“It was in summer that you left me, the fall and winter never felt so cold, and Lord knows words can never express it, life feels so empty, I miss you much,” Janet Jackson sings about her late brother, Michael Jackson.

“Painful tears like never before, we can’t laugh together till we cry, but our love ain’t no material thing, Insha’Allah, see you in the next life,” she continues in her signature soft tone.

“Broken Hearts Heal” is a perfect example of Jackson’s musical prowess. The song’s beat is so feel-good, breezy and bouncy that you must dance, but her lyrics are touching, and in this particular song, heart-wrenching, as she highlights her relationship, even as kids doing chores, with the King of Pop.

And that’s exactly it: Jackson’s album, “Unbreakable,” is a reminder that dance music is more than fast, loud electronic beats pounding to the floor. EDM creators and its admirers, take note.

This 17-track set, which has Jackson reuniting with longtime collaborators Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, is full of soulful, electro and addictive tracks that will make your head bop or vogue — and make your brain think.

On the downbeat and introspective “Black Eagle,” Jackson gets political, singing about those who are overlooked and judged.

“I’m singing this love song to show my support, to the beautiful people who have been ignored, with blind eyes and cold showers attacking them, invisible people they won’t let fit in,” she sings. “Because every life matters — we all need to do better.”

Jackson isn’t always serious, and “Unbreakable” is a balanced adventure: “Dammn Baby,” which samples a line from her late ‘90s hit “I Get Lonely,” has a semi-trap sound that is a winner; Missy Elliott brings the heat on the fun “BURNITUP!”; and “Night” is a house and trance anthem.

The album’s first single, “No Sleep,” is a sexy R&B number and on “2 B Loved,” which features a classic Jackson hook, she’s a confident independent woman in love.

While “Unbreakable” has some B-level tracks — including “Take Me Away” and “Gon’ B Alright” — the album is a reminder that Jackson is one icon who hasn’t lost a beat. That’s the way real music goes.

Mesfin Fakadu

The Associated Press


For two albums and a few singles, the Detroit band Protomartyr has mined the depths of post-punk cynicism and brought back consistently golden sounds. On each subsequent release, the band gets better, bigger and bolder.

“The Agent Intellect”, the band’s third full-length, shows a band sounding as purposeful as ever. Lead singer Joe Casey’s sometimes snide and brutal honesty is nearly buried by his bandmates’ dissonant fury. But whenever the band threatens to spiral out of control, Casey and drummer Alex Leonard are there to bring back the balance.

On “Cowards Starve,” Casey lets his confidence fly, letting listeners know what he will do to help in times of trouble. Never content to stand in the sun too long, he ruminates on the eventuality of death on “Dope Cloud.” Surprisingly, the band manages to throw a few hooks in the mix, too — hear the organ refrain on “Boyce or Boice” and rousing chorus of “Cowards Starve.”

Unlike punk rock contemporaries like Parquet Courts or Ty Segall’s million bands, Protomartyr isn’t here to make you chuckle and merely entertain.

“The Agent Intellect” is document of a band that knows all this will be over too soon, but they’ll fight like hell to make sure the jury heard its closing remarks.

Matthew Sigur