DE LA SOUL, Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump (Tommy Boy) "I maintain like an old jazz singer," maintains Posdnuos near the top, and so he and his old high school buddies do. Or, really, have been doing since 1993's Buhloone Mindstate—maturity that doesn't resort to seen-it-all weariness is nothing new on them. So the biggest difference from their earlier work is how deeply ingrained that maturity is—and that they've gotten as goofy as their old Prince Paul-produced selves again after 1996's somber Stakes is High. Certainly the guests provide assistance: exuberant cut-ups such as Redman, Busta Rhymes, and the Beastie Boys; expert cut-and-pasters like Ad Lib, Rockwilder, and Jaydee; Chaka Khan singing a chorus on a standout song. But those helpmates only highlight just how good they are when they're being themselves, especially on "The Art of Getting Jumped," one of the most brilliant cautionary tales in the history of a music full of them. And whatever their method, De La pack more surefire singles into Art Official Intelligence than any album they've made since 3 Feet High & Rising, 11 years ago. No wonder AOI debuted in Billboard's Top 10. And even if that's just a quirk or accident of commerce, it's worth celebrating: Everybody say "Oooh. . . ."—Michaelangelo Matos
THE GLANDS, The Glands (Capricorn) You can be forgiven for taking Ross Shapiro of Athens, Georgia, for a whiner the first time you hear him: I did, and even after eight or nine listens to his band's self-titled second album, I occasionally still do. But not only did it stop mattering about halfway through my initial foray into The Glands, I now eagerly await every curled vowel and sigh, because they're of a piece with the guitars, which do pretty much the same thing. Only better: Every pick, strum, conjuring of feedback, and echo of plectra leaving string that Shapiro, Craig McQuiston, and Doug Stanley lay down is an act of love, murmured late in the night just for you. The hazy slide of "Mayflower," the confident single-note punctuations of "Lovetown," and the groaning layers of "Soul Inspiration" entice from afar and blossom upon closer inspection. They have their way with keyboards, too. The piano-driven Nutrasweet pop of "Swim" is what Ben Folds might sound like if he weren't a preening asshole. And something tells me we're not gonna hear a better indie-rock song this year than "I Can See My House from Here," a stoned-soul picnic that digs a perfect groove and then wallows in it for four exquisite minutes. For those of you still waiting for Creeper Lagoon to make that just-as-irresistible follow-up to I Become Small and Go, here it is.—Michaelangelo Matos
The Glands play Tuesday, September 5 at the Breakroom.