Tracks (MØ, Creeper, Sleigh Bells & More)
All the biggest and best tracks of the week, rounded up and reviewed.
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, MØ’s penned another sure-fire chart-zoomer, Creeper have emerged from hiding, and JAWS are transforming into a band miles away from their scuzzed-up beginnings. That’s just for starters too.
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.
MØ - Drum
By now, Moomin-loving, punk channelling MØ is something of a veteran when it comes to digging up gold. Aided by a formidable squad of Charli XCX, Noonie Bao and BloodPop - pop’s own Power Rangers - ‘Drum’ is a hard-hitting, straight-for-the-jugular winner. As you’d perhaps expect, from this lot, mind.
“Dance to the beat of your drum,” our MØ chants over swooping, hyperactive judders; the sonic equivalent of the Clangers’ Soup Dragon on pingers. No doubt set to take the airwaves by storm, and blare out of every car radio around, ‘Drum’s another hard-hitting, pounding pop success story from the great Dane. (El Hunt)
Creeper - Suzanne
Since day one, Creeper have been building something big. A non-stop, brick-by-brick creation, the tower in which their self-proclaimed cult reside is the deserving result of hard graft and a near-constant touring schedule. And then they vanished.
Their return is nothing short of dazzling. Taking all the tension built up by those months in the ether and letting it loose in a two-minute emotional explosion, ‘Suzanne’ takes every facet of Creeper’s delicately constructed world and polishes it to a blinding shine. Flamboyant yet furious, their sky-high ambitions are threaded into every searing note.
“We’ll die holding hands”, that mantra that echoed around the hole they left in late August, becomes both a crowd-baiting hook and a rallying cry, ready to be etched onto the skin of thousands. Gloomy, gothic romanticism at its finest, it’s everything Creeper exude in a nutshell. (Tom Connick)
JAWS - Work It Out
At some point between 2014 debut ‘Be Slowly’ and now, Birmingham group JAWS have turned their eye for the coast into something pure. ‘Work It Out’ has its toes in the sand and both eyes on the horizon, and it sounds a hundred miles from anything these go-to grungers would ordinarily make.
Like the finest moment of Friendly Fires’ oft-forgotten tropical trips, ‘Work It Out’ mirrors beachcombing bliss with notes of regret. Connor Schofield dreams of being able to “settle in the sunlight”, above bongo drums and a dreamy wash of synths. Through the escapism, there’s a sense that the story doesn’t have a happy ending. The same applies to rest of JAWS’ best work - their ability to match arms-aloft joy with a bittersweet punch. (Jamie Milton)
You Me At Six - Plus One
Returning single ‘Night People’ propelled You Me At Six in a whole new direction. After soaring to the top with Number One-nabbing album ‘Cavalier Youth’, the grubby new single proved they were more than willing to get down and dirty once more.
‘Plus One’ is the perfect amalgamation of You Me At Six’s split personality. It soars, at points, their pop rock background proving to be the most fertile of soil for their new, radio-bothering guise to take root. But there’s a darker side to ‘Plus One’ too - one that finds them lashing out at their surroundings like few in their position would ever dare to do. It’s proof that no matter how stratospheric they may get, the Surrey bunch aren’t afraid to bare their teeth. (Tom Connick)
Goat Girl - Scum
Long live Goat Girl, a band willing to insult everyone who crosses their path. On ‘Scum’, their second track to date, the Rough Trade signings filter frustration through an Iceage-like racket. Trading blows with every modern day evil, they boldly ask: “How can an entire nation be so fucking thick?” It would be convenient to call ‘Scum’ a post-Brexit call to arms. But you get the sense Goat Girl’s sense of unease has been bubbling up for years.
On the one hand, their dry wit sarcasm (“hold tight to your pale ales”, they bellow at one point) and faux-jolly, drunken and staggering melodies aren’t a flash of light in the dark. But few spit such venom with this kind of nonchalance. For every axe they grind, they express disgust like few others.
Sleigh Bells - Stare Me Down
The cacophony that Sleigh Bells conjure up has never slipped down as sweet as on ‘I Can Only Stare’. A punishing take on pop, it sounds torn straight from the heart of a thunder storm, but in Alexis Krauss’ soaring voice, the cut hole in the clouds.
Hers is a voice box that could rival the greats of pop - pit her against the likes of Florence and she’d not only run vocal rings around them, but she’d batter them into submission. Clattering but controlled, ‘I Can Only Stare’ is quintessential Sleigh Bells; a sugar-rush comedown like no other. (Tom Connick)
Our Girl - Being Around
You’d think Soph Nathan in particular might struggle to fit in allocated hours for napping these days; besides maintaining an outstandingly colourful shirt collection, and shredding guitars for The Big Moon, she also fronts ace trio Our Girl. Signed to Cannibal Hymns - the same Brighton label backing the likes of Dream Wife, Abattoir Blues, and TIGERCUB - the band specialise in inward-looking, complex meshes of haze. Our Girl’s latest, ‘Being Around’ is their most ambitious yet.
“I can feel it taking shape,” Nathan sings over spiny guitars, the strings bending wildly across fret-boards like a sherbet-fuelled snake on the run from the local zoo. Drummer Lauren Wilson provides ‘Being Around’s dulled pulse, muffled snares peering around the cavernous arches of Josh Tyler’s basslines. Vaguely nodding towards shoegaze, like a nonchalant half-glance at scuffed-up shoes, ’Being Around’ focuses on stepping out - feet in sync - with friends, too. There’s a positive message resounding beneath all of its rough-hewn exterior, and Our Girl sound all the better for it. With a debut EP ‘Normally’ now on the way, they’re only set to make more waves still beyond Brighton’s pebbly beaches. (El Hunt)
Hazel English - Control
Jangly guitars and dreamy synths are Hazel English’s current trademarks. Working with Jackson Phillips, aka Day Wave, right now she’s rooted to the California coast - never a tricky subject to fall for.
Without dismissing her early work as a “phase”, there remains a sense that Hazel English could try her trade at a whole lot more. The melodies she toys with could be lent to all-out pop bangers. Or she could go the other way entirely, shrouding recordings in layer-upon-layer of added reverb, to the point of Grouper-like abstraction. New song ‘Control’, in other hands, would be delivered to Taylor Swift in a signed-for package. It’s an effortlessly slick, hook-stuffed triumph. And it’s an outlier in the game. For every ten thousand beach-pop bands who mumble their words and dodge purpose, there’s one Hazel English. (Jamie Milton)
Oliver Wilde - Good Kind Of Froze
While he’s never been one to shy away from bending the pop rules til they splinter and snap, ‘Good Kind Of Froze’ is undoubtedly Oliver Wilde’s most captivating madness to date. A disorientating dip into a black hole, it finds the alt producer at his most wonderfully weird.
Gut-garling, crumbled up bass leads the way, taking the skronky melody of April’s ‘Blit Scratch’ and hitting ‘go’ on the blender. Layering up the vocals to cult-like proportions, the wobbling pace soon becomes any hypnotist’s dream.
As it reaches its mind-bending zenith, Oliver sings of “all the best fuck ups” as if he’s aligning himself with the down-and-outs, but there’s little here to suggest he’s making a single mistake. Aligning oneself with the underworld has never sounded like such a sure-fire plan for success. (Tom Connick)
Forth Wanderers - Know Better
Waltzing along with the awkward grace of a first-time prom-goer, wearing a tatty suit coupled with scuffed up trainers, Forth Wanderers’ new ‘un ‘Know Better’ is tentative in all the right ways. Adopting the scolding claim of somebody who thinks they know all for a title, this is a song dealing in pursuing the wrong person, or badly fitting cause, because you just can’t help yourself. “I need to feel loved, no, I need to be tough, no, I need to grow up,” ringleader Ava Trilling rambles and revises, trying to steady head over heart, with little success. “I can’t be this naïve anymore,” she eventually concludes.
‘Know Better’ tackles the same balancing act as the New Jersey band’s previous single ‘Slop’. There’s a fine line between wanting to escape being young, and the threat of grown-up reality crashing in like an unwanted guest, wielding unpaid bills and tax slips – and it’s a line drawn across all of Forth Wanderers’ diary-scribble lyrics. (El Hunt)
American Football - Desire Gets In The Way
After seventeen years away from the studio, it would have been easy for American Football to lose it. Near-enough two decades of silence from any group would send out warning signs; from one who’d only ever sat down to record together twice, it would surely be a death knoll to cohesion.
Somehow, though, that spark that illuminated American Football’s self-titled debut has kept burning. ‘American Football’ mark two still shimmers, and latest teaser ‘Desire Gets In The Way’ is perfect evidence of the fact.
“I’ll remain chained to the bed we made,” Mike Kinsella half-mumbles, that heartbroken core still their bedrock. It’s musically more adventurous, though, a chirruping guitar line keeping spirits up through Mike’s bleakest of storytelling, and by the time those drifting closing minutes float by like a lone cloud on a scorching summer’s day, it’s impossible to deny that American Football’s magic remains. (Tom Connick)
Sälen - Copper Kiss
By now, glitter-dusted Londoners Sälen have carved themselves out a solid niche; sugar-coating poisonous destruction with a healthy dollop of pop. ‘Diseasey’ was the distant, left-leaning cousin of Britney’s ‘Toxic’ in both basic sentiment and banger potential, while ‘The Drwg’ dabbled in dangerously addictive lust. And with their latest, ‘Copper Kiss,’ it’s a theme that Ellie Kamio and co. continue to roll with.
Over a punchy, muffled pulse, Kamio sings in deceptively sweetened vocals. Lyrically, it’s a lot darker; taking a ill-advised tryst in a darkly physical direction. Split skin, broken bones, and the metallic sting of a violent lip-bite stain her clothes; a constant reminder of a negative relationship that even a Vanish bar will struggle to remove. ”Pour your metal in my mouth, lick my lips and taste yourself,” goes the saccharine chorus, over sparse plods of bass. Pardon the pun, but this one is a bloody banger. (El Hunt)
It’s all bleeding obvious stuff, but sometimes it needs reaffirming: In troubled times like these, where every news briefing feels like the stuff of fictional nightmares, cultural spaces become even more crucial. Nimmo’s ‘Dancing Makes Us Brave’ lands at exactly the right time, post-Fabric’s closure and a reevaluation of just how important London’s nightlife is to those within it, and those who see it as little more than worthless.
‘Dancing Makes Us Brave’ isn’t a flag-bearing, political call to arms in the purest sense. Instead, it captures the magic of after-hours escape. Led by a subtle funk line sitting somewhere between the Bee Gees and the Scissor Sisters, the London duo declare “I need to feel something that’s real” like they’ve been numbed by pain. Few songs deliver the same balancing act between all-out euphoria and self-aware melancholy. But in capturing the darkness of today, Nimmo have found their verve. (Jamie Milton)
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