January’s music releases: the good, the bad and the ugly


Illustration by Izzie Bartholomew.

January is a month that marks a new year, and with that comes several things. Some of us are still washing New Year’s glitter out of our hair, and some of us are well on our way to becoming Instagram-worthy fitness gurus as a result of our resolutions. Or, if you’re like me, it means leaving brand new gym memberships untouched in favor of bingeing the new season of your favorite Netflix show. But no matter how you kicked off the new year, a new year means new music. Here are the best and worst releases of the month.

Blue Madonna, BØRNS

“Blue Madonna” is the sophomore album by singer/songwriter Garrett Borns, released Jan 12. It has 12 tracks, including an interlude. The style jumps rapidly from era to era. One second you’re enjoying an ‘80s throwback bop, and the next you’re tapping your feet to a more modern dream-pop beat.

Highlights from the album include “God Save Our Young Blood,” a collaboration featuring Lana Del Rey in which Borns’ high, feminine range, and Del Rey’s signature sleepy, languid drawl compliment each other in a match made in heaven. Also notable are “Sweet Dreams” and “We Don’t Care” for their unique instrumentation. The notes of bass and guitar on the otherwise electronic album are refreshing.

However, the album is not perfect. “Iceberg” is two minutes of a build-up that never quite goes anywhere. “Second Night of Summer” has the same unfinished quality, and the ticking drums feel irritating, especially when coupled with the lack of interesting production.

My My My!/The Good Side, Troye Sivan

Troye Sivan recently caused a social media uproar with his first singles since his 2015 record “Blue Neighbourhood.” The new tracks, “My My My!” (released Jan. 10) and “The Good Side” (released Jan. 18) reflect two very different perspectives, clueing listeners into the versatility that could take place on his still unnamed 2018 project.

“My My My!” is definitely a continuation of the poppy, synth-heavy sound found on “Blue Neighbourhood,” but with a more sophisticated edge to it. The buoyant, youthful vibes of songs like “Wild” and “Youth” have been eclipsed by a slightly darker aesthetic that still somehow remains joyful and energetic.

I don’t know how to describe “The Good Side” without saying it’s so beautiful over and over again until the word loses all meaning. It’s so heartbreakingly lovely, from the earnest vocals to the acoustic guitar and careful, subtle production. This dreamy ballad could easily be Sivan’s “Sign Of The Times.”

M A N I A, Fall Out Boy

“Mania,” stylized as “M A N I A,” is Fall Out Boy’s seventh studio album, released Jan. 19. It was originally scheduled for release in September, but the band decided to scrap the entire record and rewrite it. When listening to the songs, you can tell they were written by a group who felt pressed for time.

The first track, “Young and Menace,” is a prime example of the band relying on overproduction and dubstep cheap thrills to carry a song that is clearly lacking substance. The majority consists of lead singer Patrick Stump’s usually pleasant voice being manipulated into a series of auto-tuned shrieks. “Heaven’s Gate” is cheesy middle school slow dance material at best, and “Champion” is the band’s watered-down attempt at recreating the success of their 2015 pop hit “Centuries.”

The only two songs I find even remotely easy to stomach are “Last Of The Real Ones” and “Wilson (Expensive Mistakes).” These two are the most authentic to the band’s sound and don’t feel as forced as the awkward electro-reggae-soul songs on the album. However, they still fall short with their lyrical content. On “Wilson,” Stump repeats the cringe-inducing edgelord line “I’ll stop wearing black when they make a darker color!” until you feel like rinsing your ears out with bleach. A common theme among these two, and the whole album, is that the mind-numbingly repetitive choruses ruin what are otherwise perfectly passable tracks.

January had its hits and its misses, but one thing is for sure: this upcoming year is bound to be full of many more.