Album reviews: Beyonce & Jay-Z, Christina Aguilera, Sheppard
Fresh new music reviews
Everything is Love (Sony)
Beyonce and Jay-Z's joint album literally has a happy ending.
On LoveHappy the married couple share vocals and also details of their famous lives.
Beyonce tells her husband "you f---d up the first stone we had to get remarried" and adds "we keepin' it real with these people, right? Lucky I ain't kill you when I met that …" in reference to Jay-Z's infidelity, which has now been reclaimed as a major career move.
"We're flawed but we're still perfect for each other," Bey sings on the album's poppiest moment, produced with TV On the Radio's Dave Sitek - indie Beyonce remains a thing, with the pair again gravitating away from guaranteed hitmakers for the most part. The days of them bothering about radio are long gone.
Fuelled by a soul sample, it lets Beyonce really rip vocally like she did on previous loved-up collaborations Crazy in Love and Drunk in Love.
Summer taps into the Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings-esque, mellow, soul vibe that seems to be a theme here. Pharrell Williams, Quavo and Offset work on the woozy Apes--t, where Jay-Z lashes out at the Grammys for ignoring him.
There's a lot of telling us how rich they are on the brassy retro vibes of Boss, with Beyonce stating "My great-great-grandchildren already rich, that's a lot of brown children on your Forbes list". Her daughter Blue shouts out her sibling twins at the end.
Another Pharrell laid-back beat, Nice, is more of Jay-Z praising himself, but it does contain Beyonce stating: "If I gave two f---s about streaming numbers would have put Lemonade up on Spotify."
Ironically, this album had a surprisingly short exclusive run on their streaming system Tidal before hitting Spotify and Apple and other outlets.
Friends tells us their pals are better than ours, while Black Effect sees the couple turn their attention outwards and tackle police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement.
713, a reference to Beyonce's hometown Houston, features her rapping many of her vocals but it's more a Jay-Z showcase although it does sample local band Hiatus Kaiyote.
While it's a strong (and long-awaited) release Everything is Love is no Lemonade as far as instant impact - it was the project reportedly put on hold for Beyonce to release Lemonade and was still being tweaked a matter of weeks ago.
With no local dates for their On the Run II joint tour planned, this looks set to be your online time spent with the music industry's power couple./ CAMERON ADAMS
VERDICT: A joint business venture from the dream team
Certain albums get right under your skin and follow you around the house, lyrics earworming through your head and heart as you push the Dyson. Laura Jean's fourth album is one of these. She switches from folk to filmic synth swathes, pushing her fringe aside so we can get a real good look at her. Press Play brings us into an album about her formative, tremor-heavy teens. Girls On the TV is the no-big-deal song of the year. That bassline! Lick Your Heart, Northerly and You Make Me Feel lift the bar./MIKEY CAHILL
Try this if you like: Lorde, Grizzly Bear
Christina Aguilera has emerged from reality TV wilderness. Liberation is her first album in six years - its theme self-empowerment. Xtina is on FIRE vocally (the mighty duet Fall In Line with Demi Lovato). Sonically, Liberation recalls 2006's hip-hop-oriented Back To Basics, with Kanye West's input (the Michael Jackson-sampling Maria) and curated 'It' rappers. Alas, it still descends into retro MOR - Aguilera unsure of her place. The funk-rock Sick Of Sittin', with Anderson .Paak, could be Survivor-era Beyonce./ CYCLONE WEHNER
Try this if you like: Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys
Watching the Sky (Empire of Song)
I listened to this so you don't have to. Sheppard are a Qld pop band strictly for people who "don't really know who sings it, I just like this song". They ply feel-good, treacly jams that will turn your stomach. Their aim: to serve up inoffensive party pop. They nail the brief on Coming Home and Love Me Now, which has shades of No Doubt. They fail on Edge Of the Night (Aqua vibes?) and … the rest of the LP. This is the No.1 album on the charts. Wake up, 'Straya. Insipid. /MIKEY CAHILL
Try this if you like: Lighthouse Family, Staind