It’s Friday, which means it’s time to run through some of our favourite releases from the last week.
Wild Beasts’ Hayden Thorpe has shared solo track ‘Diviner’, which sees him make a calmer, more quieter departure from his earlier work. Nilüfer Yanya offers another preview of upcoming album ‘Miss Universe’ with ‘Tears’ and Alex Lahey has returned, announcing a new album with upbeat new single ‘Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself’.
slowthai is an intense as ever on new track ‘Peace Of Mind’, and there’s more new music to dig into from Sundara Karma and Jay Som. Dig in!
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.
Hayden Thorpe - Diviner
Across their five studio albums, Wild Beasts established themselves as one of Britain’s best bands, critical darlings that underwent a gorgeously considered progression across their decade and a half as a band, before their untimely split a year ago. Much of their charm was tied up in the fantastic, glacial vocals of Hayden Thorpe, and when those distinctive tones glide in at the start of the frontman’s debut solo single, ‘Diviner’, it’s with a comforting familiarity.
That’s not to say ‘Diviner’ doesn’t push boundaries, though. Wild Beasts’ final album, 2016’s ‘Boy King’, traded their cardigans and regal alt-pop for leather jackets and spunky, sexual stabs of filthy guitars, and ‘Diviner’ sees a return to a cleaner, calmer sound. “I’m a keeper of secrets, pray to tell,” Hayden sings in the track’s opening line, a wonderfully evocative whisper that provokes immediate intrigue.
“There are, if we can wait for them, rare days of alignment,” he says of the song. “Diviner was written on such a day, my birthday of all days. The curtains were drawn for a while, I went inside. To say I’m delighted to see daylight would be an understatement.”
The song carries an understandable weight as such, one of breakthroughs and new beginnings. Circling around a perfectly simple but gorgeous flick of piano that rises above slowly thudding chords, ‘Diviner’ is a wonderful introduction into Hayden’s next age, an ode to quietly, confidently moving on. (Will Richards)
Nilüfer Yanya - Tears
Nilüfer Yanya’s debut full-length album ‘Miss Universe’ is peppered with eerie interludes from an organisation called ‘WWAYH’ (WE WORRY ABOUT YOUR HEALTH™) , a dystopian health program which claims to be able to offer you peak mental and physical health. Only there’s a catch - you must steadily hand over more and more control over your body in order to access it.
Conceptually, Nilüfer’s new track ‘Tears’ then comes from a statement released by the organisation that claims crying is “a waste of bodily fluids” and “self-destructive” and therefore now “illegal”. “Despite previous claims of crying being natural response to stress and regarded as healthy,” the statement reads, “recent studies have unearthed evidence that proves this claim as untrue.”
The track itself is effortlessly smooth, and sees Nilüfer questioning whether she should suppress her emotions or show them openly: one moment she is “not scared to cry”, the next she’s asking herself to “hold back those tears”. Through jazz-flecked instrumentals and lilting synths, she explores the line between expressing your emotions and not expressing them enough via all the weird guitar and vocal flourishes that make her music so unique. (Rachel Finn)
Alex Lahey - Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself
This week, Alex Lahey announced the release of her second album The Best Of Luck Club and with it comes lead single ‘Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself’. Anthemic and jubilant, it chronicles a story of overworking and burn-out and stresses the need to slow down, building from a slacker rock-esque beginning to a full-bodied sing-along complete with a saxophone solo that’s played by Alex herself as an ode to her early music days studying jazz saxophone at university. Catchy and memorable without risking becoming too obvious, if the first track from her new album is anything to go by, The Best Of Luck Club is set to be a treat. (Rachel Finn)
slowthai - Peace Of Mind
slowthai’s last single, the Mura Masa-produced ‘Doorman’ from late last year, was a brilliantly intense left turn that took him into a whole new realm. Fuelled by a punk spirit and danger-filled, hyper-active synths, it took both the Northampton rapper and the producer - known for steel drums and pop bops - out of their comfort zones at once. The wait since ‘Doorman’ has felt like forever, but slowthai returned this week with details of his debut album ‘Nothing Great About Britain’ - due later this year - and new track ‘Peace Of Mind’.
Beginning with an alarm clock and a sigh, ‘Peace Of Mind’ exists in a waking world that’s slightly darker than the one he’s just been dreaming in. “I feel peace of mind when I’m dreaming of a life I ain’t living,” he laments in its opening moments, before the track accelerates into a more forceful rap, backed up by swelling synths. It’s far from a perfect situation that slowthai finds himself in, but in retreating from his waking hours into a place with more calm and less trouble, he finds a way through the increasingly disorientating world, and that’s something to hold onto. (Will Richards)
Sundara Karma - Little Smart Houses
With every taste we’re given of Sundara Karma’s new album, we’re served a deliciously retro slice of joy and their latest cut, ‘Little Smart Houses’, continues that trend. Introduced with a flurry of funky guitar licks, the song comes packed jarring shudders - perfect for pulling a move - while the chorus itself floats gloriously across its classic instrumentation. Again, frontman Oscar Pollock seems to effortlessly channel Bowie - both in his vocals and delivery - making this track more akin to a modern ‘Let’s Dance’ than anything they’d have released in their earlier incarnation. (Sarah Jamieson)
Jay Som - Simple
‘Simple’ is LA-based Jay Som’s first new solo material since one-off release ‘Hot Bread’ was released last year. A woozy, laid-back offering, it conjures up visions of sitting outside in the heat on a summer’s day and contains much of the lo-fi, dreamy stylings that made her 2017 debut album ‘Everybody Works’ so successful. Though it might not have some of the directness of some of her more upbeat releases, it’s the perfect music to daydream to. (Rachel Finn)