Albums: May 10, 2013 | EW.com

Music

Albums: May 10, 2013

Reviews of the latest releases from Kenny Chesney, She & Him, and more

Kenny Chesney, Life on a Rock
Chesney’s latest set of island anthems evokes the surf and sun with tracks like the title cut and a tongue-in-cheek Willie Nelson duet that finds the crooners ”high in a coconut tree.” Aside from one misguided reggae experiment (”Spread the Love”), Chesney sounds right at home here — and convincingly tender on ballads like ”Marley,” which effectively works steel drums into country’s standard sad-song format. Life’s mostly an optimistic affair, though, and the beach-party tunes go down easier than a lime margarita in Montego Bay. BGrady Smith

She & Him, Volume 3
As you might surmise from the title, Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward’s first album of the New Girl era (not counting 2011’s standards-heavy A Very She & Him Christmas) is a faithful continuation of their older output. Prepare for more cute, wistful, sad-but-sunny retro-pop songs that’ll hit a lot of people’s sweet spots, and make other people want to punch a LOLcat in the face. (Lines like ”I could’ve been your girl/And you could’ve been my four-leaf clover” don’t help.) And as always, the pair know their way around a good cover; their take on Blondie’s ”Sunday Girl” is a standout. BRay Rahman

Rod Stewart, Time
After a decade spent pillaging the Great American Songbook, Rod Stewart returns to co-writing his own material. Many tracks, including the folk-inflected lead single, ”She Makes Me Happy,” are fairly anonymous, but ballad ”Brighton Beach” and the anthemic ”Can’t Stop Me Now” serve as reminders that this is the man who brought us ”Maggie May” — and not just because he mentions the fact on the latter. B-Clark Collis

Lady Antebellum, Golden
The multiplatinum country trio’s fourth LP is a refreshing return to form after the dull post-”Need You Now” phase of their career. Charles Kelly’s and Hillary Scott’s vocals radiate a yearning warmth that makes their flirtatious harmonies irresistible, smoothing over the sometimes facile lyrics. Upbeat tracks like lead single ”Downtown” and ”Generation Away” bring welcome energy, but slowed-down laments like walk-of-shame confession ”It Ain’t Pretty” make sadness sweet, too. B+Grady Smith

Deerhunter, Monomania
Deerhunter made their name with arty indie-rock opuses like 2010’s acclaimed Halcyon Digest, but on the Atlanta quintet’s fifth set, the music feels more hot-blooded and feral — a scratchy, raucous collection that finds singer Bradford Cox busting out his animal yelp on highlights like ”Dream Captain” and ”Pensacola.” The band describes its updated style as ”nocturnal garage,” but if it sounds this good, they can call it whatever they want. B+Ray Rahman