April Audio Reviews

Our Audio section has moved online—and it’s more interactive than ever! Stream music, watch videos, plus get the ever-excellent expert opinions from our musical mavens on the newest releases. What’s spinning right now? We've got reviews on the new releases from OneRepublic, Dido, Suede and more.

ONEREPUBLIC

Native (Interscope Records)

4 stars

When PopJustice recently compiled its list of definitive ballads (subtly entitled EPIC BALLAD BONANZA), it was no surprise that the top entry was a Ryan Tedder creation: Jordin Sparks’s everything-but-a-cannon-going-off anthem “Battlefield.” Tedder, the mastermind behind OneRepublic and wizard of hits for Kelly Clarkson and Beyonce, continues to ply his stock in trade with pleading, hook-laden torch songs on Native, his own act’s third album. No one’s breaking new ground here, but Tedder’s signature brand of bombast still brings major goosebumps on tracks “Can’t Stop,” “Burning Bridges” and “Feel Again.” Downbeat yet uplifting reminders of the power of the power ballad.  —JH 

OneRepublic: “If I Lose Myself”

 

SUEDE

Bloodsports (Ingrooves/Fontana)

4.5 stars

Suede (or The London Suede, as they’re known in this country, for legal reasons) never quite reached the giddy heights their Britpop peers Blur ascended to in the 1990s. Still, Brett Anderson’s impassioned, unmistakable yowl and the band’s crunchy glam-leaning guitars guaranteed that they were our favorites, at least. It’s been 11 years since Anderson & Co.’s last album as Suede, and thankfully the band reunited with original producer Ed Buller for their sixth LP, Bloodsports. The result is a moody epic worthy of the act’s legacy, populated by such gems as the ecstatic “It Starts And Ends With You,” gloomy rocker “Sabotage,” jangly power ballad “For The Strangers” and the joyously sappy “Always.” Consider this the perfect remedy for those in need of a 1993 fix. —RD 

Suede: “It Stars And Ends With You”

 

DIDO 

Girl Who Got Away (RCA)

4 stars

For every five years that Dido takes between album releases, a new crop of electronic pop girls surfaces and then, in some cases, just as quickly fades away. (The latest batch includes Ellie Goulding, Jessie Ware and Elly Jackson of La Roux.) Still, amidst the synths and beats, there’s something rather comforting about Dido’s voice that, at the very least, keeps our curiosity piqued for each new album. Her fourth outing is brimming with comforting, radio-ready pop like slinky groove “Go Dreaming” and the building slow burner “Let Us Move On.” One particular highlight is the shimmery “Blackbird,” a song that could easily be one of the most gripping the 41-year-old Brit has ever recorded. It seems collaborators like Greg Kurstin, Jeff Bhasker and Rick Nowels have helped this girl who got away find her inner pop goddess.  —RD

Dido: Girl Who Got Away album sampler

 

GOLD FIELDS

Black Sun (Astralwerks)

4 stars

Gold Fields is one of the most chart-viable indie pop acts to come out of Australia in the wake of groups like Cut Copy and PNAU. Their flawless 2012 single "Dark Again" is a template for the 11 tracks on their debut, Black Sun. In live performance, the five-piece band is energized by a powerful duo of drummers. The recordings, while still bearing a tribal drum influence (think Friendly Fires), are more synthy and pop-minded. “Closest I Could Get” balances grooving verses with a huge, layered chorus, while the violin-laced "Happy Boy" is exquisite, trading pounding beats for a sleek melancholy. —SS

Gold Fields: Black Sun album sampler

 

KWANZA JONES

Supercharged (Innovation Entertainment Group)

3 stars

It’s hard out there for a self-proclaimed “gladiator in the thong,” especially when she dabbles in crafting club jams. With so many dance-pop divas cluttering the charts these days, you’ve practically got to launch bottle rockets out of your bra to get the attention of the masses. Lucky for Kwanza Jones, she’s got a handful of solid tunes on Supercharged, including high-octane stompers “Flawless,” “Turn It Up,” “Time To Go” and the title track. The bad news for listeners and, in turn, Ms. Jones, is that the latter half of the album falls into a monotonous rut, and what should be a full LP comes off sounding like one long megamix of the same three songs. —RD

Kwanza Jones: “Supercharged”