Now perhaps these big guns were set to spread themselves over a two-week period but then safely decided that perhaps, the time to flex or the time to party was probably not when the nation’s broadcasters are decked in black and maybe still restricting their airtime to somewhat more sedate efforts. Or you know, great minds think alike and all that. This week saw the return of two South London icons – Stormzy giving us the ten-minute-plus ‘Mel Made Me Do It’, Jamie xx the much more succinct ‘Kill Dem’, The 1975 share another number from their forthcoming record, Wet Leg share a colourful cover and much more.
To update your ears with the best new music, see Essential New Tracks below. To find out what we’ve got to say about some of them, read on…
Stormzy - Mel Made Me Do It
There are few times when, after listening to a track – or, to be completely honest, watching an accompanying visual, for that really is the way to experience this particular release – when a brief step away from the screen is needed afterwards. ‘Mel Made Me Do It’, the first track from Stormzy as lead artist in over two years, is exactly that. So preposterously long the video platform even opts to plonk an ad break in the centre of it, it’s an immaculately-pitched show-and-tell: an artist taking his audience on a cinematic journey, spending the first eight minutes listing accomplishments (expensive watches; cars; celebrity friends, “Headline Reading and Leeds like it’s easy”) while scenes ooze with complementing opulence. Pointing out he’s at the peak of establishment British fame via being interviewed by Jonathan Ross while flanked by Louis Theroux; casually roping in the notoriously friendly José Mourinho to appear while the Chosen One is sampled. And then just at the point he’s really hammered home how damn successful and revered he is… “Cars don’t make you this lit / The money don’t make you this good / The plaques don’t make you this cold / Give a fuck what my shit sold…” If that wasn’t enough of a flex, the platform he’s shown via status is then mirrored by the terrace of a pristine manor house, onto which Black British cultural icons past and present are invited up to while actor Michaela Coel narrates a Wretch 32-written monologue shouting them out, one by one, from Ian Wright to Little Simz; Soul II Soul to Dave; Malorie Blackman to the late Jamal Edwards. “To make a classic, yeah it takes ages,” if this is just the first track of something, what could possibly follow? (Emma Swann)
The 1975 - All I Need To Hear
‘All I Need To Hear’ offers a stark contrast to the last song we heard from next month’s ‘Being Funny In A Foreign Language’, ‘I’m In Love With You’. The nostalgic and reflective number could’ve been pulled from The Boat That Rocked soundtrack, while also primed to incite goosebumps at a ‘slow bit’ during The 1975’s early 2023 arena tour. (Chloe Tucker)
Jamie xx - Kill Dem
As the seven year (and counting) wait for his ‘In Colour’ follow-up continues, Jamie xx has been quietly and sporadically sprinkling new tracks to keep us going. After the release of the jubilant ‘Let’s Do It Again’ and frantic ‘IDONTKNOW’ as well as production work on The xx bandmate Oliver Sim’s solo debut ‘Hideous Bastard’, he’s returned with ‘KILL DEM’. Inspired by Notting Hill Carnival, the new track is fizzing and alive as vocal samples float in and out along with splashes of his signature steel drums. The song feels bustling with life, plucked straight from the West London streets on carnival weekend. (Will Richards)
Wet Leg - Daisy
Not to get all X Factor and its mantra of “make it your own,” but there’s something delicious when an act knows precisely what they’re doing with a cover, that it’s chosen for more than just being a fan of the original song. And much like how Harry Styles’ knowing wink glittered all over his take on the pair’s ‘Wet Dream’, future tour pals Wet Leg are acutely aware of their cottagecore cute being at wonderful odds with Ashnikko’s more direct delivery of her precociously bold ‘Daisy’. “Pet the kitty, call me catty / Make your man call me daddy” has never sounded so charming. (Bella Martin)
Nilüfer Yanya - Rid Of Me
“‘Rid Of Me’ haunted me for many years after I first heard it,” Nilüfer Yanya said of the PJ Harvey classic upon releasing her cover this week, and the London singer-songwriter’s version is presented with the passion and verve of someone whose life has been profoundly affected by the song. As creepy, foreboding verses finally find release in a scuzzy, heavily distorted chorus, the much-loved song finds an exciting new home in the 2020s. (Will Richards)
Alvvays – Very Online Guy
‘Very Online Guy’, the latest preview of Alvvays’ third album ‘Blue Rev’, is a scathing and hilarious takedown of internet ‘reply guys’. Over lo-fi instrumentation and warped, playful vocals, Molly Rankin takes shots at Twitter warriors who “like to hit reply” and are “only one follow away” on a song that’s as catchy and instantly appealing as any Alvvays song, and genuinely hilarious to boot. (Will Richards)
Fontaines DC – The Couple Across The Way
An outlier in Fontaines DC’s discography, ‘The Couple Across The Way’ is a tender and reflective song written by Grian Chatten about the warring elderly couple who lived across the street from his tiny North London flat. On the song, written with just Chatten’s voice and an accordion, he reflects on relationships and the passing of time with beautiful sincerity and thoughtfulness, and its recent music video adds further context to the gorgeous tale. (Will Richards)
Smashing Pumpkins - Beguiled
That ‘Beguiled’ is, in fact, a relatively reasonable four minute rock song has all the potential to be lost under the sea of information that is the record it’s taken from; a three-part, thirty-three track “rock opera” that’s set to be released in three parts, and this lead track was premiered via TikTok, which is exactly where one imagines all the people who would be interested in a mammoth new release would find themselves. Cynicism aside – but really, doesn’t Billy know there’s a vinyl shortage?! – it’s a perfectly middling rock song, the lead riff just the right amount of crunchy. (Bella Martin)
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