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

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

June 14th, NMF!

We’re crossing into mid-year territory here and Summer has yet to show its face, and apart from a few bangers (looking at you Katy) so have the Summer hits. It’s another week of moody alt-bops so grab your earphones, pull your curtains close and get ready.

SO BELOW / US

‘Us’ is cripplingly good and, crucially, sounds exactly like you’d expect a So Below uptempo to go. Her typical icy vocal is lifted by a constantly rolling production of pulsing synths and guitars, breaking away to reveal a controlled explosion of electronic blips and beeps. It reminds me of BANKS in just how confident and well crafted it is – not to mention the sheer melancholic emotion that comes with it.

LOOTE / LOST

Sometimes you just need a really well-crafted and simple melody, and if there’s one thing to celebrate here it’s that melody. Sounding like a Taylor Swift 1989 track is never a bad thing, and the chorus is as big as anything Swift has ever put to paper. I’m such a sucker for the GENTLE-VERSE-BIG-CHORUS formula…

DELANEY JANE / RED

The monumental thing about ‘Red’ is how effortlessly it shifts in sound, opening as a Kate Nash track only to morph into a Sky Ferreira-esque wonder as the chorus slinks in. Another monumental thing to note? That complimentary dissonance between her stretched vocals and the slowly intensifying production behind it. All in all – the song is a perfect showcase of just how atmospheric and expansive music can be at the best of times.

JADA / CLEAN LOVE

‘Clean Love’ is refreshingly sparse, opening with addictive delayed synths and a crystal clear vocal. The slight PC-Music influence comes through in the opening verses, only for it to subvert expectation with a power ballad chorus that evokes similar work from Devon Baldwin this year. It’s a great exploration of injecting emotion in dance music, and how well dance music elements can be incorporated regardless of tempo.

DANIELLA MASON / GIRL IN THE BOX

Taken from her new ep, Mental State, ‘Girl in the Box’ is one of four fantastic songs packaged up to showcase this interesting new starlet. Similar to Emily Vaughn’s Bitch Bops that came out earlier this year, there’s a more natural and subtle approach to melodies and production here. Where Emily punches, Daniella scratches at the skin to find her way into your mind. ‘Girl in the Box’ is delicate and addictive, packed with brilliant little touches like the mega-vocodered ad-libs.

SVEA / LOVE ME NOW

Normally I pick my favourite five to showcase here and the left are lined up on the playlist (mostly in order of greatness) but ‘Love Me Now’ also deserves a quick shout out. I do like to prioritize songs that try to do something a little different and ‘Love Me Now’ absolutely doesn’t… but honestly sometimes, who cares? It’s a Haillee Steinfield/CXLOE/Anne-Marie pop bop about loving yourself. And we can never have enough of those.