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New albums & music: Good Cry, Nina Cried Power and Binge reviewed

Noah Cyrus’ debut EP Good Cry doesn’t quite manage to stand out; Hozier offers considerable variety in Nina Cried Power;Machine Gun Kelly struggles with his rap skills in Binge.

New albums & music: Good Cry, Nina Cried Power and Binge reviewed

Musical Notes

 

Artist: Noah Cyrus

EP: Good Cry

On her debut EP, Good Cry, Noah Cyrus struggles with the same problem that many young artists end up facing: the inability to distinguish themselves. The 18-year-old singer shares her heartbreak and sadness in these six songs, all co-written by the teenager herself. But while her work is emotional (you can hear her cry in the background of the set’s mellow opener ‘Where Have You Been’) and, at times, raw (the EP closes with the touching acoustic track ‘Topanga (voice memo)’), her sound isn’t particularly unique.

The songs, both vocally and sonically, feel too generic. Instead of standing out in the very busy pop music landscape, Cyrus instead blends in, mostly going for the standard, safe R&B-inspired style that is in vogue. You can put these songs on the album of pretty much any mainstream female popstar and they’d fit right in.

Also, there are instances where her style (which isn’t distinct enough to begin with) gets overshadowed when she is working with a collaborator, an issue most obvious on the EP’s highlight ‘Punches’, which is a collaboration with singer LP and basically just sounds like an LP song.

Good Cry doesn’t quite live up to the promise of Cyrus’s impressive debut single ‘Make Me (Cry)’ (which featured Labrinth). It’s a competently made, albeit unexceptional, set and while it does make it clear that the American singer has the ability to create emotional pop, it also shows that the youngest Cyrus sibling needs to work on her identity and vocals if she wants to be more memorable and join the ranks of pop’s most exciting newcomers.

 

Highlights: ‘Punches’

Rating: 3 out of 5

Artist: Hozier

EP: Nina Cried Power

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Four years after conquering the world of music with his monster hit ‘Take Me to Church’, Irish indie rocker Hozier returns with a four track EP that finds him picking up right where he left off.

The bluesy soulful set showcases his vocal range, varying from powerful in the socio-political protest anthem ‘Nina Cried Power’ (featuring the legendary Mavis Staples) to gentle in the moody, Yeats-referencing ‘NFWMB’. It’s to the singer’s credit that he shines in both instances, delivering a bombastic rocker in the former case and a standout enchanting ballad in the latter.

Musically, the singer doesn’t stray too far from the sound that earned him global fame but still offers considerable variety in this brief EP. A gospel choir joins him on the chorus of the aforementioned title track. Blues guitars adorn the upbeat ‘Moment’s Silence (Common Tongue)’. And the EP wraps up with the folksy ‘Shrike’.

Each song offers different textures and lets Hozier demonstrate different aspects of his talents as a singer, songwriter, and musician. And while it may be too short and it may not be particularly inventive, Nina Cried Power is still bound to impress fans and leave them wanting more.

 

Highlights: ‘NFWMB’

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Artist: Machine Gun Kelly

EP: Binge

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In a transparent bid to capitalize on the attention he has received because of his ongoing (manufactured?) feud with Eminem, American rapper Machine Gun Kelly has hastily put together an EP, hoping to use the momentum he has gained to reach new listeners. But he won’t be able to retain the newcomers with Binge, which fails to make the best use of the rapper’s skills.

Including his anti-Eminem track ‘Rap Devil’, his recent claim to fame, on this EP has both its merits and its downsides. The song is perhaps the finest instance of MGK’s lyrical prowess and flow, but then again, it basically felt like a good effort till Em came back with ‘Killshot’ and proved yet again that it isn’t easy to beat the real Slim Shady at his own game.

Elsewhere, there is nothing particularly exciting about these tracks, most of which are quite short. The set comes off as a random hodgepodge of themes and ideas, offering clichéd bravado one minute and dissecting childhood traumas the next. His lyrical content is more interesting in the latter, more personal moments when he discusses his roots (‘Lately’) and addiction (‘LiveFastDieYoung’). But Binge mostly feels too rushed, unwilling to spend time taking a proper look at anything meaningful.

There isn’t much substance to most of these 9 tracks. And between the unexceptional beats and unnecessary autotune, Binge isn’t going to help him make the most of his moment in the spotlight.

 

Highlights: ‘Lately’

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Sameen Amer

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