The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

Summer Music In Review

Paul Holtz and Holden Miller

Photo courtesy of Republic Records

Sweetener: After years of searching, Ariana Grande has found her true voice. Sweetener is an extraordinary pop album, radiating with newfound love and a smile along the way. Sweetener, Grande’s first album since the 2017 bombing at her Manchester concert, feels more real and bold than any of her past work. Perhaps because tragedy has a way of revealing our true selves, the 25-year-old singer finally allows herself to just take things as they come. She doesn’t force the heart-wrenching emotion of it all into tearful ballads and message-heavy anthems, but instead lets the low-key joy of the title track radiate across the album. The best parts of Sweetener have her looking for hope and stumbling upon the glow of new love.

Photo courtesy of Columbia Records

Hive Mind: The fourth album from this R&B collective is a peak example of their combined power. It simplifies and shores up the Internet sound with soft-focus blues, plush arrangements, and deep-in-the-ground grooves. The beats are unique, more boldly defined, and yet they still have the capacity to bleed into each other. “They gon’ get us to come together,” a chorus of voices repeats on the album’s opening song, each time louder than the one before. And just as the title implies, they are more in sync here than ever. Hive Mind is a funkier and more upbeat approach to an album than the Internet’s last three, making it an easy and go with the flow kind of album.

Photo courtesy of Domino Records

Negro Swan: Blood Orange’s fourth album focuses on black depression, sketching his anxious alt-pop, progressive R&B, indie hip-hop, downtempo rock, and spacey chillwave into a minimalist sound. Negro Swan captures the scattershot, jittery, anxious, and depressive feeling of what it’s like to be a marginalized person at a toxic and retrograde moment in global culture and politics. “No one wants to be the Negro Swan,” he laments on “Charcoal Baby.” Adrenaline-pounding dance beats like the ones found on Freetown Sound’s propulsive “Best to You” or “E.V.P.” don’t show up here. Instead, the album sounds more like a downcast mixtape constituted from helter-skelter sounds, sketched-out musical ideas, and conversational interludes. It is a departure from his earlier work, but it mirrors the political and hostile climate many people of color are living in now.

Photo courtesy of Epic Records

ASTROWORLD: Travis Scott’s third album is arguably his strongest to date. His skill as a curator helps sculpt a sticky, humid, psychedelic world with sparkling production and odd pleasures in every song. The album takes its name from a since-shuttered amusement park in his hometown of Houston and it often resembles a humid day spent at a carnival: sticky, sweet, crowded, and packed with cheap thrills that still feel a tad overpriced. As far as trippy-sounding hip-hop goes, Scott is operating at something of a gold standard here, out-hallucinating fellow stylist A$AP Rocky’s own recent blotter-blotted efforts. “Psychedelics got me goin’ crazy,” he lolls over the spooky and beautiful “Stargazing.” It is the epitome of the Travis Scott experience. With it sounding like a normal trap album, but also light years ahead of its competitors, ASTROWORLD is an album to become a blueprint ready to be copied for newer rappers.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros Records

Swimming: Mac Miller’s fifth–and, the hip hop community was shocked to find, final–studio album, Swimming, shows his true vulnerability as he opens up to the audience about his past relationships, struggles with drug abuse, and his passion for music. Since his death on Friday from a suspected overdose, the album seems both prescient and ironic. He begins the album with the deeply relaxing, comfortable intro “Come Back to Earth”–as if it were Miller’s invitation to sit back and enjoy the show. Even though the Pittsburgh born-and-raised rapper had recently broken up with his longtime girlfriend, singer Ariana Grande, who is currently engaged to comedian Pete Davidson, this is not a breakup album. He only reflected on specific experiences with his past relationships–some of which, but not all, seem directed at Grande. But the overall message remains introspective. In the 6th song, “Wings”, Miller says, “Trust is a problem, never knew how… Yeah, that’s why I keep to myself… Get what I need, and I be out.” He ends the album looking back at his success and influence, explaining that, with plenty of trial and error, he has learned to handle the stress that accompanies fame. Miller’s sudden death last weekend was especially surprising to his fans. All in all, this is a great album and the groovy and rhythmic beats never cease to disappoint.

Donate to Theogony

Your donation will support the student journalists of Alexandria City High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Theogony

Activate Search
Summer Music In Review