Critic’s Notebook: Cigarette, Yelawolf, Alice Smith

Notable recordings from the world of pop music.

Cigarette

This NoVa indie rock quintet named its lovely new album “Gush,” but each strum of the guitar feels like a trickle melted from a cube of frozen cyanide. There’s subliminal menace in Cigarette’s slack balladry, and it surfaces most explicitly during “Waste You,” with vocalist Richard Howard turning a grim threat into a gripping refrain. A little schmaltz, a little malice, a bit of finesse, a lot of reverb and, somewhere, David Lynch smiles.

Yelawolf

Rappers don’t apologize all that often, so make sure you aren’t blinking when Yelawolf confesses to high crimes of pop pandering: “I was only tryna’ people please/So people, please, know my name.”

Listen: Yelawolf – “Way Out”

Those words come flying at 90 mph on the new mix tape “Trunk Muzik Returns,” the Alabama rapper’s first attempt to win back the hearts and minds he lost with “Radioactive,” his weak-tea major label flop from 2011. Now, he’s back to peppering woozy, creamy beats with high-velocity syllables, a surly attitude and a shrewdly placed mea culpa.

Alice Smith

With nearly six years between her debut album and her new disc, “She,” Alice Smith doesn’t sound jittery about the big comeback. The Washington native strolls confidently across plenty of stylistic terrain – AM radio pop, torchy R&B, quiet-stormish slow
jams – and her music never dissolves into retro goop. At some points, you can even hear flecks of go-go, evidence of her D.C. DNA.

Listen: Alice Smith – “Ocean”

Chris Richards has been the Post's pop music critic since 2009. He's recently written about the bliss of summer songs, the woe of festival fatigue and a guide on how to KonMari your record collection.

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Marie Elizabeth Oliver · March 22, 2013