If you think I'm being unreasonable in any one of my reviews, you may be interested in the following: My sister walked into me watching Live… with Jools Holland, during Beth Orton's first track, and promptly blurted out "she can't sing, she sounds like she's dying".
Alex Clare is back after a long hiatus with Tell Me What You Need. While it doesn't quite pack the same punch as his previous singles, it is still a perfectly enjoyable listen; kicking off with tribal drums, the synths fuzz like a flamethrower whilst Clare croons and the drums kick away. This is an excellent record, and we would be surprised if it didn't chart.
Aston Merrygold has released I Ain't Missing You this week. It's an interesting record; although the first verse and both choruses are entirely unremarkable, the drop uses its turn to ignite an otherwise boring record. Unfortunately, this is wasted in such an otherwise empty track that most people won't get that far. A disappointment.
Bloc Party released Stunt Queen on 20 September. Although it lacks the rage of their earlier records, that's probably because two of its members were replaced before its parent album was released. It's still perfectly serviceable; lashings of guitar and crashes of drums play away in a fog of organ-like bass licks and vocals. Lovely.
Bon Jovi has released Labor of Love this week. With Bon Jovi's vocals humming alongside a laid-back, guitar-driven track with just a set of drums clicking in the background, think a heartier version of The Shadows, and with its dreamily enigmatic instrumental bridge of a thin but strident guitar, think a hit. (Mind you, I did think that about This House is Not for Sale and I've yet to see that in the charts…)
I thought this record sounded familiar. Chase & Status have released All Goes Wrong with vocalist Tom Grennan, a track which has since the start of last month featured on adverts for BT Sport. It's not bad, but it never really gets into its stride; the chorus, particularly, sounds scared more than anything else, like it's too frightened to properly strum out. A shame, because this has potential.
What on earth? This track has been online for over a year. Specifically, since 4 September 2015. As far as I can work out, this was released to radio this week, but I could be wrong – it impacted in Yankeeland on 29 March 2016, though it was trampled by Chainsmokers' Don't Let Me Down on which Daya features. Sit Still, Look Pretty is a delightful collection of synths dance either side of pockets of breezy whistling and Daya's delicate vocals only add to the sense of insouciance. The R!OT Remix combines much of the aforementioned with acoustic guitar and keys, a disorientating drop and a baffling fade-out – but take care to avoid a cover by Hot and Dayamn, for it is cancer. This certainly wasn't what I was expecting Daya's solo stuff to sound like, but I do expect this to be a hit.
Green Day have produced Still Breathing this week. Diversifying from their usual sound, the song sprints with sordid guitar and dastardly drums which rock out to just beneath excess; the result is a smashing record which rages without quite erupting. The Metro newspaper may well have a point that it "is about as punk as a marshmallow in a tutu", but for what it is, it's brilliant stuff.
Huntar has come out with Anyway this week. Familiar to some as a track from the new FIFA 17 soundtrack, it's a cross between the exasperating emptiness of Mollie King's Back to You (issue 8) and the breezy bounciness of Justin Bieber's Sorry for a record which attempts dreaminess, and succeeds – I fell asleep halfway through.
This week, JoJo has recruited Remy Ma for a single called FAB.. (That's not a typo, there really is a full stop in the song title.) It uses a similarly sluggish guitar as Am I Wrong? by Nico & Vinz, although that had the benefit of obtrusive drums to liven up the record; the absence of these lays the ennui of the guitar chord bare. Remy Ma's verse has the feel of drinking a second can of energy drink despite the first not working and bizarrely so, since it's its first attempt at livening it up; it would sound a bit more lively if Ma added some bits of her own on top of JoJo's stuff. The fact that a record by someone born in the nineties (specifically, 20 December 1990) can sound this knackered is a shambolic state of affairs.
Kat Deluna has released Waves this week. It's a odd record; it doesn't really do anything wrong, but neither does it do much right. Slovenly, stale synths slither along reprehensibly; like FAB., the record's lack of drums rumbles the lack of life in the synths and the drops. Deluna's vocals try to lift the record, but it's helpless. A shame.
Hey Maria by Klangkarussell is a delectation of delicious noises and pulses; kicking off with relaxing synths and drums and diversifying into funky keys over which vocals are added (we have no idea whose they are, mind), the song is a delightful track which evokes the feeling of lying on a beach. Magnificent.
Leonard Cohen released You Want It Darker on 21 September 2016 to celebrate his 82nd birthday. (Doesn't mean to say I'm going any easier on it, mind.) The (admittedly sparse) instrumentation of an organ, drums and piano is a hypnotic affair boosted by a synagogue choir; in the thick of it, even Cohen's (now very gruff) vocals seem listenable. A beautiful track, and one all these young whippersnappers could do with learning from.
Margaret Berger – who you may have heard of if you're a Eurovision buff, since she represented Norway in 2013 – has released near-ballad Running With Scissors this week. It's about as Scandinavian as they come – super-sweet vocals, sugary synths and barely-there drums – but this isn't necessarily a good thing, since a great deal of these artists sound similar, with their songs even more so. All in all, this isn't bad, but I fear it may do better as a cover version, because at the moment it feels like X Factor winner fodder.
Not to be confused with those separately responsible for In the Bleak Midwinter (#71) and Dancin' Tonight with Stereopol (#36), Nevada has remixed Mark Morrison's Return of the Mack this week, and daubed Fetty Wap all over it. It's nice to hear a modernisation on which Morrison's vocals remain – Mann tried to remake it with a verse from Snoop Dogg and Iyaz (remember him?) on the choruses, and my ears were scarred for life. The original was a very funky track indeed with smashing synths, delicious drums and Morrison's booming vocals; the single version contained an irritatingly truncated third verse which the music video rectifies, though this reviewer favours the C&J Remix for its Vegas-like piano at the beginning and end. Nevada's version brings the track right up to date with summery, svelte synths and handclaps. It's a pleasant enough update, although it feels crowded with both Morrison's vocals and new vocals from Fetty Wap. If Wap must have his wicked way with the track, lengthen the third verse to four bars (he only really gets going on the third) and keep his cack to the choruses. All in all, a serviceable second, but it feels too condensed to feel like a proper hit.
Not content with ransacking the nineties, this week's releases have diversified into the early naughties: Nimmo has covered the 2001 #1 Rui da Silva ft. Cass Fox's Touch Me, later rerecorded by just Fox. The original contains a rerecorded sample of Chant No.1 (I Don't Need this Pressure On) by Spandau Ballet, but is an unenergetic trance-for-trance's-sake learner driver of a record that always feels like it's going to let rip but opts instead to drown the admittedly rather boilerplate vocals in ennui and even the much-slashed radio edit can't hold itself for the full three minutes. Fox's later version does away with the trance, replacing it with slower, more calculated drums and synths that again fail to properly peak, but admittedly beats the original hands down; this column accepts that it is in a minority with this view. The new Nimmo version, however, trumps the pair, because once the vocals have shut up this does actually rock out for a bit. It still isn't the greatest trance track ever recorded, but crucially, this is an improvement over the original.
Pixie Geldof – one of Bob's daughters – has come out with Sweet Thing this week, an orthodox country record. This reviewer considers country to be an acquired taste, but will do his best to review this neutrally. Kicking off with a sweet drum kick and diversifying into a menacing guitar strum and breathy vocals and eventually strings, the record is, well, a sweet thing. It won't set the world alight, but it is pleasant enough listening.
Robbie Williams pulled an Adele on Sunday; premiered a teaser of new material during an ad break in that day's X Factor. Specifically, the title track from his new album which arrives on 4 November 2016, Heavy Entertainment Show. It's a bipolar track; the verses are lightweight but tasty enough, but the choruses let rip with horns, drums and piano which (and I might get in trouble for saying this) I'm sure is the same chord progression as the one used in the Bee Gees' You Should Be Dancing, though I may be hearing things. My only criticism is that it feels too long; the fourth verse, complete with female vocals, is simply overkill. However, for fans longing for music from him, this should keep them happy until the album comes out.
Good god almighty. The Weeknd has released Starboy this week, allegedly featuring Daft Punk. If you had expectations upon hearing the phrase "Daft Punk", bin them – this record contains none of the effects previous records have contained, and instead comes out with the pathetic. I am almost certain that this would not have been released as a single without them despite the fact you'd be hard pressed to know that it contained them, and so I regard Daft Punk to be parasites. The Weeknd fans might well enjoy this, but Daft Punk fans won't think this fit for release.
During the week I received an email to the effect of "I'm fed up of reading your chart summaries in continuous prose, could you stick them in tables?". Delighted to oblige.
|New peak/previous peak||Floundering||Absent|
|Closer (Chainsmokers ft. Halsey, #1)
Say You Won't Let Go (James Arthur, #2)
My Way (Calvin Harris, #5)
In the Name of Love (Martin Garrix, #10)
Still Falling For You (Ellie Goulding, #12)
Hurts (Emeli Sandé, #22)
Ain't My Fault (Zara Larsson, #26)
Starving (Hailee Steinfeld ft. Grey & Zedd, #40)
Blow Your Mind (Mwah) (Dua Lipa, #46)
Cool Girl (Tove Lo, #48)
Meteorite (Years & Years, #72)
Cancer (Twenty One Pilots, #93)
|Cold Water (Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber & MØ, #4)|
The Greatest (Sia ft. Kendrick Lamar, #7)
You Don't Know Love (Olly Murs, #18)
Can't Stop the Feeling (Justin Timberlake, #29)
Ain't Giving Up (Craig David & Sigala, #42)
Perfect Illusion (Lady Gaga, #44)
Who Do You Think Of (M.O, #51)
Kids (OneRepublic, #69)
Mercy (Shawn Mendes, #74)
Waste a Moment (Kings of Leon, #82)
A-List (WSTRN, #85)
Cruel (Snakehips ft. Zayn, #87)
Don't Need No Money (Imani ft. Sigala & Blonde, #91)
|Déjà Vu (Post Malone ft. Justin Bieber)
Send Them Off! (Bastille)