Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Matt Berninger of The National at last year’s Panorama NYC Festival. (Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

The album to listen to

The National, Sleep Well Beast

“The fair-yet-wrong criticism leveled at The National over the years has been that all of the band’s records sound the same (or, worse and even more wrong, that they’re boring and they all sound the same). Sleep Well Beast probably won’t change the minds of naysayers, though it may earn the asterisk of being ‘the one with slightly more electronic sounds.’ But those invested in the band’s slow-motion refinement of simmering melancholy will find that they’ve discovered yet more fresh nuance to that sound, as they seem to every time. It’s by turns harsh and sweet, downcast and uplifting, angry and resigned.”
Read the rest of our review here.


The show to watch

The Deuce 

“In his latest examination of social ecosystems in this country, David Simon takes a typically granular and decidedly unglamorous look at the legalization of pornography in 1970s New York. The drug-slinging game of The Wire has been replaced with prostitution, a business with every bit as expansive and demanding a market—and poised for a transformation—which is what accounts for Simon’s interest. The former journalist has always had a knack for not just exposing the underbelly of a teeming metropolis, but also shining a light up at those who look down from their penthouses. Once again, he spins dramatic gold from the hard-to-follow inner workings of a city and even harder-to-face realities, avoiding moral judgments despite regularly wading into vice, all while delivering the latest in appointment TV.”
Read the rest of our review here.

The book to read

Adam Silvera, They Both Die At The End


“When young adult literature isn’t being mocked for its vast collection of vampires, werewolves, and other various lovestruck mythical creatures, it’s often being criticized for what concerned citizens see as an overwhelming bleakness… Adam Silvera seems to confront this criticism head-on with the spoiler-alert title of his third novel (and second this year), They Both Die At The End, which lets readers know neither of its endearing teenage protagonists will make it to the last page alive. Yet the overall feel of the novel, about two teens hurtling toward an untimely death, manages to be funny, sweet, and even a little hopeful.”
Read the rest of our review here.

The video game to play

Destiny 2

Destiny 2 is, as you already know, Destiny again. Bungie has not dramatically reworked the series; pretty much every review of it out there, as well as your own experiences at this point, tells you what you already know. The menus and sounds and voices and grinds are fundamentally the same, only better, arguably. Less obnoxious or opaque or transparent in their Skinner-box mechanisms, perhaps, but this is not a reinvention of the wheel. It’s not even a reinvention of the tread on the wheel. It’s the same wheel. You bought a new wheel. And yet—it’s a very good wheel.”
Read about the other games we’re playing this weekend here.


The movie to watch

School Life

“[T]he focus of this fly-on-the-wall film is the students and teachers at Ireland’s Headfort School, a place that manages to be both an idyllic throwback and a forward-thinking inspiration. Headfort is a boarding school for primary-aged kids from 7 to 13… The film doesn’t need to beat you over the head with the idea that treating children like humans will result in their becoming better ones—it shows that, time and again, but never tells.”
Read the rest of our review here.


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