Every Tuesday morning in New Album Roundup, we’ll publish our reviews of the week’s releases as found in the pages of Entertainment Weekly. This week: Justin Timberlake, Drake, Elton John, Danny Brown, Icona Pop, and CHVRCHES.
Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience—2 of 2 “The 20/20 Experience found Timberlake and longtime collaborator Timbaland turning the latter’s signature syncopated funk into a strangely insular experience. Apparently the producer saved his haymakers for round 2, because he’s in full classic-Timba mode here…. Those throwback blasts give 2 of 2 a more immediate punch than its predecessor, even as 2 falls prey to the same pitfalls.” (Click here for Kyle Anderson’s full review.)
Drake, Nothing Was the Same “Nothing Was the Same bristles with epiphanies, absurdities, and plenty of bluster, but it’s all fodder for a hyper-realistic portrait of Aubrey Drake Graham, not some coronation ceremony…. Meanwhile, the music itself, largely produced by his stalwart collaborator Noah ’40′ Shebib, explores affinities with songs that overlap and build on each other. It’s a thinking rapper’s paradise.” (Click here for Nick Catucci’s full review.)
Icona Pop, This Is…Icona Pop The Swedish duo’s full-throated hedonism made for a smashing single in “I Love It,” but it proves to be too much of a good thing on their full-length debut. What starts out as jubilant becomes four-on-the-floor purgatory; by the tinny, Go-Go’s-biting “Then We Kiss,” all that open-bar atmosphere fades, and what’s left is a vague hangover. C —Kyle Anderson
Danny Brown, Old The manic Detroit rapper scored a mini-hit last year with the winsome “Grown Up.” But nostalgia’s nowhere in evidence on his bracing new album, which features guests ranging from A$AP Rocky to Charli XCX and cannily evokes Wu-Tang Clan and trap music. Old positively vibrates with Brown’s nasally helter-skelter energy. A- —Nick Catucci
Elton John, The Diving Board John reteams with rootsy producer T Bone Burnett, trading Vegas-size pomp for spartan simplicity. It’s slightly overlong and noodly in spots, but the easy melody of “Oscar Wilde Gets Out” and the rugged piano amble “Can’t Stay Alone Tonight” stretch even further than the vistas depicted in Bernie Taupin’s road-trippy lyrics. B+ —Kyle Anderson
CHVRCHES, The Bones of What You Believe The recent surge of catchy female-fronted electro-pop has largely been a force for good, and these Glaswegians bring more currency (if not vowels) to the cause. Powered by Lauren Mayberry’s neon vocals, the trio earned early hype with stellar singles like “Recover” and “Lies,” and while their debut doesn’t always maintain those kinds of highs, it still provides plenty of charmingly straightforward indie-disco pleasures. B —Ray Rahman