Good noole, dear readers, and a happy Friday to you all. As usual, its been a busy week of new music, and up to their usual antics, artists have been releasing new songs left right and centre. We’ve picked out the biggest and best new songs to emerge this week, and there’s plenty to get stuck into. FKA twigs surprise released her whole blimmin’ EP last night, and Chvrches kicked the week off with new album opener ‘Never Ending Circles’. Meanwhile Lana Del Rey got very pissed off and gunned down a chopper in her new and brilliant video for ‘High by the Beach’. In other words, this week has been chocka. For everything else out this week head over to the DIY Listening Hub, or hit play on our Essential Playlist.
Chvrches - Never Ending Circles
As their mammoth, two-year world tour continued, Chvrches never looking like burning out. In fact, with every trip to the States and big-league festival slot, they returned a more emphatic force. The lightshow was bigger, brighter, the showmanship more in-your-face. Even the synth-backed lasers seemed to arrive in more deluxe packages with every run of shows.
Behind the scenes, it would appear, Chvrches were also going up several gears on record. New album ‘Every Open Eye’ shuns any premonition that it’s impossible to create pristine, gut-busting synth-pop on the road. The trio could have been studio recluses for half a decade and they wouldn’t arrive with anything as sharp as ‘Never Ending Circles’, an album opener that spells out in giant bold caps - Chvrches have upped their game.
Synth lines jostle for space, vocal lines arrive multi-layered, but there’s never a desire for extra space in ‘Every Open Eye’. It’s dense and overlapping but at no point does it overwhelm. The staples of Chvrches’ debut are there too - Lauren Mayberry’s vocals swinging from sharp and pronounced to something made out of samples, backed by flashy handclap patterns - sharing a space with bolder ideas that’ve taken years to harness. This band have progressed before our very eyes, and ‘Never Ending Circles’ gives indication that they’re still stampeding ahead. (Jamie Milton)
FKA twigs - In Time
FKA twigs has already mastered uneasy pop; abrasive, contorted, vapour-drenched screams that rocket skywards in a blur of fizzing dynamite. She’s already nailed the tightrope art of writing lyrics that teeter on the dangerous wafer-thin line separating upfront intimacy and sordid darkness, and she’s unquestionably one of the most innovative faces of this decade, too. In many ways, it wouldn’t just be easy for twigs to carry on creating songs like ‘Two Weeks’ and ‘Water Me’ - it would be sustaining exceptionally innovative form.
twigs, though, is a natural radical, and gathering together all of the threads she’s already mastered in a bunched fist, ‘In Time’ goes several steps further. “You’ve got a goddamn nerve,” she snarls, the diction laid bare, with no hint of the misted production that typically cloaked her debut album ‘LP1’. “I will be better / And we will be stronger” she lulls idealistically, elsewhere. There’s an awful lot of implicit meaning bubbling beneath the lava of this lyrically minimal song, and of all the songs on new EP ‘M3LL155X’ it also stands up as her most punchy, immediate veering off yet. (El Hunt)
Swim Deep - Namaste
There’s trying something new, and then there’s ‘Namaste’, the only proof required that Swim Deep are taking a gigantic leap of faith with second album ‘Mothers’. Since the start of this year, talk’s centred around the Birmingham band trying something new with LP2. In February, frontman Austin Williams said: “I feel like we’re all shaving our heads and going to war with this record.” That was around the period of ‘To My Brother’, a psych-led swarm of invention. An undeniable switch from ‘Where the Heaven Are We’, it was still hard to believe, at the time, that Williams wasn’t overdoing the rhetoric.
What’s emerged since then has given credence to Williams’ bolshy talk. ‘One Great Song and I Could Change the World’ is probably the most palatable of new moves, but it’s still clearly from the same wired, wacked-out recording sessions. The same goes for ‘Grand Affection’, a hook-led glimpse into the unknown that took guts to produce.
‘Namaste’ is in another league, though. Beginning with a synth line lifted straight from a parallel universe Wheel of Fortune episode, it closes with a mad scientist shriek from Williams and an attention-swerving guitar solo. Bonkers. Beyond that, actually. It’s either career suicide or a stroke of genius. When all the madness from the past few months falls into place with ‘Mothers’, you suspect Swim Deep are going to be onto a winner. (Jamie Milton)
Lana Del Rey - High by the Beach
For a song apparently based around rolling across sand under the influence of narcotics, ‘High By The Beach’ is deceptive. Really, Lana Del Rey’s singing about saying “bye, bye, bye,” instead, and her coy, saccharine delivery lends itself to one of the best deliveries of “bullshit” this year. The production is unapologetic, shaking at the foundations. The chorus is oddly paced, half a leg behind like it’s just quaffed a glass of white wine and a sedative. Assertion also pumps through ‘High By The Beach’s veins.
Tucked away in the bridge, “lights, camera, acción” serves as a subtle, but key lyrical throwback to Del Rey’s first album, ‘Lana Del Ray a.k.a. Lizzy Grant’. ‘Put Me in a Movie’ - the particular song she’s referencing - plays an insecure character who desperately wants to play yet another character in a movie. It’s a pile of confused masks, albeit an intriguing one. Nowadays, Lana Del Rey - and the very idea of who Lana Del Rey is - has shifted towards something far more singular.
“Lana Del Rey reminded us of the glamour of the seaside,” she once said, speaking about the choice of moniker. Sacking off no good men, money-slinging bullshitters, and empty tributes in favour of beachy hedonism on ‘High By The Beach,’ this song is really a song about reveling in the escape of being yourself. (El Hunt)
Disclosure - Willing & Able (ft. Kwabs)
Collaborations on Disclosure’s debut album ‘Settle’ got a lot of people a lot of places. Just look at Sam Smith. Kwabs, then, should be extremely excited about his appearance on ‘Willing & Able’ on the Lawrence brothers’ return record ‘Caracal’. Appearing alongside fellow special guests including Gregory Porter, Lorde and Sam Smith (again), Kwabs has lent his hand to this smooth, impossibly groovy cut, showcasing the soulful, toned down corner of Disclosure’s repertoire with beautiful results.
‘Caracal’ will surely birth the house bangers of 2015 - it’s already done so with ‘Holding On’ and ‘Omen’ - but ‘Willing & Able’ proves a reserved addition to the portion of the record that’s available to hear, sitting in the corner; still making itself known, just with less pomp than its counterparts.
As we see more and more of ‘Caracal’ ahead of its release, it looks to be matching, and even surpassing ‘Settle’ for diversity, hits and more special guests than you can shake a stick at. (Will Richards)
Hurts - Lights
Prepare to hear Hurts like you’ve never heard them before. The niche Theo Hutchcraft and Adam Anderson have previously carved out for themselves - as suited-and-booted purveyors of melodramatic, shadowy pop - takes a firm back seat on ‘Lights’. Teaming up with unofficial producer of the moment, Ariel Rechtshaid - who’s worked with everyone from Haim, to Sky Ferreira and Madonna - his unmistakable influence is the mentos being dropped into Hurts’ coca-cola. In caramel combination, ‘Lights’ explodes and fizzes with new energy.
‘Lights’ is a giant track, bursting with syncopated, robotic string sections, bright synthetic trumpets, and a twanging funk bass line. “Do you know what it hurts like, to be left alone?” asks Theo over a discordantly jolly background, having a lonely jig on his own in the middle of the room. Even stood next to a song like ‘Wonderful Life’ - the massive Hurts track which kicked it all off - this is a different pop monster altogether. (El Hunt)
Majical Cloudz - Silver Car Crash
Taking to his Tumblr, Majical Cloudz’s Devon Welsh cites an Andy Warhol painting as a part-inspiration for new song ‘Silver Car Crash’. Warhol’s ‘Silver Car Crash (Double Disaster)’ is a “spiritual” piece, he says, which seems to be “preoccupied with another world.” That’s a smart summary for Welsh himself, someone who could easily be cast down from another planet, the way he delivers on stage and ponders the big questions - but everything is iron cast from the human heart with Majical Cloudz.
On this first take from new album ‘Are You Alone?’, his astute declarations get boiled down to a more simple form than ever. Backed by an orchestral sample that’s part Space Odyssey, part operatic, Welsh sings: “But I am always perfect, when I am holding on to you.” He’s bringing a basic but poignant perspective to love, one that could fit newly-wedded humans or curious alien forms. (Jamie Milton)
Battles - The Yabba
Thought you knew Battles? Well, they’ve gone completely vocal-free, named their new album ‘La Di Da Di’ and streamed their first new track in four years, entitled ‘The Yabba’. In an album which is unlikely to present a lead single, introducing the new era of Battles with the album opener seems fitting, and its seven minutes open up an endless pit of possibilities.
‘The Yabba’ violently switches between amicable flutes and brass to itchy, restless synths - sometimes piling both onto each other - creating something close to the sonic equivalent of ‘La Di Da Di”s artwork. As an introduction to the album, and as a tool to drum up excitement, ‘The Yabba’ couldn’t do more. While it gives no certainty at all about the direction the rest of the album might take, it sure as hell won’t be dull. (Will Richards)
Neon Indian - Slumlord
If it was ever in Alan Palomo’s mind to ditch the synth and travel as far away as possible from ‘chillwave’ beginnings, it looks like his instincts took over. From ‘Annie’ and new song ‘Slumlord’, Neon Indian has dived headfirst into the chaotic chasm of synthetics, combining three decades’ worth of shiny aesthetic into a walking, talking boombox of gleamy noise. Palomo says he sees his music as inhabiting a “Night School” space, like a new acquaintance teaching complex dance moves in the club.
‘Slumlord’ takes your hand with every step of the ride, but it’s a wild and unpredictable one at that. A boogie-down customer and supremely fly specimen, it’s makes hard effort look cool, all of a sudden. If there was ever the perfect formula to advancing a sound that Neon Indian could easily get bogged down in, this was it. (Jamie Milton)
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