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Wharton's Weekly Albums #2: Week of December 17, 2018

Wharton's Weekly Albums #2: Week of December 17, 2018

My weekly thoughts on the albums I listened to during last week's commute.

The Albums:
The ArchAndroid, Janelle Monae
BEYONCE, Beyonce
*Singles Collection: The London Years [Disc 1], The Rolling Stones
Deja Vu, Crosby Stills Nash & Young
*Power, Corruption & Lies; New Order
Odelay, Beck

*an asterisk indicates that this is my first listen to this album

The Thoughts:
This week included my first listens to the first disc of the Stones' Singles Collection: The London Years and New Order's Power, Corruption & Lies.  I come down heavily on the New Order side of the Joy Division-New Order divide, so this was a long overdue first listen, and it didn't disappoint.  The Stones' collection is mostly what you expect, their British dressup version of Chicago Blues, but includes some of their all time great cuts, like Time Is on My Side and Satisfaction.  Also re-listened to CSNY's Deja Vu this week, and was reminded how I love precisely three songs on it and think the rest of it is basically rubbish.  The three: "Teach Your Children," "Helpless," and "Our House."

The most interesting stuff this week was easily the more contemporary stuff.  The ArchAndroid has a sui generis feel as a genius work informed by modern pop, hip-hop, r&b, and rock without being classifiable as any of them.  But it's BEYONCE that wins the week. I feel like it's somewhat overlooked after the triumph of Lemonade, but I was reminded how killer it is.  To me, it serves as Beyonce's first real statement that her work was now going to predominantly speak on her own interiority and artistic intentions.  You can hear it from the opening track where she fights back against the idea that as a "pretty girl, / what's in your head doesn't matter."  She then proceeds to walk the walk by incorporating everything highbrow to lowbrow, from a slyly hilarious Coen Brothers reference and a Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie appearance, to three of this decade's defining sex jams ("Drunk in Love," "Blow," and "Partition"), to a D'Angelo-style rave-up in "Rocket" that frankly out-D'Angelos anything D'Angelo himself released a year later on Black Messiah, to the obligatory Drake guest appearance, to the closing torch and self-empowerment ballads.  It's both its own masterpiece, and a prelude to her true triumph in Lemonade.