Round-up Tracks (Tobias Jesso Jr., Yak, Justice & more)

All the biggest and best tracks of the week, rounded up and reviewed.

This week belongs to Skepta, obviously. Rarely does a Mercury Prize victory feel so significant, or like a collective celebration. Save for the ‘THIS ISN’T REAL MUSIC’ naysayers on comment threads, there’s a broad consensus that yes, ‘Konnichiwa’ is a worthy winner and that it’s been made by a very special musician. Also, without getting all ‘music is the real winner’ on everything, fair play to the ceremony itself for ditching boring analysis and chin-stroking for fan involvement, more performances and an actual sense of occasion.

Outside of last night’s heroics, this week we’ve had big comebacks from French duo Justice and cult heroes Tall Ships. Tobias Jesso Jr. gave us a glimpse of his second album sessions by sharing a rough-edged demo, Yak upped the ante with one of their most ferocious tracks yet, and unsung gems Kagoule shared another gem.

It’s been a manic week. Below, we round up the best and biggest of this week’s tracks.

Still not feeling up to date? Listen to everything that’s a) new and b) great via our Spotify playlist of Essential New Tracks.

Photo: Tobias Jesso Jr, by David Rzegocki.

Justice - Randy

Governments have been dethroned, wars have been waged, funk’s had a revival and blogs have died in between Justice’s heady rise and the present day. The French duo’s shiny formula hasn’t shifted too much, though. But that doesn’t make comeback single ‘Randy’ anything other than an outlier in their catalogue.

A sugar-scented pop rush, ‘Randy’ has shades of early Justice - motorik electronics, disco-lit synths - but everything’s been given an extra dose of shameless disco. If Bee Gees were to form today, they’d likely sound like ‘Randy’, a light-footed, falsetto-filled call to arms that does more than enough to move on from Justice’s past.

Tobias Jesso Jr - Don’t

Tobias Jesso Jr’s long forgone fancy bells and whistles in favour of a more classic template; armed with the same black-and-white key-tinkling clout of Elton John and Harry Nilsson. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that his first release since his debut album ‘Goon’ tugs at the old heart-strings with the same laserpoint accuracy, hanging heavy coats of emotion off soulfully chiming coathangers.

“I can wait longer, there’s nothing after this,” our Toby insists over and over, clinging onto something that’s fading away, despite all the warning signs flashing at him like a dodgy disco rig yer da dug out his garage for the annual Town Hall fundraiser. “You cheated on my whole world,” he despairs elsewhere, on this wonderfully spare, out of the blue demo.

‘Don’t’ doesn’t exactly see Tobias reinventing. If anything it takes a glance back to his most minimal early demos. Then again, the only thing broken here is Tobias’ poor heart - another beautifully pitched ballad from (probably) the tallest man in music.

Yak - Heavens Above

Road-dogs from the off, there are precious few cities that Yak haven’t graced with their manic presence in the last eighteen months. ‘Heavens Above’ takes the innumerable experiences those miles imprint on the psyche and spews them forth like a bedraggled old traveller.

Not that they’re showing any signs of fatigue - it’s every bit as chaotic as their output to date. Tales of meeting the type of wearying prick who puts money and possessions before anything else are set to a churning of fuzz and gunk, each freshly-tied knot sending things into new realms. Sending out a subsequent ode to “strength, compassion, beautiful love and heavens above,” it’d sound like a cry for help if Yak weren’t very clearly in full control of every step.

A thick as treacle sludgefest, the type which Yak are masters of dragging melody out of, ’Heavens Above’ is evidence that their mind-blowing, five-star ‘Alas Salvation’ debut was just the start of this long haul steam-roll.

Tall Ships - Meditations on Loss

After all their months and years in the ether, it was inevitable Tall Ships would come thundering back. Returning single ‘Meditations On Loss’ is a frustrated emotional release; one that’s wrapped up in all those oh-so-common modern anxieties.

Atop their chunkiest, most post-punk indebted bassline to date, frontman Ric Phelan’s in a state of despair. “Why can’t I feel anything at all?” he yelps, while machine-gun drumming pushes him ever-forward. No time for reflection, no space to clear heads, it’s full steam ahead into the great unknown.

“I’m caught up in a race - I don’t know what I’m running from, or to…” Ric laments, but he’s not navel gazing this time around, more trying to scrape together that blown-apart mindset that 2016’s incessant pace too often inflicts. A breathtaking return, Tall Ships have never sounded so present-day.

Kagoule - Magnified

Kagoule’s sludge has never felt as all-encompassing as on ‘Magnified’. True to name, every element is uncomfortably close; every crash and clatter taking on an overwhelming new shape. Hypnotising dual vocals cling to melody amongst all the carnage, leading you down a darkened path only to bludgeon.

More frazzled than a corner shop bacon crisp, ‘Magnified’ feels like it’s clinging to life in the wake of a sandstorm - exactly the kind of whirlwind chaos Kagoule are swiftly proving themselves masters of mustering.

Tags: Justice, Tobias Jesso Jr, Yak, Listen, Features

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