“I just want to leave to say that I did.”

“Portland” by Andrea von Kampen | Consider this a remnant of what could have been. I was planning at least two essays in the blog’s final weeks, but none of them will be published now, at least not here; I got really busy the past couple of weeks, and today what’s left of my strength is gone because I’m sick. But soldier on we must. I’m writing about Nebraskan folkie Andrea von Kampen because she appears on that Spotify playlist Shalla made that was going to be the subject of one of those essays. It’s her song “Desdemona”, which we’ve somehow transformed into a reaction to anything. Inside jokes aside, there’s something about her voice that pulls you in: it’s clear but it’s broken, if you could call it that; and not at all boring. “Portland” is part of her new album Old Country, which dropped a couple of months back. I hope to have time to listen to that, but this song is a beaut, simply said. No punchlines about that. [NB]

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“Talk away the pain for the very last time.”

“Last Days on Earth” by Tears for Fears | So, here we go – this blog’s final ever week. Nobody cares, I know, but I do, but then, I have been quite busy that I haven’t had any time to put into place the plans I actually have for these past few weeks. So, a song I’ve long loved, shorn of the agenda this blog found itself having to be part of these past few years. I don’t think anybody remembers a time when Jam 88.3 played stuff like this rather than the too-cool-for-school alternative it specializes in now. It’s an album track, from the arguably obscure Tears for Fears reunion record, and it sounds good even if the song is maybe about euthanasia. (So it applies here more?) Death. Definitely death. Our last four days are here, and I have so much left to do I’m feeling extra stressed out. But that’s why we’re closing this thing down… [NB]

Review: Kill This Love by Blackpink

Kill This Love by BlackpinkWell, a midnight release! We haven’t seen that in K-pop in years, not since everyone decided to minimize the efforts of overzealous fans by releasing everything six hours earlier. But I guess Blackpink are more than happy to go against the grain – well, that, and they now have to please those in North America, considering their attempts to break across the Pacific last year. (They may have had a Billboard cover, and they may be slated to appear at Coachella, but it’s too early to call it a success. BTS was there first, you know.) So, Kill This Love, another mini designed to reinforce the group’s fierce, independent, stylish image. It’s really like Square Up: the title track is incredibly swag, slightly reminiscent of drill music, and like before, heavily reliant on the concept. It’s not my thing, I’ll admit. But it doesn’t matter, because it does its job. The rest of the mini, however, slows down a bit, with less of the actual party and more of the moments right before the come down. “Hope Not” actually shows their vocals off better – and that clean electric guitar builds on the thread that seems to have been left behind with “Stay” from a couple of years back. Again, it’s just me, but that suits their direction more. [NB]3/5

Review: When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? by Billie Eilish

When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? by Billie EilishSo, Billie Eilish. It’s an interesting release, this. When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? might compel you to link her with arguably the ultimate progenitor of her kind of pop: it was Lorde, after all, who paved the way with teenage concerns colored with drone-y gothic almost-creepiness. But then, this feels of a completely different thread. It’s like she spent all this time alone, with all these reference points, and not so much cherry-picked the best ones as to boil everything down to their essence. In almost the same breath the songs across this record feel intimate and claustrophobic, playful and sinister, truthful and evasive. Perhaps it’s the production, harsh in the right places – but then there are tracks, like “8”, where Billie takes a complete left turn and sounds stereotypical (that one’s got a ukulele backing it). But then you wonder if there’s a dark point to that. And perhaps that’s the goal. Billie’s record is a snapshot of people of her age (I wouldn’t say this if I wasn’t 30) in its confusion and, at the same time, clarity. Or something. [NB]4/5

Review: HEART*IZ by IZ*ONE

HEART*IZ by IZ*ONEWhile listening to IZ*ONE’s second mini, I had to double-check the calendar. It isn’t summer in Korea, nor in Japan – but it is here in the Philippines, and that should count for something. HEART*IZ sees the winners of Produce 48 get closer to making sense of who they really are, and if you ask me, they’ve gotten really close. The mini is filled with effervescent pop that almost never goes wrong – almost, because “Airplane”, regrettably, sounds like a Twice cast-off, and all that came before succeeded in establishing the group’s almost-classy aesthetic. Single “Violeta” is a bit limp, but opener “해바라기” soars, and “하늘 위로” towards the end goes in a slightly unexpected direction. It is, arguably, a summer record released just as spring gets in full swing: a confident, satisfying release from a girl group with seemingly everything riding on them, considering their origin story and their limited time. I’m hoping the momentum continues, because knowing K-pop and its tendency to be inconsistent, I wouldn’t like what’s around the corner… [NB]4/5