#Review: Avril Lavigne – Head Above Water ūüĆä

facebook_logos_PNG19751.png    ios_homescreen_icon.png   app-icon2.png


It’s hard to believe that Avril Lavigne dropped her first single, ‘Complicated’, back in 2002 but since then, the songstress has had 5 studio albums, 23 singles, 27 music videos (including ‘Girlfriend’, which became the ‚Äúfirst music video to reach 100 million views on YouTube‚ÄĚ) and has even appeared on several television shows and films. Now, six years since her last, self-titled album, 2019 sees the singer-songwriter putting out her sixth studio album, Head Above Water; a personal account of the trials and tribulations she been through over the past few years. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Avril Lavigne - Head Above Water.jpg

Head Above Water is probably Avril Lavigne‘s most mature album to date, seeing a real evolution in her songwriting. Throughout the record, she paints a candid, honest and deeply introspective portrait of a truly tumultuous period in her life.

It all begins with the album’s title track, ‘Head Above Water’, which is in fact the song that kick-started the writing of the whole album. She stated, ‚ÄúOne night, I thought I was dying, and I had accepted that I was going to die. My mom laid with me in bed and held me. I felt like I was drowning. Under my breath, I prayed, ‚ÄėGod, please help to keep my head above the water.‚Äô In that moment, the song writing of this album began. It was like I tapped into something. It was a very spiritual experience. Lyrics flooded through me from that point on.‚ÄĚ In this truly stunning track alone, Avril Lavigne documents her fight with Lyme Disease (as a result of which, she set up The Avril Lavigne Foundation, to raise awareness of the condition – visit http://www.TheAvrilLavigneFoundation.org for more information), showing her strength of character to fight and overcome it.

As if that song wasn’t different enough, ‘Birdie’ demonstrates a diverse instrumental with intricate production where stripped-back moments show off her voice beautifully and a distorted vocal break adds another dimension to the track in which compares herself to a caged bird.

Equally, ‘I Fell In Love With The Devil’ and ‘Tell Me It’s Over’ are both tinted with Lana Del Rey-esque vibes. The first blends both high and low-pitched vocal harmonies to create an ominous tone to the track, perfectly mirroring the theme of a toxic relationship, whilst the latter’s sultry vocals and brass elements in the verses lead into a massive, soulful chorus, making it possibly the most unique song Avril has ever released.

There is a bit of a lull in the uptempo vibes towards the middle-end of the record (but still great tracks!) ‘Souvenir’ is a cute little love song that although a touch juvenile, is actually very endearing, whilst ‘Crush’ is a sparkly-sounding, soulful number.

It might not be her most obviously banging release, but it certainly packs a punch on the emotive side, with such wonderfully poetic lyricism.

‘Bigger Wow’ isn’t the most memorable song though it’s incredibly catchy and unequivocally pop, however I can’t help but feel it’s virtually a carbon copy of Hailee Steinfeld‘s single, ‘Starving’ with Zedd.

That said, although on the whole Head Above Water is quite the far cry from any of her previous releases, there are definite nods to her former sounds. ‘Dumb Blonde’ (featuring none other than Nicki Minaj – which was clearly a last-minute addition to the track, as the review version of the album did not feature her at all) takes a massive leaf out of her 2007 smash hit, ‘Girlfriend’. Additionally, ‘It Was In Me’ has a massive throwback vibes to her 2002 hit, ‘I’m With You’, but nevertheless, it’s amazing and the build up at the end is truly goosebump-inducing!

The album draws to a close with ‘Warrior’, thematically bringing us back full circle to where we began. The lyrics possibly aren’t the most imaginative on the record but they certainly show the strength she has found within herself, to get through some of the toughest years of her life and with that comes an audible gratitude and renewed lease of life.

Whatever you think of Avril Lavigne‘s previous incarnations, you can’t hear this album and deny that it’s a passionate and very personal offering from the star and although there isn’t a completely cohesive style throughout, it’s refreshing to hear her trying something new. The break has done her voice good too – there‚Äôs a renewed power and technique behind it and she‚Äôs using it in ways she hasn‚Äôt much before.

Of course, there are bound to be people that will slate her for moving away from her old sound and those who will criticise her for trying something new, but personally I love and commend this record for being evolutionary and so clearly therapeutic. It might not be her most obviously banging release, but it certainly packs a punch on the emotive side, with such wonderfully poetic lyricism. Now it’s time to return to the top Avril Lavigne – welcome back!

Rating
4-5


‘Head Above Water’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/head-above-water/1442724476


Head Above Water on Spotify

Head Above Water (Official Video)

Tell Me It’s Over (Official Video)

Dumb Blonde featuring Nicki Minaj (Lyric Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Avril’s sixth studio album, Head Above Water? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks

Advertisements

#MellowMonday: Zara Larsson – ‘Ruin My Life (Piano Version)’


   

facebook-like   Instagram


Zara Larsson is an incredible pop singer-songwriter from Sweden, who has collaborated with the likes of Clean Bandit¬†(Symphony) and MNEK¬†(‘Never Forget You‘), and released a whole heap of monster solo hits too.

Since the release of her debut album,¬†So Good, back in 2017, she has been busy touring and undoubtedly working on new music with her latest single,¬†‘Ruin My Life’ being her first new music since then.

The song itself is a very up-beat pop track that has some rather wonderful production but since the release of the piano version, I haven’t been able to get enough of it. It’s amazing how such a catchy pop track can be made into such a beautiful ballad just by stripping it back to a piano!

Sit back, relax, turn it up loud and get lost in all of its beauty!

What are your thoughts on the piano version of this pop song? Do you have a #MellowMonday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks


‘Ruin My Life (Piano Version)’¬†can be downloaded off¬†iTunes now – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/ruin-my-life-piano-version-single/1443604009


#Review: Matt Maltese – Bad Contestant


   

facebook-like   Instagram


Muzik Speaks Loves Atlantic Records - SmallerMatt Maltese is a piano-led, 21-year-old, singer-songwriter, who pens songs that are both emotionally intelligent and satirical at the same time. Having recently toured with¬†Isaac Gracie (review), he is now releasing his debut album,¬†Bad Contestant, through Atlantic Records. Here are our thoughts…

Matt Maltese - Bad Contestant.jpg

Matt Maltese‘s debut,¬†Bad Contestant, is jam packed full of wisdom beyond his years but served up with equal doses of cutting humour, hilarious irony and pure over-exaggeration. This is an artist who merges, at times, understated yet sultry melodies and retro sounds with stunning lyrical craftsmanship to create his own unique style.

Album-opener,¬†‘Greatest Comedian’,¬†begins with an unassuming introduction before launching into a fantastic set of back-handed compliments topped off with some intriguing instrumentation and beautiful higher-pitched vocals in the chorus; very similar to something by label-mate, Will Joseph Cook.

Title-track,¬†‘Bad Contestant’, has some seriously funky synth sounds and sees Maltese take on the character of an overly honest and confessional yet fruitless game show contestant.

This is very much an album where jazz and a touch of britpop meet funky, organ-led soul.

Meanwhile, ‘Nightclub Love’ is deeply satirical look at how Maltese sees the realities of clubbing and finding love there, whilst ‘Less & Less’ is an extremely saddening break-up song that is both beautiful and also attempts to put a positive spin on the situation. Of course we can’t go without mentioning the wonderful track, ‘As The a World Caves In’; a hysterical tale of the unlikely hooking up of Donald Trump and Theresa May, watching the nuclear destruction of the world as they do it; genius!

Other key tracks worth taking note of, include; ‘Sweet Sixteen’, an organ-led track taking a twisted look at a modern relationship – the sound is very much somewhere between Kaiser Chiefs and Blur, ‘Like A Fish’ which sounds like the opening to an old, 80s, British TV show and ‘Misery’ which is a dark and intense track with some reverse-sounding vocals on the chorus. In fact, the latter half of the album appears to get darker as it goes on.

The album features production and collaboration by a combination of Jonathan Rado, Hugo White (Maccabees) & Alex Burey.

This is very much an album where jazz and a touch of britpop meet funky, organ-led soul, all dressed up in a hipster outfit and sung with a deep, crisp and crooning vocal. Picture¬†Blur,¬†Pulp and¬†Jamiroquai creating some sort of spliced-together lovechild that’s been brought into the modern, contemporary age and you get¬†Matt Maltese‘s debut,¬†Bad Contestant. A truly alluring debut that is sure to pave the way for an exciting career ahead.

Rating
4


‘Bad Contestant’¬†is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/bad-contestant/1365077870


Bad Contestant on Spotify

Greatest Comedian (Official Video)

As The World Caves In (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this singer-songwriter’s uniquely captivating debut album? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment below or via our social media.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks

#Review: Ben Howard – Noonday Dream


   

facebook-like   Instagram


Ben Howard is an English singer-songwriter and musician, most notable for winning the¬†Brit Award for¬†British Male Solo Artist at¬†the¬†2013 Brit Awards. Since then, his second album,¬†I Forget Where We Were, reached the Number 1 spot in the UK album charts. Now, with the buzz surrounding the release of his third album,¬†Noonday Dream, it could see him reach that same success. Here’s what we had to say about it…

Ben Howard - Noonday Dream.jpg

Ben Howard‘s latest album,¬†Noonday Dream, sees another change to his ever adapting sound, keeping this artist fresh and showing just how diverse he can be. Having seen 4 years pass since his previous album and now at the age of 31, Howard has proven that he won’t be bound to time constraints but instead, ensured he make the time to mature his songwriting and develop a new sound for his next record.

It all begins with the truly haunting and melancholic, ‘Nica Libres At Dusk’ ; a dark and reflective song at the start before emerging into bursts of peaceful reprieve and ecstatic, almost whale song, guitars. It certainly depicts imagery of an American desert, similar to that of the album artwork. Then during the last minute, it transforms into a dreamy, piano-led clearing; a beautiful transformation into a more euphoric sound of hope.

Other songs to take note of include; ‘Towing¬†The Line’¬†which is an almost Celtic-sounding, folk song with guitars that echo and seem to envelop you;¬†‘What The Moon Does’¬†which conjures up imagery of camping out under the stars of the Deep South in America;¬†‘Someone In The Doorway’,¬†a track that sounds almost like spoken verse, in places, but is probably one of the most upbeat songs on the album and somehow seems like it goes hand in hand with¬†‘The Defeat’; another similarly half-spoken, half-sung track that has a really rock edge to it.

Noonday Dream is an exquisitely atmospheric, richly textured and highly visual album that is sure to kick off the next chapter in Ben Howard’s career, with meteoric success.

The album was produced by Ben himself, alongside¬†long-time collaborator Mickey Smith, who between them, have done a superb job of capturing subtle nuances that make this such a stunning record. From the warm reverb of his acoustic guitars to the drawn out, whale-like sounds of his electric guitars (as on¬†‘Nica Libres At Dusk’) and the distinctive piano key strokes to subtle snippets of conversations (among many other captured sounds), this is a truly captivating record.

Noonday Dream is an exquisitely atmospheric, richly textured and highly visual album that is sure to kick off the next chapter in Ben Howard’s career, with meteoric success. Whilst it might not be to everyone’s specific tastes, any person who has an appreciation for skilful musicianship, poetic lyricism and stunning production, will find this to be a real gem of an album.

Rating
4


‘Noonday Dream’¬†is out 01/06/18 and can be downloaded from iTunes –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/noonday-dream/1364401352


Noonday Dream on Spotify

Nica Libres At Dusk (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of Ben Howard’s third album? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment below or via our social media.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks

#Review: William Ryan Key – Thirteen (EP)


   

facebook-like   Instagram


William Ryan Key is best known for being the frontman of American rock band, Yellowcard but since their scheduled parting of ways, he has decided to release his own solo project. Here’s what we have to say about his debut EP, Thirteen

William Ryan Key - Thirteen.jpg

Many people will be expecting something in the same vein as Yellowcard but this release couldn’t be further from that sound. It’s clear that William Ryan Key has spent some time developing his own unique, acoustic-led style that is very different to even one of his former band’s acoustic albums.

This is a stunning, warm-sounding and mellow EP, that feels reflective, somewhat sorrowful and like it was therapeutic for him to write. It truly is an EP that would suit a warm summer evening around a campfire, with friends or on a sunny autumnal walk through a forest.

It all begins with track, ‘Old Friends’, which serves as a cleansing opener, reflecting on his past mistakes and seeking forgiveness in order to look to the future with a clearer conscience.

William Ryan Key has always been a lyricist that people can connect with, and this is no different; in fact it might even be a more frank and open set of songs.

‘Vultures’ is probably the most similar track to his former sound with its upbeat guitar patterns, but it’s still heavily led by acoustics and his new, more laidback vocals. This is a song very much about moving on from the past, whilst open and honest track, ‘Form and Figure’ describes the sleepless and anxious state so many experience, after the loss of someone you love.

‘Thirty Days’ is rich with ambient tones, whilst ‘Great Unknown’ takes an optimistic look to the uncertain future.

William Ryan Key has always been a lyricist that people can connect with, and this is no different; in fact it might even be a more frank and open set of songs that is reinforced by its easy listening demeanour – beautiful melodies, calming guitars, stunning vocals and atmospheric sounds.

Fans of Yellowcard will certainly get enjoyment from this, but equally, so will fans of folky, singer-songwriter vibes. It’s an exciting new direction for this incredibly talented musician and I can’t wait to hear what he has to offer next.

Rating
4-5


‘Thirteen’¬†is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/thirteen-ep/1382373461


Thirteen on Spotify

Vultures (Official Audio)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this incredible songwriter’s EP? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it? Please leave your thoughts in a comment below or via our social media.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks

#MellowMonday: Scott Quinn – ‘Run’


   

facebook-like   Instagram


Scott Quinn is a Yorkshire-born, soul-synth multi-instrumentalist, whose latest track is captivatingly beautiful with its shimmering synths and passionate vocals.

‘Run’ oozes heartache and despair, tackling the emotionally-driven subject of trying to help and support someone who’s not in the right place to be helped but is already on the path of self-destruction, leaving a trail of demolition in their wake.

Quinn has spent time in the studio, working with the likes of JONES & SG Lewis and has recently toured Europe with Aquilo. All this comes ahead his first, big, headline show at the Camden Assembly on June 20th (tickets available here).

No music video has been released as yet, but as always, we’ll keep you updated if/when one emerges.

What are your thoughts of this intriguing singer-songwriter’s latest single? Do you have a #MellowMonday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks


‘Run’¬†can be downloaded off¬†iTunes now –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/run-single/1364500851


#Two4Tunesday: Ariana Grande – ‘No Tears Left To Cry’ & Emma Blackery – ‘Dirt’


   

facebook-like   Instagram


Ariana Grande – ‘No Tears Left To Cry’

Ariana Grande¬†is back with the first single to be taken from her upcoming fourth album, ‘No Tears Left to Cry’. Written by Grande herself, alongside¬†Savan Kotecha¬†and its producers¬†Max Martin¬†and¬†Ilya, it is a rather different pop track to her normal style.

Don’t be mistaken, it’s still dance-pop at the core with a powerful vocal chorus, but it’s got some quite 90s pop and R&B influences to it and it’s certainly not an instant and obvious standout hit; this track is much more of a grower.

The video features Grande performing amongst a lot of disorientated scenery (which corresponds with the upside-down text of the single cover and leaks of Grande in a corresponding sweatshirt). It’s an interesting concept for the video, which was directed by Dave Meyers.


‘No Tears Left To Cry’¬†is¬†on¬†iTunes for downloading now! –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/no-tears-left-to-cry/1374085537?i=1374087460



Emma Blackery – ‘Dirt’

Emma Blackery is a singer-songwriter, YouTuber and author from Basildon in Essex, UK. To date she has 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube, with 148 million views and in 2016, she supported Busted on their Pigs Can Fly Tour.

Now, in 2018,¬†Emma Blackery is releasing her new single,¬†‘Dirt’. With a decidedly electro-pop foundation, this track is topped off with Blackery’s rather British-sounding voice (which is quite refreshing!) and some explicit vocals; making it edgier than your normal dance-pop songs.

The video is a bit of fun with it’s quirky dances and neon pink and blue colours throughout; it’s not breaking any boundaries but it’s light-hearted and funky.

This is a great track by a great up-and-coming artist on the pop scene!


‘Dirt’¬†can also be downloaded from iTunes now! –¬†https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/dirt-single/1353482430


Matt – Muzik Speaks
www.facebook.com/muzikspeaks
www.twitter.com/muzik_speaks