianos and acoustic guitars on tracks like "Mariners Apartment Complex" or the apocalyptic "The Greatest" sounding like the best of '70s FM radio reworked around Grant's smoldering, exhausted vocals. Even though Stevie Nicks' witchy mystique has long been a reference point for LDR, this particular brand of classic rock -- silky guitar solos, compressed drum fills, and lingering, mournful outros -- is unlike anything she's attempted before. The most exciting aspects of NFR! come in these unexpected moments. A faithful reading of Sublime's "Doin' Time" contorts to fit Grant's moody approach, becoming an extension of her own expression rather than a goofy, ironic cover. Where huge pop hooks met eerie melodrama on previous albums, here both extremities of that formula have grown more understated and direct. "Venice Bitch" is the best example of this. The nine-minute song begins with gentle strings and soft, hopeful melodies but winds into a long, meditative stretch where synth textures and hypnotic repeating vocals bleed into walls of noisy guitars. While much of her older material reveled in its own inconsolable sadness and detached numbness, the lush sonics and intimate narratives of NFR! draw out hope from beneath desolate scenes. The patient flow, risky songwriting choices, and mature character of the album make it the most majestic chapter of Lana Del Rey's continuing saga of love and disillusionment under the California Sun. ~ Fred Thomas (syndetics)

    Format: Music CD - 2019

    Holds: 139 on 25 copies

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  • THE HIGHWOMEN (CD)

    THE HIGHWOMEN (CD)

    Highwomen (Musical Group)

    The Highwomen are a new, highly anticipated, collaborative movement formed by Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris, and Amanda Shires. Their debut album includes the single Redesigning Women.

    Format: Music CD - 2019

    Holds: 131 on 24 copies

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  • I, I

    I, I

    Bon Iver (Musical group)

    After the fractured electronic textures of Bon Iver's 2016 album 22, A Million successfully took the project to the outer limits of where their sound could go, Justin Vernon pulled back from the edges of the avant-garde for something more familiar and less jaggedly experimental on 2019's I,I. With the help of a skilled cast of musicians robust enough to field five baseball teams and then some, Vernon uses every color in his paint box in crafting a record that takes in all the elements of past records and swirls them into something somber, expressive, intimate, and expansive all at the same time. The songs are built on convoluted rhythms and subtle washes of synths with stabs of horns and massed vocals surrounding Vernon's tortured wail and mumbled ramblings. Some of the tracks lean more in the direction of the small-scale electronic explorations of 22, A Million, with Vernon zeroing in on a tender feeling and transmitting it faithfully. Featuring the smooth vocals of Velvet Negroni, "iMi" is late-night R&B twisted into a heartbreaking knot, and "Marion" is an expanded take on the backwoods sound of early Bon Iver, with gentle strings caressing the melody. These quiet, intricate arrangements provide the perfect backing for Vernon's poetic lyrics and restrained vocals. ~ Tim Sendra (syndetics)

    Format: Music CD - 2019

    Holds: 113 on 22 copies

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  • The Center Won't Hold

    The Center Won't Hold

    Sleater-Kinney (Musical group)

    Weeks before the release of The Center Won't Hold, Janet Weiss left Sleater-Kinney -- a departure that clouded the record's reception, suggesting that the drummer perhaps wasn't happy with the trio's decision to collaborate with producer St. Vincent on the 2019 LP. Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker countered this perception by insisting it was Weiss' idea to work with St. Vincent, and the fact that the drummer is hardly buried in the mix suggests there may be no animosity among the various camps. Still, with Weiss' absence, the very title The Center Won't Hold seems prescient for the future of Sleater-Kinney, but it's also true the album is designed to suggest that the world is unmoored. In the age of Trump and Brexit, such a notion isn't far-fetched, and Brownstein and Tucker frequently allude to the roiling political tensions of the late 2010s, but they spend just as much of the record lamenting personal dissociation -- the alienation that arrives when too much time is spent time staring into tiny screens. To that end, teaming with St. Vincent is a bit of a conceptual masterstroke. Annie Clark encourages Sleater-Kinney to approach their songs from a sideways angle and dress the arrangements in retro synths; they're adding explicit post-punk artiness to their punk roar. Coming on the heels of the galvanizing guitar rock of No Cities to Love, this shift in direction is especially bracing, particularly when combined with the apocalyptic undercurrents of the lyrics. Some of these words may be a bit on the nose, but when heard as part of a web of retro synths, echoey guitars, and tightly controlled rhythms, the effect is powerful: it's an album that forces the listener to abandon nostalgia and accept that things are different now. It's not a comforting notion, and it's one that may sit awkwardly for listeners who prize raw guitars over refined aesthetic, but The Center Won't Hold demonstrates what a fearless band Sleater-Kinney is. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine (syndetics)

    Format: Music CD - 2019

    Holds: 109 on 24 copies

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  • III (CD)

    III (CD)

    Lumineers (Musical group)

    Two-time Grammy-nominated band, The Lumineers, are back with their third album, a cinematic piece presented as a narrative in three chapters, with each one centering on one main character. Decidedly darker than their previous work in concept, but replete with their trademark expressive vocals and dynamic arrangements, it boldly and expertly goes in an artistic direction not yet traveled by the band.

    Format: Music CD - 2019

    Holds: 109 on 18 copies

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  • THE TESTAMENTS (CD)

    THE TESTAMENTS (CD)

    Atwood, Margaret

    In this brilliant sequel to The Handmaid's Tale, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood answers the question that has tantalized readers for decades: What happens to Offred? When the van door slammed on Offred's future at the end of The Handmaid's Tale, readers had no way of telling what lay ahead for her. Margaret Atwood's sequel picks up the story fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, with the explosive testaments of three female narrators from Gilead.

    Format: Audiobook CD - 2019

    Holds: 105 on 23 copies

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  • Anima

    Anima

    Yorke, Thom

    Radiohead's Thom Yorke follows up his work on the Suspiria soundtrack with a new solo album, which sees him working with frequent producer and collaborator Nigel Godrich. (syndetics)

    Format: Music CD - 2019

    Holds: 104 on 22 copies

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  • Talking to Strangers: [what We Should Know About the People We Don't Know]

    Talking to Strangers: [what We Should Know About the People We Don't Know]

    Gladwell, Malcolm

    The popular podcast host and author explores how people interact with strangers and why these exchanges often go wrong, offering strategic tips for more accurate and productive interactions.

    Format: Audiobook CD - 2019

    Holds: 101 on 16 copies

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  • ODE TO JOY (CD)

    ODE TO JOY (CD)

    Wilco (Musical group)

    The eleventh studio album from the pioneering Chicago rock band Wilco features eleven new songs written and produced by Jeff Tweedy and recorded by Wilco at the bands' own Chicago studio dubbed The Loft. (9/22/2019 3:31:44 PM)

    Format: Music CD - 2019

    Holds: 96 on 16 copies

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