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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, June 22, 2018

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

Florence + The Machine, Big God

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: FLORENCE + THE MACHINEBIG GOD: Florence + The Machine impress on two levels with new single Big God. Firstly, the song itself is another typically stylish record in its own right; a ghostly examination of becoming, well, ghosted, that tackles some very big themes (from life to Christ and the beyond). Lyrically, it speaks of the anguish of getting ghosted and is delivered, vocally, in persuasive and, yes, sometimes ghostly fashion. Florence Welch is a charismatic presence. Instrumentally, there’s plaintive piano mixed in with sparse beats, to create a heightened sense of atmosphere befitting the song’s themes. By the climax, though, the song has morphed into a horn-tinged ballad with elements of soul. It’s constantly evolving. Big God features Kamasi Washington, while Jamie xx is credited as a co-writer. The second way in which the song impresses is in its video, which dazzles. Choreographed by Akram Khan and Florence Welch, this is colourful, vibrant and even features the lead singer herself walking on water!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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PrettyMuch, Summer on You

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: PRETTYMUCHSUMMER ON YOU: Listening to Prettymuch’s new single Summer on You, you could easily be forgiven for mistaking this for the latest Ed Sheeran single. But that’s probably because the song was actually written by Sheeran… and thereby exhibits many of his signature traits (from easy catchiness to bittersweet sentiments). Summer On You is a laidback track featuring sunshine vibes and easygoing, summer-enhanced harmonies, that’s produced by the award-winning Steve Mac (Pink, Ed Sheeran, Demi Lovato). It’s got instantly accessible finger-click beats, laidback vocals that are rich in melodies, and a cute strum-along guitar riff. Lyrically, there’s talk of coastlines, champagne, being naked in the moonlight and being broke and in love. It’s a Sheeran song, given a boy band sheen by Prettymuch. But it’s one of those rare boy band kind of tunes that has the ability to become loved by anyone who hears it (no matter how cheesy it can be at times). It’s destined to become one of the anthems of the summer of 2018.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Gang of Four, Lucky

GANG OF FOURLUCKY YOU: Gang of Four have released the video for Lucky, the latest offering from the band’s latest Complicit EP. The video features Nova Twin’s Amy Love, who provides BVs on many of the tracks on the forthcoming album. As a record, Lucky offers a commentary that is political and metaphysical. Gill, from the band, commented: “Lucky is about how luck defines more than we imagine. You might think of the words from Macbeth concerning life being an hour upon the stage where the walking shadow struts and frets but can change nothing. A parallel idea is that luck may have as much impact on the course of a life than anything an individual does. As in Sartre’s ‘les jeux sont faits’, action, truth, morality will always play second fiddle to luck.” Lucky immediately identifies itself as a Gang of Four track with Gill’s serrated guitar, beneath frontman Gaoler’s alternately piteous and self-aggrandising protagonist, freighted by a taut groove from Thomas McNiece and Tobias Humble’s rhythm section. It’s a livewire offering, shot through with the intelligent lyricism that Gill’s description suggests, as well as that biting central riff and its insistent beats and electronic hooks. It’s fiercely compelling listening, with a video that also catches the eye.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Martina Topley-Bird

MARTINA TOPLEY-BIRDSOLITUDE: Martina Topley-Bird returns with Solitude, a candid statement in Martina’s trademark detached, strong yet fragile, sensual style. “You said you needed me, you said I promised, you being honest, depended on your mood, you took solitude for food,” she sings, as she explores themes of internal and external discord. Solitude is therefore designed to explore the journey through a troubled world and a reflection on human conflicts, the comfort and torment of solitude and the fragility of life’s balance. It’s thought-provoking, yet delivered in a soothing style thanks to Topley-Bird’s serene, almost whispered vocals. The accompanying beats and electronics are slightly more atmospheric, creating a slightly disorientating backdrop that highlights the confusion found in the lyrics (and reflected in the world view that Topley-Bird is depicting). That said, the beats also adhere to the trip-hop sound she’s also synonymous with. Recorded in Baltimore, where Martina has been based over the last four years, and created in conjunction with a new US-based team, the single is an introduction to her upcoming four-track EP titled MTB Continued.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Justice, D.A.N.C.E.

JUSTICE – D.A.N.C.E. X FIRE X SAFE AND SOUND: Justice have dropped the blistering – and rather lengthily named – D.A.N.C.E. x Fire x Safe and Sound from their forthcoming Woman Worldwide album, a new live studio recording of their 2016 album Woman along with stand-out tracks from their 10 year career. The album – now available for pre-order – is set for release on August 24, 2018, via Ed Banger Records / Because Music on all digital providers, along with gold embossed double CD and triple vinyl + 2CD editions. The new album was a result of Xavier and Gaspard adapting their new songs to be played on tour, and in the process discovering a new dimension of their live form. After one year of testing, performing, refining and recording them on the road, they went back to the studio in Paris to give them the polish and precision that live performance doesn’t always allow. D.A.N.C.E. [for short] is a thumping dance anthem, combining the type of electronics that Daft Punk would revel in with some pulse-pounding beats and warped female vocals. It’s alive with energy and enthusiasm, underlining why Justice are such a big act on the dance circuit right now. It’ll leave you breathless.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Fatherson

FATHERSONMAKING WAVES: Fatherson release new single Making Waves, which accompanies news of the band’s third album, Sum Of All Your Parts, which drops on September 14, 2018. The band have established themselves as a potent live force, having sold out Glasgow’s Barrowlands as well as London’s Scala on their previous run of dates. Together with blistering shows and a rabid fanbase Fatherson operate in a distinctly Scottish plane of sentimentally – it is no coincidence they have previously toured with the likes of Frightened Rabbit, Biffy Clyro and Idlewild. Making Waves is indicative of what to expect from the next Fatherson LP. According to Ross Leighton (guitar/vocals), the song “defined how the album would sound” as well as being a “heart on your sleeve slacker tune with a tonne of groove”. The single does mark a change of direction for the band – the rousing and anthemic choruses remain but there is a newfound edge best summed up in the stunning video that accompanies it. There’s power to match the emotion, as well as a grunge edge that also conjures memories of bands like Idlewild, Biffy Clyro and even Nirvana. It’s powerhouse, rousing stuff that bodes extremely well for the forthcoming long-player.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jax Jones, Ring Ring

JAX JONES feat RICH THE KIDRING RING: UK dance act Jax Jones has unveiled his new single Ring Ring, featuring rising star Mabel and ATL rapper Rich The Kid, out now via Polydor Records. The resulting offering is a slick mix of pop-infused beats, hip-hop streets smarts and chiming electronics that wouldn’t be out of place on the Ibiza circuit. It’s a disposably upbeat offering that is built around the central idea of people’s reliance on mobile technology (hence, the ‘ring ring’ lyrics and name). It’s lightweight stuff, but liable to make you want to get up and dance if you’re in the mood. A mid-track rap brings some US street smarts to proceedings, taking it into the type of territory [albeit briefly] you might associate with a Fast & Furious soundtrack. Talking about his collaboration this time around, Jax said: “I wanted to try and make something different to previous Jax Jones singles with Mabel, step away from the club and show more range, but something you can still have a little dance to. Mabel was a brilliant collaborator, she lives and breathes everything she sings about, so to be part of that process in the studio was exciting. And then getting Rich The Kid felt right, the second Transatlantic collaboration I’ve done after Demi, and one of the hottest rappers of the moment in the US.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Mamma Mia 2

CHER & ANDY GARCIAFERNANDO: If the original Mamma Mia! soundtrack was marked by hearing just how ‘bad’ the likes of Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth were at singing, then for the sequel the filmmakers have brought in some bigger guns. Hence, Cher has entered the fray as a relative of the principals and, as you’d expect from an actress-singer of her stature, she gets one of Abba’s biggest hits to sing. It goes without saying, she’s up to the task. Fernando has long been one of Abba’s most likeable tunes, thanks to the zip given to the instrumentals and the keen sense of melody in the chorus. Cher makes it her own. Accompanying her, albeit a little less successfully, is former Godfather III Oscar nominee Andy Garcia, whose distinctly gravelly voice sometimes struggles to match the breeziness of the pop melodies. But he’s very much a background player and, in this film’s case, another heavyweight actor being asked to sing a song that, just perhaps, is out of his range. Still, audiences look set to have more fun with this follow-up. The soundtrack will be released on Friday, July 13, 2018 with the film following a week later.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Pusha T

PUSHA T – IF YOU KNOW YOU KNOW: Pusha T drops If You Know You Know as the first single from new album Daytona, which aims to solidify Pusha’s status as one of the most iconic voices in rap. The single is a typically provocative listen, complete with similarly provocative video. Minimalist in terms of beat structure, this allows Pusha T’s distinct vocals to take centre stage, only occasionally dropping in some atmospheric [but still minimal] beats and electronics. In the main, though, this feels like a song that’s designed to try to highlight and right America’s wrongs, dropping incendiary lyrics about attitudes to colour, gender and hip-hop music itself. And yet, in spite of the messages behind it, the song is a hard-hitting hip-hop offering that boasts little in the way of crossover potential. It’s got a very urban sound that’s designed to appeal to Pusha T’s fans and not many more. Well, maybe followers of Kanye West, too, given that Daytona was produced entirely by Kanye West (and features guest verses from both West and Rick Ross). It’s arguably indicative of the harder and less appealing sound of modern US hip-hop. But for those that dig it, Pusha-T will also be headlining Kentish Town Forum this December 12.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Molly Hammar

MOLLY HAMMARBATHTUB MOMENTS: Swedish pop superstar Molly Hammar invites you to get intimate with new single Bathtub Moments, taken from her new EP Sex. The track is a sultry offering, in which she defiantly declares “don’t need a man” at several points, while also admitting “in the bathtub, doing what I do best” [the mind boggles!]. It’s designed to be an empowering R’n‘B/pop hybrid that showcases the breathless vocals of its leading lady, as well as her distinct R’n‘B style. And it succeeds in putting her on the map, thereby enabling her to breakout of her native Sweden and make a big splash on the global scene. Speaking about the accompanying EP, Molly said: “I’ve been listening to so many R’n‘B artists singing about sex in a very stereotypical way and thought it was about time that a woman got to tell her story and talk about sex from another perspective. I’m feeling powerful, I’m free and proud to be a woman, and I want the world to realise that it’s OK to talk about these things. Lead single, Bathtub Moments, is all about the fact that you don’t need anyone other than yourself to feel good.” Here, here! And it’s empowering, impressive stuff.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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