Happy Friday, dear readers! It’s the first full week of the year, so you’d expect all your faves to ease us back in, waiting a while until the mince pies have fully digested to come back with their first music of 2019, right? Wrong.
This week has given us the return of - no exaggeration - some of the biggest artists in the world, as well as bold new steps forward from the new generation.
Radiohead returned today with ‘Ill Wind’, left over from the sessions for 2016’s ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’, while Lana Del Rey gave us her most Lana Del Rey-titled song ever in new one ‘hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but i have it’.
Elsewhere, Stella Donnelly announced her debut album with the brilliant ‘Old Man’, FIDLAR got groovy on ‘By Myself’, Limerick-via-London trio Whenyoung made a huge step forward on ‘Never Let Go’, and SOAK presented details of her second album with lead single ‘Knock Me Off My Feet’.
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.
Radiohead - Ill Wind
Radiohead’s last album - 2016’s ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’, was a delight. As we wrote in our review at the time, “after years doing their own thing, it’s as if the members of Radiohead have locked limbs once more for a bigger cause,” and on ‘Ill Wind’, a track from the deluxe version of the record, released onto streaming services for the first time this week, that singular vision is stronger than ever.
The track’s title is incredibly appropriate: electronics swirl around like a storm, less psychedelic and more unnerving. The bluster dies down for verses ruled by Colin Greenwood’s noodling bassline, but the danger always returns, rising with Thom Yorke’s voice, as if he’s conjuring the storm himself. (Will Richards)
Lana Del Rey - hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have - but i have it
With its too long title and lo-res selfie cover art, Lana Del Rey’s newest track, ‘hope is a dangerous thing for a woman like me to have – but i have it’ is a world away from the glossy pop of her early years. The third single from her upcoming Jack Antonoff-produced sixth album ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell’, it serves up poetic lyricism over a sparse, slow piano, following on sonically from previously released album tracks ‘Venice Bitch’ and ‘Mariners Apartment Complex’ in its dream-like production and sparse instrumental.
Lyrically though, there’s still plenty of the melodrama and name-dropping of culture icons that Lana’s become known for. “I’ve been tearing around in my fucking nightgown / 24/7 Sylvia Plath, writing in blood on the walls,” she sings on the songs chorus, which might just be the most Lana Del Rey lyric Lana Del Rey has ever written. It’s also the strongest release we’ve heard from the new album yet. (Rachel Finn)
Stella Donnelly - Old Man
At the tail end of 2017, Stella Donnelly made herself known to the wider world with ‘Boys Will Be Boys’: a stark, haunting yet defiant track addressing the destructive nature of that most dismissive of phrases. Though she’s since released several other gems, veering thematically between the caustic and confessional, it seems fitting then that the Aussie singer should announce the release of forthcoming debut LP ‘Beware of the Dogs’ with her most confrontational track since that blistering breakthrough.
‘Old Man’, says Stella, was written in the midst of the #metoo movement, as she watched “men who had exploited their power for so long actually being held accountable for their actions”. And, as such, there’s a disdain that runs through the track that’s palpable; if the ‘Old Man”s gentle lilt and nostalgic video seem twee, then these things only serve to amplify the absolute moral slam-dunk of her lyrics even further. “’Your personality traits don’t count if you put your dick in someone’s face,” she intones over guitars so sweet they could easily be plucked from a dreamy Real Estate number, before delivering the punchline of a chorus: “Oh are you scared of me old man?/Or are you scared of what I’ll do?/ You grabbed me with an open hand/ The world is grabbing back at you”.
Though the war is by no means won, there’s a confident sneer to ‘Old Man’ in comparison to ‘Boys Will Be Boys” still-raw wound that feels powerful in a different way. It’s melodically simple, but lyrically bold and brilliant; what better way for a singer who exemplifies these traits to enter their next phase? (Lisa Wright)
FIDLAR - By Myself
FIDLAR made their name singing of good times. Sure, their first two albums were hardly Blink-182 singing about how good blowjobs are, or an emo band pining for their best friends and a slice of pizza, but Zac Carper’s lyrics always shoved the listener towards the brighter side.
New album ‘Almost Free’ sees him confronting the other end of the spectrum. “I’m crackin’ one open with the boys, by myself,” he sings in the opening line of their new song - don’t worry, he’s still as tongue-in-cheek when looking at the other side of the coin - before reflecting on “starting at the bottom, and I’m still at the bottom”.
The genius of ‘By Myself’, though, comes in its refusal to let its somewhat downbeat subject matter affect the band musically: it’s the most catchy, danceable and outright fun song they’ve ever made. Skipping along with an unrelenting momentum, Zac sings of life being “a pill that its getting harder to swallow” while sounding like he’s never had more fun. Wanna dance through the hard times? Chuck FIDLAR on, they’ll sort you out. (Will Richards)
SOAK - Knock Me Off My Feet
Taken from her upcoming second album ‘Grim Town’, ‘Knock Me Off My Feet’ is a love letter to small-town life as well as a rallying cry for positivity. SOAK - aka Bridie Monds-Watson - has described the track as being about the idea that “you can be the best person to yourself, and the worst person to yourself” and on the track, she wrestles with trying to be the former: “Maybe it’s all in my brain,” she suggests on one of the verses, “I feel weird and something’s changed.” With its jangly guitar line and upbeat, catchy chorus, it’s a far more palatable, pop effort than many of the tracks on her first album ‘Before We Forgot How To Dream’ but it’s a sound that suits her well. (Rachel Finn)
Whenyoung - Never Let Go
On debut EP ‘Given Up’, Whenyoung solidified the promise of a series of early singles on a collection that spanned the indie-pop spectrum and added depth and texture to their upbeat, catchy indie-pop.
If ‘Given Up’ saw the band entering new waters, then new one ‘Never Let Go’ sees them dive in headfirst. The track is no less catchy or instantly appealing than their previous cuts - Aoife Power’s voice worms around shimmering guitar lines with as much glee as ever - but Andrew Flood’s drums hit harder, the band move more intricately between one another, and when the track’s title is repeated until it’s a shout in the run-up to a gargantuan chorus, they yell with enough power to convince you they’re a band to believe in. (Will Richards)