Happy Friday readers! As usual, we’re here to dissect some of the biggest tracks that have been released in the last week.
There’s new music from Stella Donnelly ahead of her debut album release next week, Foals are back with another huge preview of upcoming album ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1’ and Squid take aim at millennial angst in new track ‘Houseplants’.
Of course, there’s also Solange and her surprise album ‘When I Get Home’. Plus, there’s new ones from Hatchie, Sigrid and Loyle Carner.
Stella Donnelly - Tricks
Stella Donnelly is no stranger to taking aim at bigger issues in her music. From calling out victim blaming culture in ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ to taking a powerful punch at men who abuse their power in ‘Old Man’, she’s not afraid to weave social commentary into her music with a playful edge. Upbeat and endearing, Stella Donnelly’s latest track ‘Tricks’ takes no prisoners.
“This song is a playful zoom-in on the ‘Australian Identity’ and a loose dig at the morons that used to yell sh*t at me when I played cover gigs on Sunday afternoons,” Stella explains in a statement. “It probably served me right for singing ‘Wonderwall’ every weekend.”
The accompanying Melbourne-shot video - which was co-directed by Nick McKk and fellow Australian musician Julia Jacklin - sees Stella wandering the streets trying to escape such a ‘moron’ in a charismatic and catchy preview of her soon-to-be-released debut album ‘Beware of The Dogs’. (Rachel Finn)
Foals - Sunday
Foals have a habit of ending their records in weighty style. ‘A Knife In The Ocean’, from last LP ‘What Went Down’, closed their most aggressive record to date with huge waves of cathartic noise, like they’d harnessed the power of the water itself and sent it crashing around them. ‘Holy Fire’’s last salute ‘Moon’ was a twinkling slow-burner, while ‘Total Life Forever’ ended on the swelling, emotional ‘What Remains’.
On new LP ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost’, the very last words go to the restrained piano postscript of ‘I’m Done With The World (And It’s Done With Me)’, but it’s ‘Sunday’ that feels like the record’s true climax. Clocking in at just under six minutes, it begins like a Massive Attack dawn chorus - the hazy, out-of-body sound of the sunrise over Glastonbury’s Stone Circle. There it lingers, lulling you into a false sense of security, until at 3mins15 it drops and suddenly we’re in the middle of ‘Born Slippy’ 2.0 - a huge, mesmeric, transcendental finale that’s like the last dance at the end of the world. It’s massive and magical, and a glorious addition to the canon. If only every day really was like ‘Sunday’. (Lisa Wright)
Squid - Houseplants
The trajectory of your life is largely laid out for you via the expectations of others. It’s an expected journey that looms large: get into your mid-20s, settle down, buy a house, host dinner parties and get fucking loads of houseplants. Squid don’t particularly have much time for that. Vocalist/drummer Ollie Judge explains that fantastic new single ‘Houseplants’ is about “being able to afford a house and not having to have beans on toast for the week leading up to payday. Pessimistically, I don’t see that future happening, but I still catch myself every now and again thinking it could.” Based around a juddering, forceful mash of guitar and drums, Ollie begins by stating “The kids are getting smarter, but the rent ain’t getting cheaper”.
This mix of youthful enthusiasm and millennial pessimism bursts out of every fibre of the new single; “Everybody’s bored, they’re just too afraid to say,” Ollie sings, calling out the superiority complex of those who settle down and sneer at people who don’t, set over increasingly vibrant, fist-pumping kraut-influenced punk. After the track drops out into a droney, languid mid-section, where Ollie repeats the track’s title in monotone, it kicks back in with a renewed vigour. “I find myself longing for a future that doesn’t exist,” he yelps, wonderfully impassioned and sounding like a late 2010s James Murphy. “This is my beautiful house,” he continues, “but I can’t afford to live in it!”
“But maybe I’m just lazy,” he concludes, after singing of “trips to B&Q with your other half”. It’s a criticism almost everyone of Squid’s age will have had levelled at them as they hit ‘adulthood’, and it hits hard. It’s also far from the truth - ‘Houseplants’ is a fizzing, frantic mission statement showing that, just maybe, growing up isn’t all that. (Will Richards)
Hatchie - Without A Blush
Across a debut EP and series of early singles, Aussie hopeful Hatchie has marked herself out as an expert purveyor of forceful, washed out synth pop. New song ‘Without A Blush’ - the first preview of her debut album ‘Keepsake’ - sees more of this ethereal beauty, but is cut through with pop sensibilities that lift it above being a hazy dream. “I didn’t want to end the dream,” she sings forcefully in its chorus, and ‘Without A Blush’ retains all the gorgeous dreaminess we’ve seen from Hatchie thus far, while adding pop hooks to grab on to and a chorus to wrap your head around. It’s a superb step forward. (Will Richards)
Sigrid - Sight Of You
As Sigrid’s debut album ‘Sucker Punch’ gets closer, she continues to tick every one of the chart-bound pop star boxes. From the vigour of its suitably-titled title track to the playful danceability of ‘Don’t Feel Like Crying’, all bases are covered. And now, a week out from album release, here comes her epic. New cut ‘Sight Of You’ is so soaring, so majestic and so massive, but feels more algorithmic than passionate. The opening strings that send the track into flight feel so perfectly created to soundtrack adverts and tear-jerking sporting compilations the world over. Shut your eyes and images of a triumphant highlights reel of the Long Jump final at London 2012 appear as if by magic. The track’s subject matter itself is sweet enough - an ode to her fans, who keep her going through tough times, namely when an airline managed to lose her baggage at the airport - but from the sprightly youngster who clapped back at an overbearing male producer with genuine passion on ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’, it just feels a little too clinical and sanitised. (Will Richards)
Solange - Down With The Clique
Ah, surprise album drops. Fans love them, journalists have a love-hate relationship with them and they’re usually only something that work for artists that already have the pre-existing money/status to opt out of a traditional album release cycle.
Today, Solange surprise dropped the 19-track album ‘When I Get Home’ after a short teaser of cryptic social media posts. It’s the highly anticipated follow up to her 2016 release ‘A Seat At The Table’ and includes contributions from Earl Sweatshirt, Dev Hynes, Tyler, the Creator, Panda Bear, Playboi Carti, Gucci Mane and more.
19-tracks sounds like a lot, but many of the tracks are short and five of them are interludes, meaning the whole thing only clocks in at just under forty minutes, blending together elements of jazz, electronic and hip-hop sounds for a blissed out listening experience where each song melts wondrously into the next. Of these, ‘Down With The Clique’ is one such standout - slow moving with a slow-patter of drums and jazz flourishes, part of a wider dreamscape that’s easy to relax into. A more hazy, spaced-out release than ‘A Seat At The Table’ perhaps, but there’s plenty here to get lost in. (Rachel Finn)
Loyle Carner - Loose Ends (feat. Jorja Smith)
A slow and cathartic track, ‘Loose Ends’ charts the process of reaching out for support, feeling let down and then not knowing where to turn. Recruiting Jorja Smith to share vocals on the chorus, it also touches on fame and success and how it can create distance between you and your peers: “Everything around me changed, I'm supposed to stay the same,” Loyle states on one of the verses. “Turn down these free drinks I couldn't even name / And I like all this money, 'cause I'm fuckin' up my brain”. Following on from previous releases ‘Ottolenghi’ and ‘You Don’t Know’, it’s a track that manages to feel both smooth and effortless while still dealing with an outpouring of emotion. (Rachel Finn)
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The biggest and best tracks of the past week, rounded up and reviewed.