Music in May round robin: three projects to add to your playlists

On Friday, April 28, three fantastic artists dropped stellar music projects: Indigo De Souza’s “All of This Will End,” Jessie Ware’s “That! Feels Good!” and Beach House’s “Become.” All three will be sure to soundtrack the incoming summer with angst, passion and intimacy.

Indigo De Souza, an Asheville, North Carolina-based singer-songwriter, boasts a fantastic ability to articulate juvenile angst with exceedingly profound messaging. Her career until now has been defined by grungy pop-rock cuts that play with form. Sometimes she jives atop sunbaked bass lines with chanting vocals (“Take Off Ur Pants”); other times she screams with a chorus of fans (“Real Pain”). 

De Souza’s most recent effort, “All of This Will End,” combines these strengths to weave a story of overcoming an awful relationship while experiencing the pains of growing up. This is accompanied by digital textures, such as bit-crushed drums and distorted guitars. Her lyrics are straightforward and waste no time being poetic: she tells it as it is. 

Singles “You Can Be Mean” and “Younger & Dumber” highlight the versatility of this project. While the former is a linear punk-rock cut with crooning and expressive vocals, the latter is an Americana-infused slow burn that acts as the album’s curtain-closer. “Always” calls back to the harrowing “Real Pain” off her second album, undulating between tense, hushed moments and massive screams of vocals and guitar.  

“The Water,” the friendliest song here, derives from De Souza’s innate pop sensibility, featuring an incredibly fun outro. “Not My Body” summates the narratives of bodily autonomy that define the album with a variety of different guitar textures. It’s an incredibly diverse and effusive set of songs, one that will score great cathartic car rides with friends. 

Highlights: “You Can Be Mean,” “The Water,” “Always,” “Not My Body,” “Younger & Dumber”

2020’s “What’s Your Pleasure” saw Jessie Ware, British pop star, epitomizing the nostalgia quarantine brought through 12 pristine dance cuts. Her most recent album “That! Feels Good!” exchanges the overt nostalgia for more modern, glitzy textures, still calling back to disco grooves and instrumentation. Ware’s songwriting also takes more of a focus here, opting for briefer pop songs rather than extended dance tracks. 

That doesn’t negate how unabashedly lustful Ware sings on this project. Songs like the title track, “Freak Me Now,” and “These Lips” flirt within their lyrics and eclectic production choices, especially the slap bass on “These Lips.” Backing vocals imbue a sweet tone for Ware’s soprano riffs, notably on “Hello Love.” 

It would be a shame to reduce the entirety of “That! Feels Good!” to just this lust, however. “Begin Again,” the standout on this album, is a five-minute disco odyssey that desires freedom. The astronomical amounts of vocal, brass and piano refrains weave effortlessly together, constantly evolving and eventually peaking at a cathartic outro. It’s an infectious cut. 

Other numbers include the anthemic “Free Yourself” and shoulder-shimmying “Pearls,” as well as more modern-influenced cuts such as “Lightning” and “Shake the Bottle.” “Hello Love” is another favorite: despite being calmer, it’s still dance-friendly and captivating. As soon as this album comes on, you will not be able to stop moving. 

Highlights: “Free Yourself,” “Hello Love,” “Begin Again,” “Freak Me Now,” “These Lips”

While shorter than an album, “Become,” the most recent EP by Baltimore-based dream-pop duo Beach House, reads much like an extension to their other most recent release, “Once Twice Melody.” Both projects are characterized by their cinematic expanse, grand arrangements and themes of love. 

What differentiates “Become” from their previous material is how languid and burning it is. Much of “Once Twice Melody” featured dynamic arrangements, but “Become” is not afraid to coast on the dreamy vibe presented within the first verses of each song. The opener, “American Daughter,” sets out this formula, blossoming across four minutes of harsh melodies and spacey drumming. 

“Devil’s Pool” calls back to the percussion of their earlier albums, differentiated by an instrumental of murky synths and acoustic guitars. Lead singer Victoria LeGrand croons on her affirmations of “it’s okay, darling.” Americana guitars grace “Black Magic’s” mix, and “Holiday House” jams with a skipping drum machine. 

The true standout here is the title track, “Become.” While lyrically cliché, it’s hard not to feel embraced by how enrapturing this song is. Electric and acoustic guitars circulate around LeGrand’s poetry, a cinematic bass line propelling the listener easily through its six-minute runtime. Once the drums kick in, it’s hard not to get goosebumps: it’s one of their best songs to date. 

Highlights: “Devil’s Pool,” “Black Magic,” “Become”