The album to listen to

Laura Marling, Semper Femina

“It’s easy to forget Laura Marling is only 27 years old. Since releasing her debut, Alas, I Cannot Swim, nearly 10 years ago, Marling has become a fixture of modern folk, far outliving the mid-’00s ‘nu-folk’ scene with which she emerged. Her steady output has produced some of her generation’s finest records, and her sixth, Semper Femina, is among her most affecting to date.

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The album takes its title from a shortening of the Virgil line ‘Varium et mutabile semper femina,’ or ‘Woman is ever a fickle and changeable thing.’ Marling’s own ungovernable spirit is a hallmark of her voice as a songwriter, and in the past it’s often been shaded with a bit of loneliness. But on Semper Femina, it’s a force that brings her closer to others—specifically the women in her life, not the least of whom is the one in the mirror. In these songs, Marling looks at womanhood and female relationships from various angles and distances, giving the gray areas of these roles and intimacies plenty of breathing room. The result is a record of great affection and fluidity.”
Read the rest of our review here.

Main image: Laura Marling (Photo: Hollie Fernando)


The TV show to watch

The season finale of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Christine Woods, Jaxon or Lucas Korossy, Glenn Howerton (Photo: Patrick McElhenney/FXX)

“Season finales have never really been It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s strongest outings. The perceived need for a big finish tends to elevate plot over character, and the busyness, as a rule, distracts from the joy of watching the characters do deep dives into their collective and individual madness. ‘Dennis’ Double Life’ looks like it’s going that way as well, what with the revelation that Dennis sired a child while killing time at an Applebee’s after he ditched the Gang’s cross-country beer bash in ‘The Gang Beats Boggs.’ As the chipper-accented Mandy (Christine Woods) and her adorable son, Brian Jr. (Dennis passed himself off as longtime alias Brian LeFevre for the seduction), wait patiently for Dennis/Brian to spend some time with his secret family, Dennis and the Gang brainstorm their usual cavalcade of elaborately bananas scams to send her on her way.”
Read the rest of our review here.


The movie to watch

Raw

Photo: Focus World

“The film gained an unfortunate reputation as a gross-out cannibal shocker on the festival circuit, and while that categorization is not entirely, technically incorrect—this is a piece of body horror, and an intensely visceral one—it detracts from the striking imagery and layered symbolism of [Julia] Ducournau’s uncommonly assured debut feature… She doesn’t reject genre convention entirely, however: The film’s vividly saturated palette is drenched in bold accent colors in a way that recalls the Italian horror masters of the 1970s, as does the organ music that blares over the end credits. And it’s hard to see the image of teenagers drenched in buckets of blood without recalling another tale about a cursed young woman, Carrie.”
Read the rest of our review here.


The podcast to listen to

Buffering The Vampire Slayer, “Lie To Me

“Just in time for Buffy Week, the latest episode of Buffering The Vampire Slayer examines a turning point in the show where the Scoobies realize that what is right and what is wrong is rarely a black-and-white distinction. But before that, there’s much fun to be had with hosts Jenny Owen Youngs and Kristin Russo’s Drusilla obsession, fawning over the character’s theatrics. Another tangent is sparked by Cordelia’s defense of Marie Antoinette—a tangent backed up by heavy Wikipedia research, of course. The episode’s affectionate ribbing (poking fun at Ford, mocking the cast’s wardrobe) is balanced out by genuine character analysis, making this a fun listen and a functional companion to the show. The hosts are even able to make a strong case for Buffy’s continued relevance, discussing how the minor character Chanterelle represents a particular perspective that is equally present and frustrating today. Later, Youngs and Russo reflect on the episode’s pivotal message and how it marks a new era of depth for Buffy’s central conflicts. Youngs’ closing song for ‘Lie To Me’ is particularly poignant, emulating the subtle sadness of Giles and Buffy’s concluding exchange.”
Read about the rest of the week’s best podcasts here.


The book to read

Mohsin Hamid, Exit West

“In an astonishing synthesis of political commentary and vivid imagery, Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West is a commanding yet fanciful outlook of the current climate of global immigration and international xenophobia, as told through a poignant love story. Saeed and Nadia are thrown into a domestic war between their reigning government and rebel forces. They come from a city that’s never named, consumed by war, destroyed, unrecognizable, and broken. They pay to leave through a door, one of many that have opened up throughout their home for a price. With beautiful and inexplicit rhetoric, the imagery of the door and escape extends to that of magical realism. Hamid has crafted an incredibly moving antidote to the unseen world of refugees and immigration in Exit West.”
Read the rest of our review here.