Happy Friday, dear readers, and welcome to another edition of Tracks. Bringing you bang up to date with all the best new tracks to grace Planet Earth, think of us like a musical David Attenborough, with worse narration skills, and slightly less legendary status.
Loads of our faves - from Partybaby through to a newly-returned Laura Marling with her game-changing ‘Soothing’ - have been busy at that music lark, and we’ve reviewed all of them.
For our verdicts on all of the latest biggest and most exciting tracks around, all you need to do is scroll down. And if you’re itching to check out everything else out, step this way for DIY’s Listening Hub, and our Essential Playlist
Run the Jewels - Legend Has It
‘Legend Has It’ doesn’t exactly start out with a whimper - instead, it makes the bold claim that Run the Jewels are America’s new peanut butter and jelly duo, with a classic album ready to unleash. Speaking to DIY late last year, Killer Mike reasoned that “as a rapper you have to envisage yourself right at the top. I mean, the bullshit we talk on the records..” But though they’re indulging in a little satirical braggery here, Run the Jewels are at the top of their game, alright, piss-taking or otherwise.
Alongside all their establishment-toppling vitriol, there’s a now-trademark RTJ playfulness to ‘Legend Has It’. Sharing teasers of the track in its early stages, El-P garnered a fair bit of attention when he rapped the choice line “I got a Unicorn horn for a cock”. On the final version, comedian and musician Emily Panic finishes the line instead, wearily telling him to “stop” with the genital references. The first taste of RTJ3 is peppered with some decidedly eclectic pop culture references, too; ranging from Nicolas Cage film ‘Con Air’ to dating app Tinder (‘I am the living swipe right on the mic, I’m a slut,” El-P quips).
Early previews of RTJ3 - both’Legend Has It’ and their Boots collab ‘2100’ - are hinting at a slight tweak in tact, and a shift from all out despair to something reparative and hopeful. The duo that won’t stop shapeshifting are back, right when 2016 needs them. (El Hunt)
Laura Marling - Soothing
Album by album, Laura Marling always finds a way to evolve. 2013’s ’Once I Was An Eagle’ found itself lost in grand, baroque instrumentation and wild strums. Follow-up ‘Short Movie’ applied a full-band electric edge to tales of occultist spiritualism. With everything post-2008 debut ‘Alas I Cannot Swim’, she’s managed to turn within a tight space, ditching folk sensibility for an experimental edge.
‘Soothing’, the first single from her sixth album, is no different. In fact, it’s more of a revelation than any of her previous shifts. Built from stately double bass parts spacious percussion - think ‘Amnesiac’-era Radiohead as a starting point - she sings a tale of abject denial. “You can’t come in / You don’t live here anymore,” runs the final line, as it she hadn’t already made her point perfectly clear. With just a couple of new tools, she’s managed to discover another space to wander. (Jamie Milton)
MUNA - I Know A Place
Slick pop trio MUNA have been making a fair few big waves from Los Angeles as of late; the infectious ‘Loudspeaker’ in particular blaring forth like a no-messing statement of early intent. Gaudier than a quick run through a glittery blizzard, while coated top to toe in PVA, ‘I Know A Place’ is a slice of loud, proud celebration; urging everyone towards the dancefloor “where everyone’s gonna lay down their weapons”.
MUNA first started penning the song as a new anthem for the LGBT community, and quickly, writing spiralled, and the idea grew. At first glance it’s euphoric pop; but typically, there’s a darker undertone, and as well as channelling victory, there’s violence here too.
“They will try to make you unhappy; don’t let them,” urge MUNA underneath deceptively chipper, pounding, Haim-esque beats, “they will try to tell you you’re not free; don’t listen.I know a place where you don’t need protection, even if it’s only in my imagination.” Rallying together with ‘I Know A Place,’ and leading the world’s outsiders towards neon clubs for glasses of cheap wine, and a sense of belonging, there’s politics to this pop alright. (El Hunt)
Partybaby - Hey You (Loser)
Relentlessly creative, Partybaby’s 2016 has proven them to be so much more than the fist-first riot starters that debut singles ‘Everything’s All Right’ and ‘Your Old Man’ suggested. Their new ‘Versions’ EP is the latest, brilliant spark of that creative synapse – a deconstructed, then reconstructed take on debut album ‘The Golden Age Of Bullshit’ that’s proof they’re ever-evolving, rewriting their legacy on the fly.
At its heart lies new track ‘Hey You (Loser)’, an anthemic punk-pop nugget that had previously gone unheard by anyone unlucky enough to miss their sweaty live outing. On ‘Versions’, it takes a more introspective tone. Sweeping away the distortion, it’s no less defiant for its lack of fuzz – if anything, that perfect pop core thrives. “Don’t you ever come back around,” they demand of their antagonist. For all its shunning of the ills of the past though, it’s ‘Hey You’’s firm fixed gaze on the future that cements Partybaby’s destiny. (Tom Connick)
Bonobo - Break Apart (ft. Rhye)
As the years have stretched out, Simon Green aka Bonobo has been determined to apply his trademark - rich orchestration, clattering percussion and tightly-wound electronics - to new territory. By title alone, new album ‘Migration’ suggestions he’s looking to explore places outside of his comfort zone. And ‘Break Apart’, a collaboration with Rhye’s Mike Milosh, is like hearing the fabric of 2010 breakthrough ‘Black Sands’ smoothed out into a velvety, luscious wanderer, a stranger of its former self.
In the day job, Milosh’s own work with Rhye is all Sade-nodding, steamed-up R&B. Here, he finds himself the solitary voice in a smoky, ever-evolving haze. ‘Break Apart’ is a deceptively smart, complex beast, but it takes a while to evolve from smooth customer to something worth revisiting. But there’s a great deal of depth here - and going by everything lifted from ‘Migration’ so far, that’s a new trick Bonobo can add to his signature. (Jamie Milton)