With October coming to a close and the festive season drawing near, our writers take a look back at the records they’ve been loving this past month.
Dodie – Build A Problem
Dodie’s full-length debut is a lot better than it has right to be. Developing the cutesy ukulele and loose-change singer-songwriter material from previous releases, Build A Problem sounds, in all, more cryptic and baroque, packed with layered string arrangements and instrumental interludes. Her roots are still here — most songs feature a gentle guitalele and lyrics that are confessional — but more sensual subject matter and consistent sonics tie the record together in a way more mature than her EPs.
After not leaving an impact back in May, Build A Problem is a debut I’ve come to enjoy, in rotation after a tight live show in September (particularly the full band’s very pretty rendition of ‘Sorry’). One of its best qualities is its being an album for headphones; Dodie practically whispers her lyrics and producer Joel Rubel understates the instrumentals as much as possible — it’s not one to spin on your phone speaker and is more tender for it. I like the second half of the record in particular; ‘Rainbow’ through to ‘When’ threading a touching leg of songs. It’s exciting to think what Dodie might do next after such a well-realised first effort.
Build A Problem was released via doddleoddle. Watch the video for ‘Hate Myself’ below:
Matilda Mann – Sonder
After seeing Matilda Mann live as a support artist for Dodie, I was instantly enamoured with her. Stripped back, mellow, a soaring voice, and a timid but welcoming stage presence made me intrigued by all her music. It just so happened that Mann was releasing her next EP, Sonder, the very same night I saw her. Comprised with the delightfully melancholy ‘Doomsday’ or the subtle smartness of ‘My Point of You’ to name a couple of songs, Sonder exemplified everything I loved about her performance and simply gave me more of what I wanted. Granted, Sonder marks a more mature development of her sound that the rest of discography doesn’t quite live up to, but Mann produces music that simply is a “mood”. It gave me the same chilled vibes tainted with a hint of sadness that I received the first time I listened to Phoebe Bridgers – and that’s not a comparison I take lightly. Seriously, every song of Mann’s is something not to be trifled with, and I have no shame listening to Sonder on constant repeat.
Sonder was released via Arista Records. Watch the video for ‘Glass Ceiling’ below:
Marina – Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land
It seems to be a running trend for me that my 2021 listening habits are consumed with catching up with everything I’d overlooked in the previous 18 months. And how did a Marina album pass by my knowledge? Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land, and its titular single in particular, brings about the same feelings that I had listening to ‘Froot’ and ‘Savages’ for the first time.
Ancient Dreams has that classic touch of Marina, but with a new revitalised sound for 2021. ‘Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land’ is just something to sink your teeth into and enjoy – love the visuals, try and find meaning, whatever floats your boat. It’s a bop, and like the rest of the album, full of meaning; telling listeners to go and find what makes you unique, fight for something you love, and most importantly know that you are as powerful as ‘the eye of [a]storm’.
Ancient Dreams In A Modern Land was released via Atlantic Records. Watch the video for the title track below:
Lil Nas X – Montero
Lil Nas X‘s debut album is nothing short of revolutionary. The eclectic mix of pop and hip-hop, catchy songwriting and host of features on the record make for an incredibly diverse and captivating album that you won’t be able to stop listening to.
It is no secret that Nas X is capable of making chart-topping, memorable tracks – his breakout single ‘Old Town Road’ became certified diamond after spending 19 weeks at the top of the US Billboard Top 100 chart, becoming the longest-running number-one song since the chart began – yet Montero shows us that he is more than just a one-hit wonder. On tracks like ‘INDUSTRY BABY’, featuring Jack Harlow, Nas X displays his talent for upbeat earworms that combine multiple musical influences as well as witty lyricism; on other, slower, tracks like ‘LOST IN THE CITADEL’ we see a more vulnerable side to the artist that makes the record much more emotionally charged than it might appear at first look. It is this split between introspection and pride that makes Montero a fascinating listen, and shows a clear superstar in the making.
Montero was released via Columbia Records. Watch the video for ‘THATS WHAT I WANT’ below:
Get all the tracks we’re listening to this month on our playlist below: