#NewMusicFriday: ‘23’ by Chlöe Howl

If Taylor Swift has the jubilant party hit for 22-year-olds, then Chlöe Howl has the confident, reflective follow-up with 23.

Maidenhead singer-songwriter Howl has never shied away from being honest. Now, in her usual candid and soulful style, the artist explores adulthood and the realisations that come with growing up.

Opening with the fuzzy piano chords seen on previous singles Do It Alone and Magnetic, it’s easy to assume that 23 might be the delicate, personal track on the upcoming EP, Work. Yet with a steady beat, the release is in fact a chilled song perfect for slow dancing at parties.

Though the tempo is standard, there’s still a strong pace to the track as Howl’s words float and experiment with the rhythm of the track. Refusing to descend into the structural and lyrical clichés that come with nostalgic looks back at years gone by, 23 is both a confident and delicate story of young adult life.

23 by Chlöe Howl is available to buy and stream now.

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#NewMusicFriday: ‘Serious’ by Midnight Kids feat. Matthew Koma

Creative, fluttering and unrestrained, Midnight Kids’ follow-up single Serious continues the electronic euphoria despite a few rhythmic hiccups.

Kyle Girard and Dylan Lee have had quite the busy couple of months since Find Our Way dropped in June. Their debut single after a string of hit remixes, the track (featuring newcomer klei) propelled the mysterious EDM duo into the spotlight. It soon gained over a million streams on Spotify and landed them their first few live performances – including as a support act for Alesso.

Now the pair keep the momentum going with their sophomore release Serious, featuring dance music titan Matthew Koma. Although revealed to have been “a year in the making”, the track’s tempo is slightly disorganised at points – Koma’s versatile vocals struggling to weave their way around fluttering synths in the pre-chorus. Instead, it’s the chorus which grounds the track, with punchy snare making the hook impactful and euphoric. It’s enough to make the single a worthy listen and solid addition to Midnight Kids’ catalogue.

Serious sees the Californian producers pushing themselves in a new direction – a different lyrical pacing compared to the relaxed, late-night listen that is Find Our Way. Aside from the occasional issue with timing, their latest single does well to build up the hype around Midnight Kids, showing them as experimental and imaginative musicians – and one to keep an eye on in the future.

Serious (feat. Matthew Koma) is out now.

Update: This article was updated on 13 November, when tempo issues described in my previous released were no longer apparent on the track.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Remember’ by Gryffin (with ZOHARA)

After a string of hit singles, American DJ and producer Gryffin starts building up the hype for his debut album with fluttering synth and deep, hard-hitting bass on the track Remember.

“Couldn’t be more stoked to announce I’ve got an album coming,” Dan Griffith revealed earlier today. Continuing the atmospheric album artwork of his previous track, Tie Me DownRemember appears to be the promising second single from the upcoming record.

While Tie Me Down was a slower, chilled release, Remember is more intense and expressive. ZOHARA’s soulful vocals take the song to new euphoric heights with an impressive range, while Griffith’s producing work includes hard-hitting bass, bubbly synths and a driving beat. With Remember, Gryffin not only ramps up the tempo, but successfully builds up anticipation for his debut album – and already, it’s sounding very good indeed.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Access’ by Martin Garrix

It’s Avicii’s X You meets Lucas and Steve’s Anywhere on Martin Garrix’s latest release Access – taken from his new EP, BYLAW.

Chinatown sounds a lot different now than it did back in 2017. Since premiering at Ultra Miami last year, Garrix’s instrumental hit has undergone a bit of a harsher makeover. Where the main synth melody initially felt soft and light, the Dutch producer has added a heavy edge. The bass feels grittier and hard-hitting, and the drums feel a lot more pronounced. What was initially a comfortable EDM track is now a bold electronic dance hit.

Multi-layered with synth, bass and snares, Access is true creative and nostalgic electronica. It’s certainly familiar (both for it being a new version of an old track and for it having similar technicalities as other EDM hits), but Martin’s gift for a catchy melody shines through here. In turn, it delivers an imaginative, uplifting and standout track from his BYLAW EP, and returns us to the dance styles we don’t hear enough of in this genre.

Access is taken from Martin Garrix’s latest EP, BYLAW, which is available now.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Always In Between’ by Jess Glynne

Although diverse and wide-ranging, the Hold My Hand singer’s sophomore release is generic, pandering pop which for the most part lacks impact and distinction – ★★★

There was something promising about Always In Between. With just under half of the tracklist for Glynne’s debut being taken up by singles we’d heard before, the new sounds of I Cry When I Laugh were overshadowed by the déjà vu of the old. Her follow-up was destined to be fresh, unheard of and a continued exploration of new directions for the London musician, yet the end result was a lot more underwhelming.

Alexis Petridis of The Guardian sums up the mediocre nature of the album well in his review. The second album should always offer a sense of progression, which Always In Between offers, albeit through the popular vocal styles and musical genres of the day. There’s ballads such as Insecurities for the Adele fans, while Never Let Me Go blends the Sheeran-esque guitar melodies with the harsh trap which has been dominating pop music lately.

Once again, it’s the singles which pack the punch on the record. Hit-makers Rudimental make These Days a vibrant summer jam, while talented singer-songwriter Frances lends a helping hand on the stripped-back pop track All I Am. 123 has a sense of soulful familiarity to it that we’ve probably heard before, while I’ll Be There has hard-hitting drums and catchy yodel-like vocals. The final single, Thursday – released a day before the album – is a refreshing, soft track away from the usual vibrant, loud sounds.

Glynne’s portfolio of hits is testament that there’s a winning formula there somewhere working with a phenomenal voice, yet Always In Between lets this descend to a point of disappointing blandness. It’s a comfortable background listen, but for a voice like Glynne’s, it should be one which commands your attention.

Always In Between is available now.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘The Moment’ by Fickle Friends

Brighton band Fickle Friends release the second single from their upcoming EP, Broken Sleep – this time it’s the chilled, light bop, The Moment.

If Fickle Friends’ debut album You Are Someone Else was intended to be more of an introductory release setting out the group’s trademark sound, then their upcoming Broken Sleep EP looks set to be the experimental record which takes the band in exciting new directions.

Much like the previous release – the lead single and title track, Broken Sleep – The Moment has a vibe which certainly feels different to Shiner and co.’s back catalogue, yet has enough familiarity to it so as to not alienate their loyal fanbase.

It’s reminiscent of Midnight, albeit with a more experimental rhythm and tempo – one which runs away from the band in the song’s bridge. A steady beat quickly switches to a complex drum groove which fails to interlace with Natti’s typical soft vocals. Otherwise, the song still has a driving feel to it – galactic synths and a bouncy lyrical structure give this track the usual Fickle Friends bounciness which makes it a welcome addition to their experimental indie pop collection.

The Moment is the second single released from Fickle Friends’ upcoming EP, Broken Sleep, out later this year.

Musical Discovery: ‘Radar’ by Whethan (feat. HONNE)

Not long after the release of their second album Love Me / Love Me Not, HONNE return on Radar – a funky, robotic collaboration with up-and-coming DJ Whethan (Ethan Snoreck).

Fans of Sub Focus and Madeon may want to give the latest track from the Chicago producer a listen. Thudding synths at the start are reminiscent of the intro to the former’s track Tidal Wave, while the wacky vocal distortion sound like the chopped vocals of the latter’s song OK. There are some comparisons to be made on this latest release, but Whethan’s new single is far from unoriginal.

Settling into a unique sound whilst also remaining experimental with his releases, Snoreck continues to explore new electronic effects and staggering melodies on Radar. Andy Clutterbuck of HONNE’s smooth, raspy vocals explore new ground with the help of Whethan’s production.

A bubbly, poppy cluster of instrumentals, the chorus still has a sense of a tight tempo at its core underneath the catchy lyrics. Following on from collaborations with the likes of Dua Lipa, Oh Wonder and Broods, Radar demonstrates that Whethan has found the perfect balance between unrestrained creativity and a rigid, driving rhythm.

Radar is available now on Apple Music and Spotify.