Shaad D’Souza

is The Saturday Paper’s music critic.

By this author


podcast February 10, 2022

How TikTok transformed indie darling Mitski

Indie music icon Mitski had already released five albums and received critical acclaim before her 2018 song ‘Nobody’ blew up on TikTok. On her new album, ‘Laurel Hell’, Mitski explores her relationship to the music industry and making art under capitalism, at a moment when she’s more famous than ever.

Culture January 29, 2022

Mitski’s Laurel Hell

Mitski’s latest album, Laurel Hell, is her darkest yet – and one of her most beautiful.

Culture January 08, 2022

How student radio offers an alternative to the familiar

Listening to student radio reconnects audiences with the power of niche obsessions.

Culture December 18, 2021

The new funding model bringing life back to music

As one of the simplest Covid-era music funding models, Flash Forward has produced some of the year’s best work.

Culture November 13, 2021

Beach House’s Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand

On the brink of their biggest release yet, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally reflect on what has made Beach House the darling of indie pop.

Culture November 06, 2021

ABBA’s Voyage

ABBA’s reunion album Voyage has bizarre, brilliant gems nestling among embarrassing dross.

podcast October 14, 2021

It’s Lil Nas X’s world, we’re just living in it

With that one track, produced for less than $100, the rapper made history. ‘Old Town Road’ became the longest running single to sit at number one on the charts, and kicked off a debate about the definition of country music.

Culture October 16, 2021

Lala Lala’s I Want the Door to Open and Hand Habits’ Fun House

Stunning new albums from Lala Lala and Hand Habits disprove the adage that dealing with your inner demons is detrimental to art.

Culture September 25, 2021

Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine

Their intense collaboration has seen Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine commingle the sacred and profane.

Culture September 11, 2021

Kacey Musgraves’ Star-Crossed

The joyousness of Kacey Musgraves’ previous album entranced even hardened cynics, but her latest work, Star-Crossed, takes us back to the dark.

Culture August 20, 2021

Review: Lorde’s Solar Power

Although it has sparkling moments, Lorde’s new album Solar Power is marred by a misjudged emotional loftiness.

podcast August 06, 2021

Is Billie Eilish the radical saviour pop needs?

In 2018 singer Billie Eilish released her debut album ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’ With it the teenager pretty much immediately changed the face and sound of modern pop music. Her album won all four of the major categories at the Grammy …

Culture August 07, 2021

Gonzo director and actor Dasha Nekrasova

Director, podcaster and Succession cast member Dasha Nekrasova’s debut film is a genre mash-up that reflects the hallucinatory age of conspiracy theories.

Culture July 24, 2021

Tkay Maidza’s Last Year Was Weird, Vol. 3

Rapper Tkay Maidza’s fleet-footed style-hopping has driven her international success.

podcast June 04, 2021

Olivia Rodrigo takes over

Olivia Rodrigo’s hit single ‘driver’s license’ is undeniably the biggest song of 2021 so far. Now the actor turned singer-songwriter has released her debut album ‘Sour’, which has broken streaming and chart records.

Culture June 05, 2021

Japanese Breakfast’s Jubilee

As Japanese Breakfast, Michelle Zauner made two albums exploring deep loss. Now she steps forward with Jubilee – a richly textured celebration of the music of her adolescence.

Music May 01, 2021

Amy Shark’s Cry Forever

As with her earlier work, Amy Shark’s new album, Cry Forever, trades on her struggles to succeed – but she’s no longer an underdog.

Culture April 17, 2021

Fearless (Taylor’s Version)

In a surreal power move against two music executives, Taylor Swift has re-recorded her early mega-hit album Fearless, mimicking the original as closely as possible.

Music March 27, 2021

Lana Del Rey’s Chemtrails over the Country Club

Lana Del Rey’s sixth album, Chemtrails over the Country Club, is an exquisitely rendered journey through a dark night of the soul.

Culture February 06, 2021

SOPHIE

The untimely death of the iconic producer SOPHIE brings to an end a spectacular career that reshaped modern pop.

Culture January 30, 2021

Singer-songwriter Sarah Mary Chadwick

The bleak and brilliant confessional songs of Sarah Mary Chadwick’s singular repertoire draw on psychoanalysis and her Catholic childhood.

Culture December 19, 2020

Music’s year of reckoning

In 2020, the inequities between major-label artists and indie musicians became untenable – and it has led to a surging politicisation of the music industry.

Culture December 12, 2020

We Will Always Love You

The Avalanches’ third album is their most explicitly spiritual record – and their best yet.

Culture November 14, 2020

Hey u x

New Zealand Spotify star Benee is preternaturally talented, but her debut album isn’t enough to drag her out of sludgy easy-listening playlists.

Culture November 07, 2020

Singers Vika and Linda Bull

The Bull sisters took their gospel-singing Tongan background and perfectly blended harmonies and carved a decades-long career as both quintessential musician’s musicians and popular favourites. “I like the challenge of creating something out of nothing,” says younger sister Linda. “And then what happens at the end of that process is you get a song that you can sing for years.”

Culture October 17, 2020

The Ascension

Sufjan Stevens’ new album reinvents his aesthetic as he confronts the psychic terror of contemporary America.

Culture August 22, 2020

Indie folk icons Bright Eyes

Ten years after their previous album, Bright Eyes’ latest release brings a new lightness to their apocalyptic imagining. “Lyrical and generous, it feels like a new beginning for Oberst and co on their own terms, despite the weight of its conception, and despite the pain that it holds.”

Culture August 01, 2020

Three versions of ‘Blue’

The take on a 1998 Europop hit by three artists highlights a contemporary desire to find comfort in nostalgia and the innocence of a bygone age.

Culture July 18, 2020

The Chicks’ Gaslighter

The artists formerly known as Dixie Chicks are back with a long-awaited album that eschews their usual truth-speaking on politics and power for much more personal, and poppy, reflection.

Culture June 20, 2020

Powerful messages in Australian music

We know the power of music to provide comfort and healing. But we also know it can act as a force for change. Here, three releases that have powerful messages in the current cultural moment.

Culture May 23, 2020

Charli XCX’s how i’m feeling now

Conceived and executed in isolation, Charli XCX’s latest album, how i’m feeling now, fearlessly charts new terrain while capturing the complex emotions of a stable relationship and the sadness of life away from friends.

Culture May 16, 2020

Singer-songwriter Moses Sumney

During his early career, the music industry was intent on fitting Moses Sumney into boxes. But as his latest album, græ, attests, he is an artist determined to seek his own truths beyond the confines of expectation and identity. “I’m really interested in the collapse of identity politics, increasingly. I want us to get to a place where we can seek equality for ourselves without having to define as anything that’s simple. It feels really petrifying, the idea that you explain yourself to someone in order to gain their respect [and that] in doing that, you’re kind of solidifying your identity in a way that feels quite limiting.”

Culture April 18, 2020

Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Singer-songwriter Fiona Apple’s impressive fifth album, Fetch the Bolt Cutters, is the culmination of her decades-long quest to ‘feel everything’.

Music April 11, 2020

‘I Feel Alive’ by TOPS

I Feel Alive, the fourth album from Montreal band TOPS, captures their trademark lush soft rock sound while, in a stroke of timeliness, delving into tender explorations of love and loneliness.

Culture March 28, 2020

The best new Australian music

While Australian musicians are losing significant income with the cancellation of tours and festivals, they are still making remarkable records to inspire and revitalise us.

Music March 07, 2020

Soccer Mommy’s Color Theory

With its stark lyrics, hypnotic melodies and unsettling production, Soccer Mommy’s Color Theory captures the anxiety of a generation facing an uncertain future.

Culture February 01, 2020

Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig

After a six-year hiatus, Ezra Koenig’s band Vampire Weekend won a 2020 Grammy for their latest album, Father of the Bride. He reflects on the changing landscape of the music industry and how he handles his new-found fame. “We have a deep connection with a certain group of people, and we’ve grown it a little bit, but at a very sustainable rate.”

Music January 25, 2020

Mac Miller’s Circles

No sense of impending tragedy emanates from Mac Miller’s posthumous album, Circles. But it does offer some degree of satisfying closure for fans of the American rapper.

Culture November 30, 2019

Albums of 2019

Four recent releases highlight the wealth of talent on the Australian music scene, ranging from rap and R&B to emotional torch songs and shattering destruction.

Music November 09, 2019

FKA twigs’ Magdalene

Electronic musician FKA twigs is at the height of her powers on her new album, Magdalene, which combines formal ingenuity with visceral emotion.

Music October 05, 2019

Tegan and Sara’s Hey, I’m Just Like You

Even though the songs on Hey, I’m Just Like You were written more than two decades ago, Tegan and Sara’s new album feels contemporary and joins a growing canon of queer pop.

Culture August 31, 2019

The Teskey Brothers’ Run Home Slow

On their second album, Run Home Slow, The Teskey Brothers have produced a pale imitation of the ’60s soul greats, stripping the music of its political verve and adding nothing in return.

Culture July 20, 2019

Mark Ronson’s Late Night Feelings

On his new album, Late Night Feelings, Mark Ronson has put his mega-hit ‘Uptown Funk’ behind him, choosing instead to make a pop album with surprising emotional depth.

Culture June 15, 2019

Killing Eve

Beyond the thrills, the glamour and the sexual tension, Killing Eve’s second season asks viewers to confront their own ambiguous morals – and therein lies the series’ greatest strength.

Music May 11, 2019

Vampire Weekend’s Father of the Bride

On Vampire Weekend’s ambitious new album, which contrasts the band’s most upbeat music with some of its darkest lyrics, the New York three-piece has staked its claim to longevity.

Culture April 20, 2019

BTS’s Map of the Soul: Persona

Although BTS’s latest album, Map of the Soul: Persona, is a bland attempt to cover all bases, the enormous appeal of this K-pop band is ultimately undeniable.

Music March 30, 2019

Billie Eilish’s When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

Popstar Billie Eilish offers moments of macabre brilliance on her uneven debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

Culture March 09, 2019

Pond’s ‘Tasmania’

Fremantle psych band Pond’s latest album, Tasmania, acts as a springboard for frontman Nick Allbrook’s piercing take on Australia’s treatment of the environment and First Nations people.

Culture February 23, 2019

Julia Jacklin’s Crushing

Julia Jacklin’s new album Crushing has moments when her lyrical directness perfectly complements its dark folk-rock sound, which excuse some of the experimental missteps elsewhere.

Music February 02, 2019

Maggie Rogers’ Heard It in a Past Life

Pharrell Williams thrust Maggie Rogers and her song ‘Alaska’ into the spotlight. Now, with her debut album, Heard It in a Past Life, she’s taking a more rootsy, spiritual and sedate path to long-lasting success.

Music October 13, 2018

A Star Is Born OST

The soundtrack to A Star Is Born – featuring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper – unwittingly rebuts the film’s storyline, with the female star’s serious music less compelling than the pure pop she’s meant to have outgrown.