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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, January 17, 2020

IndieLondon gleefully checks out the cream of the week’s singles

The 1975

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: THE 1975 – ME AND YOU TOGETHER SONG: After delving into some dark relationship exploration territory, as well as some political point making on behalf of the planet, The 1975 lighten up for their first new release of 20202, the jangly, indie-esque Me and You Together Song. And it arrives like a breath of fresh air to make their fans [and newcomers] swoon. An unashamedly romantic love song, this recalls a life-long affair that finds the singer gushing over the object of his affection, before declaring over the catchy chorus “I’ve been in love with her for ages”, before admitting – in slightly more 1975 style – “and I can’t seem to get it right”. But in equally inimitable fashion, there’s an everyday honesty in lyrics that also declare “I had a dream where we had kids. You would cook, I’d do the nappies, we went to winter wonderland [who hasn’t?] and it was shit but we were happy”. It’s a happy-go-lucky offering, shot through with delectable indie guitar hooks and a chorus that just occasionally channels classic Stone Roses. It’s destined to become a big, big hit for them.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ama Lou

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: AMA LOU – WE TRIED, WE TRIED: We tried, we tried, the new single from Ama Lou, is a song about the breakdown of a relationship. The song itself drops a sassy soul-meets R’n‘b vibe around spliced beats and edgy synths to create something edgy, yet soulful. It’s got a Beyonce vibe, at times, as well as a lyrical honesty that takes a searingly honest look at what went wrong in a relationship. The accompanying video is told through the lifelong marriage of a frustrated husband and wife both played by Ama Lou. Following the couple over the course of one particularly hectic night in their mundane lives, the actions on screen directly emulate the lyrics as we watch the couple get increasingly frustrated with each other. We see the intricacies of their relationship and mutual feelings towards each other through a comical lens. “I just wanted to show a different kind of narrative, the song is about the breakdown of a relationship and I wanted it to visually represent something different. Plus, I couldn’t wait to wear prosthetics… ha ha! It’s super wacky and I knew it definitely wouldn’t be expected.” The video offers an eye-catching companion piece to an ear-catching record.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Night Flight

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: NIGHT FLIGHTDAVID: London-based band Night Flight have released a new video for their recently-released, beguiling single David. Directed and choreographed by renowned director Elizabeth Arifien, the video features two dancers as they interpret the feelings and emotions portrayed within David. “Dance is used to tell the story of a couple going through the ups and downs of a break up,” Arifien explains. “Through the cathartic journey the dance complements the song by expressing the subtext of Sam’s lyricism and the underpinning emotion. As with a lot of break ups, what hasn’t been said or could have been said can be the most profound.” The video is as thoughtful and eye-catching as the single itself… a slow-burner driven by quiet acoustic licks, brooding vocals and a keen sense of longing. If you’re a fan of bands like Travis, Snow Patrol or Bear’s Den, then this could just as easily tick your box. The complexity of the emotions at play is particularly impressive, while the keen sense of longing inherent in the lyrics is nicely offset by the easy melodicism that accompanies the instrumentals. A late electric guitar solo also adds an element of exhilaration.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Moby, Power Is Taken

MOBY feat DH PELIGROPOWER IS TAKEN: Moby is set to return with his 16th studio album, All Visible Objects, and promises to donate all proceeds to a range of charities and organizations dedicated to a more sustainable future for all living creatures on Earth. But while those eco-friendly sentiments may have led fans to suspect the accompanying album might be similarly warm and mellow, the producer has opted for something more pumped up and angry. Hence, we’re promised a dance-heavy focus that’s born out by lead single Power Is Taken, an aggressive dancefloor piledriver that sounds angry. A call to arms about how power is being taken, this is driven by alarm-style, echoed siren synths, a driving beat and aggressive chants from its guest vocalists. It’s a statement of intent, for sure, that recalls some of his early, dance-driven material minus the ambience (although there’s said to be traces of it on the rest of the LP). It’s a potent offering.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Alec Benjamin, Demons

ALEC BENJAMINDEMONS: Having recently surpassed a landmark 1.5 billion streams across the globe, acclaimed US singer-songwriter Alec Benjamin is back with new single, Demons – the first to be released from his highly-anticipated debut album, which releases later this Spring. Billed as a tender, introspective new cut, this finds the singer examining his inner turmoil while projecting an outer strength. But it’s a timely offering that taps into the very real spotlight that is deservedly being placed on mental health at the moment – with few people being able to tell what’s really going on inside another person. Far from being depressing or overly serious, however, Benjamin has wrapped the thought-provoking, insightful lyrics around some easygoing melodies, some pleasing pop hooks and delivered a genuinely catchy chorus. The result is highly appealing. Recently announced as the official support for Lewis Capaldi’s upcoming UK Tour, Alec will also make his Coachella debut in April, ensuring that 2020 picks up exactly where 2019 left off. As well as the unprecedented global success of breakout single Let Me Down Slowly (ft. Alessia Cara) – his first UK Top 40 and Gold-certified record – Alec captivated UK audiences with his emotional and hyper-relatable songwriting all year-long, selling out memorable London shows at both Shepherd’s Bush Empire and Electric Ballroom.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Liimo, Thinking About It

LIIMOTHINKING ABOUT IT: Edinburgh natives Liimo kick off the New Year with the release of their new single Thinking About It, a pop-leaning easy listener that demonstrates their knack for delivering a killer hook. If anything, there’s something that’s both retro and contemporary about it, combining elements of classic ’80s pop acts such as Go West with something more Chainsmokers-orientated (synth-wise). Hence, there’s equal parts cheesy elements and feel-good vibes. Speaking about the new single, Liimo’s frontman Kieran explained: “There are moments when living in a big city can be quite isolating and it can feel like you’d rather be anywhere else. That’s where Thinking About It comes from to be honest… those times when it feels as though the lights don’t shine as bright anymore and you’re tempted to pick up and leave, to find a little slice of paradise someplace new.” Hence, for all the pop elements, there’s something serious too, lending the overall feeling something of a bittersweet vibe.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Peter, Bjorn & John, On The Brink

PETER BJORN AND JOHN – ON THE BRINK: Sweden’s favourite indie-pop trio Peter Bjorn and John follow up the release of their cautiously optimistic and utterly catch new single On The Brink with the release of the song’s video, directed by Henry Moore Sedler. Speaking about the video, Peter said: “I used to be a scout as a kid. I was a very unpractical kid though and still am. Hopefully, I was a decent friend which is part of the scout honor. I never nurtured any dreams of becoming a scout leader but still felt quite comfortable when Henry the director assigned me the role for this group of new videos where different stories intertwine in the ‘great indoors’ built up in a warehouse. If there is a song on the Endless Dream album that suits marching and campfire singing its definitively On The Brink. So, how fitting that this is the video where me and my little group of scouts are the main focus. It’s a condensed fantasy day where I lead them out on an excursion and back to the camp site for a simple hot dog supper. Lovely stuff! Thanks to the kids for being such great sports not least the little drummer boy! The title and spirit of the song, the artwork of the upcoming album and these small vignettes and adventures in the videos all correlate perfectly I have to say. Sometimes you luck out don’t you! You almost think we had some sort of conceptual notion.” The video provides a lovely accompaniment to a catchy folk-pop song that embodies all of the elements we’ve come admire about Peter, Bjorn and John… not to mention a style that evokes comparisons with both the likes of classic Beatles and more contemporary Andy Burrows. It’s a real grower of a record, with some delightful guitar licks to further help it stand out.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Birds of Prey LP

CHARLOTTE LAWRENCEJOKE’S ON YOU: A week after Megan Thee Stallion and Normani’s collaboration, Diamonds, was dropped from the soundtrack to the forthcoming Warner Bros/DC movie Birds of Prey (featuring the return of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn), Charlotte Lawrence delivers another offering from it. And while the former track was as badass and sassy as the character itself, this offers something decidedly more classy and ballad-esque. Indeed, there’s something positively cinematic about this one, featuring sultry powerhouse vocals, playful percussion and some piano arrangements that could just as easily form the backdrop to a James Bond title offering. A break-up offering of sorts (which finds the singer “laughing through my tears”), this nevertheless subverts the melancholy expectation surrounding it by boldly declaring that the joke is on you. The ex in question obviously being The Joker, with whom Quinn has recently split. It’s a sultry, formidable offering that oozes confidence in spite of the vulnerable undertow.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kaleo, I Want More

KALEO – I WANT MORE: Elektra/Atlantic recording artists Kaleo have released two new songs in the form of I Want More and Break My Baby – written solely by frontman, lead singer and songwriter JJ Julius Son. The former is a sun-dappled and carefree slow-burner, which finds Julius Son’s faint whistles luring listeners in before building to the chorus’ billowing sonic wave of strings. The husky vocals add a Pearl Jam-style kind of intensity, which is nicely offset by the intricate and warm guitar licks, that subtle background whistle and the sense of longing and anticipation that’s to be found in the “I want more” rallying cry of a chorus. It’s a thoughtful but inspiring return… the first new music since their 2016 breakout global success, A/B, which spawned three hit singles for the Icelandic rock band. “The songs cry out for a certain sound and then I have to go and serve the song,” Julius Son shares, in closing, of spending the last few years writing, recording and working. “It was really special to create this music while traveling the world — a studio in Greece, string players in Los Angeles at Capitol Studios, sessions at Aeronaut Studios in Reykjavik, Iceland and countless hours in Nashville across Sound Emporium, Blackbird, Ocean Way and RCA’s Historic Studio A. Each session further enriching the sound and bringing their own unique elements to the surface.” He pauses: “All that to say, I simply hope what we’ve created makes you feel something… if so, then that’s amazing.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kaleo, I Want More

KALEOBREAK MY BABY: The second new song from Kaleo is the bluesy Break My Baby, which finds the hooks and riffs propelling his voice from a growl to a souring falsetto. A change of pace from I Want More, this offers a grittier, darker quality that neatly offsets the sound of the former. There’s echoed vocal harmonies to usher the song in, brooding guitar hooks, a more plugged in, grittier sound and firmer beats. It’s a song about being broken that’s delivered in typically earthy style by Julius Son and evidence of a very eclectic sound approaching the new material. The variety of sounds and imagery found in both lead singles comes naturally, says Julius Son. “I think that’s just me growing up as a musician and as a listener. I would get so bored if I had to do the same thing or have to be boxed in and told what to do,” he adds of the evolution of Kaleo’s sound (Kaleo means ‘the voice’ in Hawaiian). “Artistically, there’s too many colours to just paint in black and white. So, that’s just my creative process. I didn’t know that I could sing falsetto until I wrote All The Pretty Girls, and I didn’t really whistle until I wrote Automobile.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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