#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.

Advertisements

#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.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘Wake Me Up’ by Fickle Friends

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.

#NewMusicFriday: ‘You Could Have Been The One’ by Coasts

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…