It’s a wonderful week of new album releases, save for the bottom two (but hey, even those albums could float your boat. It never hurts to try), and though this week’s winners might not be the most uplifting band on the list, their album has won over the heats of critics all around, see what you think of these new releases:

The Bad

Architecture in Helsinki, Moment Bends

They’re still unable to hit the nail on the head, and on this album, the 80′s wave-pop electro tone just ins’t cutting it:

  • Pitchfork: “It’s a shame the rest of Moment Bends isn’t consistently so successful. Much of it just sounds listless compared to the excitement of the band’s previous albums, and the last third of the album begins to seriously drag. Places Like This proved that Architecture in Helsinki could grow out of their early sound without growing tame, that they could change their voice but keep their charm; Moment Bends too often finds them losing one, the other, or both.” — Eric Grandy
  • Slant: “Is Moment Bends a successful caricature of ’80s-flavored Europop bands, a clunky, evolutionary step for a young band still finding its voice, or a sincerely tone-deaf blunder by an otherwise savvy group? No matter the answer, the end result is overall confusion: After several listens, it’s still not entirely clear whatMoment Bends is striving to be, or, for that matter, what its creators are trying to say with it.” — Kevin Liedel

Moment Bends is available on Amazon for $13.28

Jennifer Lopez, Love?

It’s no doubt that JLo is a master at delivering club hits, but on Love? she’s just proving that her musical career, somewhere wedged between acting, judging on American Idol, and personal/private life, is taking a little too much of the strain:

  • Entertainment Weekly: “But most of the album is an utterly anonymous exercise in high-end sound production, as luxuriously empty as one of the new designer bags Lopez lusts after on the misleadingly named ”Good Hit.” And despite the star power she emits on screen, her vocals have always been less than stellar; on LOVE? she often sounds limited and nasal, with a flatness that can feel downright Rebecca Black-esque at its worst.” — Adam Markovitz
  • Us Magazine: “But it’s not merely a bootyshaking blowout. She gets downright mushy on the ballad ‘Until It Beats No More,’ in which Mrs. Marc Anthony coos, “You tore down every wall in me.” And the famed diva points a few fingers at her romantic past on “(What Is) LOVE?” dissing “blind dates” and declaring, ‘Musicians are the worst’.” — Ian Drew

Love? is available on Amazon for $11.88

The Good

Beastie Boys, Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2

Finally. I mean, 2007′s all instrumental The Mix Up could hardly suffice for a return from Beastie Boys, so here we are, finally with the return of the original party animals:

  • Alternative Press: “Hot Sauce has the Boys (well, men) playing with their instruments again. It sounds fuzzy, the songs are kinda rough, and there doesn’t seem to be any ambition to make a hit—their focus seems to be simply aimed at having fun. It’s as if the Beasties are revisiting their Check Your Head and Ill Communication days, minus the massive singles. Don’t get the wrong idea, though: It’s not just some washed-up old dudes trying to recreate their finer moments. The Boys sound rejuvenated, especially on the terrific “Too Many Rappers,” which features Nas—it’s impressive how fresh their verses sound considering how long everyone involved has been in the game” –Eddy Fleisher
  • NME: “In fact, while veterans they may now be, there are times when the Beastie Boys’ new record sounds so sprightly (‘Nonstop Disco Powerpack’), boisterous (‘Say It’) and playful (‘Tadlock’s Glasses’) – so diametrically opposed to the weary existential angst that defines the modern music era – that it’s a joy to listen to. Yet in doing so, it’s hard to shake the suspicion that the record’s appeal is largely nostalgic. Stylistically, its robo-rock rhythms and modulator-ed sloganeering owes a debt to the doofus party pop of the band’s 13-year-old ‘Hello Nasty’. Lyrically, it deals with such timely concerns as the career of the actor Lee Majors, star of cult ’70s TV hit The Six Million Dollar Man.” — James McMahon

Hot Sauce Committee Pt.2 is available on Amazon for $9.99

Stevie Nicks, In Your Dreams

Stevie Nick’s iconic voice and musical fingerprint on the industry is far from gone. On In Your Dreams, critics are realizing that Nicks’ first solo album is long overdue:

  • Us Magazine: “The gold dust woman hasn’t faded one bit! At 62, iconic Fleetwood Mac frontwoman Stevie Nicks has turned out the finest solo album of her four-decade career. It’s powered by her unmistakable, ageless vocals and intricate storytelling, from the enchanting first single “Secret Love” to the understated serenade “For What It’s Worth” (which mirrors her 1975 Mac classic “Landslide”).” –Ian Drew
  • Entertainment Weekly: “We’ll never complain about hearing Stevie warble the word dreams; indeed, several times here she comes remarkably close to Fleetwood Mac’s platinum-plated best. But In Your Dreams, Nicks’ first studio album since 2001, is also streaked with the witchy-woman weirdness only she can bring: On ”New Orleans,” she recalls her eternal desire to ”wear feathers and lace,” while ”Soldier’s Angel” finds her intoning ominously about war.” — Mikael Wood

In Your Dreams is available on Amazon for $11.88

The Great

Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues

Album of the week is Helplessness Blues, Fleet Foxes’ second studio album to date.  This may be their sophomore but the band only proves that there is no direction for them but up, and the Seattle-sextuplet have been racking up the five-star reviews from almost everyone on this album:

  • Guardian: “Equally disarming is the quality of the songwriting, which, for all its complexity, never sounds as if it’s been agonised over in the way it apparently has. At their best, the melodies just appear to be dripping from them, as on Lorelai, essentially Dylan’s 4th Time Around lavishly upholstered, with all that song’s bitterness replaced by heartstopping yearning. The result is almost laughably beautiful. Listening to it, Pecknold’s projected flight to Innisfree seems more of an unworkable pipe dream than ever: if you’re this good at doing what you do, it’s probably best to stick at it.” — Alexis Petridis
  • Chicago Tribune: “The band’s multi-part harmonies function more as a piece of the wide-screen arrangements rather than the dominant feature. The voice of Robin Pecknold is more out front and lyrically direct; against an intricate web of counterpoint melodies, he plays the troubled narrator wrestling with his place in the world. Employing everything from woodwinds to Tibetan singing bowls, with finger-picked acoustic guitars sailing atop rumbling timpani, the band makes a wonderful sound: rich but not overstuffed, intricate but not labored, virtuosic without sounding like anyone’s showing off.” — Greg Kott

Helplessness Blues is available on Amazon for $8.99