Round-up: Tracks: Disclosure, Refused, Girlpool & more

DIY writers pick out the biggest and best new songs from this week.

Greetings, dear readers, and a happy Friday to you all. As always, the DIY writers have gathered together, and had a healthy bicker and a well-behaved squabble about the biggest and best tracks of the week - this is the verdict.

This past week’s been more of the same, if ‘same’ equals surprise album releases, out-of-the-blue breakthroughs, stirring debuts and enough standalone singles to set an agenda for the next few months. There’s no such thing as a quiet week, but from Disclosure, A$AP Rocky and Christopher Owens alone, it’s been the unpredictable moves that have stolen the show once more.

Disclosure - Holding On

Purists may love to scoff at Disclosure, but there’s little doubting their impact on dance music’s ascent to the upper echelons of the chart. The figurehead for house music’s astronomic modern rise, on their platinum-selling debut ‘Settle’ the brothers Lawrence took the genre’s insistent pulse and knitted it to pop music’s immediacy to win hearts, minds and the feet of clubbers and celebrities alike.

The first official single from ‘Settle’’s as-yet-unnamed successor, ‘Holding On’ sees the Surrey siblings step away from the glitz and glamour of their newfound A-list life and retreat to the shadier climes that first birthed the scene. It may be a stripped back, groove driven affair, but it’s Gregory Porter’s soulful vocal that truly ties Disclosure to their influences here – harking back to the heydays of house and disco’s thumping ascent, it’s an unexpected collaboration that proves the duo’s worth to the genre in a way that even the saltiest beat-counting obsessive would struggle to deny. (Tom Connick)

Refused - Françafrique

Last month Refused exploded back onto the scene with the announcement of their first album in almost two decades, screaming the mantra of “nothing has changed” with the assurance only afforded to a band of their status.

‘Françafrique’, the second cut from said album, trades in the reckless abandon of lead single ‘Elektra’ - their point well and truly made - in favour of a funkier feel (not that funky mind, this is still Refused). Led by the almost childlike war-chant of “exterminate the brutes”, ‘Françafrique’ features slightly more subdued grooves, their raging vocals and screaming riffs letting up on occasion in favour more intricate work. Although highly politically charged, with ‘Françafrique’ referring to the ‘another word for Genocide’ term for the French relationship with its African colonies, at times the tone is more mocking of their target than raging, their harmonised jeers of “murder murder murder KILL KILL KILL” ringing throughout chaotic riffs.

‘Elektra’ was Refused’s battle-cry, their proof that they’re back and with every iota of the power they once had. But Françafrique’ is their showcase that even after nearly 20 years away, Refused can not only pen belters like before but they still have a point to make in amongst the chaos. (Henry Boon)

Hurts - Some Kind of Heaven

Every Hurts song verges on the edge of a cliff, where the sky up above is ‘pop heaven’ and below sits the dark, grim abyss of miserable failure. Half pure-cheese, the other a great sense that they’re winging it, there isn’t a dull moment with these two. ‘Some Kind of Heaven’ arrives just days shy of Eurovision, and it would have fared a great deal better than faux-swing pukeageddons. Previewing a Stuart Price and Ariel Rechtshaid-produced record, it’s not quite on a Brandon Flowers level of all-out ‘80s synth banger, but it ticks just enough boxes to avoid falling off the edge. (Jamie Milton)

A$AP Rocky - Excuse Me

The standout on his ‘At.Long.Last.A$AP’ LP, ‘Excuse Me’ is the closest A$AP Rocky comes to dropping from the skies and landing on planet Earth. A rare moment of humility, it sees him balancing the old days with his current spell of excess, listing off multi-thousand cheques like he’s reading a shopping list. Money’s his pain and pleasure, and in a record ridden with contradictions, this is the biggest bird’s eye view Rocky’s ever had of himself. (Jamie Milton)

Girlpool - Cherry Picking

With Girlpool’s debut ‘Before The World Was Big’ fast approaching, Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad continue to surprise. Just when everybody thought their schtick was angry, tirading critiques of the patriarchy, Girlpool put out the slow meandering ‘Chinatown,’ asking “Do you feel restless when you realize you’re alive?” It turns out they can do both, and their politics are increasingly personal.

‘Cherry Picking’ has been kicking around in live sets and sessions since the band put out their earliest songs, and it’s a bittersweet, stained song written for a relationship that’s ended. “I was cherry picking dreams,” they sing together in rose tint, running their hands along the memory-shrub, only picking out the best berries. “It’ll make me feel better, knowing you watch me like the moon.” Yet again Girlpool put something we’ve all felt at one time or another into stark, simple terms like it’s no biggy. (El Hunt)

Christopher Owens - Another Loser Fuck Up

Listen to Christopher Owens’ new track ‘Another Loser Fuck Up’, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Girls had miraculously made a secret comeback. The single chord introduction is there, the guitar solo is more wild than riding the Runaway Train at Chessington while bevved, the self-deprecating narration is mixed with moments of hope. In reality, it’s just a cut from Owens’ (or Chrissybaby’s) third solo LP. It may be sans the retro-production godliness of Chet Jr; but boy - err - does it sound like Girls.

It’s easy to think of this as a flaw in the trajectory of a solo artist. Surely a solo career should see divergence and reinvention, right? There’s always the risk that repeating what was done as a group is uninteresting - and at worst - pointless. But that’s to misunderstand the resonance and frankly cult stardom of Girls. They fostered proper ‘super-fans’; obsessive types that would belt-out the whole of ‘Lust For Life’ or mimic that amazing solo off of ‘My Ma’ at the drop of a metaphorical hat. Owens’ last two solo albums were a bit different from ‘Girls’, and he did show a sense of experimentation; but to be honest, it compromised the brilliant career-defining sound that Owens had helped create. Now, back with one engineer, ‘Another Loser Fuck Up’ sounds more Girls than ever. And that’s a bloody fantastic thing. (Kyle MacNeill)

Ultimate Painting - Break the Chain

Ultimate Painting might’ve only released their debut late last year, but already Veronica Falls’ James Hoare and Jack Cooper of Mazes are back with a follow-up. ‘Break The Chain’ - the first sneak peek ahead of second record ‘Green Lanes’ - pulls out the more frayed, hazy-ended threads of their debut, and ramps up the misty harmonies.

Ultimate Painting’s canvas has always had vague flecks of 70s rock; think Pink Floyd at their most meandering, Jethro Tull at their most flute-tootingly soothing. The former seems especially pronounced on ‘Break The Chain.’ Ultimate Painting scuff through loose, untidy drum fills and noodling, cul-de-sac melodies that lead nowhere, and way out the front there’s a seventh-filled piano line providing the only sense of mild urgency. Sun-soaked, lazy and sipping on ice-cold water, ‘Break The Chain’ is in no hurry, and it’s blissfully relaxing. (El Hunt)


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