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Posted at: Sep 14, 2019, 12:14 AM; last updated: Sep 14, 2019, 12:14 AM (IST)MUSIC ZONE SAURABH CHADHA

A leap in time

The ultimate award for patience

Tool — Fear Inoculum (RCA)

Those who have waited since 10,000 Days (2006) for a new Tool album will find much to feast on here. Fear Inoculum is his most ambient album without sounding sluggish and most psychedelic album without sounding over the top. The entire album is centered around the number seven, with seven core songs escorted by three interludes over the course of nearly 90 minutes. The first sound from the opening title track, Fear Inoculum, sets the tone for the next hour and a half with aplomb. The extensive intro sounds abstract, but it also carries a lyrical theme of confronting abhorrence: “Forfeit all control/You poison, you spectacle/Exorcise the spectacle/Exorcise the malady/Exorcise the disparate/Poison for eternity/Purge me and evacuate/The venom and the fear that binds me.” And even despite floating rumours and release delays, the band’s lineup of vocalist Maynard James Keenan, guitarist Adam Jones, bassist Justin Chancellor and drummer Danny Carey remain entirely intact. Pneuma is classic Tool, with its extended intro and Schism like build-up; it is reassuring that after all this time the band still delivers spectacular music. As Lateralus, Danny Carey’s percussion and drums have been a primary spotlight. Fear Inoculum is no exception. Carey’s drums are far more outstanding in the mix and they sound unquestionably sharp and commanding. 7empest is the longest track here, clocking in over 15 minutes. Fragile guitar picks, heavy drums and funky bass riffs grooves along with Maynard’s vocals, while, Culling Voices is the shortest song here. It’s interesting to hear the clean vocals stand up against the commanding sound of the band as a whole. It’s Tool doing what he does best and the ideal reminder of what the fans have been missing these past 13 years.

Essential tracks: Fear Inoculum, Pneuma, Invincible, 7empest

Rating ****

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Fully charged

Sleater-Kinney — The Center Won’t Hold (Mom + Pop Music)

Punk band Sleater-Kinney’s ninth studio album is also its second one since concluding a 10-year hiatus in 2015 with the acclaimed No Cities to Love. Born in Olympia, Washington, Sleater-Kinney undoubtedly makes for one of the most essential American punk rock bands of the 1990s. For the band’s latest release, Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker and are once again joined by their longtime drummer Janet Weiss. Unlike the previous albums, The Center Won’t Hold is not an indie-punk album, but more of an experimental pop outing. The release of the album also marks the 25th anniversary of the group, leading them to take on far more chances in future. Thematically, the album offers an engaging blend of political and personal insights. Anthemic Reach Out is one of the album's best songs as well as one of the hardest rockers that sees Tucker insisting, “Reach out and touch me, I'm stuck on the edge/Reach out, the darkness is winning again.” Throughout The Center Won't Hold, Brownstein and Tucker try to capture the social media menace: “Everyone I know is tired/Everyone I know is wired”; “I end my day on a tiny screen/I try to reach for you through the empty sheets”; “It is a restless life, a restless life.” The deceivingly buoyant track Can I Go On sarcastically grooves against the shared modern anxieties, neatly composing the estrangement of capitalist life. On the closing track, Broken, Corin Tucker pours out her heart against a piano solo backdrop. Sleater-Kinney's choice to enroll Annie Clark (St. Vincent) as the album’s producer has inspired the band to take off on a whole new musical journey.

Essential tracks:  The Future Is Here, The Center Won't Hold, Reach Out, Can I Go On

Rating ***

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Absolutely attentionworthy

Jay Som — Anak Ko (Polyvinyl)

After releasing a collection of demos in 2015, Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter and instrumentalist Melina Duterte, better known as Jay Som, releases her new album Anak Ko. The title, Anak Ko, means “my child” in Tagalog, one of the local dialects of the Philippines. Compared to Everybody Works (2017), the compositions in the album contain richer layers and more sophisticated fine points. She produced, wrote and mixed this album herself in the confines of her bedroom studio, but invites talented friends to contribute additional vocals and instrumentation, adding a zest of entertainment. Inspired by the flourishing pop sounds of the 1980s’ bands such as the Cure, Weed and Cocteau Twins, the album sounds brilliantly firm. The opener If You Want It pilots from the front with bass combo, in a tender churn of muted guitars as she sings about lost love: “I can remember/The words were forming in your mouth/You’d found another/To bring you joy and play a part.” As a lyricist, Som has stayed refreshingly honest. In Devotion, she confesses, “I changed my mind/Well, look no further/Just takes some time/To come back down to earth.” Tenderness starts cleanly, before blossoming into a vivid jazzy explosion. Peace Out includes some of Som’s most honest lyrics: “Make me sing that awful song/that you cannot bear, still you take until it's gone,” accompanied by elegant strokes of rhythm. The wonderful dream-pop lead single, Superbike, merges Cocteau Twins with Alanis Morissette, leaving a lot of room for more musical shapes to form. The most experimental effort on the album sees the title track join contradictory styles in a mysterious soundscape. Anak Ko presents a glance into Som’s creativity and solidifies her indisputable progression as one of 2019’s most gifted songwriters.

Essential tracks: If You Want It, Superbike, Devotion, Crown

Rating ***

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Top 10 Singles

1. Truth Hurts Lizzo (CU)

2. Senorita Shawn Mendes & Camila Cabello (NM)

3. Bad Guy Billie Eilish (FD)

4. Ran$om Lil Tecca (CU)

5. Old Town Road Lil Nas X feat. Billy Ray Cyrus (FD)

6. Circles Post Melone (NE)

7. I Don’t Care Ed Sheeran & Justin Bieber (CU)

8. Someone You Loved Lewis Capaldi (CU)

9. No Guidance Chris Brown feat. Drake (FD)

10. Sunflower Post Melone & Swae Lee (CU)  

Legend: (CU): Climbing Up (FD): Falling own (NM): Non-mover (NE): New Entry

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