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18th October, NMF!

This is quite possibly the best new music Friday of 2019 so far, and to accommodate the extra rise in effort this week, we’ll be highlighting a few more exceptional works. With Caroline Polachek dropping one of the best albums of the year, Sasha Sloan releasing her new EP, and Katy Perry returning with another banging pop song… It’s one hell of a week.

CAROLINE POLACHEK / PANG

‘Pang’, the title track from Polachek’s mind-blowing new album, starts simply with a smattering of electronic bleeps before launching its charm offensive. A smack in the face to anyone who swears that electronic pop songs can’t accurately bring the human emotion that real instruments can, ‘Pang’ delicately explores that deep seated feeling in our chests, and might just be one of the strongest songs of the entire year. Beautifully minimal but bursting outwards when it needs to. Danny L Harle’s style continues to evolve in such an epic way that it really does feel like we’re looking at one of the next big producers of our time.

KATY PERRY / HARLEY’S IN HAWAII

Although ‘Never Really Over’ and ‘Small Talk’ occupy similar lanes to material Perry has worked on before, namely taking influence from the monumental Teenage Dream era and its pop sledgehammers, there wasn’t really any kind of expectation as to how ‘Harley’s…’ would sound once it eventually dropped – save for those leaked music video images from months ago. Luckily it’s everything you didn’t expect it to be and more. Following up from Witness album track ‘Tsunami’, it’s a sultry tropico-bop that feels more inspired by Ariana Grande than Perry’s back catalogue. And god damn, does she own it, especially when those last minute ad-libs come soaring through.

LIZ / LAGUNA NIGHTS

Liz clearly sold a part of her soul to some demon somewhere, having featured as a highlight on this very blog several times in the past few weeks, but the music continues to just astound in totally different ways each time. ‘Laguna Nights’ might be her best yet, a nostalgic 00’s floor-banger that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Selena Gomez greatest hits album. It works because of the sheer charisma in her delivery, taking us back on a time-warp to the times it clearly takes inspiration from. For those 4 minutes, you can lost in it, and that only happens with the very best.

L DEVINE / PEACHY KEEN

Had you told me that a song that samples ‘Bette Davis Eyes’ and sounds exactly like Terror Jr. would be Devine’s next release, I’d have spat in your eye. But ‘Peachy Keen’ is exactly that, and she does it so well that there’s almost no doubt that her sound was ever anything but. Smartly, it toys with the sample ever so, leaving the brain to piece together where it has heard it from. This might be Devine’s best effort yet.

SOFI DE LA TORRE / DIMELO

‘Dimelo’, meaning ‘Tell Me’, is one of Sofi’s slowest efforts yet. Still accompanied with her bedroom-style beats, it’s a stunningly intimate ballad that aims right for the heart from the very start. Nobody quite does ballads like Sofi, and that’s in part due to the beautiful delivery every time. It takes charm to blend two tongues together and for that to translate to everyone, regardless of the language they know, and it comes across effortlessly here. The pain and heartbreak practically drip from every word.

SASHA SLOAN / TOO SAD TO CRY

Speaking of heart-slashing lyricism and delivery, Sasha Sloan’s new album comes equipped with one of the most powerful lyrical creations of her entire work so far.

I’m too sad to cry, too high to get up
Don’t even try ’cause I’m scared to fuck up
Don’t like to talk, I just lay in my bed
Don’t even try to go out with my friends
Lied to my doctor, she knew I was faking
Gave me some pills, but I’m too scared to take them
I try and I try, but I’m too sad to cry

I mean, take a look at that right there. There’s an exceptional talent here and a bravery to discuss the hardest of topics as if they were nothing, and it’s much harder than anyone will ever give credit for. The song itself stands right back and lets those lyrics take the spotlight, until Sasha steps forward with some delicious vocals in the second half. It’s just… stunning.

DJ SPOONY, SUGABABES / FLOWERS

If there was any justice in the world, this would be picked up by every radio station around the country and the UK would have no choice but to embrace back one of the greatest home grown girlbands we’ve ever had. Yes, girls, the original Sugababes are finally back, having fought for the name for a number of years. MKS, and the bulging vault of leaked tracks, is DEAD. ‘Flowers’ is the genius first step, fitting so well that you almost forget about the original song itself. Let’s hope there’s MORE to come and SOON.

P!NK, KHALID / HURTS 2B HUMAN (MIDNIGHT KIDS REMIX)

Well I certainly didn’t expect this floundering single to have fresh life breathed into it at this point of the campaign via one of my favourite remixes ever at this point. Not really taking the song apart at all, the song instead injects this wonderful explosion of emotion that sounds like it belonged there all along. Considering the emotional weight of the original song, it’s a real feat how well this manages to slot right in. This is… exactly what remixes are about.

Well there are eight major highlights above, and even then I could keep talking about songs we’ve missed. Highasakite have dropped a Part One EP, and ‘Just a Small Quake’ is monumentally stunning, Allie X has followed up with the delightfully catchy and breezy ‘Rings a Bell’, ORKID‘s ‘CloudsNdrivebys’ features such an infectious synth/trumpet blend that I want in every one of her songs from now on, and Fickle Friends have co-opted the Wii Theme Song (Bolded for impact, yes the Wii theme song) into their new album lead, ‘Amateurs’. It’s one HELL of a week.

Music

October 11th, NMF!

Here are the very best of the best for this weeks NEW MUSIC FRIDAY. Headed by the amazing ‘Talk Deep’, just you wait until you get to number five.

E^ST / TALK DEEP

The best of things fit comfortably, slotting right in between expectation and surprise, in our nostalgic range of taste. ‘TALK DEEP’ knows what you expect from it and isn’t afraid to deliver it with a little squirt of glitter, delivered handily in the form of a triple-punch chorus. With a breakdown that elicits pure nostalgic joy, it’s easily one of the best of the year already. Sometimes music just feels alive, and this is one of them.

BISHOP BRIGGS / JEKYLL & HIDE

In her most recent world tour, well known songstress P!nk proclaimed Briggs’ ‘River’ as a song she would have loved to have recorded. Might she feel a little relieved then considering the clear Funhouse-esque production that accompanies this pounding chorus, its twisted circus vibe peeking through the curtains at every integral moment. Around it is a monstrously addictive track, one which you could actually envision P!nk going on to perform again, that also recalls Halsey’s pop-tinged alternative style. It really is that piano that makes this amazing though, and that last relentless run to the end.

WINONA OAK / LET ME KNOW

‘Let Me Know’ is steeped in influence, from Aplin to Mumford and Sons, but its the contrasting quiet moments that allows this to really sink in. The chorus might be delightfully packed with pounding drums and surging strings, but those little moments where we find Winona’s voice deftly carrying the quiet air – they’re really special. It’s because of them the huge chorus can come careening in, taking your breath away. More moments like this please, Oak!

NILUFER YANYA / H34T RISES

Hilariously we follow one of the largest productions of the week with a Garageband minimalism that works just as well, if not better, than the gargantuan approach. ‘H34T RISES’ brings your typical basement production with some high quality songwriting, proving that sometimes you don’t need all the extras if you have the hooks. And this is packed full of them.

SONDR / SO BLUE

Speaking of nostalgia, there’s always at least one summer song that becomes inexplicably huge simply by sampling something we’ve all connected with in our childhood. In this case it’s the phenomenally underappreciated ‘Blue’ which has been transformed into a glacial BANKS song for the nightclub, somehow losing none of the quirky charm of the original… Sometimes you just can’t predict what’s going to work together.

KATY PERRY / SMALL TALK (LOST KINGS REMIX)

Special bonus status for one of our favourite songs of the year, gifted with several brilliant remixes before her new single release next week. ‘Sweet Talk’ is a fairly simple Puth production, swapping Perry’s usual bellowing for a more subtle approach, but each remix brings that back to the forefront. This remix, in particular, sounds as close to classic 2012 pop music as you’re going to get this year placed in a blender with some quirky electro-dance synths and… it works! Quite honestly the output coming from Perry this year is sensational. Bring on the book!

Whilst you’re here. be sure to also check out:

  • Harry Styles new effort ‘Lights Out’, a short walk from Zayn’s own output, and the fascinatingly sexual music video.
  • MisterWives ‘the end’, the most gorgeous indie film-ending song if there ever was one.
  • Hayley Kiyoko’s fantastically produced ‘Demons’, a nice big quirky step from her usual output.
  • The OTHER ‘Small Talk’ remix by Sofi Tukker, which is so good I kind of wish it was the original song? Can Sofi Tukker do any wrong?
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

6th September, NMF!

My stomach butterflies are telling me that September is going to prove to be somewhat of a stacked one, what with Charli XCX and Tove Lo both dropping their long awaited albums and plenty of other smaller releases bound to hit us between them. This week is all about the greatest band in the world, MUNA, whose stunning sophomore is already proving to be a delicately queer love letter to pop music. It’s the kind of music we deserve.

That being said, there’s also some really gems that have dropped this week too not from MUNA (although I was tempted to simply place the entire album in our dedicated playlist, it’s that good.)

MUNA / TAKEN

Proving that conceptual songwriting doesn’t have to be without relatibility, ‘Taken’ recalls an infatuation over someone already in a relationship, with Katie bemoaning her own desire to destroy someone else’s life just because they want what they can’t have. The production is smooth like silk: curving and swaying whilst the lyrics jut, particularly with gutting lines like Dad left when I was eleven, Mum said it’s ’cause he couldn’t keep from touching other women. The best lyricism is deceptively simple, almost as though it’s a topic we all recognise and expected to have been used before, but approached in an entirely different way that opens it up in new ways. ‘Taken’ does that, forcing you to sympathise with the one who wants to cause all the destruction because we can all fall in love with destruction sometimes.

OH WONDER / HALLELUJAH

Perhaps we ought to credit Oh Wonder a little for the now infamous Billie Eilish ASMR vocals? If there’s one thing about them that sets them apart from anyone else, it’s the exceptional vocal mixing. ‘Hallelujah’ is a positively stunning duet mixed perfectly, the vocals giving weight to one another, and an anthem of self-love that I really didn’t expect from them. Opening with the trademark minimal piano and whispery vocals, it’s not long before the beat picks up and the enormous chorus comes sweeping in. It’s marvelous.

CAMILA CABELLO / SHAMELESS

Camila is back, immediately following her number one single with a spunky double release. The fact an artist is actually taking the opportunity to relish their momentum in 2019 is a little surprising, let alone releasing two tracks. Once you hear ‘Shameless’ though you’ll understand that the label probably weren’t sure enough about it as a single in all of its BANKS inspired glory. It’s experimental for her, the chorus tore out in place of a hooktastic bridge and floor-shaking drop, but also feels like a decent follow up to ‘Never be the Same’?

SOFI TUKKER / PURPLE HAT

Is there anything more exciting than pop music’s ability to co-opt genres in consistently fresh ways? The way it can fit almost any other genre inside of its skin, evolving as it ingests new inspiration. Sofi Tukker understand this almost better than anyone, with their production constantly evolving as new inspirations find their way into the studio. ‘Purple Hat’, though, is the next step for them: it truly sounds like a cacophony of influences all smashed up into… a Reggaeton-Dance-Pop epic?

JAX JONES, ELLA HENDERSON / THIS IS REAL

Well, I honestly wasn’t sure we’d ever see this track come to light. How fitting that it has reared its head now attached to resident poltergeist Ella Henderson, who hasn’t been seen in years. If you don’t know already ‘This Is Real’ originally featured Selena Gomez (yes) but was seemingly shelved when a brief 10 seconds leaked on to the internet. A damn shame because, as we now know, it’s a pretty timeless house bop. Does it do much to change the wheel? Not really, and dance music doesn’t need to. The thing that makes this special? Ella Henderson’s absolutely stellar delivery, recalling every incredible dance mix vocal from the early 90’s. Those piano stabs and her belting practically transports me to a gypsy fair, spinning my brains out on the rides.

As I said this week is stacked and I could sit here and write about the new Grimes track (a dance inspired bedroom-studio bop), the new Tove Lo and Kylie Minogue feature (yes, they have done a duet!) or even the latest Charli XCX pre-release single. I could write about them, or I could repeat the new MUNA album for the sixth time today. Which is what I’m going to do.

Music

30th August, NMF!

August is coming to a close as we head closer and closer to spooky season, which means the big heavy hitters will be coming pretty soon to release their new albums. For now, buckle up and listen to these incredible highlights of the week:

LIZ / BTR 2GTHR

LIZ seems to have lit a rocket beneath her feet as I haven’t noticed material skyrocket in quality like this in quite some time. Despite a plethora of synth-girls attempting this type of style right now, most notably Slayyyter who featured in Liz’s latest single, ‘BTR 2GTHR’ manages to eclipse them by bathing in the influence of 90s dance/trance. It’s a fantastic and quirky release that evokes classic dance music just as much as it does contemporary pop, and god damn I haven’t been as excited about pop music as this makes me feel.

CHARLI XCX, HAIM / WARM

Speaking of quirky synthstress, Charli XCX is continuing her album rollout by teaming up with summer girl’s HAIM for the deliciously balanced ‘Warm’. Introducing a much needed warmness in Charli’s typically icy cold production, ‘Warm’ is one hell of an earworm – slowly etching itself into your cold skull with each chorus. And that’s before HAIM even show face, which actually ends up overshadowing Charli herself with their smooth as silk harmonies.

EA KAYA / BACK OF YOUR HEAD

Zara Larsson has seemingly fallen foul to the sophomore curse, inevitably shelving her album release in the guise of ‘wanting better material’. If it’s better Zara Larsson material you’re looking for, ‘Back of Your Head’ is right here. Entirely self-written, ‘Back…’ is stunningly mature with a melody to die for, an enthusiastic empowerment anthem for the cold nights. One thing is for sure, this song will be bouncing around the back of my head for the rest of the week.

TONES AND I / THE KIDS ARE COMING

There’s no escaping Billie Eilish right now, even if it’s not Billie herself. ‘The Kids Are Coming’ might be the closest not-Billie-Billie song I’ve ever heard, but crushed together with a touch of Eurovision charm and ludicrousness. Designed to be listened to with earphones, don’t give it your first listen without them – each little production choice popping in like poltergeists in the background, it’s absolutely undeniable in both its pretentiousness and charm.

LANA DEL REY / NORMAN FUCKING ROTHWELL

Everyone will have an opinion on once reigning hipster queen Lana Del Rey, and over the years her material has shifted around in both inspiration and emotional weight. ‘Norman fucking Rothwell’ is the best thing she has possibly released since her first album, an evocative and powerful ballad that doesn’t revolutionize who Lana is but truly feels like the peak of everything she has worked on so far. It really does feel like everything led to this song, and it really is a masterclass in the much sought after bluesy vibe she typically gets assigned to. With warm strings, an exuberant vocal and a crippling melody throughout… there’s really not much else to say about this other than… wow.

make sure you give our dedicated playlist a little spin this week too, as there are plenty of other amazing songs that dropped this week, from Alphabeat to Post Malone, that deserve your attention.

Music

23rd August, NMF!

SO BELOW / CLEAR

So Below has had somewhat of a miraculous 2019 so far, ‘Clear’ being the third release in a row that successfully melds her dream-pop into a terribly exciting package of gorgeous lyricism and roof-raising choruses. She’s always been able to translate a effervescent melancholy but ‘Clear’ really feels like something else; it’s getting lost in the ocean of emotion, the thunderstorm rolling past, and the rubble left behind. By the time it finally comes to finish, the whole world has changed. It really is that good.

5SOS / TEETH

Behind the slight whiff of pretentiousness, ‘Teeth’ marks 5SOS’s embrace into a harsher alternative rock more than ever; if ‘Youngblood’ was the walk then ‘Teeth’ is the run, in fact immediately hitting a sprint. It’s not hard to imagine a world in which the likes of Charlie Puth, Ed Sheeran and Shawn Mendes try to replicate this sound but it feels like 5SOS beat them all to the punch. Between a Billie Eilish-esque bassline and some damn addictive hooks, I think we’re witnessing the new trend wave begin to stir?

POPPY / CONCRETE

Anything I write here cannot prepare you for this song. ‘Concrete’ is the sound of the zombie apocalypse colliding with the cutest of Japanese anime, it’s pure aggression and metal mixed with Queen and J-Pop, it’s monumentally bat-shit from start to finish and IT WORKS. Despite switching gears at blistering speeds, every shift only adds more to the power of the song. And at the heart of it is this cutesy enigma: Poppy. This is… quite simply the oddest but most brilliant song I’ve heard in months? Don’t even get me started on the closing Paramore outro. Incredible.

TAYLOR SWIFT / THE MAN

It would be easy for me to pretend that the Taylor Swift album doesn’t exist, especially after it followed a four-punch of some of the worst pop singles I’ve ever experienced, but it’s actually not that bad nor is it anything like what the singles that preceded it suggest. ‘The Man’ isn’t perfect but it’s probably the best that the album offers, it’s lyrically smart with something to say and above all it’s an undeniable pop song. Why on earth the label and Swift did not lead the album with this will be a question on my lips for a lifetime, but for now I’ll settle with this being the next single PLEASE.

ROTHWELL / FOLLOW WHEN YOU’RE DANCING

‘Follow When You’re Dancing’ is the retro 80’s banger that you absolutely needed following the past four songs. Easily the best thing Rothwell has put her name to yet, it’s a cacophony of bouncing synths and cooing ad-libs, culminating in a soulful and spirited Robyn-esque dance bop with a chorus so HUGE it instantly recalls ‘Teenage Dream’ and spending summers with tunes blaring into the smoggy heat from the car. Do I have any idea what the title means? Absolutely not, and I do not care.

BONUS GOODNESS
MURA MASA, CLAIRO / I DON’T THINK I CAN DO THIS AGAIN

Clairo is having a bit of a breakout moment right now which makes ‘I Don’t…’s release right now even more miraculous for the Summer. Fresh and delightful, it’s the complex summer banger we absolutely needed right now. Because really the best summer bangers aren’t one-note happiness, they are nostalgia, tears and fresh sweat.

EYES ON NEW MUSIC PLAYLIST:

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: