Mariah Carey, "Me. I Am Mariah … The Elusive Chanteuse" (Def Jam)
This record really is enjoyably elusive. No one doubts Carey's ability as a belter, but now she's cut a perfectly modest, sonically contemporary album without any need to show off her stunning range. "Thirsty" is the most overt thing here, a ratchet-y track that puts Carey's sex-kitten harmonies atop snare rolls and stuttering vocal samples. But the rest of the disc is unexpectedly low-key. "Dedicated (Ft. Nas)" has some of her guest's '90s New York glow in its production; her duet with Miguel, "#Beautiful," is actually more indebted to vintage R&B than its hashtag title would suggest. "You're Mine (Eternal)" is the highlight, with jittery rave synths bolstering a feather-soft breakup lament. What a treat that this daftly titled album really is a statement of a still-relevant musical identity.
august brown, Los Angeles Times
Brooklyn's Parquet Courts' "Sunbathing Animal," out Tuesday, adds blues to the usual mix but they still have a 1970s New York City noisy art-punk vibe. Now streaming at NPR's First Listen. http://tinyurl.com/mys7mjf