#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.

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#NewMusicFriday: ‘Brighter Days’ by Sigala feat. Paul Janeway

The title track from British DJ Sigala’s long-awaited debut album Brighter Days, featuring Paul Janeway from St. Paul and the Broken Bones, is a strong deep house opener packed with euphoric, feel-good vibes.

With it being just over three years since Norfolk-born Bruce Fielder released his smash debut hit Easy Love, dance fans have become quite accustomed to the producer’s particular style across the many singles the 25-year-old has released to-date. Take vibrant tropical house with the occasional funk and deep house influences and you have Fielder’s traditional sound which has seen him achieve seven Top 40 hits.

These seven chart successes all appear on the album, with 10 of the 16 tracks already being released as singles. While the popularity of these songs has already been proven, it’s the new collaborations with big names such as Kylie Minogue and Kodaline that have fans interested. Yet, while they show the range of Sigala’s tropical house sound, they fall short of conjuring up the last drop of summer – something which is probably not helped by the record’s autumnal release.

Of the few tracks which we haven’t heard before, it’s opener Brighter Days which is particularly distinctive. Janeway’s vocals have a noticeable Sam Smith/John Newman twang which is far from unfamiliar to Fielder and his listeners. What’s new and different is the deep house hook which is something fans have heard more of in live performances than in the studio (with the exception of his track with Blonde and Imani Williams, I Don’t Need No Money). Lyrics like “the sun breaking through those clouds” and “holding on for the brighter days” are typical Sigala – summery, vibrant and optimistic.

It’s a strong introduction to the record, with the underlying bass and heavy, hazy synth foreshadowing tracks such as Just Got Paid (feat. Ella Eyre, Meghan Trainor and French Montana) and You Don’t Know Me (feat. Shaun Frank, Flo Rida and Delaney Jane). However, Brighter Days and Sigala’s track with Nina Nesbitt and HRVY – Somebody – are the only two new, stand-out songs from the album. Yet, with so many featured artists and tracks we’ve heard before, there’s likely to be something for everyone on Sigala’s eagerly anticipated debut.

Brighter Days is the title track from Sigala’s album of the same name, available now on Apple Music and Spotify.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Broken Sleep’ by Fickle Friends

Hot off the heels of their debut album release and a string of summer festival performances, Fickle Friends explore new ground on the driving pop track, Broken Sleep.

It’s time for some new directions for the Brighton band. Leaving Polydor Records to start up their own record company, the five-piece are back with an evolved pop sound ahead of their new EP out later this year.

Their first album, You Are Someone Else, was a strong introduction from Natti Shiner and co. Colourful instrumentals and soft vocals on a slow beat cemented the group as a band with a clear, distinctive sound, and room to experiment.

Listening to the lead single of their new EP, this traditional sound remains, but it feels different. While hits from You Are Someone Else packed a punch with a slower tempo, Broken Sleep has a driving rhythm which is much more urgent and excitable. If we’re seeing Fickle Friends move towards faster, poppier hits, then the band is heading in a very exciting direction indeed.

Broken Sleep is available now on Apple Music and Spotify.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Villains’ by Emma Blackery

Bold, impactful but also incredibly personal, Emma Blackery’s Villains is a confident debut from the Essex-born singer-songwriter.

A vlogger on the video-sharing site YouTube, the musician has been involved in a fair bit of online drama over the years. Much like her previous EP, Emma’s album Villains chronicles another period of reflection for the singer, as she went through what she describes as “personal relationship issues”.  Her 11-track debut is just as honest as Magnetised – except this time, with a side order of sass and one heck of a punch.

In a tweet ahead of the launch, Emma described the record as a “concept album” – the linear narrative clear from the start, with Villains Pt. 1 and Villains Pt. 2 discussing Blackery’s list of “good and bad” and serving as two very different bookends to the artist’s many emotions across the tracks – moving from the colourful, confident hits DirtAgenda and Fake Friends into the more stripped back sounds of Icarus, Petty and What I Felt With You.

The bold tone of the album has already attracted comparisons to Taylor Swift’s reputation era (which Emma shorty responded to on Twitter after the lead single Dirt was released), but there’s also some slight Madonna and Charlie XCX vibes – on Fake Friends and Take Me Out respectively. The latter in particular warranted a few more listens before becoming a catchy hit.

Alongside Fake Friends and What I Felt With You, Blackery comes into their own on the track Third Eye. Her interest in electronic music on full show, the track offers up pulsing synth and sharp vocals. As the artist prepares to go on tour in October, this is one which is likely to get the crowd going in a concert environment.

As a whole, Villains breathes confidence. Even on the chilled electronic track What I Felt With You – arguably one of the stand-out songs on the album – Emma is in her element as she takes a more delicate approach to the song, something we’ve already seen her accomplish on the hit Magnetised. There’s also the small matter of the high notes at the end of Villains Pt. 2, a final demonstration of her vocal talents and an indication to fans and to anyone else listening that she’s here and ready to rock.

Rating: 4/5

#NewMusicFriday: ‘First Aid’ by Eliza and the Bear

As Eliza and the Bear explore new sounds on their upcoming album, Group Therapy, their latest single First Aid is a little look back at the band’s beginnings – with lead singer James Kellegher taking centre-stage on this raw and impactful track.

After having revealed some of their personal struggles and their difficult journey to get to a second album, Eliza and the Bear think it “felt so right” that First Aid was released to fans this week – and they’re not wrong.

For one thing, it’s a break from the funk pop style we’ve seen on previous releases such as Higher, Hell and Real Friends. Instead, it feels like an emboldened version of what we already know from their debut. Out goes the loud drums and chanting vocals, replaced by a steady, controlled beat and soul from James. If Eliza and the Bear wanted to gently introduce their new sound, as opposed to a more daring and surprising approach, then this could very well have been a solid first single.

With the band already hinting that Group Therapy will be more funky release than their debut, First Aid moves away from that idea to deliver a passionate and raw track. Such a detour suggests that a bit of experimentation can be expected on their sophomore album, and for a band which has gone through some difficult times, they’re back, and the creativity is flowing.

First Aid is out now on Apple Music and Spotify. Eliza and the Bear’s second album, Group Therapy, is released on 5 October.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Icarus’ by Emma Blackery

There’s something different about Emma Blackery’s latest single Icarus. Moving away from the buzzing pop of Dirt and Agenda, the release takes a more delicate, personal approach – using a tale from Greek mythology as an unusual source of inspiration.

While there’s no doubt that some of Emma’s fans will have to take to Google to find out more about Icarus (a man who flew too close to the Sun, causing his wings to melt and him to fall into the ocean and drown), the story serves as a wider metaphor for online drama – of which Emma has had her fair share.

Working as a YouTuber as well as a musician, the 26-year-old has had a few heated arguments with fellow creators in the past, and Icarus serves as a reflection on that period in her life. “A song I wrote as a letter to myself,” Emma writes on Twitter, before explaining later that it’s “about retaliating to the people who want to see you fall, and looking like a fool.” Even Icarus flying to the Sun could well be symbolic of rising to the ‘heat’ or bait in an online argument. Either way, this creative take on the Greek legend is incredibly imaginative, and is a promising demonstration of the singer’s songwriting talent.

Yet it is not just the lyrical aspect of Icarus which helps it strike a more anecdotal tone. Opening up with a fragile harp melody (almost like one out of a music box), we not only see a nod to the song’s Greek inspiration, but it lays down the foundation for an emotional outpour. This is slightly different from the short, sudden burst of cymbals we hear during the chorus, which almost symbolises the lashing out online in retaliation to a public dispute. This is all down to interpretation, of course, but the large amount of symbolism in this song is incredibly impressive.

Almost like the Magnetised of the Villains era, Icarus is a hit packed full of creative imagery, emotional vocals and fluttering instrumentals.

It is available now on Apple Music and Spotify.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Dirt’ by Emma Blackery

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.