Nice guys freaks and creeps a dating memoir

Red [Pop] Taylor Swift is (feeling) 22, and playing dress-up.

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It's a subtle thing, and almost unfailingly sublime.

With a current R&B climate perhaps friendlier than usual to her perennial brand of moody, mature mid-tempo jams, Two Eleven (RCA) offers an especially vibrant set of songs (including one Frank Ocean writing credit); feistier than 2008's gorgeous and ignored Human, that navigates between classic and contemporary, from full-throated balladry to Timbaland-style bangers (and even a dodgy Chris Brown feature) without ever really pandering.

There's a lot going on in these grooves, which share a loose, sprawling multi-culti flavor all their own, even when they also have a curious tendency to make you want to sing "Us V. Les Is More [Hip-Hop/R&B] Ryan Leslie wants to be Kanye so hard.

The photogenic producer-turned-singer-turned-(evidently)-rapper fills Les is More (released via his own absurdly-named Next Selection Lifestyle Group) with a determined mixture of Watch the Throne-style conspicuous consumption (dubiously convincing, although he can certainly name lots of designers) with 808s and Heartbreak's wounded defiance and dopey hashtag flow (when not aping a higher-voiced, PG-13 Rick Ross) atop fully serviceable lite-funk and silky pop-R&B.

Pale Fire [Indie/Pop] Much like her pal and countrywoman Victoria Bergsman (Taken By Trees), El Perro Del Mar's Sarah Assbring has taken to cushioning her frail melancholy with warmly gauzy synthetics and surprisingly forward, clubby grooves.

Which isn't to say that you can necessarily dance to all (or even most) of Pale Fire (Control Group), but its swaying soft-touch house, trip-hop and Swedish reggae grooves definitely help coax an unprecedented fullness and sensuality from the waifish singer, and it's a great look – best embodied on "Walk On By," the album's luscious, Massive Attack-cribbing high point.

[7.5] originally published in Free Dimensional [Pop] T-dot pop-bot (and part-time punk) John O'Regan, aka Diamond Rings – he of the burnished baritone and rainbow eye-makeup – ups the glam and the gloss (and occasionally the gothiness) for his second album, Free Dimensional (Astralwerks), and it's probably the feel-good-est thing I've heard all year.

Between Robynesque rapping, black-leather-jacket Cars guitars, and synthesizer settings stuck fast on Depeche mode, he gives us party anthems, empowerment anthems and aw-shucks sweetie-pie love anthems, plus, in "Day and Night," a pop-dance counting rhyme that ranks up there with Bill Haley, Feist and Lou Bega.

"Adrenochrome" is, hitherto unthinkably, actually aptly named; tense, archetypal chase-scene music featuring Mark Mc Guire's searing guitar leads, while the title track simply sparkles – the brightest, poppiest and most vital thing they've done, perhaps best described as chiptune Balearica (but better than that sounds.) Even the more characteristically droning, beatless pieces cover considerable ground in their collective sixteen-ish minutes.

They'd probably appreciate me saying this: it's easily Emerald's least utilitarian album yet.

"Vōs-Sākō-Rv," in particular, stretches this approach to wonderfully delirious extremes, with each circuitous, contrapuntal build-up growing more daringly suspended than the last until a final, impossibly constrained moment of tension lunges back to earth with two massive snare thwacks.

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