November Bark Beats

Pearl Zhong

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Revival

Selena Gomez

“Revival” is confident and upbeat, with summer beach club vibes. Gomez certainly has matured since her days as a Disney star as this album shows a greater complexity in themes compared to her last album,“ For You.” Gomez seems to have revealed her true self, especially in her lyrics, as she sings in the title track: “Showing up, no more hiding, the light inside me is bursting, shining.” Gomez also incorporates a bit of her Latin American heritage in the song “Body Heat,” with the addition of a few Latin beats.

Recommended: “Survivors”

“Survivors” is powerful and personal, as Gomez expresses her gratitude toward someone who has “built her from a broken heart.” Her mellow vocals are perfectly paired with deep house beats. The chorus catches you by surprise, as Gomez experiments with high-pitched synthesizer beats as the lyrics “We are survivors” repeat and eventually fade out as the song ends.

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Confident

Demi Lovato

Much like Selena Gomez, Lovato exhibits maturity, and “Confident” is certainly a powerhouse album to match her transition to serious artist. Although some tracks lack originality in terms of sound, the lyrics are very sentimental, derived from many of Lovato’s personal experiences. The album is comprised of Lovato’s impressive vocals, runs, and belts. She includes hints of different genres with edgy R&B tracks like “Mr. Hughes,” and passionate ballads like “Father.”

Recommended: “Yes”

One of the slower songs on the tracklist, “Yes” features subtle and simple instrumentals, minimizing any distractions from Lovato’s powerful voice. The chorus is fresh, catchy, and includes traces of R&B-inspired melodies. The track peaks with Lovato’s signature high notes, concluding with the repetition of the word “yes,” easing the listener into the end of the track.

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Stories

Avicii

Avicii maintains his ‘country-EDM’ style even after the success of hit-single “Wake Me Up,” as a bulk of the tracks like “Trouble” and “Sunset Joe” consists of folk guitar. “Stories” differs from typical EDM albums with monotonous of powerhouse tracks and intense drops. To spice things up, he provides mixes with a milder sound. He also explores different genres, as shown in the track “Can’t Catch Me,” which features a refreshing blend of reggae, EDM, and tropical house. However, aside from a few standout tracks, the album is bland, as the majority of the beats and melodies are dull and unoriginal.

Recommended: “The Nights”

“The Nights” is the quintessential, “live life to the fullest” anthem with a catchy chorus composed of a group of voices. This track features Avicii’s signature country EDM style with folk violin and guitar to contrast computerized beats. With a rousing tune, the song distinguishes itself from the rest of the album.

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Pentatonix

Pentatonix

The a capella group Pentatonix has gained recognition in the past few years by performing covers of hit songs. The group released their first self-titled album comprised of original songs, along with a few covers that include Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean.” Ranging from blues to pop, their ability to alter and use their voices by beatboxing or creating sound effects is unique, regardless of genre. However, the album lacks a certain oomph, as the melodies are overused and the lyrics are cliche. Despite this, the group’s use of their voices is impressive, and the harmonies are intricate and well thought-out.

Recommended: “Cracked”

Although this track sounds suspiciously like One Republic’s “Love Runs Out,” Pentatonix adds a unique twist with complex runs, especially at the bridge where a series of blues riffs are included. The beat is simple, yet it works very well with this piece by adding energy and confidence to the track.