There’s more music out there than anyone can, should, or will hear.
That’s where Go Slow No comes in—our weekly survey of new and overlooked album releases. The rating system is so self-explanatory you probably don’t even need my further ado, but here goes anyway: “go” means listen to this now, “slow” means check it out when you get a chance, and “no” means run screaming from the room if you hear so much as a note of it.
“Flow” seems like such a tame word for verses that ooze and seep and splash and squirt with as many references to bodily fluids as the second “K” this 20-year-old Chicago MC tucked into her name should have your dirty mind expecting. There’s nothing as startling on her third proper album as Cum Cake’s raw call-out “Pedophile” (“’Promise me you won’t tell,’ he said/ ‘If I take you to the hotel.’”) or as hilarious as S.T.D.’s “Doggy Style” (“Yellin’ out ‘arf arf arf arf arf arf arf’/ Swallowing cum make me barf barf barf barf barf barf barf”). But if the inspirational opener “2 Minutes,” with its woozy backing choir, has you worried that Elizabeth Harris aka Elizabitch aka Marilyn MonHOE is leaving the foulmouthed groin-first hilarity of her mixtapes behind, the first line of the brilliant “Duck Duck Goose” (“I thought I came but I peed on the dick”) plus the dildotastic and very, very, very, very NSFW video should set your mind and genitals at ease. (Immortality awaits the first MN rapper with a "Gray Duck" remix.) CupcakKe doesn’t obsess over squishier anatomical matters just to score gross out points or make a bedroom power play—it’s her excuse to push language to the absurd extremes the greatest MCs have often sought. And my favorite part of “Spoiled Milk Titties” actually comes after my favorite string of rhymes—“This tongue kiss so harmless/ Let me lick your armpits/ My head game sick/ Take me to CVS pharmacists”—when CupcakKe coughs twice. GO
“Dumbfounded, downtrodden, and dejected/ Crestfallen, grief-stricken, and exhausted”—well, how else should a seven-and-a-half-minute song called “USA” start in 2018? All adjectives, not verbs, you’ll notice, because the inability to translate emotion into action is this 35-year-old punk lifer’s great lyrical obsession here. “What’s the point of having a voice/ When it gets stuck inside your throat?” he asks on song two, completing his portrait of the artist as a creature of frantic yet eternally untapped potential with tracks three and four: “All This Useless Energy” and “Powerless.” The hysteria that frays the edges of Rosenstock’s vocals gives the impression that he belts with anthemic defiance to keep from breaking down and snurfling into his beer, and it conveys genuine annoyance with his limitations rather than self-pity—though it sure doesn’t do much to make his climactic chorus of “We won’t let them win” as convincing as we need it to be. GO
Having already strutted successfully away from her girl group past to the nostalgic pop-salsa clave rhythm of “Havana,” Cabello either wins or loses you completely on the pre-chorus to her followup hit, “Never Be the Same.” When her voice first liquifies then all but evaporates into girlish ecstasy and she spindles “heroin” to make it rhyme with “nicotine,” you’ll either scoff or swoon. Me, I’m smitten. Whether she’s bobbing along to muted guitar strums or shimmying amid steel drums, spelunking into the title of “Consequences” in search of hidden consonants or throwing herself into the flirty “Into It,” her confidence, presence, and arsenal of charming vocal tics add up to a personality the just might make her the Latinx pop star we could sure as hell use right now. The good news is that she can rescue even second-tier tunes—I can’t help but imagine what she could have done with the chorus of Taylor Swift’s “...Ready For It.” The bad news is there are a few second-tier tunes here for her to rescue. SLOW
The Greatest Showman: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
There’s a Pasek & Paul fan born every minute. Maybe on their own turf the songwriting duo that Broadway dotes upon are the geniuses Dear Evan Hansen fans insist, but what I’ve heard is more than enough to keep me from investigating—first their forgettable lyrical contributions to La La Land, now the schlock soundtrack to a P.T. Barnum movie musical that’s ridden a Golden Globe Best Original Song win to two weeks at number on on the Billboard 200, dethroning Ms. Taylor herself. The high-energy, low-wit razzle-dazzle here is what you might think “Bohemian Rhapsody” sounded like if someone who hated the song had silently described it to you using only arm gesticulations and facial expressions. Maybe Hugh Jackman bellowing “Colossal we come these renegades in the ring/ Where the lost get found in the crown of the circus king” over what sounds like a Panic at the Disco outtake will someday accrue campy charm. But with the songwriters offering “a million dreams is all it’s gonna take” as inspirational uplift while trying to pass off “like a zombie in a maze” as a sharp metaphor, and with the friskiest thing here, “Come Alive,” sounding like an Ed Sheeran rewrite of late ‘80s Madonna for a Carnival Cruise commercial, all I want to know is: Which way to the egress? NO