Music

16th August, NMF!

MUNA / STAYAWAY

‘Stayaway’ has been out for just over 12 hours and I’m already positive that it is going to end up in my top five of the year, if not the top 2. The sophomore slump is a real issue for many artists, and considering MUNA’s debut album showed itself to be one of the most impassioned and well constructed debuts in the last ten years, the pressure really was on to not only recreate that but to elevate it. ‘Stayaway’ is the kind of song careers revolve around, melodically a masterpiece and lyrically devastating, it’s hard not to find something new to love with each listen. That’s if you can stop repeating the gloriously powerful pre-chorus. If this was the 00s, I’d have the lyrics plastered all over every single online profile I inhabited.

Leaving you was easy, now I’ve got to do what’s hardI’ve got to stay away.

MILEY CYRUS / SLIDE AWAY

Authenticity is a much sought after thing that simply cannot be fabricated and shows itself at the sparsest of moments, like Demi Lovato releasing the heartbreaking ‘Sober’ before her publicised relapse or Ariana Grande referencing her exes shortly after Malcom’s death, Miley channels her recent split with long-term-flame Liam in the devastating ‘Slide Away’ – a song about recognising the two worlds both of you inhabit have shifted so far away that they are now unreachable. Considering Miley’s career has been filled with a plethora of characters, it is simply remarkable to see her peel away the layers and present something so visceral. We haven’t seen this since the raw, and incredible, Dead Petz… experiment – which really felt like the real Miley Cyrus shining through. Hopefully between this and ‘Mother’s Daughter’, she’s more ready than ever to occupy that character completely.

PVRIS / HALLUCINATIONS

The best thing about ‘Hallucinations’ is how it manages to subvert the typical PVRIS formula by blending their enormous, effect-soaked choruses with a surprisingly intimate production. Considering how well they do LOUD it’s simply delicious to hear Lyndsey’s vocals given the space, with only strings and a slight beat accompanying her. Of course, that doesn’t stop the ceiling-crushing chorus from fitting right in to place when you least expect it. With hints of BANKS and Florence, this era really feels like PVRIS taking the next big step for their artistry.

NORMANI / MOTIVATION

Everybody I know has been, rightfully, freaking out about Normani’s sudden reintroduction (mostly because of the star quality on display in the marvelously nostalgic music video). ‘Motivation’ needed a few plays from me before it sunk its claws in but it’s so god damn exciting to see such a huge pop culture moment being made from a debuting solo artist. There’s been a lot of swing for Normani over the past year and it seems like it’s allowing her to hit the ground running. Though that’s not to discredit her, as her charisma and confidence is pouring out of every ounce of the song. She knows this is it, and it sounds like it.

And if you don’t get it yet, just watch the video. You will.

HYPHEN HYPHEN / TAKE MY HAND

‘Take My Hand’ truly reveals its cards at the three minute mark, a cathartic implosion after several minutes of atmospheric teasing. Whilst this won’t be for everyone, and at times it sounds like the soundtrack to some buzzy and dark Netflix series, it’s a momentous release that sounds unlike anything else released this year. Between gasps for breath, bass that sounds like it’s going to burst open the speakers and their trademark chant-like vocals, this is the closest you’ll come to an out of body experience this year.

This week was simply fantastic, and there’s a whole bunch of other songs that could have made our highlights on any other week. Make sure to check them out and let us know what your highlights would have been:

Music

9th August, NMF!

It’s a special New Music Friday this week, we’ve compiled the very best of the best of every single piece of new music possibly released below:

KATY PERRY / SMALL TALK

I just can’t believe we went from stranger to lovers to strangers in a life-time.

Not content with releasing one of the biggest pop bangers of the past few years with ‘Never Really Over’, Perry has loaded her pop cannon with everything that makes her unique and special and has fired her load over the world. ‘Small Talk’ balances quirky and fun lyricism with crippling relativity, casually describing the awkwardness of remaining civil with someone that once touched your intimate parts. Who can’t possibly relate with that?

KATY PERRY / SMALL TALK

Sometimes a song is so good that it needs to be repeated. Often times that kind of song isn’t an all-out banger, because it’s easy to get tired of something so relentless, but in this case ‘Small Talk’ is the smartest of earworms – infecting your brain with minuscule hooks and zingers like ‘Everybody at the party thinks youre the best since sliced bread. It’s a charm that Katy pulls off well, especially considering the coldness of her last album, and it ultimately adds to the charm of the song.

KATY PERRY / SMALL TALK

Repeating these kind of songs once is never enough. They worm into your head cavity, bouncing around the bone until you’re humming the melody along in the middle of the busy office. So it needs to be put on again, and that bridge you despised at first opens itself up in its stupidly fun glory. Blah, blah, blah! She sings without a single inflection, threatening to careen the song off course at the last moment, only for it to be incorporated into the final crescendo with an assortment of other tricks. It’s stupid, it’s funny, it’s Katy Perry.

CXLOE, GNASH / SICK

Right firstly we’ll ignore the connotations to mental health and sickness, as though it’s something to wish for and attempt to develop in order to have a dramatic life. The song is fantastic, pushing CXLOE to the higher tiers of anonymous Spotify pop girl. It absolutely didn’t need the rap and frankly I’d have given her much more credit to command a song like this alone, but she absolutely dominated it as it is. The way the ‘Fuck me…. up’ drawls out with such character. Amazing.

CASSIE / SIMPLE THINGS

Cassie returns again with a triumphant bedroom-studio atmospheric dreambop. Yes, a lot of words for a simple song but sometimes a song doesn’t have to be throwing the entire kitchen sink at the wall to work. She seems to be dropping these brilliant excerpts of a completely new persona on the regular, but ‘Simple Things’ is the most promising. With tinges of Rihanna mixed with Swede-pop and her own golden touch – it is proof that simple sometimes is exactly what you need.

KATY PERRY / SMALL TALK

Oh what the hell, let’s play it again. Yes, it’s been on repeat 45 times today already but the hit doesn’t stop getting so sweet. This time, I’ll close my eyes and enjoy that subtle guitar pluck imbuing the verses with urgency.

(Apart from Katy, what were your favourites of the week?)

Music

2nd August, NMF!

August kicks off with a bang as the delightful Alice Chater returns with a dance banger, Carly Rae and Kiesza sign themselves up to features that are actually good and Ava Max double dropped suprisingly adequate pop songs despite a whole new upcoming single campaign. Here’s our best of the best:

Vocally Alice Chater is at that infamous Jessie J level of overwhelmingly competent, though our blonde diva in waiting is somewhat of a triple threat – glorious tunes, impeccable dancing skill and a towering voice. ‘Tonight’ follows in the footsteps of ‘Thief’, a somewhat anonymous megabop that sounds dangerously similar to ‘One Last Time’, in establishing Alice’s pop persona. You’d think talent was enough but we also need the songs.

I’m not quite sure whether ‘Tonight’ is that song just yet, but it’s the first time we’re glimpsing Alice Chater away from the samples and similar sounding sonic palettes. At times it really does sound like a remix, with the verses clearly missing something, but 1. crucially the chorus is huge enough for that not to matter 2. The music video, available here, is a total 10/10 blast (as are all of her music videos for that matter) and 3. the middle-8 is otherworldly. Honestly I almost crashed my car this morning when she came Ooooooooh-ing through the speakers.

Carly Rae has been a bit of an enigma this year, firstly for following one of the greatest and most refined pop albums of all time with a disappointing and a somewhat half-baked return, mostly because it kind of feels like her interest in her own sound has stagnated somewhat. It’s back to square one, and she’s jumped on a feature with the very underrated Gryffin – now you only have to look at the artwork and you know how this is going to go, but it does subvert the drop with a gorgeous horn/synth mix solo that suits Carly’s voice perfectly. It’s a kind of tiny moment of wonder that I hope inspires Carly going forward. Production aside, this is essentially a Carly song – so it’s not too farfetched to imagine a world in which she embraces this a little.

I hear sounds in the hallway, rocking chairs are moving on their own” Ava croons softly in what sounds like a misplaced Halloween reference. Ava Max is fairly easy to understand, her persona has been crafted that way, and thus ‘Freaking Me Out’ isn’t aiming to surprise as much as appease the listener. It does manage to have these small surprising moments of glory throughout though, imbuing it with character, like the ‘du du du’ middle eight section (complete with flutes!) that comes and goes within seconds. As long as she keeps this little surprises up, she’s good.

As a total sucker for emotional dramas and teen-flicks, 13 Reasons Why is the biggest guilty pleasure I’m happy to admit to. ‘fuck, i’m lonely’ sees rising star Lauv team up with Anne-Marie in a stunningly intimate duet about loneliness and the refusal to get over someone. Admittedly a worn topic, particularly when you think about the other party who is receiving these endless calls, but smartly coupling with 13 Reasons Why – which deals with teen angst and suicide, amongst a breadth of other things – gives it the extra dimension it needs. Lauv is doing a storming job right now openly exploring feelings in his music, which is not easy for males in the media right now, and ‘fuck, i’m lonely’ is another string to that bow.

Mabel’s album, High Expectations, is out now and ‘Put Your Name On It’ is easily the best thing from it that hasn’t already been released. Whilst she’s been at the helm of quite a handful of big hits now, most notably the recent ‘Don’t Call Me Up’, it has taken this long to put out a piece of work. ‘Put Your Name On It’ recalls her features (‘Ring Ring’, ‘Fine Line’) but showcasing her charismatic ability to command it by herself. It definitely seems as though she’s being lined up to be the next Dua Lipa, and frankly she has the material to match, so hopefully this is her ‘New Rules’.

There’s plenty more to listen to this month, as always it’s documented in our weekly ‘Eyes On…’ playlist here:

Give it a follow and make sure to tell us what songs you’re enjoying this month!

Eyes On…

Music

JULY 26th, NMF!

ILIRA / PAY ME BACK!

Don’t lend money that you can’t afford to lose in an old adage that many of us should subscribe to, but still often find ourselves on the wrong side of. How many of us can relate to the shilling of our own finances to fund someone who in shocking news turns out to be the same typical trash most of humanity is made of?

Well if so, may I present ILIRA’s newest anthem dedicated to the rinsing of a man that who takes more than he owes, and yet also recognises her own financial issues. The song is a masterclass in tongue-in-cheek bravado that evokes the recent Eurovision winner ‘Toy’ with its witty lyricism, brash production and shouty vocals. Amazing.

LIZ, SLAYYYTER / DIAMOND IN THE DARK

May I also present to you, and this may come as a shock following a song in which the artist rides a unicorn in a skintight red suit on the artwork, the gayest song of 2019 so far. A typical PC-Music affair of robotic synthpop littered with references to shining diamonds, rhinestones in the air and glittering hearts. Liz also brings in rising internet sensation Slayyyter, and with it her typical Britney 90’s influences also flood in, to create what is one of the most unexpected and frankly excellent songs of the year.

KATY PERRY / NEVER REALLY OVER (SYN COLE REMIX)

Remixes are usually a mixed bag, and typically I wouldn’t invest any inordinate amount in a remix when the original exists right there but ‘Never Really Over’ is the best song of the year (and perhaps the last few years?) and as such I’m appreciating any reworks of it we’re given. The Syn Cole remix turns it right on its head, drawing out the melancholy with trance-esque strings and a stripped back chorus – where instead of Perry, the hidden chants of ‘Never really over!’ take front stage. It’s a brilliant decision that highlights the strength of ‘Never Really Over’ as a song in all of its different forms.

BROOKS, ALIDA / WAITING FOR LOVE

Sometimes all you need on a blisteringly hot week like this is a dance anthem that inspires you to get moving, and ‘Waiting For Love’ is exactly that. Alida delivers the effective and satisfying chipmunk-lite vocal, Brooks delivers the rolling production and drop that hits you in all the right places. Whilst this isn’t going to be steamrolling my best of 2019 list any time soon, it’s finding its way on to every gym playlist I have.

TAYLOR SWIFT / THE ARCHER

Taylor Swift finally sighs her way on to one of our best of the week lists with ‘The Archer’, an 80s inspired revisit of her slower and much more intimate moments. Following ‘ME!’ and ‘You Need to Calm Down’ with this is almost enough to give someone severe whiplash, but it’s not really that much of a surprise considering its another Antanoff co-write. I can’t help but want that reverb to sharpen up as the song plods on, and honestly I don’t think any song needs a Humpty Dumpty reference, but this is a much better blueprint we’re begging for more of on the album. But… with a bit more oomph please, Taylor.

Follow the exclusive playlist for every new release on Friday’s that’s worth listening to:

Music

July 19th, NMF!

Here are the best five tracks of this wonderful New Music Friday:

SAM SMITH / HOW DO YOU SLEEP?

Did I really expect a Sam Smith song to be my favourite of the week? When typically his songs would be reserved for insomnia drenched nights, ‘How Do You Sleep?’ is an exciting evolution of a newly expressive artist. The video, which is great, is an overt celebration of his queerness and I can’t help but be ecstatic watching Sam’s slow revelation that his queerness does not need to be hidden anymore. What’s best is that, even if this does have a high pitched trap-drop, this doesn’t sound a single step out of place? It’s effortlessly cool, an utter slow jam that we think is going to be huge.

SOFI DE LA TORRE / PERO NO

‘Pero No’ follows ‘Estamos Mal’ in reestablishing Sofi with her Spanish roots, continuing to showcase her exceptional songwriting skill in her native tongue. Now I’m not a fluent speaker, but that doesn’t stop me positively soaking in everything here – it’s succulent and warm, a melancholic and yet blissful summer bop thanks to her typical emotionally charged vocals. Again this is Sofi excelling at what she knows and is very good at.

CHARLOTTE LAWRENCE / WHY DO YOU LOVE ME?

With Billie Eilish on the way to being the next big thing, it was only a matter of time before someone starting to draw inspiration from her very unique sound. ‘Why Do You Love Me’ is going to be the first of many, and it’s so similar to something Billie would put out that it’s almost disturbing. The ASMR vocals, the plinky bass, the slightly demented chorus – it’s ALL here. I almost admire the sheer change in sound to this from everything before to be honest!

CHLOE MK / DAVID BOWIE

Immediately the title evokes Gaga and 80s driven pop music, and luckily the sonic build of the song does little to subvert that. Chloe has seemingly came from almost nowhere with perfectly crafted 00’s pop songs that remind me of the golden days of Gaga and the collection of stars, such as Natalia Kills, that followed her meteoric rise. ‘David Bowie’ is subtle and immaculate, doubling as a love song and a tragedy, and immediately sets Chloe apart from the other girls on the scene right now with its dedication and coolness. In a world of Ava Max’s, be a Chloe MK.

CHARLI XCX, CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS / GONE

Consider this a somewhat muted celebration of the new Charli XCX song, because we all know the type of electro-pop that she is capable of by now and unfortunately ‘Gone’ brings little new to the table. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but I have heard Charli XCX do this song a few times before and for that it loses an initial spark. WITH that aside, it’s a hook driven distillment of everything Charli has come to represent, and Christine stops in for a quick vocal too. I’d never noticed how similar they could sound before, but it’s certainly obvious here.

Music

July 12th, NMF!

A big big BIG week this week. We’re talking enough hooks to catch a meal for the whole family. Get your earphones, get comfy… and dig in.

SOFI TUKKER / SWING

One of my highlights of the weak features almost entirely Portuguese lyrics and violent strings set to a dance background. Sofi Tukker have been behind some of the most versatile and exciting dance-pop music in recent memory but ‘Swing’ turns the character up a whole other notch. It’s delightfully addictive, the repeated lyrics cast out like a spell that hooks you right in – and just when it threatens to get too much, those gorgeous strings and a well placed ‘oooooooh’ softens it into pure bliss.

CALL ME LOOP / SELF LOVE

Call Me Loop has ditched the blonde locks and transformed her sound accordingly, switching from the frothy pop hits you’d hear from Rita Ora to a self-help anthem ripped straight from Ace Wilder’s playbook. It’s yet another delivery from Loop that leaves us wondering when she’s going to punch through – it’s positively oozing with character, Georgia’s vocal inflections and speak-sections keep it bouncing along. It doesn’t sound like an obvious hit, but it’s as catchy as the measles. Imagine this on the Melodifestivalen stage with a handful of dancers and coloured ribbons. Perfection!

BANKS / CONTAMINATED

Absolutely without a doubt the highlight of the week, if not one of the highlights of the entire year. While we wait for the album to sink in a little more, ‘Contaminated’ dug its claws in on first listen. It’s that broody, heavily affected ballad that BANKS knows how to deliver – you won’t find much of a deviation from her already perfect formula – but the worldbuilding on display in this song is astounding. Already one of the greatest songwriters out there, ‘Contaminated’ showcases Gillian’s unrivalled ability to present relatable topics in a completely unique, and heartbreaking, way.

THE BAND PERRY / GOOD LIFE

You may know The Band Perry from their fairly extensive country success. If you do, forget all about it. Their first new music in over five years, ‘COORDINATES’ established an entirely new dedication to electronic pop and ‘THE GOOD LIFE’ is the nail in that yeehaw coffin. Astoundingly it sounds as though they have been doing this sound forever, the sharp as nails vocal perfectly complimented by the glacial production. May they never look back.

PVRIS / DEATH OF ME

Like many other bands before them, Paramore being the closest, PVRIS perfected the art of delivering angsty rock music in a palatable pop package. Without sacrificing an ounce of their character, they have consistently delivered exceptional pop songs with that harder edge. ‘Death of Me’ is their best yet – it’s the kind of song we know Halsey would have begged to release. Production wise it is world class (and possibly the best produced song of the year?) with a chorus built to raise arena roofs. Welcome back, PVRIS.

Music

Friday 7th July, NMF!

It’s Friday, we’re here and ready to showcase the best of the best of the best. Let’s go:

VERA BLUE / THE WAY THAT YOU LOVE ME

Every now and then someone releases a song which sounds like something at the top of the game. Simultaneously modern, such a song has to tap into similarity and nostalgia just as it paves a whole new direction. If there was any justice, Vera Blue would be catapulted to stratospheric success because of ‘The Way That You Love Me’ – a fantastically catchy master stroke of Vera’s more atypical melodies and a Billie Eilish-esque production, both working against one another and in tandem. Just brilliant.

AU/RA / DANCE IN THE DARK

‘Dance in the Dark’ is brilliant in its odd melancholy and minimalism. Sounding like a Billie Eilish-meets-Grimes album track, it bounces between the most minimal hook-driven choruses of the year to a much more typical Paramore-esque verse. It’s almost enough to cause whiplash, especially considering the chorus opens with nothing but her voice and the bluntest of kicks, but it quickly unfolds into a total earworm.

BLITHE / MASOCHISTIC

First of all it’s kind of terrifying how much she sounds like Anne-Marie on this, but is just so happens to be better than anything on Anne-Marie’s album. Sugary sweet, there’s something slightly saccharine about the delivery until that wonderful hook hits – “I’m just a little masochistic”. Ingrained so deeply into the production and delivered so delicately, it’s arguably one of the best moments of 2019 so far.

STOCKHOLM NOIR / GLORY

Stockholm Noir have helmed some of the strongest dance tracks of the last few years, but they have had us a bit scared recently with a flurry of fairly basic and hard-to-latch-on-to instrumental tracks. ‘Glory’ is a meteoric return to form, successfully crushing simple and evocative melodies (as all Swedes understand how to do more than any other) with the most palatable of dance productions. They really are a dance force to be reckoned with.

RALPH / GRAVITY

Ralph delivers her first dedicated dance banger due to online fan demand, and despite sounding like every other dance remix around, her voice lends itself to the anonymity well. Delivering an underrated and brilliant album last year wasn’t enough, and she continues to prove her desire to keep releasing music and expanding her brand… We commend it. Now give us those quirky pop songs we know you’re sitting on.