(My) 2017's new and noteworthy: 1) Mr Bitterness and the Guilty Pleasures, "Songs From the Surveillance Age"
I always say that I have my house in rock-metal-punk, that's where I feel comfortable, where it always feels good to be back, but in addition to that, I also do a lot of trekking.
In those long walks, I sometimes like to pay visit to let's call it "electronic pop with an edge" (a la Nine Inch Nails, Moby, Massive Attack, Tricky... my strokes here have to be broader as I'm only a tourist). And this year, when I've felt like doing so, this record, in fact this artist, has always been a safe bet.
Not that it is important, but this album cuts it for the 2017 review, as it was published in January. It's well rounded electronic music, easy to listen to, but not "easy" in the bad sense; you can always feel the presence of an author with an intention, a real creator, something that for me is important if a piece of music is going to be worthy of my time.
Something that annoys me often about electronic music is that the genre makes easy to fall into lazy copy-paste traps; "here, two clicks and we have two more minutes of music". Yeah, sure; for your elevator, maybe. This is no issue in Mr Bitterness' case, as both in this album an his previous "The good fight", you can see an admirable care for the structure. The cuts have been treated as songs, not just "audio products".
And they are full of textures, ambiences and surprises, with moments that go from piano to fortissimo... And -unlike some of the illustrious predecessors mentioned above-, there is also a great instinct for melodies, present both in riffs and in the singing.
It doesn't hurt either that the lyrics present an intelligent message, the sensitivity and views of a human well grounded in (and concerned with) this age of our sins, beyond the "ooh baby/ shake your titties/ ooh aah/baby baby" that is also acceptable in these latitudes (I mean: punk has a reputation for being stupid, but it's a genre where it never gets that crappy).
Regarding the production, I have to say the first time I listened to it I found it a bit too dry and perhaps too "in the box". But first, regarding audio issues please distrust anything I say, and second, after the first listening, the album is just the way it is; with me it always works that way.
(A bit of a tangent here; as an extreme example of how this process works in me, I remember when I first listened to Trapper Robbin's "Boat goes down". If I'm not wrong, the way he uses voice is with sidechaining; that audio effect used in radio where, whenever the voice comes in, the rest of the music goes down. First time I listened to it I was like "you have to be kidding me", but I kept coming back to the album because I liked the songs so much, and now the album is just that way, and I wouldn't want it any other).
So Mr Bitterness is a new welcome for my collection in this year, and hopefully many more to come. I have to say that, despite the presumed "bitterness", the fact that the album is called songs FROM the age of surveillance suggests that there is hope, that at some point someone in the future will be able to say "oh, that age... interesting..." (Or maybe the album is something that alien cultures will find beneath our remains? Let's cross fingers...)
I'd also like to note the great work done by the BlocSonic netlabel, on whose site I discovered this album. I wish other sites took good notes in terms of being respectful towards the artist and his vision, clarity of layout disposition, and general elegance... (Sadly most of the other albums are hiphop, a genre that you won't catch me listening any day of the week, but there are also some honorable exceptions like this one).
I have a guitar and I'm gonna use it