Let’s not mince words or skirt around; its been a right shitter of a week. With everything looking uncertain and scary in the world right now, music marches on.
Run the Jewels - one of the most important voices in music right now - have risen to the challenge of a President Trump, and bring hope as well as anger with their new track ‘2100’. The xx have also returned after three years away, and that’s just for starters.
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.
The xx - On Hold
Even Felix the polar bear couldn’t have predicted the curveball The xx have thrown with their sprawling return, ‘On Hold’. Not only have they written a sunny, cockles-warming slab of euphoria that wouldn’t sound entirely out of place on a Hall & Oates record, they’ve even directly sampled the pesky pop duo!
Jamie xx has always been masterful when it comes to manipulating such reference-points, but he’s especially light-footed while twisting ’I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)’ to The xx’s own purposes. A glitching robot version of Daryl Hall repeats ”where does it stop, where do you dare me to draw the line,” and provides the tenacious pulse, as Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim trade vocal blows. Though their lyrics remain introspective as ever, intertwining husk, and The xx’s usual misty approach has cleared; murk traded in for something more chopsy. It’s clear that Jamie xx’s production has taken massive cues from the disco balls of his solo record ‘In Colour’, and the band are now focused on moving listeners both emotionally, and physically across a neon dancefloor.
Making good on the promise of ’Coexist’s punchier moments, and taking a bold swerve in a unpredictable new direction, who knows what’ll be on the cards with the band’s third album ‘I See You’. Whatever happens, expect to be kept firmly on your toes. (El Hunt)
Run the Jewels - 2100 (ft. Boots)
Run the Jewels’ politicised status is mostly attributed to no-bullshit, first foot forward frustration. But ‘2100’ flips the rulebook, offering an uplifting message when it was tempting to dive into a pit of despair.
Amidst endless thinkpieces and ‘how did this happen?!’ post-election rage, ‘2100’ was released yesterday, and it offers an alternative to outrage and violence. It finds El-P and Killer Mike offering hope in the face of hate, via the same shuffling, fireworks-blasting noise they’ve always traded in. “I’m here to tell you don’t let ‘em tell you what’s right wrong,” they declare. “Make love, smoke kush, fight or laugh hard and live long”.
In the aftermath of a world-shaking event that questions everyone’s values and resolve, it’s easy to wind up more confused than before. ‘2100’ at least attempts to provide some tonic, an antidote to a time when millions are fearful of what’s round the corner. They’re rarely credited for it, but Run the Jewels are just as effective spreading positivity as they are a desire for change. (Jamie Milton)
Los Campesinos! - I Broke Up In Amarante
The gang mentality at the heart of Los Campesinos!’s oh-so-personal introspection takes the fore on ‘I Broke Up In Amarante’. The first teaser of that new album, buoyed by a renewed vigour and belief in what the seven of them could create, it’s a united document of mental collapse, set against the outwardly sunny setting of a knees-up in Portugal.
In that regard, it’s the band at their peak. Fusing the darker hues of Gareth Paisey’s mindset - “it seems unfair to try your best but feel the worst” - with the shining, confident indie-rock they looked to have perfected on ‘NO BLUES’, it proves they’re still building on that promise they first exhibited a full decade ago. Taking the everyday mundanities of life and turning them into something near-magical, they offer up a support system like no other - Los Camp!’s life-affirming collective identity has never felt so vital. (Tom Connick)
Estrons - Call You Mine
To date, Estrons have revelled in their foot-to-the-floor pace. Charging ahead from day one, their 100mph, sugar rush punk-rock has been as breathless as they come. ‘Call You Mine’, the closer of their ace new ‘She’s Here Now’ EP, sees the speedometer drop.
Swaggering about the place, tearing photo frames from the walls and smashing them to bits, singer Tali Källström’s on typically biting form. “People like you can’t take it,” she spits, “and so you built a wall between us.” Probably not a snark at Donald Trump, granted, it’s nevertheless a fired up, frothing at the mouth takedown of shitty blokes and their shittier attitudes.
By the time it reaches its clattering conclusion, the whole band are piling in, screeching about what the object of their attentions “coulda been.” Slowing things down has lost Estrons none of their fury - if anything, every blow hits twice as hard. (Tom Connick)
Forth Wanderers - Unfold
True to name, ‘Unfold’ - the closing track from Forth Wanderers’ really rather excellent new EP - takes shape slowly, intertwining melodies taking tangible shape like a very nifty piece of origami. “I can’t sleep when I’m uneasy,” drawls Ava Trilling over jitteringly anxious snares, “I get in my head, please believe me.”. ‘Unfold’ shuffles and fidgets all over the place, taking all the suspended uncertainty of being hopelessly in love without hearing a reply.
In keeping with ‘Slop’ as a whole, this a honed-in, reflective, and specific look at the things we all grapple with. With a new LP reportedly on the way, Forth Wanderers are shaping up into quite the writers. Watch this space. (El Hunt)