Album reviews: Chromeo, Bebe Rexha, Dawes, Bodega and The Babe Rainbow

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The Babe Rainbow doubles down with "equal parts muzzy psychedelia and soft rock and soul." Publicity photo The Babe Rainbow doubles down with “equal parts muzzy psychedelia and soft rock and soul.” Publicity photo

Chromeo

Head Over Heels (Atlantic)

Montreal’s gift to dancing frat bros returns with a phone book of guests, starting with DRAM, coming off like Biz Markie on “Must’ve Been” (as in “must’ve been high”). French Mon-
tana and Stefflon Don follow up on “Don’t Sleep” and it’s clear Chromeo wants you to WOO PARTY! “Right Back Home to You” nicks the groove from Boz Scaggs’ “Lowdown” and it’s a high point, as is roller-skating jam “Just Friends,” featuring Amber Mark. But there’s way too much dorky grossness, e.g.: “Relationships ain’t a democracy / I’m good if you just stay on top of me,” and Head Over Heels, especially the concluding “Room Service,” hangs around like a drunk legacy making an ass of himself.

Bebe Rexha

Expectations (Warner Bros.)

Bebe Rexha basically proves Theodor Adorno’s grievance that the only difference between popular music genres is marketing. Rexha’s songs, performed by Florida Georgia Line, Eminem and others, have charted R&B/hip-hop, country and of course, just plain pop, and Wikipedia adds K-pop, alternative rock and EDM to Rexha’s professed styles. Ironically, Rexha’s debut full-length doesn’t hop around so much as hop in place; when “Self Control” kicks off with a reggaeton beat, it’s the first marker of anything specific. Rexha projects emotion like a pro, and I’m sure if I heard these songs five times I’d wake up singing them. But nothing makes a real impression besides the cheesy love ballad “Pillow,” which works as a cheesy love ballad.

Dawes

Passwords (HUB)

As many times as Americana royalty Dawes has come to town, it feels inhospitable to call them boring. But maybe they get bored too? Producer Jonathan Wilson drenches Passwords with the mellow Laurel Canyon vibes of America, Poco and the Eagles, and even throws in a few ‘80s “End of the Innocence” moments. So Dawes’ timbres expand: “Stay Down” is a Tweedyish roots-rocker; “Living in the Future” gets epic; “Feed the Fire” is ersatz Steely Dan, fake sitar solo and all. But Taylor Goldsmith’s anodyne pathos still holds sway, which many folks seem cool with—for me, the songs blossom when he steps aside and the band, especially slide guitarist Trevor Menear, gets to shine.

Bodega

Endless Scroll
(What’s Your Rupture?)

There’s nothing more New York than a bodega—so it’s pretty suitable that this Brooklyn band plays snotty, martial post-punk that’s not just akin to Parquet Courts; it basically grew from a clipping. The Courts’ Austin Brown produced Endless Scroll on the same Tascam as Light Up Gold, and Ben Hozie barks one-note melodies about the mundane and the serious, just like Brown. This gets grating, sad to say, and I wish Nikki Belfiglio’s backing came more to the fore, because she sounds great in the background of tracks like “Can’t Knock the Hustle.” But the band will probably tear it up at Strange Matter in Richmond on July 29.

https://bodegabk.bandcamp.com/

The Babe Rainbow

Double Rainbow (Flightless)

Australian retro alchemists The Babe Rainbow concoct hazy jams that are equal parts muzzy psychedelia and soft rock and soul, and singer Angus Dowling makes up for a limited range by just sounding mellow as hell. Double Rainbow floats by as smooth as can be— “The Magician” is snaky and sultry; “Supermoon” is stony and drony; “2nd of April” is a startlingly gor-
geous instrumental and “Darby and Joan” trots along amiably. Throw out the dancy clunker “Eureka” and the glib sitar solo “Alan Chadwick’s Garden,” and you’ve got a real playtime/naptime classic here.

https://thebaberainbow.bandcamp.com/

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