Bats for Lashes
Opening track "Glass" is astounding, managing to be both propulsive and atmospheric, which is no small accomplishment. It's fair to say that describes the whole album, and that's unfortunate. The sound is so samey throughout that nothing develops its own identity, beyond that title track. The lyrics are nothing but empty brushstrokes to fill the canvas, which may well be the point, but her obfuscation isn't as effective as, say, Michael Stipe, or even Fur and Gold Bats for Lashes.
Together Through Life
The trouble of evaluating Dylan on an even field is apparent; I feel a need to be perceived as "getting it" and a need to balance out all the faithful who will automatically give the album five stars. Fortunately, with Dylan, I long ago gave up the need to appear to "get it," and instead go with how I feel. Which works to his advantage here. Modern Times was a brilliant album, it was, and I've grown to appreciate it, but it was an intellectual exercise. It didn't feel like anything special at first. Fortunately for Bob, Together Through Life feels great. There's a swing. The songs are entertaining. If it's all a bit samey (noticing a trend?), it's a great, pastiche-like samey, one that reaches way back to the days when an accordion was a lead instrument. The lyrics are wry, predictable in the way where that's a compliment, and the voice is becoming a better instrument as he ages. His best? No. Calm down. But not so far from it that I feel the need to balance.
A free live album is cause for rejoicing, whether it's good or not. That this is exceptional, capturing the band in incredible form, on top of the world, is a plus. That it fills me with raging depression over having not seen them on this tour is actually a compliment. Is it essential? No. But bands shouldn't sound this studio-like live. Is it anything to write home about? Not really. Are you going to be converted if you weren't already? Of course not. Coldplay don't convert people. If you're a fan, will you love it? Yes.