Happy Friday to you all - as ever, it’s been a week in which music was released. We’ve picked out the biggest and best new songs to emerge, and there’s plenty to get stuck into. Sleigh Bells are sounding brilliantly all over the place, Deap Vally have written their most badass rock song yet, and Bombay Bicycle Club’s Ed Nash has finally found his voice with new solo project Toothless. That’s just for starters, and all.
Sleigh Bells - Rule Number One
Botched together in a stitched-up collision of razor-edges, hollow bass crashes, and brash guitar squeals, Sleigh Bells ‘Rule Number One’ is a stop-starting, unforgiving heap of madly clashing noise. Listen to this on a fragile morning after a Berocca, and odds are your head will explode.
Led by a chanting, unstoppable Alexis Krauss, ‘Rule Number One’ roars past Kansas tornadoes, out of control Monday night benders, and every lyric is as brilliantly odd as the last. “You’re high as a kite watching Lion King, you can’t feel a thing, but your knee hurts,” goes one choice line; “pop rocks and coke make your head explode,” is another that gets right to the point without any pissing about.
Sleigh Bells are at their best when their music flashes a dangerous grin; like a white crash of lightening, or an arm-rest grabbing attack of turbulence. ‘Rule Number One’ – all over the place, totally chaotic, and fuelled by raw instinct – does just that. (El Hunt)
Metronomy - Back Together
If Metronomy’s comeback single ‘Old Skool’, the first preview of fifth album ‘Summer 08’, showed Joe Mount starting to grow more confident in his role as frontman, then ‘Back Together’ sees him grasp the opportunity with everything he has.
The track, the album’s opener, shows Mount at his sleaziest yet, perusing his diary to pencil in a date with a swagger he’s never even touched on in the past. Musically, Olugbenga’s signature funk bass still carries the track, but a mid-song cluster of jarring percussion takes things into the realm of being a little too weird. ‘Back Together’ is another step on Joe Mount’s ascent to becoming an all-conquering pop frontman, but when the grooves are stripped back, the weirdness becomes a little too…weird. (Will Richards)
Deap Vally - Smile More
Any woman in the entire world who has ever walked down a drizzly street on a particularly shit-filled day, and been instructed to “smile, love” by a total stranger will be bobbing like a sherbert-fuelled nodding dog at Deap Vally’s ‘Smile More’. Over curling riffs that reach out like sucker-punching tentacles, and pummelling, angry thuds, Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards seize hold of the record, and shout their feminism from the rooftops.
“Stranger in the bar tells me to smile more, I look at him and ask him what for, I am happily unhappy, man,” drawls Troy, her voice dripping with venom and frustration. Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner only adds extra bite still from behind the production desk. Deap Vally have always sounded massive, but on ‘Smile More’ they’re in another league of ace. (El Hunt)
Toothless - Palm’s Backside (ft . Marika Hackman)
Ed Nash’s first post-Bombay Bicycle Club steps painted him as something timid. Shying away behind twinkling electronics and a nighttime aesthetic, it couldn’t have been further from the explosions of sound and colour that made up Bombay’s departing work, ‘So Long, See You Tomorrow’. On ‘Palm’s Backside’, though, he’s changing tact.
The third Toothless track to be let loose, it finds Nash’s Americana influences pushed to the fore - it’s that timeless songwriting style that marks Toothless out from the pack. A hushed re-telling of a love gone wrong, Ed lamenting that the object of his affection looks “happier than we ever were”, it’s breathless and intimate in a way Bombay’s latter-day bombast could never have harnessed.
Love letter extracts like “you know me like a palm’s backside” dance around those more sombre reflections, Ed’s pairing of his warm tones against those of Marika Hackman proving a masterstroke. “Monkey see, monkey do,” they might echo off each other, but ‘Palm’s Backside’ is the first evidence that, with Toothless, Ed Nash has truly found his own voice. (Tom Connick)
Bat For Lashes - Joe’s Dream
Natasha Khan’s wedding-themed Bat For Lashes concept album ‘The Bride’ was never going to be a simple, all-smiles-down-the-aisle affair. So far, she’s told the story of a brokenhearted honeymoon and a tale of despair. ‘Joe’s Dream’ continues the theme, mixing heartbreak with bold imagery amid a dark, religious backdrop.
The song finds Khan trying to bury horrors through love. “He saw angels at his bedroom door / And a body on a checkered floor,” she sings, on top of Twin Peaks-ready basslines and sweeping choral coos. Every declaration of love is mirrored with fear, the “don’t say goodbye” line repeated until any remaining hope is shattered into pieces. It’s another gloomy chapter in Khan’s deep-rooted new story. (Jamie Milton)
Merchandise - Flower of Sex
Merchandise’s first new material since 2014’s ‘After The End’, ‘Flower of Sex’ kicks straight into gear, and doesn’t relent on its dark, twisted path. Carson Cox’s all-encompassing baritone carries the track, while threatening to be drowned by swathes of reverb-covered guitars. The track’s jittery, itching video reflects its excitingly uncomfortable nature. It’s a thunderous re-introduction for the band, and a first cut that throws the band heart-first into an exciting new era. (Will Richards)
Caro - Cold Comfort
Some new bands require a full-length to showcase their full potential, which makes Caro’s early steps even more remarkable. On ‘Cold Comfort’, the Leeds group swing branches between softly-softly serenades and a dizzying, harsh to-and-fro. They can go from sweet-natured cubs to rabid beasts with the flick of a switch, and it’s the kind of Jeykll and Hyde dynamic that should work wonders across a full album.
Let’s not get carried away - Caro are a long way from that landmark moment. But making a record can sometimes feel like extracting blood from a stone, whereas this trio already sound like they’re packing wonders up their sleeves. (Jamie Milton)
Broods - Heartlines
Lorde has become a world leader in heart-pumping pop, and her hand in co-writing ‘Heartlines’, from fellow Kiwis Broods’ new album exhibits the same youthful exuberance and dreams of bright lights that she showed on ‘Pure Heroine’. The track’s explosive chorus dreams of escaping in the middle of the night to beat the sunrise, and its huge ambitions are more than matched by synths that burst and reach as high as they can. Escaping has never felt so attainable. (Will Richards)