It was no surprise that Emma Blackery’s latest single Dirt was going to be firing some shots at a certain someone. With promotional images seeing her posing with bitter labels, sipping tea and bathing in receipts, the singer-songwriter’s track is packed with sass as radiant as the synths at its heart.
While the music video has the vibrant art style of a Chloe Höwl video, the song itself has clear Taylor Swift vibes with blunt, sly muttering in amongst the vocals. Add this to the nursery rhyme of the key line I’ve got dirt on you and you have a song packed with soft, bubbly instrumentals with sharp, flowing and edgy lyrics.
Sure, Dirt is a clear and stark contrast to the calmer tones of the Magnetised EP (which Blackery described as being about ‘mending’), but with cup and saucer in hand, Emma Blackery is stronger than ever.
When it comes to bops, Fickle Friends like to go big and loud. Yet, with every album, live show or string of singles, there’s that one track (or two) which strikes a calmer, more contemplative tone. Today, the Brighton band release that single with their song, Wake Me Up.
In an interesting contrast to previous tracks, it’s pulsing bass and drums which take centre stage in the verses, as opposed to bubbly piano melodies or plucky guitar.
However, the synth, as usual, makes an appearance in the chorus with bouncy chords interlacing with the fluctuating flow of Nattie’s soft vocals.
What is unusual though is the synth’s chord progression, which creates a low, minor tone which isn’t usually heard on a Fickle Friends release. Past releases from the band have begun with calmer introductions, only to quickly progress into fast-paced melodies. Here, we see the same mood throughout, which works well with the song’s tale of a struggling and troubled relationship, as well as showcasing a fresh take on their traditional sound ahead of their debut album release.
You Are Someone Else comes out on Friday, 16 March.
It’s quite hard trying to pinpoint when exactly I stumbled across Illenium. In most instances, it’s YouTube channels like MrSuicideSheep and Proximity to whom I owe my thanks for discovering up-and-coming dance artists. Yet, on this occasion, it may have been an announced collaboration by Mako which led to me listening to Illenium’s track with Said the Sky, Where’d U Go.
With no vocals (save for the song title itself), the track is completely instrumental, broken down into the main, stuttering melody and softer, atmospheric backing chords. In the space of just over three minutes, Where’d U Go flits between quieter breaks with subtle drum-and-bass into euphoric, hazy drops.
Interestingly, there’s not always just the main melody to focus on. In the opening, fluttering piano chords are played underneath jittery synth, whilst in the choruses, multiple tunes combine with a steady drum beat to create a busy but vibrant hook of euphoric proportions.
On YouTube, listeners were quick to compare the track to Divinity by the US DJ Porter Robinson. Whilst the stumbling synth is common on both songs, Illenium’s track builds an ethereal tone through loud melodies, as opposed to Robinson’s (primarily) delicate sound in Divinity.
Paloma Faith is no stranger to the dance music genres. Having put her toes in the water on Sigma’s smash hit, Changing, her latest collaboration with Sigala on the track Lullaby sees her venture into the tropical house scene.
Whilst Changing – to be overly critical – could be described as just a faster Paloma single, Sigala (real name Bruce Fielder) is able to bring out the best of the Crybaby singer on this track. With a steady tempo of 120bpm, Lullaby progresses at a pace which isn’t unfamiliar to Faith.
What is different, however, is the more anthemic sound from Paloma – reminiscent of Galantis’ Runaway (U & I) – which we hear in the chorus in the catchy line: Won’t you sing me a sweet lullaby. Although the artist doesn’t shy away from powerful vocals, this collaboration sees a louder, shouty side of Paloma we’ve rarely heard before – wonderfully ironic for a track named Lullaby.
There’s no doubt that Fielder has scored another hit collaboration with this track, but whilst Faith’s vocals are to be commended, Sigala’s instrumental contributions should also be applauded as well.
Unlike previous singles, we hear a unique style of tropical synth on this track. Hit singles like Easy Love, Give Me Your Love or Ain’t Giving Up all have punchy piano stabs at its core, yet Lullaby ditches that entirely for a bubblier, fluttering electronic melody.
Yet, that’s not to say that such a sound hasn’t been hinted at before. The poppy intro to Came Here for Love is perhaps the closest to the feel of this track, which seems to suggest that Sigala is perhaps designing a more uniform style in preparation for his upcoming album (something which has once again been teased by Fielder fairly recently).
Despite what the song’s title may suggest, Sigala and Paloma Faith’s collaboration is a euphoric, feel-good track, kickstarting Fielder’s 2018 and building upon Faith’s recent success with The Architect.
The Wombats have certainly made some changes since their last album in 2015. Whilst the edgy album titles remain (this one being Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life), the rock trio from Liverpool certainly succeeded in making an album which doesn’t “[punch] you in the face every time you listen to it” – pursuing a much more laid-back sound this time around.
Although, that is not to say that the band have completely ditched the rockier vibes heard on previous tracks like Moving to New Yorkand Let’s Dance to Joy Division. They’re still present on the album – albeit in a slightly new and different (but interesting) way…
Take the opener, Cheetah Tongue, which slowly eases listeners into Beautiful People… with a gritty underlying guitar riff before dropping a loud, punchy drum beat. It’s stripped-back, yet still has that Wombats kick to it we’ve felt before.
That doesn’t stop with the following song, Lemon To A Knife Fight. As the lead single from the album, the group knew it had to offer a glimpse into what the ten-track record had in store. With anthemic vocals in the chorus on top of casual instrumentals, it perfectly balances the driving rock of the old with the chilled vibes of the new. It’s certainly the stand-out track from the album, so if you have to listen to one song from The Wombats, make it this one.
Then follows the third and final single from the album, Turn – a track with retreating guitar and drums that make it a song focussing more on Matthew Murphy’s vocals than an all-round dance hit. It strikes that perfect balance between full-on rock and a slower, phones-in-the-air type track – an interesting in-between.
Yet, it’s not just the singles where we see such a balance between slower and faster vibes. Over the course of the next seven tracks, we either see the punch come from pulsing drums and guitar (BlackFlamingo, Dip You in Honeyand Lethal Combination), or from Murph’s loud lyrics (Out of MyHead). Such a switch between the two keeps each track fresh as we progress towards the end of the album.
With that being said, the change-up in style is apparent when one considers the tempo of the tracks. Far from the pace of A Guide to Love, Loss and Desperation, their latest release, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life plays with a more relaxed rhythm – some tracks hiding the change with colourful beats and melodies, others placing emphasis on it to create a calmer feel.
This leads us to the final track, I Don’t Know Why I Like You but I Do – a track which, for the most part, is in clear contrast to the first three. A simplistic drum beat (with the odd bit of flair here and there) and smooth guitar melodies slow things down for Murph, before a gritty guitar interlude refreshes the feel and makes it a perfect showcase of the two sides of the album.
A refreshing change of style is always a risky, tough and lengthy process for any band to deliver, but with Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, The Wombats return to turn things down a notch, whilst maintaining the traditional groove fans know and love.
It’s only three days until the love-fest that is Valentine’s Day, and rather than releasing the typical love song, Marshmello and his latest featured artist Anne-Marie wanted to go down the more anti-romance route with their single, FRIENDS.
Described in the title for the lyric video on YouTube as being the ‘official friendzone anthem’, Anne-Marie’s smooth vocals give the perfect sassy edge to this track for heartbreakers in a style where you can almost sense the smug grin on her face as she sings the lyrics in the recording booth.
Such a vibe isn’t only given off by Anne-Marie, as Marshmello dabbles in a bit of deception. A fluttering and catchy guitar melody creates an intimate, contrasting tone to that of Anne-Marie’s, right before dropping into a dirty trap beat. FRIENDS is a beautiful anti-climax – both instrumentally and vocally – which continues Marshmello’s mellow sound in a fresh, interesting and unexpected way.
It was only three months ago that Coasts were on the road celebrating the release of their second album, This Life Vol. 1. Now, in the middle of a European tour with rock band The Hunna, the five-piece band have offered up a brand new anthemic track in the form of the anthemic You Could Have Been the One.
Take Me Back Home, albeit with a fresh kick to it. It’s the band we know and love, yet with some interesting new vibes thrown in.
As well as this, when one considers the fact that Coasts announced the single on Facebook yesterday with the hashtag, #vol2, it’s likely that the next album from the band continues the euphoric sound of their previous record. With You Could Have Been The One having a bubbly synth tune at its core, what’s not to say that Volume Two expands upon the electronic melodies teased in Paradise and Make It Out Alive?
Ignoring the bizarre fading out of the song 30 minutes before the end of the track, You Could Have Been The One is a welcome return from the group, hinting at bigger things from the band in the months to come…