Ye and Ty Dolla Sign, "Vultures 1″ (YZY)

Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, is forever testing loyalty, which is a polite way of saying that he often leans into odiousness, never more so than in the past 16 months, which have been peppered with bursts of antisemitic remarks and revelations about similar past behavior.

Hundreds of thousands of fans, or millions, have boarded the train, sending "Vultures 1″ to No. 1 — in part because public opinion can be elastic, but also because even in this era of Ye, glimmers of an older Kanye remain.

It's what makes listening to "Vultures 1″ both uncanny and unnerving. Lyrically, Ye only addresses his recent troubles in glances, no-stakes responses to a high-stakes game: "Keep a few Jews on the staff now," he shrugs on "Stars." On "Vultures," he makes a crass sexual remark to assure that he can't be antisemitic.

Much of "Vultures 1″ is like this — full of puerile punchlines that might feel freeingly childlike had they arrived at lower intensity moments. But in the context of Ye's recent behaviors, they come off as almost distressingly glib.

Ye is almost exclusively rapping in the clipped, nonlinear style he's largely used for the past decade — short bursts of words, verses that have very little narrative cohesion. It salts a track with his essence, with a minimum of emotional commitment. ("Beg Forgiveness," on which he's practically howling, is a notable exception.)

Where "Vultures 1″ makes more sense is in its production, which is scabrous and tense, moodily emotive and urgent. The music says things the words don't, or can't.

Ultimately, "Vultures 1″ is a simulacrum of a strong Ye album — sometimes thinly constructed, but thickened with harsh sound and polished to a high shine. Some of West's recent albums have been brittle inside and out, but this is music that, for better and worse, matches the moment, with songs that are pugnacious, brooding, lewd and a little exasperated.



Dua Lipa, "Training Season"

Written after she suffered through one too many bad dates, this spiky, precision-cut single seethes with romantic frustration even as it dreams of something. Presumably the second single from an as-yet-unannounced album, "Training Season" re-teams Lipa with Tame Impala's Kevin Parker, who also produced her previous single, "Houdini." On both tracks, Parker proves to be an expert architect of intriguingly textured surfaces, but amid such careful design, Lipa's icy vocals become just another element in the structure, rather than an elevator to the song's emotional depths.


Pearl Jam, "Dark Matter"

Pearl Jam blasts back into action with the title track from a coming album that kicks off a tour. Drums slam, guitars align in bruising riffs; Eddie Vedder howls about demagogues who pit "Your word against the law" and rails about how "Everybody else pays for someone else's mistakes." The dark matter is disinformation and amorality: ethics, not astrophysics.

JON PARELES, New York Times

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