Two songs into MNEK’s debut album, I’m an instant fan. I first heard him when he was featured on “Baby,” the 2013 song by Rudimental, which is extremely catchy and a regular on my playlists. I loved his vocals, and now I wish I had looked further into MNEK’s music sooner. This amazing R&B album is laced with dance, soul and just a little bit of pop. The song “Honeymoon Phaze” has an unforgettable beat, and it truly tells a story. The rhythms in every song stay in your head for days. It’s hard to pick favorites from an album that has so few bad points. This will surely change by tomorrow, but they are currently, “Correct,” “Phone,” and “Touched By You.”
(EMI Australia/Capitol Records)
Finally, after teasing fans with singles but no information on a release date, the second full-length album by Troye Sivan is here. It’s the follow-up to his amazing first album, Blue Neighbourhood, which helped transform him from a popular and openly gay YouTuber from Australia into someone who was praised by music stars like Taylor Swift. After singles like “My, My, My!” and “Bloom” were released, I was more than ready for the full album, and it’s as good as I hoped. Sivan’s music is pop with a little bit of dance. His vocals are sweet and a touch breathy and sultry. I really love the song “Dance to This,” which features Ariana Grande. It’s danceable, but subtle and sexy at the same time. My favorites are “Plum,” “Lucky Strike,” and “Heavenly Way to Die.”
I have a new favorite boy band. When most people think of boy bands, they picture a group of four or five teens, but Brockhampton, a self-described boy band, has 13 members. Not only that, but Kevin Abstract, the leader, is openly gay. Their music is a good balance of R&B and rap, and this is their fourth album. The pop song “San Marcos” is a rare departure in genre, and it’s wonderfully sad, honest, and hopeful. At times, Brockhampton experiments with intentionally layering melodies that are slightly off-key in order to create a certain ambiance. It’s hard to pull off, but it helped create some of this album’s most beautiful moments. I’m not the biggest fan of the songs that feature harder rap, but in “J’ouvert” and “Honey,” they do it well. My favorite songs, which contain some of the best melodies I’ve heard all year, are “Weight,” “Tonya,” and “Tape.”
“Love Is All We Own” single
If you’re looking for a feel-good anthem with a positive vibe and a message of inclusivity, check out the new American Sign Language music video for “Love Is All We Own” by the folk-pop band Faultlines. They did this in honor of fans who have sung their hearts out at their shows using sign language. The timing of the release highlights National Deaf Awareness Week, which is Sept. 24-30. The lyrics are about strength in diversity, stating that love brings people together no matter what race or sexual identity they are or whether they are blind or deaf. The band also has hosted shows that raised more than $30,000 for the ACLU and Planned Parenthood in California. The song is available on Revry.tv, an LGBTQ music and video streaming app.