Critical Circuit | May 3, 2023 (Evil Dead Rise, The National, Jessie Ware, Indigo De Souza)

Evil Dead Rise

The Evil Dead franchise has always been a bit of a mess, something many fans will actually agree makes it so charming. Between a classic trilogy of tonally mismatched films and the decently effective 2013 remake I would say I’ve had fun with each installment. Evil Dead Rise seems to be another soft reboot of the series and it pretty much delivers exactly what you would want from an Evil Dead movie. If you go into this hoping for gruesome body horror and gore, congrats, that is exactly what it delivers on. Despite its low budget, the movie spares no expense to really show off some brutally vivid practical and digital effects. Sadly, I do wish the same ambition that went into the disgusting imagery had also been applied to the overall story. The film utilizes just a few very generic locations and does not introduce any characters that are as entertaining as some of the ones we got in the originals. But at just 96 minutes, you won’t focus on the blemishes too much before getting treated to some great horror.

Rating: B-

The National – First Two Pages of Frankenstein

After over 20 years The National have never gone into an album with so much hype and expectation. While it’s been four years since their last album, it feels like they have not gone anywhere. This is obviously thanks to Taylor Swift who put out Folklore and Evermore in 2020, two of her best albums and both produced by Bryan Dessner. What the band comes up with here is definitely a nice balance of playing to the strengths that appeal to fans while also reaching out to their newfound audience. This album is breezy and melodic, not lingering too long on monotony or sadness like previous National albums have. And of course we get the inclusion of guest vocals Phoebe Bridgers, Sufjan Stevens, and a duet with Taylor Swift. While not among my favorites here, “The Alcott” absolutely picks up right where Swift left off with the band. It will probably be the closest thing The National will get to a mainstream hit and I am happy for that. Tracks like “Tropical Morning News,” “Alien,” and “Eucalyptus” are all among National songs I will continue to keep in heavy rotation. While this doesn’t really break any new ground for the band, it will certainly introduce them to a brand new group of fans and it is a great starting point. 

Rating: B+

Jessie Ware – That! Feels Good!

I was lucky enough to discover Jessie Ware while locked inside during COVID with her last album What’s Your Pleasure? It was a fun piece of disco but obviously the timing could not have been worse. And while that album was a total blast, That! Feels Good! is now Jessie Ware’s masterpiece. This album immediately gets into a groove and does not leave for 40 minutes. The production is big and bold, giving each song a classic disco vibe without feeling like an imitation. Ware stands at the center of it all with commanding vocal performances that refuse to be ignored amid all the danceable production surrounding her. Even as someone who rarely listens to dance or disco music, this has easily been one of the most fun listening experiences of the entire year. If you have not gotten into Jessie Ware yet, this is now the best time to jump on.

Rating: A-

Indigo De Souza – All of This Will End

The last time I reviewed Indigo De Souza I said she made music that would sound incredible live while drinking a craft beer. Thankfully, I got the chance to do just that (and in Brooklyn for some extra indie red) and it was even better than I could have imagined. Now Indigo De Souza is back with another short and immediate record that scratches the same itch as her last album. De Souza does an excellent job of making her work feel more emotive than some of her indie counterparts without losing the fuzzy production that gives this project a bit of an edge. Even when giving into indie cliches, De Souza still comes across as assured in herself and that confidence makes All of This Will End a fairly effective record. Especially if you’re drinking a craft beer. 

Rating: B

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