Good noole, dear readers, and a happy Friday to you all. As usual, its been a busy week of new music, and up to their usual antics, artists have been releasing new songs left right and centre. We’ve picked out the biggest and best new songs to emerge this week, and there’s plenty to get stuck into. Kanye West is still teasing ‘Swish’, and on the latest glimpse, he’s recruited one of the greatest rappers in the world (apart from him, obvs) to drop by as a guest spot. Then there’s the small matter of PJ Harvey being properly back, no biggy or anything. That’s just for starters. In other words, this week has been chocka. For everything else out this week head over to the DIY Listening Hub, or hit play on our Essential Playlist.
PJ Harvey - The Wheel
PJ Harvey isn’t immune to transformation. In fact, over the course of a glittering career, she can change disguises in a split-second. ‘Stores From the City, Stories From the Sea’’s skyscraper rock took seven years to be dislodged by the eerie storm of ‘White Chalk’, but these were two polar opposites. After the riches of ‘Let England Shake’ took Harvey’s political voice to new heights, with plaudits a guarantee, the ball was in her court to take an unexpected next step.
This makes returning gambit ‘The Wheel’ slightly disappointing, in a sense. It rackets and chants like the best of ‘Let England Shake’, but in a more conventional way. Instead of using old fables as a starting point, it bursts straight in with John Parish-backed force. There’s no build - just attention-demanding repetition.
But there’s a hint that ‘The Wheel’ could open several new doors. ‘The Hope Six Demolition Project’ came together after journties to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington, D.C., and Harvey’s latest feels like a distillation of foreign worlds. “When I’m writing a song I visualise the entire scene. I can see the colours, I can tell the time of day, I can sense the mood, I can see the light changing, the shadows moving, everything in that picture,” she says in a statement. And once you’re transported to this alien environment, ‘The Wheel’ goes beyond the quintessential Englishness of her last record and into a different space. There’s hope yet that Harvey’s latest could be her finest work. (Jamie Milton)
Kanye West - No More Parties In L.A.
Kanye and Kendrick - it’s a pairing previously resigned to a hip-hop Sub-Reddit’s worst fanfic. Add in a sample of Drake’s uncle (no, really) Larry Graham and it’s enough to send the blogosphere loopy.
There’s a real-world charm to ‘No More Parties In L.A.’ though; a continuation of that breaking down of barriers that ‘Real Friends’ began. While Kendrick’s out there taking the boastful crown - “baby, spin around and say the alphabet backwards,” he smirks when questioned whether he’s an a-list rapper - and claiming that, er, “Instagram is the best way to promote some pussy” (nope, us neither), Kanye’s happy to remain real.
“Please baby, no more parties in L.A.,” he begs, presumably a bit sick of Kim’s constant Facebook event invites. “When did I become a-list, I wasn’t even on a-list,” he ponders, and between this and the lost loved ones referenced in ’Real Friends’, Ye seems to be yearning to leave behind the glitz and glamour of fame. Joke’s on him though - if ‘Swish’ is half as good as these teasers suggest, he’s only going to get closer to being the God he always claimed to be. (Tom Connick)
Sia - Unstoppable
The chart-topping pop stars who hit the big red buzzer when presented with ‘Unstoppable’ are clearly off their rockers. The latest track to come from Sia’s upcoming album ‘This is Acting’ - a record made up of songs the writing powerhouse originally penned for other singers - it’s a simply structured but welly-packing power ballad that fires a catapult-load of euphoric essence straight for the bulls eye. Practically custom-manufactured for yowling into hairbrush microphones, and the perfect musical backdrop for embarrassing attempts at privately recreating Maddie Ziegler’s awe inspiring dance routines, Sia hasn’t soared to this level of sheer epic impact since her particularly bittersweet ode to party girls. Expect ‘Unstoppable’ to live up to its name in reaching similar heights to ‘Chandelier’. (El Hunt)
Låpsley - Love is Blind
It’s ridiculous that only two years back, Låpsley was uploading dusky, atmospheric pop demos to her Soundcloud. Minutes after hitting upload on ‘Station’ and ‘Painter (Valentine)’, she was skyrocketed into BBC Sound Of… chat, front and centre of the hype-wagon. Over the last twelve months, she’s navigated her way around the talk, delivering a more straight-up, hard hitting form of the striking songwriting she arrived sporting.
‘Love is Blind’ is up there with last year’s ‘Hurt Me’ in getting to the point. The vice-like grip of her voice is always at the centre, fleeting strings and blink-and-you-missed-it effects being a bit-part. From verse to chorus with no showy gimmicks to distract, Låpsley’s quickly discovered that she has everything it takes to make giant pop songs for fun. (Jamie Milton)
AlunaGeorge - I’m In Control
Joni Mitchell was right on when she said “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone” in her low-key banger ‘Big Yellow Taxi’. As soon as AlunaGeorge wrapped up their touring and retreated to the studio post-‘Body Music’, shit got real. We missed songs like ‘Your Drums, Your Love’ and ‘White Noise’ - magical, instantaneous bundles of pop magic, with an brain-osmosis speed comparable to light speed - more than ever. Back with the no nonsense, trilling ‘I’m In Control’ three years after their debut, this is braver and gaudier than anything AlunaGeorge have done before - excluding, perhaps, their Disclosure collab ‘White Noise’. Their return booms with hints of a 5am club’s echoing subwoofer, a Popcaan feature spot amping up the madness tenfold. It’s sweet relief indeed to have the duo back. (El Hunt)
Poliça - Wedding
With its elongated, heavy-synth intro, it’s unclear where Poliça are going to take this ‘Wedding’. However, after just under a minute, that unmistakable signature synth-pop vocal from Channy Leaneagh chimes in, and directs to exactly that. The pop element creates for infectious grooving. It’s a song made for listening to on repeat, twice or maybe ten times over.
The half-time breakdown allows for a moments breath before the reintroduction of the same tenacious, yet somehow untedious, rhythm. The effective over-use of synth underlined with a simplistic drumbeat defines the track simply, showing the band using electro specialties to their full advantage.
Arising as the second glimpse of new album ‘United Crushers’ - the first being ‘Lime Habit’ - it’s clear to see how this album’s going to lyrically hone in on politics. Despite ‘Wedding’ sounding as though it’s going to be riffled with lovesick lyrics, it’s, in fact, the exact opposite. The title and lyrics cry juxtaposition, when Leaneagh details the militarization of police in America and the drug trade, in contrasting ecstatic tones.
His screaming vocals support the powerful message being put across, pretty much forcing you to listen to the lyrical content, and rewind it if you don’t quite catch it first time round. The reality is that this track is savage. More hard-hitting than expected and propelled by a solid, constant drum beat, ‘Wedding’ is impossible to stray away from, however hard you try. (Mollie Mansfield)
Wild Nothing - Life of Pause
For the last few months, Jack Tatum – aka pop dreamer Wild Nothing – has been spoiling us as much as that generous aunt who conveniently pops up every birthday and Christmas. From the whimsical ‘TV Queen’ to the tropical groove of ‘Reichpop’, the released teasers to the upcoming ‘Life of Pause’ - Wild Nothing’s third record - have been pretty exciting to say the least. With the album due out on 19th February, the latest offering comes in the form of synthtastic title track ‘Life of Pause’. It features an infectious hook, a brilliantly moody bassline and Tatum questioning the reality of long distance love in a fast- paced world… and just in time for Valentine’s Day. Awwh.
‘Life Of Pause’ doesn’t stray too far from Wild Nothing’s usual hazy sound, but its polished finish and upbeat synth create a more positive feel than previous releases. Tatum repeats the chorus ‘how can we want love?’ so often in the track that it begins to sink in. We might not want love, but if this shimmery indie pop is anything to go by, we definitely want more of Wild Nothing’s synthy sweetness. (Ashleigh Grady)