Made in Europe: Latest Album Releases by Stromae, Ghost and Rosalía

Say what you want, but Q1 of 2022 has been an absolute blast so far–musically speaking.

The year continues in full gear as more and more artists drop new projects. And not just in the U.S.

Particularly, March 2022 has been the month of major releases from European singer-songwriters and bands, so much so that I’ve started wondering whether it’s Christmas already. But no, Christmas has literally just passed, but the present exchanges didn’t stop there.

So today, I would like to provide a brief review of three long-awaited albums that were released in the past month by Belgian artist Stromae, Swedish rock band Ghost and Barcelona-born singer-songwriter Rosalía.

Where do I start?

Multitude, Stromae

Credits: The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

After conquering the world with his second album Racine Carrée, which was blasted at full volume all over Europe (not sure about America), Stromae decided to take a more “worldly” approach to his music.

The son of a Rwandan Tutsi man and a Flemish woman, the artist might have wanted to mix these two sides of his identity in a record that is just as enjoyable as its predecessor.

While “Santé” was a very fun leading single, “L’enfer,” on the other hand, was a devastating yet brutally honest confession of suicidal ideation (so much so that WHO thanked him for raising awareness on this topic, as suicide prevention hotlines registered more calls than usual after the single was released).

All tracks featured in this album present very interesting African-inspired sounds which work as a fitting background to the artist’s ever-breathtaking voice. It’s the case for “Invaincu,” “La solassitude,” “Riez” and “Bonne journée,” which are my favorite songs.

Though sometimes the energy tends to stall a bit due to the lack of variety in certain songs, Multitude remains a strong testament to Stromae’s genius and artistic legacy.

Thank you, Maestro.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

IMPERA, Ghost

Credits: Jimmy Kimmel Live / YouTube

I kid you not: Swedish rock band Ghost dropped their latest album the same day I left for a trip to–you guessed it–Sweden!

This event inspired me to create my first-ever Reel on Instagram with their old and new songs as the soundtrack (which I can’t link here because my personal account is private).

Personally, I’ve always felt like Ghost’s best era was Meliora–conceptually, musically, and also vocally for leader Tobias Forge.

And to be honest, it still is. But.

There are some undeniably powerful moments in IMPERA, like the very cinematic intro “Imperium” and the leading single “Call Me Little Sunshine,” which features a beautiful guitar riff that carries the song throughout.

The middle section of the album continues like any other Ghost project: longer songs preceded by short intro tracks (“Dominion” and “Bite Of Passage“). “Twenties” is what I would consider as a very theatrical song for its intro and the over-the-top vocals by Tobias.

Another nice detail is the repetition of the riff of the intro track “Imperium” in the final song “Respite On The Spitalfields,” which works nicely as a frame within which the action of the project develops.

Though IMPERA is a very intriguing album to listen to, I couldn’t find any moments that stand out as unique, which makes for a fun ride but not a memorable one.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

MotoMaMi, Rosalía

Credits: ROSALÍA / YouTube

Perhaps the album I was anticipating the most this month, Rosalía has finally given birth to her new creation, MotoMaMi (and yes, I know it’s officially spelled in all caps, but “MotoMaMi” just looks more beautiful to me).

Her most experimental album yet, MotoMaMi mixes reggaeton with flamenco influences and unique electronic sounds. In a way, it feels like you’re listening to different projects in one: while “BULERÍAS” is an obvious throwback to her Spanish origins and “HENTAI” is a ballad that Arca could’ve likely written, “BIZCOCHITO” presents more Latin-American influences and “CUUUUuuuuuute” is simply all over the place.

And although the boldness of Rosalía’s creativity is what makes her so special as an artist, the album does not feel cohesive at times: there’s no climactic moment except for “SAKURA” at the end, but even then, the song sequence does not build-up to it.

Instead, each track feels like its own separate universe, reaching its climax within and then releasing the tension before the next song starts and this process is repeated all over again.

Among my favorite tracks, it’s worth mentioning the subtle “G3 N15,” the Arca-dian “DIABLO,” the ballad “COMO UN G,” and the unconventional banger “LA COMBI VERSACE” featuring Tokischa.

Though we’re just getting started, I can already feel MotoMaMi will end up in a pretty high position in my Top 2022 albums and tracks.

A de alfa, altura, alguien.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Cover image credits: HENTAI / ROSALÍA

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