Feb 5th, NMF!

It’s been a quiet few weeks but our first February NMF brings some damn gems.

ALLIE X / GLAM!

Having developed both her sound and persona tenfold since her first foray into big bold and brash pop, Allie has been having of a turn of nostalgia by indulging into that past a little once more. ‘GLAM!’ might be an old leak but good god, it’s enormous. Her songwriting skills have undoubtedly progressed in time but there’s just something about past Allie X that really cuts right through in seconds.

MARTIN GARRIX, TOVE LO / PRESSURE

Neither Garrix or Lo are typically known for their subtlety, so when it comes to a duet between the two you’d be forgiven for expecting a balls-to-the-wall Sia/Guetta experience. ‘Pressure’ is the exact opposite of that – an exquisite blend of 3AM club-closing bass and Tove’s yearning for touch. It’s kind of a match made in heaven.

KITO, VANJESS, CHANNEL TRES / RECAP

Production is Kito’s forte. If you haven’t heard her yet, you’ll probably have heard a song that she’s had a hand in, most particularly behind BANKS’ phenomenal ‘Gimme’. Deep and warm like a dip in the tub, her production style felt ahead of the curve a year or two ago… it’s here to define the year now.

NEIMY / KNIFE OUT OF MY BACK

One look at Neimy’s Spotty Fry and you’ll see an abundance of covers with millions of streams each, her and Jubel’s cover of ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ almost at a measly 200 million. ‘Knife out of my back’ might not have enough bulldozing originality to completely usurp that, but it’s a delicious little nod to an artist that has more to give than just those covers. Let’s keep on eye on her.

REZZ x PVRIS / SACRIFICIAL

With such a distinctive sound and vocalist, is there any escaping any song featuring PVRIS sounding a certain way? Having gone to extreme lengths to develop their identity and sound from the initial Paramore-lite debut, there’s an admirable consistency when it comes to the core of PVRIS songs. In essence, ‘Sacrificial’ sounds like Skrillex took a turn on one of their album tracks, and it works better than you’d think.

Do make sure to check out the playlist for more weekly highlights! Trust me, there’s some deep gems there.

23rd Oct, NMF!

LEFT BEHIND | So Below

SO BELOW / OVER

There’s a definite blueprint behind So Below works, her glacial hypno-pop a mastery at this point, yet ‘Over’ (taken from her brand new album Left Behind, manages to play both blueprint and surprise. Undoubtedly the highlight of the album, ‘Over’ brings relentless synths to Maddie North’s typical otherworld delivery but it’s the melody that takes this up a notch – the sprightly juxtaposition with the production bringing everything else to life.

Wallows - Remote Lyrics and Tracklist | Genius

WALLOWS / COASTLINES

Wallows live and die by choruses so enormous it’s hard not to envision the crowds of fans chanting along to them after one solitary listen; the Remote EP is stuffed with them and is a waltz through some of the brightest alt-pop out there at the minute, but ‘Coastlines’ is a small window into a clearly exciting future. ‘Virtual Aerobics’ remains the best thing they’ve done, but ‘Coastlines’ proves there’s a little bit more to it all than the catchiness.

Cyn's "New York"

CYN / NEW YORK

Most new artists, as above with So Below, tend to find a fairly concrete blueprint to follow as opposed to experimentation. There’s an argument to be made about whether niche success affords it or requires a simpler dedication but either way, Cyn isn’t listening. Still very much under her remit of Katy Perry-esque delicate pop songs, she already has enough variety under her releases for each new one to be a surprise. ‘New York’ is a beautifully composed ballad to the concrete city, her vocals being the feature here, that departs pretty massively from the mildly successful ‘Drinks’ before it, but we can’t help but celebrate an artist unafraid to throw the kitchen sink around a bit.

Use Me: Amazon.co.uk: Music

PVRIS, RAYE / THANK YOU

Unceremoniously tagged on to the end of the deluxe version of their massively delayed third album, ‘Thank You’ hits as a Raye song more than anything else at first listen, but it informs the commercial perspective the band have been eyeing for a while. With songs as polished as this, but still retaining that angsty PVRIS vibe, it’s clear their future is still bright.

Terror Jr - Running From The Sun -

TERROR JR / RUNNING FROM THE SUN

With a pretty extensive catalogue prior to Felix’s exit from the band, Terror Jr have felt as though they’ve been struggling to find their identity again but, much like Cyn above, what it has afforded them is the ability to experiment. Cut to ‘Running in the Sun’ – an exploratory trek through a Drum ‘N Bass-lite pop wasteland. It’s a game of two halves – the opening a standard Terror Jr affair only for the beat and spoken-word section to cut through unexpectedly, something you’d be forgiven for thinking Charli XCX had a hand in at first.

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:

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.