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A-Sides: Robyn, Mick Jenkins, Julia Holter, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Daughters

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There’s a lot of music out there. To help you cut through all the noise, every week The A.V. Club is rounding up A-Sides, five recent releases we think are worth your time.

Robyn, Honey

[Konichiwa/Interscope, October 26]

When Robyn returned this summer with “Missing U,” her first solo track in eight years, the song’s tingling, raw-nerve-ending synths and cathartic “dance-cry” build seemed to suggest her new album would deliver only a slight update to the fembot techno-pop she codified on Body Talk. But that’s not exactly true. Honey was born and lives on the dance floor, for sure, but with the Swedish singer taking the reins of production more than she ever has, it’s a more spacious, sensual, and human expression of her sound. Robyn recently told The Guardian that hearing DJ Koze’s “XTC” in an L.A. club one night sparked Honey’s main themes: “How do I find happiness? How do I find peace?” According to songs like “Human Being” and “Because It’s In The Music,” the answer is submission: to a lack of resolution or control, to the music that moves you. There are no “Don’t fucking tell me what to do”s here, no claims to indestructibility. Rather, Honey’s defiance manifests as radical vulnerability and generosity; the title track’s refrain is “Come get your honey,” after all. [Kelsey J. Waite]


Mick Jenkins, Pieces Of A Man

[Cinematic Music Group, October 26]

On Pieces Of A Man, Mick Jenkins’ sophomore studio album, the Chicago rapper delivers his elliptical flows with greater self-assurance than ever as he offers up a kind of retrospective of his life. The ever-observant, incisive lyricist embraces neo-soul beats and vocals, giving Pieces Of A Man a warmer, more worn-in sound than previous projects. Part of the album’s mellowness lies with Jenkins’ spoken-word-born fondness for dense wordplay and pop culture references: “I see the fire, I’ve been drinking Freon, I’m on the corner, feel like Deion / With these Cowboys, don’t speak snake with these Malfoys / Though, no sweat on my towel boy flow,” he raps on lead single “Understood.” While another part of that mellowness is the album’s overall commitment to assessing, with nuance, a hard-working adult who still likes to get stoned. [Ann-Derrick Gaillot]


Julia Holter, Aviary

[Domino Recording Co., October 26]

Julia Holter’s fifth studio album, Aviary, bursts forth like a flock of terns, their razor-sharp wings and scarlet beaks tangled among their sheer numbers. Like Kate Bush’s The Dreaming, the album throws Holter’s precise experimental-pop formula into a blender, producing a cohesive record of nonrepresentational but disarmingly honest work. But there’s no hint of a Fairlight CMI here: Holter prefers live orchestral instruments, like violins and trumpets. Opener “Turn The Light On” is a void of heady sustained dissonance, Holter’s voice careening every which way in a fitting nod toward John Corigliano’s “Symphony No. 1: Apologue.” “Everyday Is An Emergency” begins with sirenlike chirps that degrade into quiet, almost rueful reflections on political inhumanity. The album’s standout, “Underneath The Moon,” is written-through pop, perhaps reminding of us of better times. Holter has composed a difficult, rich record that rewards listeners with myriad references. [Meagan Fredette]

Georgia Anne Muldrow, Overload

[Brainfeeder, October 26]

On Overload, storied producer, songwriter, and vocalist Georgia Anne Muldrow continues to combine soul, jazz, electronic, and hip-hop into an off-kilter, energizing blend, one that fits perfectly with her new label home, Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder. Discussing love and revolution, Overload sounds massive and urgent, even when its arrangements are built on little more than whirring keys, thrusting shakers and cymbals, and Muldrow’s rich, soulful croon. On “Blam,” a futuristic spiritual, she implores oppressed folks to defend themselves against police brutality, while on the celestial soul jam “Aerosol” she laments the stark class divisions and change of scenery evident as she crosses into another part of town. The title track is the album’s most romantic, a hip-hop-influenced chronicle of a “lifetime crush just for” her lover. In balancing the aggressively political with the unabashedly tender, Muldrow has crafted her most liberating album yet. [Max Freedman]


Daughters, You Won’t Get What You Want

[Ipecac Recordings, October 26]

Daughters don’t want you to like them. Or, perhaps more accurately, they don’t care if you like them. The band that once deconstructed grindcore to the point where it resembled deranged, manic art rock returns after a lengthy hiatus and, once again, further removes itself from its foundation. Equal parts Nine Inch Nails and Nick Cave, You Won’t Get What You Want is as compelling as anything in Daughters’ discography—and it should be, given that its runtime rivals that of their previous three full-lengths combined. Offering a kind of updated take on industrial, Daughters have created an album that’s as uncompromising as anything they’ve done before, but with a matured take on aggressive music that suits them well. [David Anthony]