Music Review - December 2023

by BTM

Tue, 05 December 2023

Music Review - December 2023

One More Time…

Verdict: An emotionally-charged return for the original lineup.

What’s the story? 
One More Time... is the 9th studio album by American rock band Blink-182. The album marks the return of guitarist/vocalist Tom DeLonge following his departure from the band in 2015. DeLonge was prompted to return to the band after bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus received a cancer diagnosis in 2021. Following a meeting between DeLonge and his former bandmates, the trio overcame lingering disputes, which later led to DeLonge’s return. Lyrically, the album explores familiar territory like relationships and maturation, as well as lyrics inspired by the band’s own history and Hoppus’ battle with cancer.

Worth a listen? 
Without DeLonge, it always felt like something was missing. That something was DeLonge’s goofy sincerity and hyper-resonant croon, two key elements of the group’s classic sound, along with their crisp guitar, bass and drum riffs that are front and centre throughout all of One More Time.... Cuts like “Dance with Me,” “Bad News,” and “Fell in Love” are classic Blink, yet there are wounds here, and the band dig deep into them, working through the mess of bad breakup on “More Than You Know” and revealing the stark truth about taking someone’s presence in your life for granted on “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got,” the latter of which finds their voices intertwined in a throaty harmony. One More Time... plays like a love letter, both to fans who stuck with them and to each other – a letter that doesn’t so much ask for forgiveness as offer it willingly, passionately and without conditions.

Taylor Swift
1989 (Taylor’s Version)

While Taylor Swift transitioned cautiously from country to pop on 2012’s Red, she became the face of mainstream pop music with the monumental synth-driven hit parade of her next album, 1989. This version continues Swift’s series of re-recording her albums for purposes related to licensing rights, and more than any of the revised versions that preceded it, illuminates the moment when she became a timeless songwriter. Returning to this material exactly nine years later, one would expect songs played to death on the radio for nearly a decade to feel a little dated. Instead, the re-recorded versions (like all of Taylor’s Versions, aiming for faithful re-creation of the originals more than artistic updating) sound fresh and vital, perhaps even more powerful in light of Swift’s often-shifting artistic progress since.  

The Rolling Stones
Hackney Diamonds

Hackney Diamonds is the Stones’ first collection of new songs in 18 years. Despite that, they wisely don’t attempt new tricks anywhere, save maybe “Whole Wide World,” whose bizarre neo-new wave vibe gets odder thanks to Mick Jagger singing in an exaggerated Cockney accent. While a good portion of the record is devoted to straight-ahead rock & roll, they also find space for ragged country (“Dreamy Skies”) and acoustic blues (“Rolling Stone Blues”), not to mention “Sweet Sounds of Heaven,” a show-stopping ballad featuring Lady Gaga. At its heart, the record is nothing more than the Rolling Stones knocking out some good Rolling Stones songs, which seems like a minor miracle after such a long wait. 

Duran Duran
Danse Macabre

On the iconic group’s latest album, Duran Duran dedicate themselves to conjuring the ideal soundtrack to a Halloween party. The ‘party’ part of the equation is important. Danse Macabre may be filled with creepy sounds, but this isn’t a belated excursion into goth. It’s a collection of after-hours fun that flirts with high camp. Generally, Danse Macabre nimbly walks the line separating the spooky and the silly, opting for black-lit dance-pop instead of chilly atmosphere. This is a momentous occasion, and the charm lies in how Duran Duran seem unencumbered by expectations: they’re lying back and having a good time, resulting in a record that captures their silly and serious sides in equal measure.