It’s finally the end of the week, and we have a brand spanking new edition of Tracks - our weekly round-up of the biggest and best new tracks around.
There’s the newly-shared Gorillaz track featuring the late Tony Allen alongside Skepta, the return of Fontaines DC, a tearjerker from Arlo Parks and much more.
For what we have to say on this week’s biggest and most exciting tracks, scroll on! And if you’re itching to check out even more, subscribe to our Essential New Tracks playlist.
Fontaines DC - A Hero’s Death
Having spent the best part of their last two years playing shows across the world, it would've been fair to assume that releasing new music would be the last thing on Fontaines DC’s mind, but with 'A Hero's Death', they're continuing their push forward. A hypnotic offering powered by Grian Chatten's repeated gambit of “Life ain't always empty,” the track spirals in surreal fashion, teetering on the edge but still never quite managing to trip. Set against a motoric beat, his "list of rules for the self" swirl with a headiness that feels both claustrophobic and liberating all at once, proving just how deft a band they've become. (Sarah Jamieson)
Arlo Parks - Black Dog
A picture paints a thousand words, but sometimes, a handful of words can paint a [adjective] vivid picture. "I'd lick the grief right off your lips," begins the buzzy Londoner's latest. "You do your eyes like Robert Smith." Over A near-looped guitar strum with as light a touch as Arlo's delicate voice, 'Black Dog' tiptoes around the despair of dealing with depression with beautifully devastating effect. "At least I know that you are trying," she reasons "But that's what makes it terrifying." (Emma Swann)
The Streets - Where The F*&K Did April Go
Levelling with you, dear reader, the prospect of hearing songs written during, and therefore in some way about, lockdown has been filling us with even more dread, if such a thing were possible in this moment. But, if there's one thing this month's cover star is unrivalled at - and there are, of course, many things on that particular list - it's finding poetry in the mundane. If there was going to be anyone able to sum up the national mood - and put a pleasing beat behind it - it'd be The Streets. 'Where The F*&K Did April Go' doesn't disappoint: eye-rolling at corporate messaging and irritating neighbours one second; self-aware ruminations on mental health the next; an impossibly succinct demonstration of how our concentration spans are utterly fucked right now ( "Deep down inside I wanted to not want you / deep down inside my shoe my sock is falling off")? Mike Skinner just gets it, doesn't he? (Emma Swann)
The Ninth Wave - Happy Days
Goths of a feather flock together, so it makes complete sense that indie's gangly prince of darkness Faris Badwan should have taken a shine to dramatic pop-noir Glaswegians The Ninth Wave. Helming production duties for 'Happy Days!' - the somewhat ironically-titled lead track from the band's forthcoming EP of the same name – Faris' touch is evident too; helping to reign in the full-throttle flamboyance of 2019 debut 'Intimacy', The Horrors man has sort of done what he did with his own band between albums one and two, stripping back the bluster and focusing instead on layering and atmosphere. With a sparse yet aggressive industrial beat and singer Haydn Park-Patterson's insidious vocal, the result is a creeping threat of a track that often cleverly dips out when you expect it to dive in. By the time you reach its climatic final 40 seconds, the pay-off is a cathartic one. (Lisa Wright)
Weezer - Hero
If calling it 'Van Weezer' wouldn't drop hints on the direction they'd try taking with their fourteenth LP, then the opening scene of the video 'Hero' featuring a moustachieod Rivers Cuomo with headband and Kiss t-shirt definitely will. Like using a sledgehammer to place a push pin, its belted-out message and power-pop is, well, cringe. But then, in its lockdown-created video, comes a message of support for our own NHS, and perhaps, for a split second, it has just the right amount of schmaltz. (Emma Swann)
Whenyoung - The Prayer
While the rest of the world is spending lockdown with wine stains on their bedsheets and their iPhone permanently stuck to their eyeballs, some blessed creative types have managed to make something not just productive but actively of merit during the downtime. Enter Whenyoung who, while isolated together, have whittled up 'The Prayer' – a poignant piano lament that begins with a slight trigger warning (“Go to sleep, wake up in a new world...”) but unfolds into something meditative and calming. An affective offering that somehow encapsulates the feeling of finding peace in limbo, it's the simplest lines that hit the hardest - “Thinking about you every day/ Even though you're far away”. But helmed by Aoife Power's crystalline vocal, the result is a soothing one, a deep breath in musical form. (Lisa Wright)
Matt Bellamy - Tomorrow’s World
Maybe there's something in the apocalyptic air that means literally nobody would be shocked that now is when Muse's Matt Bellamy decides to record and release a solo track. Certainly the fact it's a bombastic piano ballad that will either a) be pleasantly exciting if you've ever fallen prey to the space-rock trio's particular charms or b) have you piercing your own eardrums with the speed in which you've stuck your fingers in your ears to hide from it, is of little surprise. However, Matt's decision to accompany the song with the kind of video more often seen at older relatives' landmark birthdays (wonky iPhone selfie footage, flipped images, a 'live, laugh, love' typeface), that is truly baffling. (Emma Swann)
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