Demaris Oxman, Music Editor
Portugal, The Man – Woodstock
3.5 out of 5
Being a near-lifelong Alaskan, it’s hard for me to be objective about Portugal. The Man. Considering the rarity with which anything from my home state catches the interest of the outside world, I couldn’t help but feel a surge of pride when this Alaskan band did exactly that with Woodstock.
Stylistically, the album swings the pendulum from the impossibly catchy danceability of “Feel It Still” to the borderline assault on the eardrums of “Easy Tiger.” It knocks you down from the start and carries you away on a roaring wave. It can be overwhelming, it hardly lets you up for air—but the band’s energy and enthusiasm are tangible throughout. My greatest hope for them is that they can keep this momentum going and avoid slipping into the one-hit wonder trap, because I’m truly hoping to hear more of their innovative and refreshing work in the future.
Harry Styles – Harry Styles
3.5 out of 5
As a longtime hater of teen heartthrobs, manufactured corporate pop music, and basically everything One Direction represented, I’m genuinely annoyed with myself for liking this album. While I don’t think Styles is shaking off his teenybopper fanbase anytime soon, he’s clearly making an effort to grow beyond his boy-band origins and appeal to a wider audience. His lyrics carry more weight and more sexual charge; his melodies and arrangements are more complex than anything you’d find in a One Direction single. He howls his way through “Kiwi,” croons through “Sign of the Times,” and gently laments through “Meet Me In the Hallway.” To call Styles a risk-taker might be a bit of a stretch—his songs are still relatable and radio-friendly—but despite my own preconceived notions, I’m impressed. He’s established himself as a talented artist in his own right, and I’m extremely curious to see what he does next.