Volta | [3.5 stars]
If there's any pop star who could convince you she was an alien, it's Björk. Which makes "Earth Intruders"—the thrilling opening track and first single of her stellar new album—perhaps the quintessential Björk song. Against a futuristic tribal groove, this space cadet leads an interplanetary invasion "with our feet thumping, with our feet marching, grinding the skeptics into the soil." Björk collaborated with hot producer Timbaland (Justin Timberlake) on "Earth Intruders" and two other cuts, and they prove to be a match made in Mars, with her otherworldly voice and his sci-fi beats. Björk also employs an Icelandic brass section, noted African and Asian musicians and guest vocals from Antony Hegarty (of Antony and the Johnsons). But it's still Björk's world: On the electronica anthem "Declare Independence," she sings, "Make your own flag." Indeed.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Earth Intruders"
Myths of the Near Future | [3 stars]
The British buzz bands just keep on coming: Latest to arrive are Klaxons, who unite rockers and ravers, punks and popheads, on their kinetic full-length debut. Highlights include "Atlantis to Interzone," on which this London trio takes you on an intergalactic journey complete with sirens, buzzing guitars and furious beats guaranteed to whip you into a dance-floor frenzy. But these lads shift gears on the next track, "Golden Skans," pouring on the hooks and the harmonies as if they could be the Beach Boys of the near future.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Golden Skans"
Because of You | [3 stars]
Guest rapper Jay-Z, who's CEO of Ne-Yo's label Def Jam, likens the R&B singer-songwriter to a "young Michael" on "Crazy," one of many tunes that hark back to pre-Wacko Jacko on this follow-up to 2006's platinum debut, In My Own Words. With smooth midtempo grooves like "Can We Chill," it's clear that Ne-Yo has worn out his copies of Off the Wall and Thriller. As a vocalist and a total presence, Ne-Yo may still be no Michael, but no matter—he will have you rocking with him.
DOWNLOAD THIS: "Do You"
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