This week’s edition of Tracks is all about collaborations. It’s lead by Chvrches, who returned this week with ‘My Enemy’, the second preview of new album ‘Love Is Dead’. On the track is The National vocalist Matt Berninger, who brings his trademark morose vocals to a slow burner from Lauren and co.
They’re joined in this week’s round-up by Iceage, who’ve drafted Sky Ferreira in to add some punch to their new single ‘Pain Killer’, and Lorde, who has given ‘Melodrama’ highlight ‘Supercut’ a facelift by way of an El-P remix and verses from Run The Jewels.
Elsewhere, Natalie Prass returns with a sharp pop edge on new track ‘Short Court Style’, and Berlin-based newcomer Peggy Gou emerges with a powerhouse in new single Han Jan.
Phew, what a week. For our verdicts on all of this week’s biggest and most exciting tracks, all you need to do is scroll down. And if you’re itching to check out everything else out this week, step this way for DIY’s Listening Hub, and our Essential Playlist.
Chvrches - My Enemy (ft Matt Berninger)
Over the past few years, The National’s Matt Berninger has put himself in some positions you wouldn’t quite expect. First, he formed an upbeat, often sexy side-project in EL VY with Brent Knopf of Ramona Falls, and now he appears on the new Chvrches single.
Far from a stranger to the band - Berninger and vocalist Lauren Mayberry have dueted on National track ‘I Need My Girl’ at a handful of shows, and conducted various joint interviews - the link-up, on new track ‘My Enemy’, makes far more sense than it might at first glance.
A slower, more contemplative counterpart to the sky-reaching, ballsy ‘Get Out’, Matt and Lauren’s voices prove a near-perfect pair. It’s clear by now that Berninger’s vocals have their own magnetic pull, no matter the soundtrack they fit with, and the melancholic stabs of reverb-drenched percussion in the intro to ‘My Enemy’ worm around his typically sombre vocals, opening with the line “I got no more time to hear what you think about me” and not getting any more forgiving from there.
A gorgeous, understated chorus-of-sorts from Mayberry then ushers its way in, using restraint as its greatest weapon, and proving the perfect tonic to the chart-mingling punch of ‘Get Out’. There’s always been many sides to Chvrches, but ‘My Enemy’ is the first true example of the trio countering their chorus-driven, synth-pop bangers with something slower but just as affecting. (Will Richards)
Lorde ft Run The Jewels - Supercut (El-P remix)
‘Supercut’ remains one of the highlights of Lorde’s intense, brilliant second album ‘Melodrama’. Nestled towards the end of the record, the track is an intense, rousing realisation that you’ll always retrospectively look back at a relationships and only see a highlights reel of its best moments, blocking out the difficult ones.
Lorde is about to head out on her US tour in support of the album, and she’s to be supported by Run The Jewels. Ahead of the run, the pair have shared a new remix of ‘Supercut’, featuring Killer Mike and El-P, and produced by the latter.
Splicing up Lorde’s vocals until they become isolated stabs of feeling, the track’s propulsive synth-pop backing is swapped out in favour of a slinky, eerie beat which turns the track from bonafide anthem into devil on your shoulder.
Mike and El’s verses are, predictably, as infectious as ever: simply by opening their mouths, an untameable energy is created, before Lorde slides back in deftly.
A lot of the urgent emotion of ‘Supercut’ is lost in this remix - its power of feeling came largely from its up-tempo, non-stop vocals and hugely danceable chorus - but when treated as almost an entirely different song, it becomes an utterly brilliant one, and a collaboration to treasure. (Will Richards)
Listen to the ‘Supercut’ remix via a free download from RTJ’s newsletter here.
Iceage - Pain Killer (ft Sky Ferreira)
Iceage’s Elias Bender Rønnenfelt was always made to be a swaggering frontman. From the band’s intense, fiercely punk first steps with debut album ‘New Brigade’, through its follow-up ‘You’re Nothing’ and supremely exciting third effort ‘Plowing Through The Field Of Love’, he started to change from a howling ball of rage to something more akin to a Morrissey or a Pete Doherty, fronting a band increasingly more suitable for swaying, drunken singalongs than moshpits and fist-pumping.
This continues marvellously on ‘Pain Killer’, the first single proper from the band’s fourth album ‘Beyondless’. Opening with a glorious parade of horns, the track is a rush of booze-addled endorphins.
If the track wasn’t intoxicating enough, Rønnenfelt is backed up in his every move by backing vocals from Sky Ferreira, who circles around his words like a ghost, as if the two egging each other on.
‘Pain Killer’ sees Iceage as their most supremely confident: every move made and turn taken on the track is one done with bundles of belief, and it makes it feel like somewhat of an anthem. (Will Richards)
Natalie Prass - Short Court Style
Back in 2016, Natalie Prass said that she wanted to release an album, the follow-up to her ace self-titled debut record, that year. Then the American Election happened. “I was devastated”, Natalie explained. As such, she went completely back to the drawing board: “I knew I would be so upset with myself if I didn’t take the opportunity to say some of the things that meant so much to me, so I decided to rewrite the record”.
‘Short Court Style’ is the first track to be taken from that upcoming, newly-written album, ‘The Future And The Past’, and if you’re perhaps expecting a barbed retort to Trump-era politics, then you’ll be in for a surprise. Indeed, Natalie throws more than one curveball on the track, choosing to sing candidly about love instead of hate, but also eschewing some of the sounds of her debut for something more akin to disco-pop. It’s underpinned by a funk-laden bass groove, punctuated by soaring synths, handclaps and sampled “whoops!” that Natalie effortlessly glides her airy vocals across. It’s a combination that manages to feel light as a feather but also packs a serious pop punch. (Eugenie Johnson)
Peggy Gou - Han Jan
Berlin-based Peggy Gou has spent the last two years establishing herself as a club DJ, filling her sets with house, electro and techno. It makes perfect sense then that her upcoming EP ‘Once’ would blend all of these elements together, combining her influences into a melting pot built for the dancefloor.
On her new track ‘Han Jan’ she forms her own tribute to the electro music of the 90s, with the biggest inspirations being DMX Krew, Drexciya and Maurice Fulton, but also the likes of Japanese musician and producer Haruomi Hosono. Harnessing these different elements, Peggy slices together a panorama of sound, one where ethereal synth sweeps and bassy melodies rustle up against more mechanical, pulsating beats.
It’s also only the second time that Peggy’s contributed her own vocals to a track, and here she offers up quick-fire raps in Korean alongside a more languid hook: “you’ve got to do it right, enjoy your night”. Here, Peggy delivers all of the ingredients to help you do so. (Eugenie Johnson)