Music, Uncategorized

April 26th, NMF!

P!nk is hurting, queer talent is thriving and Marina Diamandis is terrified of love – it’s new music Friday. Let’s get into it:

P!NK / HAPPY

P!nk teams up with the ever-impressive Sasha Sloan to create what may be her most brutally honest song since ‘Family Portrait’. It’s the sound of a mother, a lover, a pop star twenty years into their career, looking back on a life filled with anxiety and doubt. Sasha’s razor sharp lyricism is the perfect compliment to Moore’s terrifyingly tender vocals, but it doesn’t shy away from the hooks in delivering its message. If there’s any justice in the world, this needs to be enormous.

BETTA LEMME / PLAY

This would be the Queerest song you’ll hear today, had Dorian Electra not also released this week (see below). ‘Play’ is abrasive and absolutely bonkers, its main melody one of those instantly recognizable samples that makes you question why it hasn’t been sampled before, and its absolutely undeniable. Produced by Danny L Harle, it’s Aqua reborn for the thirsty pop fans. Did anyone ask for it? Who cares. I la la la la la love it.

SAM CREIGHTON / SMILE

‘Smile’ is just as fascinated with looking into the past as ‘Play’, though revels more in the inspiration than direct replication. You won’t realise at first; the song sounds like almost every other Spotify song by Astrid S, Tove Styrke, Orchid, Kiiara (I could go on), but the chorus is a masterful sledgehammer of 00s R&B dedicated to shutting down the sleazy mass of masculinity. “Tell me to smile, I dare you” – she practically begs, oozing with cool.

DORIAN ELECTRA / FLAMBOYANT

Queer talent often has to infiltrate a system by conforming before our own talent is recognized, and even then we can find our heterosexual counterparts commandeering our efforts as if they were always their own. Dorian Electra is an enigma that would inevitably frustrate the modern pop game, and ‘Flamboyant’ is a fantastic reclamation of a word that has been used against feminine queer men for years, but the true charm of it is how it balances on such a tight string of modern and fascinating production; twisting an obvious dark-club bop with a 90’s soundboard and a totally out-of-place but perfect piano riff – it’s a masterpiece in masquerading.

TERROR JR / LOVED BY YOU

‘Loved By You’ is the sound of Terror Jr carving out their niche for success, losing some of the jagged edges that made them so interesting in the process. It’s still brilliant enough to include here, and it’s easy to get lost in the relentless production and sweet vocal, but without their typical depth and running to a short 2:20, I’m left craving more.

MARINA / BELIEVE IN LOVE

Love + Fear campaign drama aside, Marina’s first album in four years had arrived with a dull thud. Skip immediately to the second side, to find the stunning tracks like ‘Believe In Love’. Admittedly it would appear Marina’s once quirky production and lyricism has been sandblasted away, but nobody quite delivers the quiet bliss of disassociation like Marina at her best. ‘Believe In Love’ is the sound of your mind floating away, caught in melodies and fears drifting by, it should have been the blueprint for the entire album.

FLETCHER / IF YOU’RE GONNA LIE

Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ ‘Under the Bridge’ continues to inspire some damn good pop music, the trend continues with ‘If You’re Gonna Lie’ – if Fletcher isn’t sued for stealing the guitar riff then I’m looking damn forward to the album this is taken from.

This incredible week doesn’t stop here, check out my playlists below for MORE MORE MORE of the week:

Music

April 5th, NMF!

ISLE OF YOU / HOLD TIGHT

“What if we burn out?”

Isle of You consistently deliver perfectly polished pop songs that recall both The Veronicas and classic Disney-pop. It’s a sound that is being given a new lease of life as much darker, minimal beats continue to dominate pop music. ‘Hold Tight’ is a dreamy three and a half minutes, with gorgeous ‘Pure Shores’-lite harmonies and one of the best closing minutes of the year. It’s easy enough to imagine clinging in the arms of your lover as those synths relentlessly whir.

CYN / TERRIBLE IDEAS

“You say the craziest things before we touch.”

Katy Perry’s protege, Cyn, returns with bombastic rock-infused anthem to deep and unrelenting lust. Make sure you give this at least three plays, because it isn’t built to be understood on the first play. Off-kilter synths, heavy riffs and a delicate vocal beneath it all – it instantly reminds me of Rina Sawayama’s ‘Alterlife’, both being songs that revel in creating a whole other world in song form: every piece of production meticulously portraying her sexual feelings. It’s the sexiest song of 2019 so far.

JENS / BEFORE YOU LET ME DOWN

“You don’t look at me the same way.”

jens helps to fill the huge Shawn Mendes sized hole of 2019 so far with the stunningly simply ‘Before You Let Me Down’, a fairly obvious guitar led white-boy love-meets-tragedy mid-tempo. Firstly, the crystal clear guitar and that crisp vocal is like fresh water after a long night of hooking. Secondly, it does that amazing key change equivalent of introducing a whole new melody/pre-chorus in the closing moments. With a tiny 2:24 time-span – it’s short, sticky and sweet.

SAVOIR ADORE / IT’S GONNA BE ALRIGHT

“Nothing’s quite what we had in mind.”

The opening moments of the song might have you believe this is a Crystal Castles song, but it doesn’t take long for Savoir Adore to introduce their trademark warmth. ‘It’s Gonna Be Alright’ is positively encapsulating, the Chvrches-style production bubbling away as the vocals stretch and glide around the harshness.

GIA WOODS / KEEP ON COMING

“Do you want to undress me? Fuck me with your eyes?”

‘Keep On Coming’ revels in its sexual presentation, presenting the exciting and suspenseful introduction of a new friend in its starkest form. It delivers everything you need in a sex positive anthem; slow, pounding bass; coy and evocative lyricism; a deliberate vocal delivery. At times a little obvious, it almost sounds ready built to be sung along by crowds of people at tour venues across the world, but hearing a mass audience singing ‘Keep on coming…’ would be fairly revolutionary.

LOREN GRAY / OPTIONS

“They only want attention so I drown them out.”

At the age of sixteen, Loren has no right creating such fully formed and brilliant pop music like this yet. Admittedly the production carries most of the weight, her fairly atypical delivery giving it the opportunity to bite, but there are moments of wonder that really makes me excited for her future. Particularly the way that chorus crashes in with a thud – that’s the sign of a producer that understands the power of a great chorus. Also the best part of the song is the absolutely delicious “I drown them oooooout” coo. Gorgeous.

There’s plenty more to the week to be found on MY PLAYLIST FOLLOW IT updated every single Friday!

Music

March 22nd, NMF!

DYNORO, INA WROLDSEN / OBSESSED

“I’m too invested, I can’t get obsessed with you.”

Ina Wroldsen is unquestionably one of the strongest songwriters of our current timeline of pop, each one of her songs is a showcase of fantastic and quirky melodies that swell and stick like any Abba great. Unfortunately that doesn’t immediately translate into success, and as such we’ve seen Ina invest in collaborations in a bid to get her name out there. Luckily her songwriting skill bursts through just as sharp as that vocal, perhaps one of the most recognisable voices on the airwaves right now. ‘Obsessed’ is Dynoro trying to recreate the club hit masterpiece ‘Breathe’, with an extra tint of Ina’s usual melancholy. I’m obsessed.

WILL YOUNG / ALL THE SONGS

“Only takes a spark to light this flame.”

Will Young’s Echoes remains a contemporary masterpiece and a necessary listen for LGBTQ men looking for talent that can represent our absolutely valid experiences. Living your life as a queer person, participating in queer circles, it’s easy to forget just how rare it is for people like Will Young to even be here. Of course, his sexuality is integral to his character but not his success, and ‘All the Songs’ is a fantastic return to that wistful and dreamy pop of Echoes. The video is an incredible exploration of his sexuality and a total liberation in reclaiming his image. In a world where queer talent is snubbed and blurred, it feels so good to hear and see him back with this fire again.

RAINSFORD / PASSIONATE

“Cutting your hair, I kept a piece of it.”

Rainsford’s ‘Rendezvous’ is a timeless classic that would fit right at home on Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream album, seriously go stream it now. ‘Passionate’ picks up where ‘Rendezvous’ left off; it’s a quirky and off-kilter exploration of obsession with bouncing synths, a pulsing bass and a gorgeously deep vocal. Think Postal Service meets Paperwhite meets Allie X, and you’re halfway there.

TOUCH SENSITIVE, KITTEN / UNCONDITIONAL

“You nod your head but your heart is frozen.”

I remember discovering Kitten in 2013; the fantastically weird ‘Like a Stranger’ capturing me immediately with it’s bizarre intro, electro-rock eighties production and a deeply affected vocal bathed in reverb. Consider my surprise seeing them team up with EDM producer Touch Sensitive, expecting the warm opening synth to give way to a fairly non-descript dance song. Imagine the further surprise then when the song unravels into an exciting line-blurring between two completely different worlds.


NIMMO / EVERYTHING I WANTED

“I need life to excite me at night and every single morning.”

‘Everything I Wanted’ summons Kelis-Fleshtone era David Guetta with its stabbing piano chords and drifting pads, and Nimmo’s La Roux-like vocal bouncing above it like a stone skipping on the water. Honestly at times I imagine this could be the La Roux follow-up in another reality, the similarities are astounding: the piercing and emotional delivery, the nostalgic production, the dancefloor ready beats. Hopefully we won’t have to wait years and years for an album from this pair, though.

LPX / BLACK & WHITE

“Who am I fooling? In the end I’m only human.”

LPX is breaking away from MS MR with the force of an atom bomb; her self fronted music relentlessly emotional, the production aggressive and her voice tinged with angst. ‘Black and White’ heads the new EP, Junk of the Heart, and sacrifices a little of that anger for an inviting warmth. Where the likes of ‘Tremble’ and ‘Tightrope’ were more Icona Pop shout-punk-pop, ‘Black and White’ feels more akin to Amy Macdonald – which is in no way a bad thing. This is character progression, the building of an artist that has so much to give – especially if this catchy mega-hit-in-waiting has anything to do with it.

Alan Walker is back, this time with Disney chanteuse Sabrina Carpenter and Farruko for his very own attempt at an exotic Despacito/Taki Taki style banger, ‘On My Way’.

Masters of quirky production, Sofi Tukker, have had their edges trimmed to deliver a dance-pop classic, ‘Fantasy’, that would fit right in on a Eurovision stage.

Zeina is trying to warn you about some serious damage heading her and her boo’s way in ‘Killer’, a surprisingly chill ballad considering the subject matter.

With a voice of gold, Sinead Harnett, returns with a spunky Jessie Ware-esque ballad, complete with handclaps.

Marina has a new album coming soon and so far ‘Superstar’ is the only song worth getting excited for. ‘Orange Trees’ is such an enormous misfire, kicking off with an out-of-place Garageband ‘OoOoOooOrange’ refrain and a breezy dedication to love. It just… doesn’t work. Sorry.

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.