Critic’s Notebook: Jhene Aiko, Liquor Store, Blood Orange


Songwriter Dev Hynes of Blood Orange. (Photo: Stacey Mark)

Notable recordings from the world of pop music.

Jhene Aiko

This rising R&B singer’s new EP, “Sail Out,” can be an intimate and angry thing. At times, she sounds like she’s serenading the ceiling at 4:17 a.m., while her do-wrong loverman drools on the pillow next to her. She’s organizing her rage, singing quietly enough not to wake him up.

Occasionally, rap stars burst through the bedroom door for cameo verses — ranging from the dizzying Kendrick Lamar to the inept Childish Gambino — and Aiko’s voice instantly becomes more of an ambience, cool and unmistakable, like air conditioning

Warning: This song contains explicit lyrics.

Liquor Store

In the land of rock-and-roll, there are many New Jerseys. Vets like Springsteen make the place sound proud and blue-collar. Newbies like Real Estate make it sound leafy and dreamy. And then there’s this wild bunch, barreling down the turnpike, shouting about piles of dirt and hellscape sunrises.

Liquor Store’s new album, “In the Garden” mixes punk, glam, Southern rock and goofball nihilism, making life in the Garden State sound like a party — and sometimes a brawl.

Blood Orange

Songwriter Dev Hynes spent the past couple years penning mouth-watering pop singles for the likes of Solange Knowles and Sky Ferreira. “Cupid Deluxe,” his new album recording under the name Blood Orange, merely gathers up his self-described “leftovers.”

Hungry? Hynes is a student of the ’80s — especially Michigan greats Ready for the World — and what he does here with those influences can feel courageous, confused or clumsy. But when it isn’t a letdown, like during the airy standout “Chamakay,” it’s a strong argument for the pleasures of cold pizza R&B.

Note: A previous version of this article misstated the name of Liquor Store’s album. It has been updated.

Chris Richards became the Post's pop music critic in 2009. He has covered D.I.Y. house shows, White House concerts, go-go and Gaga.
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David Malitz · November 19, 2013