Music

June 28th, NMF!

AGNES / LIMELIGHT, I TRANCE

Seven years since she last gifted us with the masterpiece pop album Veritas, in which Agnes subverted all expectation and delivered one of the strongest pop albums of the decade; she’s back… and she’s done it again. There’s still an undeniable thread here, you’ll be expecting a European-style SMASH and that’s what you’ll get – but this dual release presents her yet again at the forefront of exciting and ever-changing pop music. ‘Limelight’ is the safer of the two: a typical Agnes mega-smash with enormous chorus fed through a dance filter. ‘I Trance’ is the delicious experiment: a Kylie-esque exploration of dance. What a woman.

KULT KYSS / RITUALS

‘Rituals’ is future pop to its core, evoking Kate Boy’s aggressive ‘One’ with its heavy synths and moody atmosphere. As with KB, the production is just one sparkly part of the package – the vocals being just as important in their world building. It’s the kind of sound I want more mainstream acts to co-opt and integrate their own sound, like when Katy Perry released ‘E.T’.

KIM PETRAS / ICY

Kim Petras’ problematic existence has been easiest to deny when her music occupied a relatively anonymous and fairly-good-but-not-amazing territory. ‘Icy’, part of her new album Clarity, may mark the end of that. Whilst still tied to Luke, and thus sounding like something you’d find The Weeknd releasing, it’s easily the best thing she’s put her name to yet. A fitting vocal for the subject material, where often she can sound slightly trill, it works perfectly to showcase the coldness she’s singing about.

MUNA / WHO

Queens of emotion, MUNA have followed their alt-banger ‘Number One Fan’ with a much more familiar ballad dedicated to obsessional stalking and unrequited love. Katie’s vocals will forever be the highlight, transforming what might be simple lyricism into heartbreaking odes of pain. It’s something they mastered with their debut, so definitely reassuring to see it return so well here.

PURE SHORES / RUSHING

Marlene and Ji helmed the best song of 2018 last year, Ear Candy, and have since teamed up to become production duo extraordinaire’s Pure Shores. ‘Rushing’ is their first release together, giving us a great first glimpse into the dance-pop they hopefully intend to keep on releasing. If there’s anyone that understands how to make a light and breezy pop song with enough substance to pierce your skull, it’s Marlene and Ji.

This might be the most packed week in recent memory… On top of the above highlights, we have new songs from Ellie Goulding, Sasha Sloan, Julia Michaels, George Maple, Jada, Iggy Azalea, Sofia Karlberg and even MORE. Make sure to follow our dedicated playlist to keep up with the best of the best!

Music

April 12th, NMF!

P!NK, CASH CASH / CAN WE PRETEND

“‘Cause honestly reality, it bores me.”

During the release of Beautiful Trauma, P!nk lamented about recording too many songs for the album and having to shelve a majority in favor of its typical, Adult-Contemporary sound. Hurts 2B Human has to be approached with this context; an outlier to her typical discography, released at her commercial peak because it can be. ‘Can We Pretend’ was clearly inspired by the phenomenal ‘What About Us’ remix that surprisingly bothered the iTunes charts, and comes equipped with their trademark production and drop. It would have been gorgeous to hear the original song before the remix, but it’s nice to see P!nk trying something completely different. And it bops!

ELLIE GOULDING / SIXTEEN

“We held on with the best intent, just two kids who kicked it on MSN.”

Ellie Goulding utilised the now infamous vocal chop breakdown way before it was popularised, with the anthemic ‘Anything Could Happen’, and ‘Sixteen’ feels like a swift return mixed with Rita Ora’s ‘Anywhere’. The weighty and surprisingly fresh lyricism helps give it the edge, but it’s Ellie’s typical vocal that infuses it with some much-needed emotion. A tight balance between nostalgia and grief, ‘Sixteen’ only makes the mysterious upcoming album even more interesting.


SEEB, HIGHASAKITE / FREE TO GO

“Did it occur to you that I could be gone from you?”

Seeb is a name we haven’t heard from in a while, right? Luckily he’s recruited one of our current favourites, Highasakite, for a stunning slice of dreamy dance-pop. Great dance music knows how to translate emotion without excessive lyricism, and ‘Free to Go’ really doesn’t have to say much to translate its emotional weight; as the vocals soar and squeak, the synths feel just like the freedom being called out for. It’s dance music at its best.

HANNAH JANE LEWIS / NOT YOURS NEVER WAS

“Can’t remember but I think I kissed you first.”

If you can see past Hannah Jane Lewis having possibly the worst artist name of current times, you’ll actually find one of the most consistent pop artists of the past few years. ‘Not Yours Never Was’ heads her self-titled EP, and is a perfect introduction into HJL’s full-hearted pop sound. Like Ava Max, Betty Who, Nova Miller, Rita Ora – it’s a great heap of perfectly scooped, creamy and delicious vanilla ice cream.

MARK RONSON, LYKKE LI / LATE NIGHT FEELINGS

“I lay in silence, but silence talks.”

In a masterstroke of genius, Mark Ronson has recruited so sad, so sexy Lykke Li for the title track of his upcoming album. Her fragile and fragmented delivery is a perfect match for his self-described ‘retro sad banger’ approach. It gets particularly good at the end (of course) when the song slows right down, before slowly speeding right up – like a heartbeat gaining pace.

HEY VIOLET / BETTER BY MYSELF

“Maybe it’s the way you used me. Watered down my love, abused me…”

‘Better By Myself’ is a departure of sorts for Hey Violet, but it brings them closer in line with After Laughter-era Paramore. It’s a more complex and encapsulating sound, one that slowly unfolds as the three minutes tick over. A subtle earworm, it cleverly introduces new elements throughout before unveiling a positively dominating final chorus. If this is the sound they’re pursuing now, count. us. in.

NOW, NOW / ENDA

“I might hate myself in the morning, but I’d do it anyway.”

Now, Now are one of the greatest bands on the planet right now. If you haven’t already heard of them, you’re missing out and absolutely have to set aside time to do so now. Their sound pivoting around a HAIM-like folk-pop and a much sparser electronic vibe, ‘Enda’ twists the dial entirely to the latter. Listen, you’ll either love or despise this; it’s minimalistic and sparse with a noisy and abrasive ending, translating a melodramatic anguish as slow as they possibly can. It’s overwhelming and dark, an experimental introduction into what seems to be a much heavier approach to songwriting, one that we think shows the band is continuing to evolve. AND THAT’S SO EXCITING.

Follow our dedicated playlists for ALL the best music:

Music

March 1st, NMF!

THE JAPANESE HOUSE / YOU SEEMED SO HAPPY

“These things don’t happen to anybody like you”

There’s a special place in musical heaven for songs that manage to tread a fine line between soft depression and gentle bliss. There’s a special place for songs that can appeal to you when you’re feeling lost and when you’re feeling on top of the world. ‘You Seemed So Happy’ is one of those songs.

About as lightweight as a song could possibly be, it’s about as heavy as a Dido single but it packs just as much of a punch as half of the incredible MUNA album. It just knows the exact kind of song it wants to be, but also revels in the dreamlike haze it casts over with those cloudlike vocals and guitar strings. It’s like somebody crushed Bleachers and Imogen Heap in one handheld blender and spun the dust out the car window driving down the coast. Positively gorgeous.

KSHMR, YVES V, KREWELLA / NO REGRETS

“I don’t wanna care and I’ll die with no regrets.”

Krewella have been making a living recently picking up where The Veronicas left off, but with their club friendly spin applied each time. Masters of EDM, they’ve dropped enough songs in the past year to fill an entire album – each one better than the last. ‘No Regrets’ continues the tradition.

‘No Regrets’ doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, it’s a cliche every songwriter approaches at some point. There’s a bombastic delivery to their vocals that gives this the edge, as if they truly don’t give a fuck about dying early, and an underlying melody that bursts through from start to finish.

Also the vocal buried beneath it all at the very beginning is a beautiful little touch.

MARINA / SUPERSTAR

“What I like about you is you know who you are, what you like about me is I know who I’m not.”

MARINA has never her aspirations for pop stardom a secret, basing an entire album and persona on the pursuit of the American dream, but ‘Handmade Heaven’ had me worried that she’d let go of that drive and settled into her own niche once more. ‘Superstar’ is the slap around the face I needed.

It’s ‘Power and Control’ dragged kicking and screaming into 2019 and melancholy bathed in love, it’s the sound of falling so hard for someone that you can’t quite catch your breath. Lykke Li taught us not to be afraid of artists embracing modern production, and there’s something about Marina’s voice that soars effortlessly as the production steps back. It’s nice to be excited about Marina again.

JULIE BERGAN / SHUT THE FUCK UP

“The only good thing you can do to me now is shut the fuck up and get the fuck out.”

‘Shut the Fuck Up’ isn’t quite as brash as the title suggests; its production is something you’d have stumbled into in 2016, the chorus actually quite soft in contrast to the sentiment. What is brimming with character though is Bergan herself, with what may actually be the best vocal delivery of the year so far. Is that a thing? I never really considered it a thing until I heard just how good she sounds in the verses.

Sometimes we shouldn’t be afraid to bask in the past a little, so if you need me I’ll be in my room dancing to this 2016 Melodifestivalen Ace Wilder-esque bop.

ELLIE GOULDING / FLUX

“And I’m still in love with the idea of loving you”

NOT A BOP WARNING.

Ask any Ellie Goulding fan and you’ll find that her career has been in an odd sort of crisis since the last album. Originally providing us with witty and naturally British folk-pop, she soon became the next big thing and for better or worse polished down her edges. We’ve been understandably confused about what Ellie Goulding’s sound really is, as she progressively devolved into an Americanised popstar.

That’s not to say the songs weren’t great, it just seemed as though the heart was shielded behind many other layers. ‘Flux’ however approaches you with blood on its sleeve, no layers left. It’s difficult to judge such an emotionally heavy song in such a short time span, but it sure is fascinating to see an artist dedicate themselves to opening up like this.

SIGRID / SIGHT OF YOU

“It’s a lonely feeling waving you goodbye.”

Releasing a debut album isn’t easy in our modern climate. It’s difficult to know what labels want an artist to achieve before they can successfully drop their finished works, and most artists will drop a majority of the album before its release to capitalise on interest. Sigrid has had a rocky delivery, but her album is on the way.

‘Sight of You’ isn’t the career defining single that ‘Strangers’ was, but we have to recognise the graft it has taken to get her to this point. Her prior singles, like ‘Strangers’, ‘Plot Twist’, ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ pointed to somebody fearless with an entirely new sound that was ready to dominate the airwaves. ‘Sight of You’ doesn’t try to keep up with that, but it does put Sigrid back on the map with a brilliantly written and hook-laden chorus.

That’s the top picks of the week! Are there any you found that aren’t on the list? Make sure to comment and follow the Spotify playlist to keep up with the best new tracks every Friday.

Music

February 22nd, NMF!

MØ / THEME SONG (I’M FAR AWAY)

“I found some roses to show you, growing wild through the floor.”

Am I about to admit a soundtrack song for the Moomin’s is one of 2019’s very best so far? No other artist has soundtracked the evolution of pop music quite like MØ, and her incredible second album ‘Forever Neverland’ showcased her unrivalled approach to quirky yet responsive melodies. It’s SO hard not to get excited when an artist consistently switches up their entire production style, keeping it uniquely them while giving you something fresh.

‘Theme Song’ delivers like a smooth tonic, the chorus unravelling like a dream and giving way to an ethereal saxophone riff. As she chronicles in the lyrics, it perfects the feeling of wanderlust: that rare childhood feeling of wandering the streets and pointing out cracks in the pavement. It’s nostalgic and melancholic, a love story to memories gone. Not only is it an absolute wonder on its own, it’s a bloody soundtrack song!!! Imagine what else MØ has lying around. God.

P!NK / WALK ME HOME

“Walk me home in the dead of night, I can’t be alone with all that’s on my mind.”

The Hot AC queen returns far sooner than anyone expected, and as usual she has delivered us with an expertly polished lead single. Much as usual with rock music, P!nk has taken to refining her sound throughout the many years of her career instead of necessarily reinventing it. What it results in are these uplifting pop bangers that drop all pretence, knowing exactly what they are and who they’re made for.

Stepping on the path ‘Beautiful Trauma’ set out, ‘Walk Me Home’ takes P!nk further out into folk-pop territory. The Mumford and Imagine Dragons influences are instantly apparent, but it’s a soundscape that works well for what will inevitably be screamed out into arenas throughout the summer. Looking back over the twenty years since she first arrived on the scene, the sheer scale of her discography is miraculous. If ‘Walk Me Home’ is anything to go by, her upcoming album is going to be a gem within it.

ELLIE GOULDING / DO YOU REMEMBER

“I still remember when you gave me life.”

The perfect week for every soundtrack lover out there, Ellie Goulding passes one of her biggest songs in recent memory to the ‘Fighting With My Family’ team. It’s surprising to see considering her real lead single, ‘Flux’, is out next week but this is the same artist that repackages each album, or delivers a 20 track masterpiece like Delirium.

‘Do You Remember’ picks up where Ellie left, sounding like a true sister to ‘Something In the Way You Move’. It’s easy to see why she’d pass it to a soundtrack, but that doesn’t make it any less of a sledgehammer. While not convincing any haters any time soon, it’s going to please any Goulding fan that is sat waiting for her new campaign to really start.

BLITHE / DON’T BLINK

“I’m performing a warning.”

Sometimes comparisons are inevitable: ignoring the obvious influences is far too difficult upon first impression. An impression can either overpower a song, or work to its advantage. ‘Don’t Blink’ invokes Julia Michaels with its bubbly production and brilliant switch-up-chorus, and Blithe’s sensual vocal brings tinges of Selena Gomez and Diana Vickers – the collaboration of the two makes the song positively shine.

Absolutely bursting with character, any wandering thoughts you had at the start will be swept away by the brain-melting chorus by the end.

BULOW / SWEET LITTLE LIES

Bülow has quietly been establishing her own quiet and moody aesthetic, positioning herself in much the same realm as Billie Eilish, by dropping consistent Imogen Heap-meets-Grimes-does-trap tracks that showcase an artist with a very clear vision of their songwriting skill.

‘Sweet Little Lies’ is immediately recognisable and easy to swallow, with the chorus possessing one of the most obvious and delectable melodies of the year so far. The sonic shifts of Bülow would threaten to give any fan whiplash, but it’s just another string to her bow; never pulling back far enough to stretch, the same delicate songwriter approach comes piercing through before anything else.

DJDS, COL3TRANE, RAYE / THE FRUITS

“Spill me your mind and I’ll spill you the fruits.”

I’m going out on a limb here and ready to bet you won’t find a song with better production this year than this right here. It takes me far away to the darkest corners of the club, hidden whistles and ‘oohs’ creeping through the crowd of bodies. It’s hard for me to argue with any bassline like this, but the real special moment is how RAYE contorts the melody at her sudden arrival: the equivalent of spotting your crush on the other side of the dancefloor – your vision captivated.

She’s the supporting actress that steals the show, delivering a vocal so charismatic that you’re left desperately hitting that repeat button. Incredible.

Those are our top picks of the week, but the fun doesn’t stop there! There’s plenty more tunes on our dedicated Spotify playlist right here:

Make sure to drop your own discoveries!