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The Earliest Bird: Top New Recorded Releases 9-10-21 – 9-16-21 Elvis Costello And The Attractions’ “Spanish Model” and Lorde’s “Te Ao Mārama” Reviewed

wouldn’t you rather have Spanish Model?

Elvis Costello followed up his debut album My Aim Is True, one of my favorite albums of all time, with This Year’s Model, one of my favorite albums of all time, and it was all over for me. Elvis Costello had become an untouchable. That was 1977. Lorde dropped her sophomore-ish third album, an ode to nature and New Zealand, Solar Power in 2021. And today they both released foreign (to me, I mean) language takes on the albums… It vastly improves Lorde and doesn’t harm This Year’s Model AT ALL.

Spanish Model finds Costello still a dilettante but as he came to put together Spanish language popstars on top of the original recordings where Elvis’ voice used to be, his taste in Latin pop mostly ignores, well, this year’s models like Rosalia and J. Balvin, Anuel AA and Becky G, for more mainstream popsters like the hard rocking Fito Paez and the musically mesmerizing Cami. And here and there he adds a huge name like Luis Fonsi (you might remember him from the floodgates opening “Despacito” in 2017 with Daddy Yankee and also Justin Bieber on the remix) and Juanes. It all works outstandingly well, Elvis extends the album with some B Sides, but the one time where he if not beats certainly exults the original is Cami’s “La Chica de Hoy (This Year’s Girl),” changing the sex and the language puts the song on a refracted basis, it places blame where Elvis only implied that what was happening to this year’s girl was more abusive than shallow. Kudos to co-producer Sebastian Krys keeping it at a boil (Grade: A).

Te Ao Mārama has Lorde singing songs off her current New Zealand honoring new album in her nation’s indigenous populations own language, Māori. I don’t dislike Solar Power but I don’t much like it either, it is pretty yet vapid and except for the title track I don’t return to it. But I love Te Ao Mārama, by changing the language Lorde attaches herself to her theme and the EP’s five songs are a calming beauty, a fulfilling dream of a country world’s away, and the title track is a huge song (Grade: A-)

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