It’s Friday! And as per, some of the biggest acts have returned with comeback tracks, while new acts have made promising starts with buzzy debuts. There are more #NewMusicFriday playlists to shake a stick at. Everyone under the sun is releasing new music left, right and centre. We’ve boiled things down to the bare essentials.
Sticking to tradition, we’ve compiled the most head-turning and impressive tracks of the past seven days. PJ Harvey has unveiled a track that didn’t quite make the cut for ‘The Hope Six Demolition Project’, Wild Beasts have offered up another slice of ‘Boy King’ and Preoccupations are back with another track from their forthcoming new album. That’s just for starters, and all.
PJ Harvey - Guilty
At the start of last year, PJ Harvey invited fans inside recording sessions for her new album ‘The Hope Six Demolition Project’. The song they saw penned, ‘Guilty’, didn’t make the cut for the LP in the end, but has now been released as an add-on.
‘Guilty’ fits perfectly with the politically cynical tone of ‘The Hope Six…’, and also possesses the album’s signature marching band-like percussion. The track’s lyrics are cutting - “Grainy little figures on television screens weighing up the moment/guilty, guilty”.
“The drones have come in their thousands/but nobody asked us if we wanted them,” Harvey sings over and over again, and it’s one of the strongest sentiments made in the ‘Hope Six’ era of her career, and a track that deserved a spot on the album. (Will Richards)
Wild Beasts - Celestial Creatures
On the hottest day of the year, the Sun God / sunbed-session-gone-a-bit-too-far bloke who adorns Wild Beasts’ ‘Boy King’ cover art makes a lot more sense. With similar apropos, he also looks like one of those ‘Celestial Creatures’ Hayden Thorpe and co rattle on about in their latest track.
The jump-off point for their new album, ‘Celestial Creatures’ finds Wild Beasts trading in the same melancholy-drenched synthwork that defined 2014 album ‘Present Tense’. Only like the rest of ‘Boy King’, the melodrama is counteracted with uptight, dagger-like production. Like with St. Vincent’s 2013, self-titled game changer, producer John Congleton has injected some much-needed vibe. In one sense, it’s the band’s way of evolving from one form to another. But it also embodies the hyper-masculine subject matter they’ve obsessed with since day one. (Jamie Milton)
Preoccupations - Degraded
‘Anxiety’, the first taste of Preoccupations’ second era under their new name, was a gloomy plunge into a new kind of world for the Canadians, and pointed at extremely bright things.
‘Degraded’ takes this to the next level - it’s a spiky cut that sees Matt Flegel go more than a little bit Paul Banks of Interpol. The track’s insatiable first verse lets loose into a barrage of fighting guitars and synths - it’s the band at their most aggressive.
Where ‘Anxiety’ swayed rather than crashed - ‘Degraded’ sees Preoccupations hit hard, and ramp up the excitement for their debut. (Will Richards)
Blanck Mass - D7-D5
Intended as the second manoeuvre in a game of techno chess instigated by Manuel Gottsching’s prog-techno movement ‘E2-E4’ in 1984, Benjamin John Power holds nothing back in the eight minute sprawl of his Adult Swim Singles Program contribution.
Things kick off with a cacophony of face-melting industrial noise and distortion, but ‘D7-D5’ quickly evolves into a measured, stirring wave of dark, looping synths and quick fire beats. On this foundation, Power layers on chopped and skewed vocal samples that build up to an excoriating techno climax.
Thought that non-stop schedule might have left Blanck Mass a bit lacking creatively? Think again. ‘D7-D5’ is Power at his most forceful and provocative. (Eugenie Johnson)
Ardyn - The Valley
In the video for ‘The Valley,’ brother-sister duo Ardyn take a road trip through the Devonshire countryside in an old RV. It’s an adventure that takes them along the open road, but also across clifftops and moors; they even indulge in a spot of night-driving. The pair’s journey through Dartmoor captures them getting back in touch with nature, the perfect metaphor for their lusciously organic sound.
‘The Valley’ starts somewhat unassumingly with minimal guitar and a single hi-hat, before very gradually building percussion. Ardyn bide their time, creating a haunting, evocative atmosphere. Eventually that wait pays off. The track explodes with strings, organ and harmonies, surging towards a powerful yet melancholic chorus. Holding it all together are Katy’s vocals - quivering, raw and beautifully restrained, she weaves a touching tale of lost innocence.
As the central focus of their new EP, ‘The Valley’ shows off every nuanced facet of Ardyn’s carefully constructed alt-folk sound. (Eugenie Johnson)