After a night of celebrating Wolf Alice’s victory at the 2018 Hyundai Mercury Prize last night, it’s safe to assume that there’s bound to be a few sore heads out there today (not us, though, of course…) so what better way to soothe the soul than with a slew of new music?
In this week’s edition of Tracks, we get a first taste of Whenyoung’s forthcoming EP ‘Given Up’ (which, helpfully, is also the name of their new track), there’s a second offering of new Lana Del Rey and MØ has shared another cut from her long-awaited album ‘Forever Neverland’.
There’s also new material from Mini Mansions and Little Simz, along with a nifty cover of Weezer’s ‘Say It Ain’t So’ by Finn Wolfhard’s (y’know, that one from Stranger Things) musical project Calpurnia.
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.
Whenyoung - Given Up
Taking influence from the oft-overlooked corner of 90s pop that found The Cranberries or one hit wonders Sixpence None The Richer crafting doe-eyed jangles born to soundtrack a romantic scene in Dawson’s Creek, and injecting them with a more peppy, modern fizz, Whenyoung are proving themselves to be masters of penning simultaneously nostalgic and vibrant nuggets.
‘Given Up’ continues this trend. Underpinned by galloping drums and splashes of anticipation-building guitar, the trio could easily explode the whole thing into a big bombastic chorus as would be the norm. Instead, however, they opt for a more subtle approach. All dreamy, warm guitars with singer Aoife Power’s Irish lilt providing small emotive punches, it’s a track that proves you don’t have to throw everything at the wall to succeed. (Lisa Wright)
MØ - Imaginary Friend
Arriving alongside a stylish, blue and red toned video, MØ’s new track ‘Imaginary Friend’ is the latest offering to arrive from the Danish singer’s second album ‘Forever Neverland’. Piano-driven, glitchy pop with a spoken word-like outro before its final chorus, it veers in slightly more of an alt-pop direction than some of her more recent chart bangers (see: the album’s lead track, the Diplo-featuring ‘Sun In Our Eyes’), but in that sense it veers back to her pop roots, offering a promising insight into the rest of the full-length to come. (Rachel Finn)
Lana Del Rey - Venice Bitch
If many of the lyrical tropes that have always peppered Lana Del Rey’s semi-fantastical American dream world (you need only note the repeated refrain of “You’re beautiful and I’m insane/ We’re American made” to see we’re still very much situated in the same location here) are still present and correct on ‘Venice Bitch’, then the second offering from LDR’s forthcoming fifth major label album ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’, sees the LA star entering into far more unexpected territory sonically.
Clocking in at nearly 10 minutes, it begins in fairly unassuming fashion. All acoustic guitars and dreamy wistful vocals, the Jack Antonoff-produced number taps into a sepia-tinted, 60s roadtrip, dealing in the kind of sad prettiness that the singer’s made her trademark. Then the electronics come in, upping the density and disorientation as Lana vocals become further away and more sporadic. Over the next six minutes, woozy interludes and snippets of addled guitars pass in and out of shot, LDR’s voice occasionally appearing like the distant reminder of reality in the midst of a bad trip. It’s lulling and yet strangely uncomfortable at the same time, with a tension that belies the track’s warm, melodic beginnings. If Lana’s universe is still rooted in a similar place, then ‘Venice Bitch’ shows it could be twisting into intriguing new forms too. (Lisa Wright)
Calpurnia - Say It Ain’t So
Finn Wolfhard may be about eight years younger than Weezer’s ‘Blue Album’ classic ‘Say It Ain’t So’ but that doesn’t mean that Calpurnia’s latest cover of the explosive anthem is any less potent than the original. Recorded as part of a recent Spotify Single session in New York, their take on the track arrives a little more rough around the edges than the original, with Wolfhard’s vocals blistering with a pop-punk grittiness during each of the song’s choruses. Plus, when it comes with a seal of approval from Weezer themselves, what more could you ask for? (Sarah Jamieson)
Little Simz - Offence
Following on from the release of her second album ‘Stillness In Wonderland’ in 2016, Little Simz has been quiet on the new release front, but with new track ‘Offence’, she shows a blistering return to form. Pulsating with a dark beat all the way through, she starts with a real statement: “Me again, allow me to pick up where I left off…” before she spits through verses full of confidence and power.
“You do not scare me, no you are not a threat,” she intones. “I said it with my chest and I don’t care who I offend.” If one thing is clear from this first taste of new material, it’s that Little Simz is back and sounding stronger than ever. (Rachel Finn)
Mini Mansions - Midnight In Tokyo
“I lost my head in Japan… Falling in love from a one-night stand” prowls Mini Mansions singer Michael Schuman with the kind of arched eyebrow sexuality that his other outfit Queens of the Stone Age have down to a tee. Full of slinky beats and cool, minimal basslines, it’s a saucy, promising start. But then… “Have we grown apart? For modern lovers, it’s just the start of the end.” Mapping the lifespan of a relationship and based in singer Michael Schuman’s own experiences with a former fiancee, ‘Midnight In Tokyo’ is a track of two halves. Interspersing the slick courtship with wary, hazy interludes, it finds the trio tapping into newer, more personal territory and coming out all the more nuanced for it. (Lisa Wright)