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Ah, now this is more like it. I write this week suffering from severe sleep deprivation; I don't know how I've done it, but three nights out of the last seven I've managed to work all the way through the night without realising it, and just slept a little longer the next night. If there's no issue next week, I'm in hospital from clinical exhaustion, which would be ironic, given that Dad's just returned home from hospital.

Diamonds (Afrojack ft. Jay Karama)

Oooh, I don't like Afrojack's new collaboration Diamonds with Jay Karama. It attempts a hard house atmosphere, but there's too much going on to chip away at this from the shrieked drops to the I would suggest gratuitously crude verses while the slowed down vocals just sound out of place as sand in the Arctic. Bloody awful.

Thinking 'Bout You (Dua Lipa)

Dua Lipa again! Not that I'm complaining. She's come out with Thinking 'Bout You this week, the studio version of a song she first recorded for a Spotify session released 8th July 2016 (our second week of service). The original is just her on a bluesy guitar, and being stripped right the way back is perfect for showcasing the uniquely luminous lustre of Lipa's vocals, while the studio version pops it up very slightly, losing some of the coarseness of the original and replacing it with a drum track from the second verse; though it doesn't sound as raw as its live predecessor, it is still a perfectly enjoyable listen. More please!

One thing to correct; when we reviewed Thinking About You by Hardwell ft. Jay Sean in issue 16, we failed to notice that Frank Ocean had charted with Thinkin Bout You. We have rectified this error.

Castle on the Hill (Ed Sheeran); Shape of You (Ed Sheeran)

You know you've made it when your local police force are telling your fans to ignore your lyrics. Ed Sheeran's the musical equivalent of a bus; you wait ages for a new release, and he chucks out two in quick succession, Castle on the Hill and Shape of You. Castle on the Hill is Springsteen-style drivetime rock on the subject of Framlingham Castle in Sheeran's hometown in Suffolk which Sheeran's at times crackly vocals compliment like salt and pepper; after Suffolk Police caught wind of his lyrics, they tweeted him a safety warning over the lyrics "driving at 90" and "can't wait to get home", while Shape of You proves Sheeran hasn't completely disowned his alma mater of high quality near-acoustic tracks; the bhangra-style bassline through the second and third choruses is a warming touch and the gentle undulation of the woodwind over the first half of the record is simply heavenly. Its lyrics are at times licentious, though that's probably because he wrote it for Rihanna. I reckon it won't be case of "will one of these two top the charts", I say it'll be a case of "which one tops the charts".

Dearly Beloved (Kiesza)

Who says nothing good ever came out of someone dying? When Kiesza's best friend died, she inherited her old electric guitar and has since been playing the hell out of it. The result is funky-fresh from its time machine visit to 1977, and it's called Dearly Beloved. If we had one complaint, it's that everything on the record sounds a bit constrained, a bit too tight-knit, and I'd like to see Kiesza and her lot really rock out. As it stands however, it is still a glorious comeback, and we look forward to hearing more.

Rooting For You (London Grammar)

London Grammar are a niche band at the best of times, but this is a particularly interesting record. They released two versions on the 1st of January, the standard apparenly "radio friendly" version for Spotify etcetera – this is nearly four and a half minutes of boring synths which the vocalist does admittedly suit quite well but there's nothing which clicks for me – and a live version for YouTube, which is two minutes of acapella and two and a half minutes of music (but enough about Mastermind's makeover) and in that two and a half minutes an orchestra kicks in and some light but assorted instrumentation gathers round the vocals like a sort of stopgap shrine, it's a delight to listen to. Why didn't they release that version instead? Grrr!

Hard Liquor (Sohn)

Crikey O'Reilly, Sohn's new record Hard Liquor – released 4th January 2017 – sounds like a bad acid trip! Jerky binaural drum shudders alternate with breathness, mono grunts to produce surely one of the most disorientating records I've ever heard – the best release from him I've ever reviewed, I might add, but certainly one of the most disorientating records ever; in comparison to the musical mania, Sohn's vocals make as much sense as David Attenborough on Planet Earth. A rich treat.

Don't Leave (Snakehips ft.)

Words cannot express how simple yet brilliant this record is, but we'll try. Snakehips' collaboration with MØ, Don't Leave, is a gorgeous, borderline pornographic record where a woman with mental health problems begs a boyfriend to stay over a minimal, city slickers hum which keeps out of its way and only really chimes in to celebrate the reunion of the pair. Simple! Yet brilliant.

Speakerbox (Wiley ft. Skepta)

I'm surprised there was never a Robbie Williams hit with that name, though perhaps I'm thinking of Rudebox. Speakerbox is Wiley's newest, with spoken words courtesy of Skepta beginning and ending the record; the filling is perhaps more grandiose than Wiley's usual stuff, but it's nonetheless an enjoyable listen. That said, however, the spoken words aren't as interesting when you listen to them on again, and perhaps it might be worth releasing a version without those in the same way that Years & Years' Both Sides Now (issue 24) provided a second version without the intro, or bunging some music over his words or giving him a verse. Otherwise roll on the album.

Say Something Loving (The xx)

These xx people do like doing funny things to old records don't they? In issue 20 it was Hall & Oates' I Can't Go For That, and on 2nd January 2017 it was a perfunctory four words from Alessi Brothers' Do You Feel It. The rest of the record isn't bad actually, it's got a spaced out sound to it and the interplay between male and female vocals is quite enjoyable. I do think however that if you're going to sample, sample properly because most publishing companies charge a packet in royalties and you might as well get your money's worth.


In this week's top six, there is just one record we haven't yet reviewed, Sexual by Neiked, and it is genuinely infuriating. It's a record with genuine warmth, genuine funk, genuine care, even the lyrics are meticulously put together. The guitar solos at the end of the second and third choruses add a superb touch. However, the vocalist Dyo, otherwise known as Ms D from Wiley's later hits, sounds like she's struggling with a sore throat, and hearing such a rigorous record ruined by wilfully inappropriate vocals is enough to make me want to chuck myself off a bridge. Aaaaaaaaaaaargh!

    1. Rockabye
      (Clean Bandit ft. Anne-Marie & Sean Paul)
    1. Human
      (Rag'n'Bone Man)
    1. I Would Like
      (Zara Larsson)
    1. Touch
      (Little Mix)
    1. Starboy
      (Weeknd ft. Daft Punk)
    1. Sexual
      (Neiked ft. Dyo)
    1. 24K Magic
      (Bruno Mars)
    1. Say You Won't Let Go
      (James Arthur)
    1. Shout Out to My Ex
      (Little Mix)
    1. Closer
      (Chainsmokers ft. Halsey)
    1. Don't Wanna Know
      (Maroon 5 ft. Kendrick Lamar)
    1. I Feel It Coming
      (Weeknd ft. Daft Punk)
    1. So Good
      (Louisa Johnson)
    1. Love Me Now
      (John Legend)
    1. Starving
      (Hailee Steinfeld ft. Grey & Zedd)
    1. By Your Side
      (Jonas Blue ft. Raye)
    1. Can't Stop the Feeling
      (Justin Timberlake)
    1. Love My Life
      (Robbie Williams)
    1. I Don't Wanna Live Forever
      (Zayn & Taylor Swift)
    1. The Mack
      (Nevada ft. Mark Morrison & Fetty Wap)
    1. All Night
      (Vamps ft. Matoma)
    1. Mercy
      (Shawn Mendes)
    1. Let Me Love You
      (DJ Snake ft. Justin Bieber)
    1. After the Afterparty
      (Charli XCX ft. Lil Yachty)
    1. You Don't Know Me
      (Jax Jones & Raye)
    1. Cold Water
      (Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber & MØ)
    1. The Greatest
      (Sia ft. Kendrick Lamar)
    1. My Way
      (Calvin Harris)
    1. Love On Me
      (Galantis & Hook N Sling)
    1. Don't Let Me Down
      (Chainsmokers ft. Daya)
    1. No Lie
      (Sean Paul ft. Dua Lipa)
    1. In the Name of Love
      (Martin Garrix)
    1. Now and Later
      (Sage the Gemini)
    1. Bad Things
      (Machine Gun Kelly ft. Camila Cabello)
    1. Find Me
      (Sigma ft. Birdy)
    1. Ain't My Fault
      (Zara Larsson)
    1. All We Know
      (Chainsmokers ft. Phoebe Ryan)
    1. Still Falling For You
      (Ellie Goulding)
    1. Million Reasons
      (Lady Gaga)
    1. Redbone
      (Childish Gambino)
    1. Party Monster
    1. You Don't Know Love
      (Olly Murs)
    1. Should've Been Me
      (Naughty Boy ft. Kyla & Popcaan)
    1. None whatsoever, because most of the Christmas records (i.e. all except When Christmas Comes Around) have been purged from the charts, and this week's chart contains 37 re-entries.

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