George Harrison created joyous music under the right circumstances. Nothing else in his solo career quite stood up to that impassioned post-Beatles period, where years of ideas culminated into one album. For many artists, it’s the same deal: you need the right inspiration to make music that sounds good, but feels good too. For The xx and Julie Byrne, that inspiration has arrived; both artists created beautiful, jubilant albums this month, and both did it in very different ways.
This lesson in what makes The Beatles’ White Album great helps inform a critical look at The Life of Pablo, the most recent outing by Kanye West. The two albums are not unfamiliar. Think about their contentious releases, their vexing run times. Think about the music itself. We see history repeat itself, an artist’s reality affecting the product they create.