Music

4th October, NMF!

Spooky season has settled in, bringing with it cold wind and montages of latte’s in foggy cafes all around the country. What better way to soundtrack your pumpkin spice than with some brand new pop music?

KACY HILL / MUCH HIGHER

Dreamy storytelling meets the most expansive of synth’s in Kacy Hill’s magnificent ‘Much Higher’. Make sure to give it the time to sink in, headphones and all, because the beating heart behind this is just so encapsulating. Taken from her upcoming album, ‘Is It Selfish If We Talk About Me Again’, it balances around mid-tempo range whilst teasing an explosion that doesn’t hit as you’d expect; instead aiming for the heartstrings, the layered lyricism and pounding drums a war chant before the final bridge brings it all crashing back in. Delightful.

LOREEN / WALK WITH ME

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again until the world starts to hear it: Loreen is one of the greatest artists we have the privilege of watching evolve. Her journey from Eurovision winner to alternative rocker was exhilarating enough, but after teasing a much darker dance sound and now following it up with this brooding cover, we see yet again that she means to swallow the sound and regurgitate it back whole in her own way. Evoking her past cover, ‘Under Ytan’, it positively pulses along without worrying about conventional structure – and it sounds like floating on a bed of glass into the stars – her vocal another instrument of epic proportions. As always, she is an unrelenting steamroller of confidence and visionary talent.

HIGHASAKITE / CAN I BE FORGIVEN

‘Can I Be Forgiven’ is a song of two halves, and you won’t know unless you give it the time to switch up. Many times we hear bands and artists discuss their intention to switch up their sound without any substance to back that up. We wait for a slow shift, a glacial change of instruments or experimentation. How I wish they’d take a leaf out of this book, with what is the perfect package to showcase an evolution of sound – blending their songwriter folkish roots with an electronic explosion halfway through, quite literally guiding the listener into the new world they intend to create. It’s breathtaking to behold.

KING PRINCESS / HIT THE BACK

We haven’t had a song as good as this so explicitly about anal sex since Troye Sivan sung about his blooming self. The fact that there’s a fantastic little pop song behind it just makes it even more delectable, and the thought of innocent public members singing about letting their lover ‘hit the back’ is pretty iconic. The best thing about this though is that chorus, made even sweeter by the contrast in density between it and the verse. Opening up as a sickly sweet love song, it’s a delicious surprise when the funk-pop chorus swings in with a clenched fist.

ICARUS, RAE MORRIS / DREAMS OF YOU

You’d be forgiven for abandoning this Stockholm Noir-esque dance song before Rae Morris even comes in, but you’d be missing one hell of a gem. Like a classic trance song, it gives itself time to unravel itself around you in waves, unloading a subtle but defiant chorus of synths and Rae’s typical string-like vocals. It’s one hell of a duo, even for someone who has never typically enjoyed Rae Morris, that hits the ground running and doesn’t let up. By the time it hits the four minute mark, the blissful ecstasy of blips and bloops are almost transcendental. It’s almost as though it was built to soundtrack every drug fuelled mind escape, channelling that tunnel of emotions into sound.

October has brought with it a delight of nostalgic epics and some seriously melancholic wonders, so do make sure to give the playlist a quick spin. You won’t regret it.

Music

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?

Music

September 20th, NMF!

SASHA SLOAN / SMILING WHEN I DIE

Understated intimacy is so hard to do well, especially concerning songwriting. It’s ever too easy to create something that hits like a sledgehammer but there’s a real talent in balancing on the line between it, knowing when to hold back and when to let the words and melody do the talking. ‘smiling when i die’ might just be Sloan’s best work yet because not only is it immaculately produced but it is also poised to obliterate with powerful lyricism. Sloan’s secret weapon may be exposed to all now, her adaptive skill in refining depression and anxiety into relatable couplets, and with big artists like P!nk recruiting her for their own design but ‘smiling…’ helps showcase a whole new side to that songwriting style – one of delicate contrast amongst the honesty.

TOVE LO / STAY OVER

Vagina Queen Tove Lo has dropped her understated latest album, Sunshine Kitty, and despite not really feeling most of the promo tracks it really only takes one listen to understand what she’s trying to achieve and one more to realise she pulls it off perfectly. ‘Stay Over’ is the most instant of them all, with her wistfully persuading a broken lover that staying in her arms for the night is the best decision he could make. As usual with Lo’s immaculate storytelling, she isn’t afraid to play the bad guy. Disregarding his actual need to repair for the sake of her own whim is a questionable feeling, but we’ve all been there. We all believe we could be the saviour, or that our love will be all-encapsulating enough to repair any present damage, and ‘Stay Over’ captures that perfectly with its dark and melancholic bedroom-pop style.

GEORGIA / NEVER LET YOU GO

Already making waves with the wild and nostalgic 80s banger, ‘About Work the Dancefloor’, Georgia seems perfectly poised to take the mantle as next big rising UK starlet. Though taking a different path to ‘About…’, ‘Never Let You Go’ still revels in its influences, sounding like an artist that has spent years building the confidence to release these epic reminiscent bangers. The greatest asset to them all so far is how well the production plays alongside the melody, the voice as important as the instrument, but there’s a real driving force in the middle of it that sounds so palatable and ready for any radio station to pick up right now.

CAROLINE POLACHEK / SO HOT YOU’RE HURTING MY FEELINGS

  1. Take Sara Bareilles, Imogen Heap and HAIM and place them in the blender, spice appropriately.
  2. Sprinkle with a slight pinch of sexual confidence and a hefty amount of mutual attraction.
  3. Toss in razor sharp lyrics and a tongue planted firmly in cheek.
  4. Blend, though not enough to make it too serious.
  5. Pour into two bowls, serve alone in a quiet room lit by candlelight alone with the sound of your cats in the window.

What a fucking song.

Stick with me every week, around this time, for the very best of the week. Also this week look out for:

Cyn is back with her new EP Mood Swing and ‘I Can’t Believe’ is wonderfully weird and certifiably incredible… after thirty seconds.

Lauv has released the same song again but if you like him, you’ll love it. Quiet and lovely, it’s called ‘Feelings’.

The new Sofi Tukker EP contains one of their most subtly brilliant songs yet, ‘Ringless’.

Bebe Rhexa has repurposed Xtina’s ‘Beautiful’ into a feminist power anthem for Maleficent 2 called ‘You Can’t Stop the Girl’.

Mabel and Tiesto have a hit in their hands (SURELY) with the bizarrely structured ‘God is a Dancer’ which is great but not as good as ‘God is a Woman’ or ‘God is a DJ’.

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

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 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.