"Lust Lust Lust"
When I listened to "Lust Lust Lust" while driving through a blinding snowstorm in central Pennsylvania the other day, the blizzard of noise surrounding Sune Rose Wagner's and Sharin Foo's girl-group and rockabilly retro squall provided a suitable aural equivalent to the whiteout before my eyes. And when further tested under less extreme conditions, the Danish duo's third - and best - full-length album proved equally effective at conjuring an all-encompassing world of echoey, B-movie, "Be My Baby" ecstasy.
On "Lust," rather than limit themselves with self-imposed rules - like recording an entire album in B flat major, as they did on 2003's "Chain Gang Of Love" - Foo and Wagner loosen up without losing sight of the Spectorian garage-rock ethos that's always lit their fire. "I know that you want the candy," Wagner and Foo sing on Lust's catchiest track. As long as it's this addictive, we always will.
The Baltimore duo Beach House - Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally - scored universal acclaim for its sleepy, self-titled debut in 2006, building anticipation for this follow-up. It's another low-key gem, steeping Mazzy Star-ish bedroom pop in cosmic, reverby psychedelia with help from ethereal keyboards and faint drum-machine beats. Legrand's yawn of a voice sets the band's gently hazy tone, which at first feels same-y but soon reveals itself as a meticulous dissection of shoegaze. Some songs employ balmy Caribbean influences and carnival-style luridness, while a version of Daniel Johnston's "Some Things Last a Long Time" (once covered by Built to Spill) approaches heartbreaking beauty. Despite how very slowly it unfolds, Devotion has surprising presence and staying power.
Janet Jackson and her new team (Ne-Yo, Stargate, The-Dream, Rodney Jerkins) update the sweat-driven sound and dippy sexuality of her Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis past for something alternately warm, robotic, and oddly au courant. The results are mixed, from the crassly banal (Is being "heavy like a first-day period," as she sings on "Feedback," supposed to be sexy?) to the magnificently mechanized (the post-Britney gurgle of "So Much Betta."), Jackson's writers and producers even create different levels of frenetic Jackson family homage with "Rollercoaster," a slippery take on Control-era swing and "Rock With U," a slowed-down tribute to Michael. But for all its slips and slides, Jackson hasn't sounded this confident in her material, its sensuality and the power of pop since her rhythm nation's reign began.