Sun, 07 January 2024
Verdict: An excellent return for the prog rock icon.
What’s the story?
I/O is the 10th studio album by English rock musician Peter Gabriel. It is Gabriel’s first album of new original material in over 21 years, marking the longest gap between two studio albums in his solo career. I/O features 12 tracks, each with two different mixes labelled the ‘Bright-Side Mix’ and ‘Dark-Side Mix.’ I/O is also Gabriel’s longest studio album, with both mixes each clocking in at over 68 minutes and the total project lasting over two hours. Beginning in January 2023, Gabriel released a new single every full moon, with its alternate mix released on the following new moon, eventually culminating in the album’s release at the end of the year.
Worth a listen?
Gabriel took his time crafting I/O, so listening to it slowly and steadily lets the record unfold and lets the distance between the decades narrow. The album marks an emotional progression, finding Gabriel curiously optimistic as he searches for new beginnings, discovering glimmers of hope within the darkness. Some of these songs surge, some simmer, but they all return to an idea essayed on the title track: “stuff coming out, stuff going in/I’m just a part of everything,” a worldview that’s intimate and all-encompassing. What makes I/O unique, even special, is that the process of searching isn’t central to the finished product. There’s no restlessness here, only acceptance, a quality that gives I/O a quiet power that can’t help but build over time.
Queen of Rock ‘N’ Roll
Delivered months after her May 2023 death, Queen of Rock ‘N’ Roll is the first comprehensive solo retrospective assembled on Tina Turner in many years. This box set follows a chronological order, opening with a trippy reading of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole Lotta Love’ – popularised in Disney’s Cruella – then swiftly running through several late-’70s tracks that didn’t often appear on collections before the comp reaches her great comeback of 1984. This, of all Turner compilations, paints a portrait of the entire arc of Tina’s solo career. Her rawest, nerviest, and funkiest material is missing, but this depicts her comeback and reign in vivid detail.
2 Chainz / Lil Wayne
Welcome 2 Collegrove
Reprising the collaboration they began on 2016’s Collegrove, Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz lock into some moments of incredible chemistry on Welcome 2 Collegrove. Narrative skits and quick shifts in production styles give the album a mixtape feel, but what really makes the project exciting is the energy both rappers exude when playing off of each other. This can take many forms, like the contrast between 2 Chainz’s patient couplets and Wayne’s rapid-fire verse on the slow-burning ‘Presha’; passionate performances over glistening slow-motion soul on ‘Oprah & Gayle’ and disorienting robo-funk and over-the-top vulgarity on ‘Crazy Thick.’
Upon receiving a nomination to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2022, Dolly Parton accepted the honour, deciding to deliver her first full-fledged rock album in return. Hence, Rockstar – a star-studded double album where Dolly attempts every sound under the rock & roll sun. Parton splits her time covering (very) familiar classic rock tunes and writing made-to-order originals, only occasionally shutting the studio door so she can sing on her own. The combination of overblown renditions of songs you know by heart and cuts that feel as if they were tailored for album rock radio in 1990 does have some charms, especially because Dolly embraces the goofiness of the entire project.