I really must be more careful what I submit for clearance. Last week, I described Roisin Murphy's Romantic Comedy as "the bespectacled, pale, out-of-shape girl who is still none too happy to entertain for five-and-a-half minutes". This was a dig at a bespectacled, pale, out-of-shape girl who used be a friend of mine but isn't any more - and who and who's sister I saw on my way back from Scrabble last Saturday (9 July)! Of last week's releases, only one has entered the top 100: M.I.L.F.$, by Fergie, at #56.
Oof! Allie X's newest record, "All the Rage", packs a potent punch: its opening seconds evoke a performer taking a club to a club's house band, whacking them offstage, and then proceeding to sing her own (very synth-heavy) song. It's not particularly well polished - it sounds like it was recorded in one take (we always recommend perfecting bits, recording them and overdubbing them) - but it is a fairly solid work, and perhaps subsequent releases will bring her a hit.
What It Feels Like is an interesting record. The record begins cacophonously, with its obtrusive, croaking "daylight" chant on which Nesbitt sings. However, by the time the raucous rasp clears up, a competent piece of electronic dance music emerges from the wreckage. Nesbitt's husky vocals work alongside the record, halting only to allow a very chunky piano line airtime, and liven up an otherwise lifeless piece of music.
Before reviewing, a bit of background. Calvin Harris used to go out with Taylor Swift, who had a reputation for writing songs about her exes, and proceeded to leave him for actor Tom Hiddleston. Olé contains the following lyrics: "My heart speaks/I ain't seen you or been with you for weeks/But I see online that you've begun to be/A good girl and take trips with your boyfriend/Being attentive, continue to pretend". Harris has stated that this record was written before the breakup. Co-incidence? I doubt it. Vitriolic? Very - it's just a shame the instrumental isn't, since all it comprises of is a lethargic, unenergetic guitar line repeated ad nauseam. This should have been left on the cutting room floor.
Where Are You Now created controversy when it was released. An artist called Familiar Face claimed that the song's instrumental had been nicked from his "Lengman Riddim", though Leshurr retorted that she'd gotten it from a free sample pack. Either way, the song's conceited, trenchant lyrics do complement the bellicose rhythm, and given that the track has already turned up on one of Annie Mac's radio shows it could potentially be a hit.
Break-up songs are like buses in that you wait ages for a break-up song, and then two turn up at once; one more earnest than the other (Olly Murs recently confided to that oh-so-trustworthy source The Sun that the song was about his ex-girlfriend). Harris and Newman would be well-advised to take note, because You Don't Know Love is how to write a proper break-up record: sparse but complementary synths divert the focus to Murs' emotional vocals. This is almost certainly a hit. Just do away with the irritating sound effects at the start of the record and the "you, you, you" jabs in verse three.
Ooh, yes! Parisian Petite Miller's Milk Bath is a smorgasbord of sounds, complete with ukuleles, African vocal chants (courtesy of Ladysmith Black Mambazo) and rousing guitars which merge into an uplifting record. Meller has a penchant for writing nonsensical lyrics; these sung by an indelibly high, adorably accented voice is a great break away from things. It is the strawberry trifle in amongst a sea of black forest gateaux.
In one of the most mordant records I have ever heard in my life, Rizzle Kicks proclaims "Everyone's Dead". It applies Rizzle Kicks' usual tongue-in-cheek lyrics to a funky, guitar-based instrumental with snatches of organ. As with most of their previous records, the record sounds effortlessly cool, and comes across like a private diatribe between the two of them berating and prophesying life.
Transviolet have their new record "LA Love" out this week. Written about the lead singer's love-hate relationship with LA, the song contrasts pessimistic lyrics with dreamy synths, lithe percussion and gangly guitars. The result sounds like the offspring of a relaxation tape and Status Quo. Pity about the annoying high-pitched lyrics right at the start, though.
Hands was released in honour of the victims of the Orlando shootings last month and to raise money for, the "Equality Florida Pulse Victims Fund, the GLBT Community Centre of Central Florida and the [Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation]". The song itself is sparse - merely a piano line and guitar, nothing sparse - but nonetheless carries the very heavy vocals up beautifully. We do think if any record can dislodge Drake from its three-month occupancy, it's this one. My only criticism is that it feels too long; moving the outro (the bit between the two post-choruses) to before the third bridge would rectify this.
Vittoria Hilz's newest - and, indeed, first - piece, Lost in Time, is a romantic ballad that comprises for a great length of a simple piano, with what sounds like a ticking clock kicking off the record, a Big Ben chiming near the end and Hilz's unadulterated, crystal clear, beautiful vocals. Where Milk Bath was a trifle, this is a pineapple crumble: We'd be surprised if it caught on, because it's too far removed from the norm, but it is worth a listen at least once. (We'd double the length of the third chorus, banish the overdubbing to the second half and cut the chimes, though.)
Wretch 32's Liberation is an exasperating record; the opening twenty seconds or so sounds like a hit record arrested by some sick reverse-decimation, and cries out for being made a full record of. The second 'half' contains some recalcitrant lyrics which attack police brutality and racial profiling; unfortunately, they fail to do so with any great vigour (the standard for venom was set in 2005 by the Mitchell Brothers' Routine Check), and landed on a gaunt, lifeless beat which just plods along as though it's too scared to start moving with any boldness. It also seems to knock off early; I would have loved to have heard more of the speech (which we suspect is sampled, but we can't tell where from) followed by another chorus.
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