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The Replacements - Dead Man’s Pop Music Album Reviews

The new box set includes demos, a live show, and a fascinating, stripped-down remix of the band’s 1989 album Don’t Tell a Soul that reveals an alternate history of one of their most divisive records.
The Replacements story is filled with what-ifs and near misses. Their legend, essentially, is that if the chips had fallen differently, they might have become a popular band and had success into the 1990s, like their friends and rivals R.E.M. What if they had played ball with their label? What if they hadn’t made so many enemies? What if they hadn’t been so fucked up?

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Snoh Aalegra - -Ugh, those feels again Music Album Reviews

On the sequel to 2017’s FEELS, the Iranian Swedish singer’s dramatic take on soul finally bears fruit.

For LA-based singer Snoh Aalegra, feelings hit like tear gas, seeping into the skin and scrambling the senses. Whether in the throes of love or heartbreak, the romance she sings of is forever smoldering, a breath away from flaring into full-blown passion or asphyxiating into ash. Snoh has been workshopping this dramatic take on soul for half a decade, and on her second album, the process finally bears fruit.

Signed to No I.D.’s ARTium Recordings alongside Vince Staples and Jhené Aiko, Snoh is a bit of a polyglot, straddling R&B, soul, and rap. She has described her music as “cinematic soul,” and the label is florid but not inaccurate. -Ugh, those feels again is a sequel to her 2017 album, FEELS, and shares that record’s emphasis on mood. In the vein of her idols Stevie Wonder and Whitney Houston, Snoh prefers lush, grandiose arrangements. That grandeur often served as a crutch on FEELS and the EPs that preceded it, puffing up vanilla writing and competent but anonymous singing, but on Ugh, indulgence becomes integral to the storytelling, swelling and subsiding in cadence with Snoh’s impassioned vocals.

Snoh wrote Ugh after returning to dating following the end of a long-term relationship she’s characterized as “depressing” and “exhausting,” and that freshness of perspective resonates throughout. She sounds excited to be back in the mix, complications and all. “I Want You Around” pairs the zero-gravity nausea of a fast-evolving fling with the thrill of defining its pace. “I don’t wanna kiss you, yet/I just wanna feel you,” Snoh sings, dousing the flames without extinguishing them. “Situationship” swings between frustration and insouciance, questioning an undefined relationship with a whimsical, almost anthropological curiosity. “So many times you and I made love in my mind,” Snoh sings, thinking out loud yet going with the flow. There’s a clear sense of wonder beneath the “ugh”; for Snoh, a vexing romance is at least a new experience.

The record’s sequence allows the highs of life on the rebound (side A) to give way to loneliness and reflection on past love (side B). The pivot makes sense thematically, but stylistically it’s regressive. The front half is full of strobing midtempo compositions that push Snoh to perform intuitively, switching between compact rap-inflected flows, glossy melodies, and sultry ad-libs. As she trades moans with the electric guitar on “Toronto,” leads a choir on “Find Someone Like You,” and bounces with the bass line on “Whoa,” she feels loose and personable.

The tracks on side B often push her into a corner, forcing old habits. The Portishead-indebted flip of “Danube Incident” on “Peace” is lazy and dry. No I.D. and Steve Wyreman’s psyched-out swirls of synths on “Charleville 9200, Pt. II” are beautiful, but Snoh’s writing can’t match the lavishness. Though her smoky, melancholic voice has plenty of heft, when she sings, “Paris doesn’t feel the same,” and “LA doesn’t feel the same,” it feels like she’s drafting humblebrags for Insta rather than mourning lost love. Wintry, ethereal production by Toronto’s Maneesh on “Be Careful” fits better, but Snoh’s pen again falls short. “These are bad times,” she reads from a church marquee.

The album’s nucleus is a three-song run in which Snoh addresses her recent ex directly, moving from abandonment (“You”) to bitterness (“Njoy”) to intolerance (“Nothing to Me”). The strength of the sequence is Snoh’s candor, which she applies to herself as well as her ex as their love definitively becomes past tense. “He wants to hold me/I’m alone,” she sings bittersweetly on “Nothing to Me.” That sense of quiet resolution is what makes Ugh such a leap for her. The feels remain noxious and suffocating, but as she embraces the delirium, the “ughs” slowly turn into insights.

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