Best Of April 2019

Each month we collect highlights in film and music, all in one place. Read full reviews by clicking the images or links below.

This Life/Unbearably White - Vampire Weekend

No fuss, these are two of the best songs Vampire Weekend have recorded since Modern Vampires of the City. “This Life” is bursting with folky-Paul Simon joy, while “Unbearably White” nails the art-pop chill the band touched on their debut.

Listen to “This Life” and “Unbearably White”

Titanic Rising - Weyes Blood

On her best album yet, Natalie Mering (the songwriter behind Weyes Blood) delivers her tightest and most affecting batch of ballads. Inspired by The Beatles, The Carpenters, and Scott Walker, “Titanic Rising is crafted meticulously, and like the best Perfume Genius albums, meant to be listened to on good headphones.”

Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness) - The Raconteurs

“A fascinating synthesis of sounds, giving a reason to listen to the band besides [Jack] White’s presence.”

Listen to “Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness)”

Amazing Grace

A long-lost documentary of Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace live gospel album. What else needs to be said?

Fire is Coming, Spontaneous, Takashi - Flying Lotus

Any teaser to a 27-track album is going to struggle to represent the final mood, but with “Fire is Coming,” “Spontaneous,” and “Takashi,” Flying Lotus makes clear his goal to keep things interesting. From an ambient David Lynch-led track to rumbling jazz grooves, FlyLo’s latest offerings are as essential as his previous work.

Listen to “Fire is Coming,” “Spontaneous,” “Takashi”

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Cellophane - FKA Twigs

FKA Twigs is back with a soothing vengeance: from the review, “Her voice is clean, uncluttered by rasp or any kind of vocal tics, echoing Bjork’s similarly ethereal singing/production combo on Vespertine.”

Listen to “Cellophane”

Long Day’s Journey into Night

Without a driving narrative or traditionally enticing protagonist, Long Day’s Journey into Night is a remarkable film. Director Bi Gan’s career will inevitably be compared to the film’s 50-minute uncut 3-D sequence, but there is so much more to see in this dark and digestive trek through a lover’s memory. Namely, someone eating an entire apple.

Shazam!

“Something is in the air with Shazam!. It’s the kind of film to take your kids to, to invite everybody you know to enjoy the silliness and heartfelt (wha!?) themes of family, ones that aren’t shoehorned in for emotional depth.” A must see in superhero movie culture.

Light Years - The National

An ethereal closer to end The National’s eighth album, I Am Easy to Find, “Light Years” accomplishes more with delicate piano and solid melody than their entire last album. It’s pure National.

Listen to “Light Years”

High Life

In her latest spectacle, Claire Denis touches on humanity, sex, childhood, and fatherhood amidst a sea of color and dead space. Between thoughts on criminality and a standout performance from Robert Pattinson (as well as an adorable baby), High Life is a rewarding masterpiece that, like Gloria Bell, challenges expectation, harshly. Rian Johnson said it best, “Claire Denis in space. NO TRAILER REQUIRED.”

Homecoming - Beyoncé

As a film and live album, Beyonce’s Homecoming is a triumph. Utilizing a massive brass section and a flurry of dancers, she bounces seamlessly between musical eras, and in the documentary, throws in plenty of inspirational quotes and stirring motivations from black icons to enrich the material. It’s a celebration, a return to the spotlight for an artist who’s been riding a high since 2013.

Avengers: Endgame

Without resting on the well-earned laurels of Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame does with a three-hour runtime what the entire DC Cinematic Universe has accomplished to this point. By giving closure to long-running characters, it’s the first true ending of any Marvel film, and for that, it deserves praise.

Hello Sunshine - Bruce Springsteen

While it’s difficult to determine where Springsteen will go with his (sort of) newfound style, it’s nice just to have him back in old form. Echoing Nebraska’s acoustic-heavy ballads, “Hello Sunshine” is the realest the Boss has sounded in years.

Listen to “Hello Sunshine”