By Rohit Lakshman

Pasadena Weekly Contributing Writer

LOGIC, “Bobby Tarantino III” (Def Jam): 2

Maryland rapper Logic returned to the studio after a retirement that lasted less than one full year. After the surprisingly good “No Pressure” in 2020, this entry in the “Bobby Tarantino” series yields mixed feelings. While it doesn’t blatantly bite Kendrick Lamar like the first in the series, the songs are objectively less catchy and oftentimes laden with subpar lyricism — even for Logic. However, Logic is himself on this record, and no one else. Unlike the egregious near-plagiarism of tracks like “Deeper Than Money” off of the first “Tarantino” mixtape, the moody lo-fi production on the tracklist of III is original. Of course, Logic has his influences, as do we all, but this mixtape is mediocre. Highlights include “Vaccine” and “Call Me.”

LINGUA IGNOTA, “Sinner Get Ready” (Sargent House): 4

Absolutely electrifying. Rhode Island based singer-songwriter Kristin Hayter takes the best of her former works and cranks it up. With more wicked Christian imagery in the lyrics and medieval group vocals inspired by the Ephrata Cloister, a monastic community that used to operate in Pennsylvania, Lingua Ignota has once again thrown all genre labels into a woodchipper and danced in the splinters. This record is unnerving, more bold and more technically dense. Every track is a masterpiece.

IGGY AZALEA, “The End of An Era” (Bad Dreams): ½

There is nothing new on “The End of An Era.” It’s the same mind-numbing refrains, obnoxious synth motifs, and signature cultural appropriation that is practically the Azalea brand. However, if there is one track that stands head and shoulder above the rest, it is the opening, “Sirens.” The hook for this track is this insufferable pitch-shifted refrain that is just barely comprehensible as English, backed by this quiet bouncy melody that plays in the background. Do not give Iggy a chance, but if you do, watch out for such wonderfully subtle and sublime lyrics such as, “Feelin’ too lit to cry/ I love drugs.”

LORDE, “Solar Power” (Universal Music): 3

Critics darling Lorde returns to music after a quick jaunt to Antarctica in 2019 (seriously, check out “Going South,” the memoir she wrote about her experience). Inspired by the aforementioned trip to Antarctica, “Solar Power” is just as good as Lorde’s previous work but in a wholly different mood. The Lorde on “Solar Power” is casual, relatable and a little more relaxed. The lines here are witty and clever, rather than the, well, melodrama on her 2017 record “Melodrama.” “Solar Power” is a nice album to cozy up to, nothing revolutionary, but certainly not worth overlooking. Highlights include the title track “Solar Power” and “Secrets from A Girl (Who’s Seen it All).”

BEN PLATT, “Reverie” (Atlantic Records): 2

Most famous for his Broadway career, Ben Platt proved himself to be a competent songwriter with his 2019 debut “Sing to Me Instead,” where we were treated to powerful, loud emotional ballads for 45 minutes. Platt’s debut was not anything wild, but hey, not a bad start for someone thought only of as “the guy that played Evan Hansen.” However, with “Reverie,” Platt is a pop artist. The tracks on this record are more commercial than his debut, which leaves the audience with a bit of a mixed result. While the sometimes-overbearing dramatism of “Sing to Me Instead” is gone, the amped up commercial is not always a positive. Highlights include “happy to be sad” and the interlude series “king of the world.”