Every Tuesday morning in New Releases Roundup, we’ll publish our reviews of the week’s top releases as found in the pages of Entertainment Weekly. This week: Katy Perry, Arcade Fire, The Head and the Heart, Brandy Clark, and Poliça.
Katy Perry, Prism “Katy’s superpower, now more than ever, is minting songs so relatable that their insights quickly scale up to inspirational. ‘I don’t negotiate with insecurities,” she sings on ‘Love Me,’ a luminous ballad in Prism‘s otherwise sluggish last third. Insecurities are sorta like personal terrorists, and she defeats them with nü-disco jams like ‘International Smile,’ an air kiss to a jet-setting DJ girlfriend.” (Click here for Nick Catucci’s full review.)
Arcade Fire, Reflektor “Butler & Co. have always known whose side they’re on when it comes to existential questions about war or suburbia. But here, with LCD Soundsystem mastermind James Murphy as their new producer, they sound as separatist as they feel.” (Click here for Nick Catucci’s full review.)
The Head and the Heart, Let’s Be Still If the Seattle rockers’ self-titled debut felt like a flurry of leaves wisping in the indie wind, then their vastly superior follow-up stands like a sturdy oak tree. Every drumbeat is harder, every guitar pluck louder, every harmony more assured. The band conjures overcast West Coast romance on the pretty title track and sounds like a lusher, more rollicking version of the Lumineers on the standout single “Shake.” There’s enough head and heart here to carry these guys long after the folk-rock fad fades. A- —Grady Smith
Brandy Clark, 12 Stories For more than a decade, Clark has been writing darkly humorous songs for some of Nashville’s finest, most recently co-penning major hits for both Miranda Lambert (“Mama’s Broken Heart”) and the Band Perry (“Better Dig Two”). On her own debut, Clark keeps things edgy, singing about divorce, drugs, jail, and Jesus—a.k.a. country music’s Golden Quadrangle—with matter-of-fact sass and ample twang. B+ —Grady Smith
Poliça, Shulamith Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, who once called Poliça “the best band I’ve ever heard,” lends his vocals to a song here, but a better reference point might be their ambient-pop tourmates the xx, with more backbone. The Minneapolis act’s second album lets its dark afterhours disco and R&B pulse freely over the cool haze of Channy Leaneagh’s captivating vocals. It’s propulsive enough for dance floors, and dreamy enough for headphones. B+ —Ray Rahman