Music

27th September, NMF!

CECILY / AWAKE

Her Spotify ‘about’ section might be about twenty years too late in that it actively namechecks her as a counter to the ‘Britney’s of the world’ (Someone might want to tell her management that Billie Eilish is the new thing?) but ‘Awake’ is brilliant enough for me to completely disregard that. The Julia Michael’s style verses lead you to believe this is heading one particular way, only for a huge Chvrches chorus to bound in with the most satisfying of stabbing synths. Don’t go, don’t leave! she begs, and honestly I feel like never leaving. What a bloody good song.

ALLIE X / FRESH LAUNDRY

There’s a hidden secret among the deepest pop fans, and her name is Allie X. Constantly releasing the tightest of pop songs, she’s been tapped by Troye Sivan and even ripped off by Taylor Swift, and yet her name continues to be that criminal secret reserved for pop lovers. ‘Fresh Laundry’ isn’t going to change that, and you could argue that if her last effort wasn’t able to do that then it might never happen, but it is the most exciting she’s been in years. The constant state of refinement is astounding in retrospect, ‘Fresh Laundry’ sounding both at place with her almost five year old material and also a hyper-polished version of it, it’s soft and introspective in all the right ways. Opening up her dream-pop to a much warmer palette, it’s understated and frankly brilliant.

KITO, EMPRESS OF / WILD GIRL

Kito’s expressive production skills have started garnering her some mainstream attention, in particular being picked up by BANKS for her amazing lead single ‘Gimme’ this year, but luckily there’s still plenty of talent still in the locker for herself. Teaming up with the criminally underrated Empress Of, ‘Wild Girl’ is a Tove Lo meets BANKS understated banger that I’m desperately hoping is leading to another EP. Whilst it doesn’t quite hit as hard as last years EP, HAANI, the production still bubbles and froths in all the right places.

LIZ, AJA / LOTTERY

00’s nostalgia might be bubbling beneath the mainstream but anyone with their finger on the pulse will realise the wave that is building, with the likes of Slayyyter and LIZ surfing the high tide. ‘Lottery’ is almost entirely early Britney, to the point where you can visibly imagine this fitting on her sophomore or even Blackout. This is an influence Liz has embraced, with her citing Britney, the 00s and the MIA-Nadia Oh as inspiration, and ‘Lottery’ revels in it. We won’t talk about the feature, which almost torpedoes the whole thing, but luckily the chorus shines through.

FLUME, VERA BLUE / RUSHING BACK

Sometimes the best pop music isn’t afraid to get a little abrasive, choosing a sonic palette that screeches a little instead of basking in familiarity. Flume already demonstrated a masterful production touch in his 2019 mixtape, Hi This Is Flume, and the pop singles he’s released around it use similar production choices well whilst maintaining the strength of a melodic pop song throughout. Drafting in songwriting excellence Vera Blue, who herself is moving away from her folk roots to explore a more electronic route, means there’s a big beating heart at the center of this all – her familiar vocal pulling it back in as the production veers wildly. It’s a masterful collaboration of the two.

Also this week:

Franky Wah has recruited Robinson for a really dreamy trance song, ‘Hide’.

Elohim continues to release material that isn’t as good as her debut, but it’s still great in a Tove Styrke kind-of way. ‘Paradise’ is a bop.

Charlotte Lawrence is releasing more ASMR pop with ‘Navy Blue’, a gorgeous ballad that has the tiniest of verses and the biggest chorus.

‘Extra Fries’ by ILIRA is the exact song we need for bulking season, even if it sounds like she’s written it over the backing of every other song of hers?

Music

Friday 7th July, NMF!

It’s Friday, we’re here and ready to showcase the best of the best of the best. Let’s go:

VERA BLUE / THE WAY THAT YOU LOVE ME

Every now and then someone releases a song which sounds like something at the top of the game. Simultaneously modern, such a song has to tap into similarity and nostalgia just as it paves a whole new direction. If there was any justice, Vera Blue would be catapulted to stratospheric success because of ‘The Way That You Love Me’ – a fantastically catchy master stroke of Vera’s more atypical melodies and a Billie Eilish-esque production, both working against one another and in tandem. Just brilliant.

AU/RA / DANCE IN THE DARK

‘Dance in the Dark’ is brilliant in its odd melancholy and minimalism. Sounding like a Billie Eilish-meets-Grimes album track, it bounces between the most minimal hook-driven choruses of the year to a much more typical Paramore-esque verse. It’s almost enough to cause whiplash, especially considering the chorus opens with nothing but her voice and the bluntest of kicks, but it quickly unfolds into a total earworm.

BLITHE / MASOCHISTIC

First of all it’s kind of terrifying how much she sounds like Anne-Marie on this, but is just so happens to be better than anything on Anne-Marie’s album. Sugary sweet, there’s something slightly saccharine about the delivery until that wonderful hook hits – “I’m just a little masochistic”. Ingrained so deeply into the production and delivered so delicately, it’s arguably one of the best moments of 2019 so far.

STOCKHOLM NOIR / GLORY

Stockholm Noir have helmed some of the strongest dance tracks of the last few years, but they have had us a bit scared recently with a flurry of fairly basic and hard-to-latch-on-to instrumental tracks. ‘Glory’ is a meteoric return to form, successfully crushing simple and evocative melodies (as all Swedes understand how to do more than any other) with the most palatable of dance productions. They really are a dance force to be reckoned with.

RALPH / GRAVITY

Ralph delivers her first dedicated dance banger due to online fan demand, and despite sounding like every other dance remix around, her voice lends itself to the anonymity well. Delivering an underrated and brilliant album last year wasn’t enough, and she continues to prove her desire to keep releasing music and expanding her brand… We commend it. Now give us those quirky pop songs we know you’re sitting on.

Music

February 8th, NMF!

SOFIA KARLBERG / SPOTLESS MIND

“I might be hide and seeking you out, yeah.”

Sofia Karlberg is typically known for covering songs rather than heading them, one look at her Spotify page and you’ll find an assortment of popular covers spanning over five years… so any concerns about her own output would be justified at this point, right?

Fortunately for us ‘Spotless Mind’ is absolutely spellbinding right from the offset; its production a woozy haze of synths and strings, and an ethereal vocal balancing above it all. The delicate delivery showing a rare vocal mastery and a real understanding of how to use a voice as an instrument. Honestly I never want to hear her cover another song again if her own material is this good.

VERA BLUE / LIKE I REMEMBER YOU

“Keep falling on a loaded gun, try’na be someone for you.”

Vera Blue’s debut album, ‘Perennial’, remains one of 2018’s unrecognised gems. Showcasing an artist and a voice brimming with character that some artists struggle to discover in their third, let alone first albums, ‘Like I Remember You’ is a perfect continuation of her unique lane of pop.

Coupling herself with Greenpeace, the song acts as a political statement to the destruction of the world we inhabit; specifically the Australian Bight, which is being threatened by the presence of oil drilling. It’s a tender message that adds a double meaning to the towering chorus, both of which are impossible to argue with.

BILLIE / ALWAYS ON THE RUN

“Don’t ever take me home.”

It’s been four years since Billie delivered self-harm epitaph ‘Give Me the Knife’, which remains a fresh and glimmering example of electro-pop at its finest. ‘Always On the Run’ quite literally acts as though the four years between the two hasn’t even happened – its a nostalgic time machine to 2015 that even comes with a signature breakdown of blips.

Indiana’s ‘No Romeo’ found reanimated and repackaged. However what it lacks in character it delivers in polish, with every edge perfectly smoothed.

GEORGE MAPLE / CHAMPION

“So you wanna be a big star? 
Wanna be a porn star?”

As ‘Always On the Run’ is polished to perfection, George Maple proudly presents her creation to the world with sticky tape and glue. ‘Champion’ is frankly bizarre; a left-of-field banger that hits the ground running with a marching band and carefully dictated verses before its glacial chorus comes crashing through.

Inspired by the journey of triumph and tribulation, ‘Champion’ is a rallying cry in much the same way as ‘Work Bitch’ was for Britney and how Sasha Fierce is to Beyonce; its the ego we turn to when we need self direction, the moment of loss that requires us to reflect and rebuild. Though I don’t expect an entire album of songs like this, it’s a fascinating and promising beginning to her sophomore.

SVRCINA / INSECURE

“I’m confidently sure, I’m not that insecure.”

It’s almost time for Sweden’s Eurovision song selection contest Melodifestivalen, and I’m ready and willing to make a bet with every single reader that ‘Insecure’ turns out better than the song they select this year. There’s a masterful simplicity to it that would translate perfectly to a wide audience, and you can’t convince me the Julia Michaels-esque chorus hasn’t been created solely for a spectacular light show before the screaming queer audience.

Miraculously she isn’t Swedish, despite the song sounding like the birth child of every Wiktoria writing session of the past few years, but Spotify’s credited songwriters cannot be identified… so it’s not completely out of the question…..

OTHER NOTABLE RELEASES OF THE DAY

KELSEY BULKIN / KAREEM
VOK / IN THE DARK
MAREN MORRIS, BRANDI CARLILE / COMMON
MEG MAC / SOMETHING TELLS ME
MAHALIA / DO NOT DISTURB
ELLIPHANT / TO THE END
ICARUS / SIRENS
ELOHIM / TV
IONNALEE / OPEN SEA

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