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 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 29th, NMF!

P!NK / HUSTLE

“Don’t hussle me, don’t fuck with me.”

Beautiful Trauma showed a more focused, mature P!nk that catered perfectly to her well developed adult contemporary fan base, and it already appears like Hurts 2B Human is making steps to coalesce that with her usual RAH! shtick. In our culturally ageist and sexist landscape, it’s difficult to fault an artist that recognises a commercial peak and decides to follow it with music that caters to the wave, as opposed to breaks with the formula.

‘Hustle’ is a fiesty piece of the same old pie for P!nk, her vocal returning to its characteristic and sharp I’m Not Dead days, with some new doo-whop and Imagine Dragons-esque influences thrown in to keep it fresh. It’s interesting and endearing to see P!nk continue on establishing this punkish attitude as she continues to age, instead of turning to the smaltzy AC half of Beautiful Trauma would suggest.

BILLIE EILISH / BAD GUY

“I’m that bad type / Make your mama sad type
Make your girlfriend mad type / Might seduce your dad type”

You’re either going to get Billie Eilish’s appeal or you’re not, her ASMR mumble-core vocal is going to either force you to throw your phone or it’s going to send shivers through your spine. ‘Bad Guy’ takes Eilish’s spook-tastic appeal and puts a quivering spin on it, contorting a relatively simple hook into an energetic and fun three minutes. Without watering down her appeal at all, it perfectly packages every quirk so far into what is simply… a brilliant song. The way she purrs and coos, her vocal mastered to within an inch of its life, as if she’s right there behind your speaker. It’s spellbinding.

ZARA LARSSON / DON’T WORRY BOUT ME

“Now I been sleeping okay.”

Music labels are often the bane of every pop fans existence, as they stand in the way of common sense single releases and hold their stars to ransom if they do not conform to a particular sense of style. ‘Don’t Worry Bout Me’ was one of those, almost a victim to label boss expectation. Stepping far away from the Euro-pop stylings of ‘Ruin My Life’, ‘Don’t…’ is a far more contemporary Rihanna inspired pop-bop that positively bounces. In fact, it sounds increasingly similar to Mabel, and I wonder whether the label only let it go after seeing the success she has received with this sound…

GABRIELLE APLIN / NOTHING REALLY MATTERS

“I don’t know why I’m scared of forever, but it’s now or it’s never.”

Gabrielle Aplin has been producing world class music for years, and since her incredible sophomore album has moved into producing world class pop music. ‘Nothing Really Matters’ is a showcase of fantastic British pop music, showcasing Aplin’s razor sharp talent at songwriting. A swelling build up of a bridge? Check. A short and sweet chorus that builds and builds before cutting away? Check. A euphoric breakdown following? Check.

FOLLY RAE / FULL STOP

“No subtle meaning between the line.”

Folly Rae up and stole my heart with ‘You Don’t Love Me’ just last year, showing a unique pop mastery and a voice that stands out from the crowd. ‘Full Stop’ recalls Sigrid and Tove Styrke with its jagged production and witty lyricism, but above all there’s a popstar here that is damn well exciting. Full of character from beginning to the end, it’s the exact kind of song you need to blare out from the car all through the summer.

EMILY VAUGHN / PIECES

“Everybody wants a piece of me, and I’m running out of pieces.”

‘Pieces’ might just be my favourite song of the week, but it took a few listens to get me there. Most notably because the song really steps into its own at the last 3 quarters, introducing a pounding kick that elevates the hook to an entirely new level. It’s an interesting addition, and makes you question why the entire song doesn’t maintain that relentless drive, but the slow evolution of vocoder-heavy ballad into Tove Lo-esque banger gives this such a unique bite. Filled with melancholy and a delectable hook, it really would feel at home on a Tove Lo album, which is always a compliment.

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!