It’s that glorious time yet again dear readers, it’s Friday afternoon! The clocks are ticking their way towards another gilded weekend of desperately hanging onto the final straggling threads of the summertime; brazenly wearing short-shorts in spite of the evenings getting earlier by the day. Luckily enough, a load of our favourite musicians have been busy writing new songs to soundtrack the struggle.
This week alone, DIY faves Black Honey and The Magic Gang have both released brand new bangers (the latter have a whole new EP, helpfully called ‘The Second EP From’ out, too). Bloc Party have lifted the lid on their first track written with a new line-up, and Dirty Projectors are finally back in fairly heartbroken form. There’s new music in the world from Sløtface and The Weeknd, too, along with promising outings from hyper-talented newbies Mulàn and Matt Maltease.
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.
Dirty Projectors - Keep Your Name
Back after four years - with Dave Longstreth now sporting a hint of the Ian Beale (circa his raggedy beard phase) - Dirty Projectors have returned in typically weird and confounding form. ‘Keep Your Name’ is a heartbroken, glitching farewell, privy to one of Longstreth’s most wide-range and theatrical vocal performances to date. “I don’t know why you abandoned me,” he begins, “you were my soul and partner.” The video briefly shows some sort of shrine to Missy Elliott, Joni Mitchell, and Beethoven. Presumably Dirty Projectors are thanking them for the rap inspirations, break-up vibes, and morose piano-pounding.
There’s a lot going on here. Binning off the sweet orchestration and folk-leanings of ‘Swing Lo Magellan’ Dirty Projectors have opted for something harsher and in the vein of ‘The Getty Address’s composition methods; far more processed and shuddering with static and disintegration. Drawing on context that certainly sounds autobiographical (there’s some real Fleetwood Mac-level ‘Rumours’ shit kicking off here) ‘Keep Your Name’ is Dirty Projectors shedding the frills; abstract imagery and Portuguese explorers cast off in favour of straight-up emotional outpouring. ”I don’t think I ever loved you / That was some stupid shit,” Longstreth says - or rather…erm, raps - on an out of the blue mid-section of skittering. ‘Keep Your Name’ rips its reference points from all over the shop, too; along the way it nods to “KISS’s shithead Gene Simmons,” the Canadian political author Naomi Klein, and in knowing meta fashion, even samples a previous Dirty Projectors song, ‘Impregnable Question”.
While ‘Impregnable Question’ sang of not seeing eye to eye, but always holding out hope for the future, ‘Keep Your Name’ has a resigned, painful finality about it. “What I want from art is truth,” concludes Longstreth in neat couplets, “what you want is fame. Now we’ll keep them separate, and you keep your name.” Did Dave Longstreth just pull a ‘Lemonade’ on us all? Certainly looks that way… (El Hunt)
Black Honey - Hello Today
Black Honey’s star’s been on the rise all year - they’ve never shined as bright as on ‘Hello Today’, though. All those months of ever-swelling festival tents have battle-hardened the Brighton lot - feeding off the energy of those cider-drenched fields, ‘Hello Today’ soars from the off.
It sounds ready for main stages; destined for top slots. As searing guitars frame Izzy Phillips’ sneering vocal, they nevertheless keep things as anthemic as they come, never succumbing to their gnarlier tendencies’ ability to bludgeon rather than buddy-up. It’s purpose built for friends’ shoulders and flares - a sunset soundtrack that’ll carry them right through to this time next year.
Much has been made of Black Honey’s left-field cinematic desires - ‘Hello Today’ is a simpler taste, but no less refined. The bratty, bolshy, ‘fuck you’ moment of redemption that we crave for all protagonists, from rom-coms to the arthouse, it’s Black Honey’s leap into the big leagues. (Tom Connick)
The Weeknd - Starboy (ft. Daft Punk)
Rihanna’s ‘ANTI’, and the wait that preceded its release, signalled the end of her impressive, exhaustive knack for churning out one album per year. That’s left a gaping hole in the pop world - save for the guarantee that Diplo will be responsible for 60% of breakthrough hits, there are very few inevitabilities with today’s superstars.
Enter Abel Tesfaye, a man who’s truly shed himself of Tumblr-happy mixtape beginnings, instead opting to become the next Michael Jackson, or at the very least the next best thing. He’s willing to fill the void.
New album ‘Starboy’ arrives just over a year after last year’s ‘Beauty Behind the Madness’, a hit factory blueprint in going for the pop jugular. Reclusive robots Daft Punk have even been coaxed out of the shadows for a title-track, but that’s near enough the only surprise running through ‘Starboy’. That’s not to say it’s painfully beige and box-ticking, more exactly what you’d expect from a ‘sound of the summer’ late bloomer. Mournful keys and an even sadder-sounding Tesfaye share the spotlight with thudding bass and Daft Punk’s token ‘don’t forget that we’re supposed to be androids’, Robocop sampling. For a collaboration that on paper would have stolen the spotlight on ‘Random Access Memories’, it’s arrived a couple of years late. (Jamie Milton)
The Magic Gang - Only Waiting
This morning, The Magic Gang released their second EP, cleverly titled ‘The Second EP From’. Fronted by recent single ‘All This Way’, “another slice of gold”, the EP’s first track ‘Only Waiting’ also hits the jackpot, a hazy lovelorn tale.
The new release, and ‘Only Waiting’ in particular, shows The Magic Gang to have strength in depth, something they’ve barely had to exhibit so far. The goods they keep producing are proving the Brighton band to be anything but a flash in the pan.
For a band with five or more standout singles before there’s even a sniff of a debut LP in the air, The Magic Gang could be forgiven for becoming complacent for their album tracks, but ‘Only Waiting’ shows the band as equally competent in writing slow-burning growers as they are instant sugar rushes of hit singles. (Will Richards)
Honeyblood - Sea Hearts
Everything about Honeyblood’s second era is amped up, explosive and ready to burst. Comeback single ‘Ready For The Magic’ was an “all-guns-blazing punk potion”, and ‘Sea Hearts’ doesn’t even tap the brakes.
A fiercely defiant story of a double act who will answer to no-one - “we don’t give a fuck, they’re not our friends” - ‘Sea Hearts’ is Honeyblood at their most fearless. As ‘Ready For The Magic’ did so well, ‘Sea Hearts’ teams the fierce and the playful perfectly, the track’s closing gang chant feeling enough to inspire a whole new movement.
“Won’t listen to any caution,” Stina Tweeddale sings, and ‘Sea Hearts’ is a track as empty of inhibitions as you’ll ever hear. (Will Richards)
Bloc Party - Stunt Queen
On their latest album, 2016’s ‘HYMNS’, Bloc Party sounded more like a work-in-progress than ever. Understandably so, given how a newly-arranged four-piece were forced to deal with the departure of two founding members and more vitally, their famously tight rhythm section (bassist Gordon Moakes and drummer Matt Tong). Moments of ‘HYMNS’ jarred, lacking the breakneck speed of early work and the driven experimentalism of ‘Silent Alarm’’s successors.
With new members Louise Bartle and Justin Harris joining after the album was recorded, ‘HYMNS’ was more like a prelude than an opening chapter to Bloc Party MK II’s story. ‘Stunt Queen’ - the first song all four current members wrote and recorded together - puts pen to paper. It has the same frazzled energy as the band’s best material, Russell Lisack’s saw-toothed guitars making a welcome return. It might not break ground on a monumental scale, but it has the makings of a pivotal moment for these four musicians. They’re a band building up steam, bidding farewell to a troubled past. (Jamie Milton)
Sløtface - Bright Lights
When Sløtface released their single ‘Take Me Dancing’ earlier this summer, they made their biggest step yet. The track saw them become more danceable than ever previously thought, and ‘Bright Lights’ takes their development even further.
The track is composed, reigned in and considerate, without losing an inch of passion. It’s another example of Sløtface improving and surprising at every turn - they’re a band with endless personalities, each as compelling as the rest.
Having tackled and conquered all-out fun indie pop, and now branching further away from their punk roots towards something soaring and anthemic, Sløtface have never shone brighter. (Will Richards)
Mulàn - Night
A tribute to animated heroines who hang out with dragons? Or the latest, buzziest cocktail of alt-pop dynamism?
Mysterious bunch Mulàn lean towards the latter with their debut track, ‘Night’. All wobbling synths, pitch swerves and parallel universe funk, it’s in the lineage of Jai Paul, Ben Khan and Jungle’s arty knack for hooks. The difference with ‘Night’ is in how unashamedly steamed-up the whole thing is. Lusty to an extreme, every stab of guitar feels like a proclamation of love. “So why are we waiting?” goes the chorus, only adding to the premonition that Mulàn need to take over the world right now. (Jamie Milton)
Matt Maltease - Strange Time (Demo)
London is always burning with new ideas and musical strands. Grime’s ascent has been the year’s big story. Rough-edged punk bands like Goat Girl and Shame are piercing through the norm. And on a completely different standing, odd-pop newcomers are disrupting standard form.
Matt Maltese is a 20-year-old musician from South London, who attributes his dreamy, starry-eyed pop with fellow local charmers like King Krule and Babeheaven. ‘Strange Time’ has a melody worthy of sending kids to sleep via a nursery rhyme, but Matt spins invention at every opportunity. Fellow whizzkid Alex Burey is on the production desk, and together they give classical songwriting a new purpose. Think Richard Hawley with a Twin Peaks filter, songs for early hours insomniacs and teens stumbling home from nights that etch into the conscience. Less a scene, more a meeting of minds - London’s free-thinking pop prodigies are collectively pointing forward. (Jamie Milton)
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