16th Oct, NMF!

This is the strongest Friday in recent memory. Honestly, between the new GRANT and CXLOE EP, the Sasha Sloan, Astrid S and Beabadoobee album, I almost had the highlights done already – then there’s even more! Check it out.

CXLOE – Heavy, Pt. 1 – EP [iTunes Plus AAC M4A] | iTunesM4A+ MUSIC

CXLOE / PLANS

The Heavy EP, which dropped last week, wasn’t actually the EP at all? Instead, Heavy Part One has dropped today with a total of six tracks, three of which are new and absolutely brilliant. Confusing release strategy aside, ‘Plans’ might be CXLOE’s best yet. Still very much following her blueprint of the thematic/one-word-focused chorus, but a chorus so instantaneous it’s nonetheless hard to deny.

Astrid S - Leave It Beautiful | Album Review

ASTRID S / AIRPODS

Astrid S has always occupied a very unique space between commercially successful and an underground flame, mostly because of the sheer quality and drive of each of her releases. It’s quite easy for Scandi-girls to fall in the pit of anonymity, considering the amount of them out there at any given time, yet Astrid has set herself apart with unashamedly bombastic pop music. ‘Airpods’ is that in a nutshell; quirky but commercial, polished but sharp, undeniable.

ILIRA - my new single EAT MY BRAIN is out on friday.... | Facebook

ILIRA / EAT MY BRAIN

The sooner we admit that pop music has been a darker place since The Saturdays split up, the better. Luckily for us, ILIRA is seemingly sitting on an influx of 2013 pop classics straight from the vault of Fame-era Gaga and the likes. ‘EAT MY BRAIN’ is dumb as hell, and I don’t quite understand what it’s actually about yet because I’m too busy, as with all of her other frankly brilliantly produced songs, enjoying the damn banger for what it is.

Sasha Sloan - Only Child Lyrics | LyricsFa.com

SASHA SLOAN / HIGH SCHOOL ME

Sloan’s new album, Only Child, is a delicate trip through historical traumas, lifelong rivalries and body issues, to name but a few themes. Having proven her talent for writing desperately cutting lyricism already, it’s no surprise the best tracks on the album, which happen to be the two closers, present her possibly at her most cutting yet. ‘High School Me’ isn’t sad though, not at all. It’s a celebration of how proud our childhood self would be if they could see you now, and it’s beautiful.

GRANT - Vertigo EP | Album Review

GRANT / DON’T RECALL GROWING OLD

GRANT might just be my artist of the year right now, let’s get that out there first. There’s a steely coolness to her current material, which comes across perfectly across her new EP Vertigo, giving everything this charismatic sheen that compliments the glistening production. ‘Don’t Recall Growing Old’ doesn’t concern itself with an enormous chorus punch, as ‘Hell Yes…’ did before it, instead basking in that glorious atmospheric pool for a slinky 3 minutes. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – it’s so hard to listen to GRANT and not see the signs of a future BIG POP GIRL.

These are but five of this weeks brilliant highlights, but it’s a truly brilliant week. Make sure the check out the MUNA/NOW,NOW remix swap, the beabadoobee album and the new Fickle Friends track!

27th September, NMF!

CECILY / AWAKE

Her Spotify ‘about’ section might be about twenty years too late in that it actively namechecks her as a counter to the ‘Britney’s of the world’ (Someone might want to tell her management that Billie Eilish is the new thing?) but ‘Awake’ is brilliant enough for me to completely disregard that. The Julia Michael’s style verses lead you to believe this is heading one particular way, only for a huge Chvrches chorus to bound in with the most satisfying of stabbing synths. Don’t go, don’t leave! she begs, and honestly I feel like never leaving. What a bloody good song.

ALLIE X / FRESH LAUNDRY

There’s a hidden secret among the deepest pop fans, and her name is Allie X. Constantly releasing the tightest of pop songs, she’s been tapped by Troye Sivan and even ripped off by Taylor Swift, and yet her name continues to be that criminal secret reserved for pop lovers. ‘Fresh Laundry’ isn’t going to change that, and you could argue that if her last effort wasn’t able to do that then it might never happen, but it is the most exciting she’s been in years. The constant state of refinement is astounding in retrospect, ‘Fresh Laundry’ sounding both at place with her almost five year old material and also a hyper-polished version of it, it’s soft and introspective in all the right ways. Opening up her dream-pop to a much warmer palette, it’s understated and frankly brilliant.

KITO, EMPRESS OF / WILD GIRL

Kito’s expressive production skills have started garnering her some mainstream attention, in particular being picked up by BANKS for her amazing lead single ‘Gimme’ this year, but luckily there’s still plenty of talent still in the locker for herself. Teaming up with the criminally underrated Empress Of, ‘Wild Girl’ is a Tove Lo meets BANKS understated banger that I’m desperately hoping is leading to another EP. Whilst it doesn’t quite hit as hard as last years EP, HAANI, the production still bubbles and froths in all the right places.

LIZ, AJA / LOTTERY

00’s nostalgia might be bubbling beneath the mainstream but anyone with their finger on the pulse will realise the wave that is building, with the likes of Slayyyter and LIZ surfing the high tide. ‘Lottery’ is almost entirely early Britney, to the point where you can visibly imagine this fitting on her sophomore or even Blackout. This is an influence Liz has embraced, with her citing Britney, the 00s and the MIA-Nadia Oh as inspiration, and ‘Lottery’ revels in it. We won’t talk about the feature, which almost torpedoes the whole thing, but luckily the chorus shines through.

FLUME, VERA BLUE / RUSHING BACK

Sometimes the best pop music isn’t afraid to get a little abrasive, choosing a sonic palette that screeches a little instead of basking in familiarity. Flume already demonstrated a masterful production touch in his 2019 mixtape, Hi This Is Flume, and the pop singles he’s released around it use similar production choices well whilst maintaining the strength of a melodic pop song throughout. Drafting in songwriting excellence Vera Blue, who herself is moving away from her folk roots to explore a more electronic route, means there’s a big beating heart at the center of this all – her familiar vocal pulling it back in as the production veers wildly. It’s a masterful collaboration of the two.

Also this week:

Franky Wah has recruited Robinson for a really dreamy trance song, ‘Hide’.

Elohim continues to release material that isn’t as good as her debut, but it’s still great in a Tove Styrke kind-of way. ‘Paradise’ is a bop.

Charlotte Lawrence is releasing more ASMR pop with ‘Navy Blue’, a gorgeous ballad that has the tiniest of verses and the biggest chorus.

‘Extra Fries’ by ILIRA is the exact song we need for bulking season, even if it sounds like she’s written it over the backing of every other song of hers?

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: