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

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 19th, NMF!

Here are the best five tracks of this wonderful New Music Friday:

SAM SMITH / HOW DO YOU SLEEP?

Did I really expect a Sam Smith song to be my favourite of the week? When typically his songs would be reserved for insomnia drenched nights, ‘How Do You Sleep?’ is an exciting evolution of a newly expressive artist. The video, which is great, is an overt celebration of his queerness and I can’t help but be ecstatic watching Sam’s slow revelation that his queerness does not need to be hidden anymore. What’s best is that, even if this does have a high pitched trap-drop, this doesn’t sound a single step out of place? It’s effortlessly cool, an utter slow jam that we think is going to be huge.

SOFI DE LA TORRE / PERO NO

‘Pero No’ follows ‘Estamos Mal’ in reestablishing Sofi with her Spanish roots, continuing to showcase her exceptional songwriting skill in her native tongue. Now I’m not a fluent speaker, but that doesn’t stop me positively soaking in everything here – it’s succulent and warm, a melancholic and yet blissful summer bop thanks to her typical emotionally charged vocals. Again this is Sofi excelling at what she knows and is very good at.

CHARLOTTE LAWRENCE / WHY DO YOU LOVE ME?

With Billie Eilish on the way to being the next big thing, it was only a matter of time before someone starting to draw inspiration from her very unique sound. ‘Why Do You Love Me’ is going to be the first of many, and it’s so similar to something Billie would put out that it’s almost disturbing. The ASMR vocals, the plinky bass, the slightly demented chorus – it’s ALL here. I almost admire the sheer change in sound to this from everything before to be honest!

CHLOE MK / DAVID BOWIE

Immediately the title evokes Gaga and 80s driven pop music, and luckily the sonic build of the song does little to subvert that. Chloe has seemingly came from almost nowhere with perfectly crafted 00’s pop songs that remind me of the golden days of Gaga and the collection of stars, such as Natalia Kills, that followed her meteoric rise. ‘David Bowie’ is subtle and immaculate, doubling as a love song and a tragedy, and immediately sets Chloe apart from the other girls on the scene right now with its dedication and coolness. In a world of Ava Max’s, be a Chloe MK.

CHARLI XCX, CHRISTINE AND THE QUEENS / GONE

Consider this a somewhat muted celebration of the new Charli XCX song, because we all know the type of electro-pop that she is capable of by now and unfortunately ‘Gone’ brings little new to the table. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, but I have heard Charli XCX do this song a few times before and for that it loses an initial spark. WITH that aside, it’s a hook driven distillment of everything Charli has come to represent, and Christine stops in for a quick vocal too. I’d never noticed how similar they could sound before, but it’s certainly obvious here.

Music

June 28th, NMF!

AGNES / LIMELIGHT, I TRANCE

Seven years since she last gifted us with the masterpiece pop album Veritas, in which Agnes subverted all expectation and delivered one of the strongest pop albums of the decade; she’s back… and she’s done it again. There’s still an undeniable thread here, you’ll be expecting a European-style SMASH and that’s what you’ll get – but this dual release presents her yet again at the forefront of exciting and ever-changing pop music. ‘Limelight’ is the safer of the two: a typical Agnes mega-smash with enormous chorus fed through a dance filter. ‘I Trance’ is the delicious experiment: a Kylie-esque exploration of dance. What a woman.

KULT KYSS / RITUALS

‘Rituals’ is future pop to its core, evoking Kate Boy’s aggressive ‘One’ with its heavy synths and moody atmosphere. As with KB, the production is just one sparkly part of the package – the vocals being just as important in their world building. It’s the kind of sound I want more mainstream acts to co-opt and integrate their own sound, like when Katy Perry released ‘E.T’.

KIM PETRAS / ICY

Kim Petras’ problematic existence has been easiest to deny when her music occupied a relatively anonymous and fairly-good-but-not-amazing territory. ‘Icy’, part of her new album Clarity, may mark the end of that. Whilst still tied to Luke, and thus sounding like something you’d find The Weeknd releasing, it’s easily the best thing she’s put her name to yet. A fitting vocal for the subject material, where often she can sound slightly trill, it works perfectly to showcase the coldness she’s singing about.

MUNA / WHO

Queens of emotion, MUNA have followed their alt-banger ‘Number One Fan’ with a much more familiar ballad dedicated to obsessional stalking and unrequited love. Katie’s vocals will forever be the highlight, transforming what might be simple lyricism into heartbreaking odes of pain. It’s something they mastered with their debut, so definitely reassuring to see it return so well here.

PURE SHORES / RUSHING

Marlene and Ji helmed the best song of 2018 last year, Ear Candy, and have since teamed up to become production duo extraordinaire’s Pure Shores. ‘Rushing’ is their first release together, giving us a great first glimpse into the dance-pop they hopefully intend to keep on releasing. If there’s anyone that understands how to make a light and breezy pop song with enough substance to pierce your skull, it’s Marlene and Ji.

This might be the most packed week in recent memory… On top of the above highlights, we have new songs from Ellie Goulding, Sasha Sloan, Julia Michaels, George Maple, Jada, Iggy Azalea, Sofia Karlberg and even MORE. Make sure to follow our dedicated playlist to keep up with the best of the best!

Music

June 21st, NMF!

Batten down the hatches, there’s a strange storm brewing this week. Another monumental one; prepare for the classically excellent Swedish drops, the best of the best dream-pop and basically a whole bunch of artists that sound confident instead of anonymous. Relish in it. It’s a great, great week. Here’s the top picks:

HANNE MJOEN / STRANGERS

‘Strangers’ treads mightily close to Hanne’s previous single, ‘Sounds Good to Me’, but in that case it’s an exercise in just how to improve on perfection. The warm pulsating synths are like heaven, coupled with a very timid Gomez-esque vocal delivery. It’s the kind of thing Carly Rae Jepsen should have been chasing for her latest album. Perfect melancholic cry-dance pop.

DEVON BALDWIN / UNDERWATER

Nobody is making music like Devon Baldwin right now, and that’s absolutely to her credit; it’s slightly operatic but intimate, minimal and yet sprawling, dreamy and yet piercing. ‘Underwater’ is stunning in all of its atmosphere – truly summoning that drowned world she sings about. Do yourself a favour and plug in some earphones, listen to those subtle gated synths and hums…. let it just carry you away.

A R I Z O N A / NOSTALGIC

Nostalgia is a minefield of material that every artist has worked away on at some point, so it’s refreshing to see a song directly address the nostalgia. Personally it’s always these sprawling dreamy electro-bops that summon some kind of nostalgia for me, to a bright and happy Summer, and ‘Nostalgic’ bathes in exactly that. It’s the Summer banger we deserve with a beautifully charged melancholy threaded throughout.

DAYA / LEFT ME YET

Unfortunately many of us will be able to relate with this: the displaced disposition of loving someone but not yourself. “I’m surprised you haven’t left me yet” she confesses piercingly. This isn’t a ballad though, and the spritely production hides the emotional almost too well, so let’s hold out for the inevitable acoustic version which I will cry to.

ANNA BERGENDAHL / HOME

Part of me recognizes just how Melodifestivalen-by-the-numbers this is, but considering the Swedish Eurovision veto process typically plucks out some of the best pop songs of the year I’ll allow it. Anna’s Shakira-esque husk pushes through at times and instills it with character it desperately needs, just as the guitar does, but ultimately its the chorus that lets this stand out.

What with this being such a heavy week, make sure you’re checking out the rest of this dedicated playlist or you’ll miss out on some more GREAT releases like…

Zara Larsson‘s return to form, ‘All the Time’.
Alma‘s queer love tragedy epic ‘Lonely Night’.
Kiesza‘s reverb filled ballad comeback smash.
Shawn Mendes attempt to woo Latin America.

AND MORE!

Music

June 7th, NMF!

Last week delivered one of the best new music friday’s in years, so naturally the week after would have a lot to live up to. Luckily there’s one or two songs that manage to hit like a meteor, let’s check them out:

MUNA / NUMBER ONE FAN

Two years on from one of the most realised debut albums of all time, MUNA return with the shockingly confident ‘Number One Fan’ – an anthem dedicated to learning to love yourself in the face of negative internal energies. Gone is the overtly dramatic aesthetic and gloom in place of a hyper realised 90s glam-dream and a much, much lighter vibe. Coupled with one of the best music videos I’ve seen in a long time, ‘Number One Fan’ brings MUNA right back into the fold as one of the most exciting and important bands on the planet right now.

KIIARA / OPEN MY MOUTH

Typically a Kiiara song will instill a sense of icy cool, opting to present her pop star quality as out-of-reach and slightly Madonna-esque in its ubiquity. There’s a distinct anonymity to her, like a lot of Spotify girls, but also a distinct coolness that comes with owning her own sound (much like Billie Eilish). ‘Open My Mouth’ does away with that a little to present a much warmer island-influenced bop, slowly peeling away the artist known as Kiiara. It still has her trademark vocal chop, but the production suggests a very welcome progression.†

SWIMMING GIRLS / I DON’T WANNA GET TO HEAVEN

The revival of the 80s continues with Swimming Girls new track, complete with guitar riff that would play out as the credits roll of every cult indie film of that era. It’s a deadly song that will find its way into your head without you realising, perfect for sunset drives and every heartbreak fuelled getaway.

CHARLOTTE / SOMEBODY TO HOLD

‘Somebody to Hold’ starts out deceptively simple; it’s one of those songs that unfurl through multiple plays, as you dissect the lyricism and find your own pieces of the puzzle inside. Ultimately it’s a stunning ballad of longing that elevates itself with a stunning gospel choir, introducing soul aspects that makes me really excited for Charlotte’s sound. By the third minute, I’m fully prepared and waiting for an entire album of this exact template.

SABRINA CARPENTER / IN MY BED

Being part of the Disney alumni can be seen as somewhat of a curse or a blessing, either way it immediately implies a certain expectation. Sabrina’s brilliant EP, Singular, last year showed exactly why she shouldn’t be written off as another simple Disney character and ‘In My Bed’, taking from the second parter, drives the nail in deeper. Stunning art direction aside, the song is a perfectly crafted earworm which evokes Ariana Grande to a scary degree in parts but showcases a confident character in its own right. Sabrina is polished and ready to show herself as herself, and that’s EXCITING.

Be sure to follow the Eyes On New Music Friday playlist, which is updated weekly with every track worth listening to. This week is a much slower affair, so grab your earphones and prepare to mellow out:

Music

May 31st, NMF!

Is this… Is this the greatest New Music Friday of all time? This is the time to grab a coffee, plug your earphones in and dedicate a good hour to this plethora of amazing pop songs. 2019 has never sounded better.

KATY PERRY / NEVER REALLY OVER

Returning with a point to prove, Perry really came back with her best lead single yet. Sampling Dagny’s equally amazing ‘Love You Like That’, there’s no other pop girl that has their finger on the pulse quite like Katy. ‘Never Really Over’ is absolutely exhilarating from start to finish; a total revolution of her Teenage Dream sound with the much-sought Swedish touch and a prechorus that SWELLS like an ocean into a chorus of relentless wordplay, leaving you literally gasping for breath. ‘Never Really Over’ is the sound of Katy Perry laughing at everyone who really though Witness was the nail in her coffin – it really is never over.

SASHA SLOAN / THOUGHTS

‘Thoughts’ is a brutal exercise in trepanation: the sound of Sasha Sloan drilling deep holes into her skull and allowing us to watch the demons that crawl out. She’s been somewhat of a revelation for songwriting over the past year or two: tackling her own mental health and severe self-doubt with a fearless optimism. But even beyond the piercing lyricism, ‘Thoughts’ stews in its stunning and minimal production to create a melancholic mid-tempo masterpiece.

LAUV / SAD FOREVER

‘Sad Forever’ takes similar cues to ‘Thoughts’, and it’s always great to see male artists exploring emotions we are told culturally to repress. Sonically it’s very familiar to ‘i’m so tired’ which is unsurprising considering it was both fantastic and a minor hit. I do wish the high squeak of the guitar string was phased out slightly, but nitpicking aside it’s built to be stuck in your head for days. “I don’t want to be medicated” he sings, exploring the use of antidepressants to keep us happy. It’s a much needed insight into problems so many are facing now, hidden deep inside of a bop. Great!

INGRID MICHAELSON / JEALOUS

You may or may not know Ingrid Michaelson already, but none of that really matters because ‘Jealous’ sounds like the debut of a whole new artist – one of those upcoming Spotify girls that have been in label purgatory for years slowly working on her craft. ‘Jealous’ sounds like the hit Julia Michaels has been searching for since ‘Issues’. A perfect blend of electro-pop and her traditional songwriter self… considering her last album was a collection of Christmas covers, and it has been three years since an original, consider me both surprised and elated.

CHERYL / LET YOU

There are half a dozen versions of this out already; the demo, two remixes and an orchestral version. Luckily the single version is the best of the lot, the highlight being its ecstatic Carly Rae production in contrast to an incredibly sleepy vocal. Cheryl’s real star power comes in her performances, and I can already envision the fantastic dance break she’ll hammer into that middle-8.

XYLO / YES & NO

‘yes & no’ was the big surprise this week, holding its own amongst some real heavy hitters – think Julia Michaels on a depressing acid trip and you’re halfway there. The sultry and sedated vocal giving off a positively creepy vibe alongside phenomenal production that would sound right at home on a horror video game or two.

I could sit and write about these songs all day, it really is the best New Music Friday you’ll find in a long time. Make sure to check out the rest or you’ll be missing out on some huge bangers.