Well, today is truly a great day for a new releases – there were so many more songs I wanted to write about, but time is of the essence and I’m already running late. It’s a whole thing, honestly, I won’t bore you it’s just that time zones are the worst, aren’t they? I’ve been up since half 3, I still need to wrap a mattress and I have so much house move stuff to be getting on with… I’m tired and vexed. Anyways. Yeah, there’s just so much new music out today! Q4 is absolutely slamming along. Are the songs good? Remains to be seen. Or heard, I guess. I’ve got good feelings about them though. Listen to this week’s selects HERE and I pray for a shining, wholesome weekend and solid 8 hour sleeps for you all. Happy Friday, kids!
BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT & ANA MATRONIC – ‘I ONLY WANT TO PLEASE YOU’ ☑️
A massive 80s dance tune – like, honestly massive – I find it so difficult to understand why mainstream success evades Bright Light Bright Light. Obviously there isn’t much of a Radio 1 audience for this kind of music, but when it bangs this hard you have to wonder why exactly? Give me shimmery disco all day long! The Scissor Sisters hiatus has been a long and difficult struggle, but BLBL consistently finding ways to put Ana Matronic on my iPod has made the the burden lighter and they make a great duo. Jake Shears, who?
CRAIG DAVID – ‘HEARTLINE’
It’s weird, having been such a Craig David fan the first time around, that his comeback has left me absolutely cold. This is another miss for me – one of the best vocal talents this country has on such a cheap, generic dance beat? It’s a tragedy.
DOLLY PARTON – ‘I BELIEVE IN YOU’
I didn’t realise this was for a kids album until it opened with a literal “choo-choo” sound and now I almost regret wasting precious minutes on it… almost! It’s actually super cute and inspiring, and maybe just because I’ve been so tired and weepy and burned out this week, but I kinda needed to hear this song this morning? Dolly Parton believes in me and I can do anything. You can too! If I had children I would absolutely buy them this record. (It’s not going on the main playlist though, Christ).
GUCCI MANE – ‘CURVE’ ft. THE WEEKND
Another featured artist on this track and I wouldn’t have bothered listening, but The Weeknd’s vocal is always good for lifting something average to something listenable and that’s what is happening on ‘Curve’. A thrumming Nav beat, a Gucci verse about groupies putting work in and a smooth af chorus from Abel… I kinda don’t wanna like this, but I just know I’m gonna keep playing it? It’s already stuck in my head, big time.
JESSIE J – ‘THINK ABOUT THAT’
If you haven’t yet, you MUST watch Jessie J’s answer to Lemonade (Tap Water) because it’s the most self-indulgent, unsophisticated, lacking in awareness piece of art released this year – including that Kendall Jenner ad for Pepsi. And now we come to the first single from this new Jessie, in a new era. What is there to say? The production is minimal, and her voice is mercifully restrained but people don’t want this kind of music from people who have made it their sound from day one, never mind from the woman who brought us ‘Bang Bang’. I’m sure she thinks this is powerful in the same way ‘Prayer’ was for Kesha. It’s not. It’s boring.
JP COOPER – ‘MOMMA’S PRAYERS’ ft. STORMZY ☑️
I’ve always liked JP Cooper’s voice but I never ever check for him because the songs are just not my vibe at all, so it’s only the Stormzy feature that has me perched today. He puts in some contemplative, and at times accusatory verses and even has a little sing song – I love soft Stormzy!!! – and the result is a very pretty, uplifting hymn of a song. By the time the choir comes in during the final 90 seconds, led by JP who sounds positively angelic, you end up feeling closer to heaven whether you believe in it or not.
LABRINTH – ‘MISBEHAVING’
It’s been three years since Lab’s last single and five since his debut album, and despite being one of the most gifted musician/producers in the country, it’s been a difficult period for Labrinth. ‘Misbehaving’ has all his hallmarks – soulful, jazzy but shot through with electricity – and is featured on the Apple Watch commercial so may very well pop off, but I do worry about Lab. I can’t quite get a read on whether anyone still cares about him or not. I’m also firmly of the opinion we need another Labrinth/Tinie Tempah golden era to revive both their fortunes. Give us another ‘Frisky’, lads!
LORDE – ‘HOMEMADE DYNAMITE’ REMIX ft. KHALID, POST MALONE & SZA ☑️
Listen I don’t care about Post Malone, but I care very extremely super supremely a lot about Khalid and SZA, so Lorde inviting them on to this remix is honestly the most excellent thing any artist has done this year. Lorde hasn’t really had a proper hit off Melodrama yet, and I’m not sure this will do it either, despite gorgeous vocal turns from her guests. For fans of precocious talents, stunning voices and brand new verses to an already decent track however, this is special.
MUNA – ‘IN MY WAY’ ☑️
MUNA have slyly become one of my favourite bands of the year. Not even slyly, to be honest, brazenly, with an incredible live show a few months back. I can’t wait to see them supporting Harry Styles and then at their own headline show next month. Their latest track is more pop than anything they’ve put out previously, the chorus is full and dreamy and with different production I could be reminded of a Texas song maybe. Absolutely in love with how big and anthemic this sounds. HAIM found rotting.
NAO – ‘NOSTALGIA’ ☑️
Oh, I don’t know what I was expecting when I pressed play on this NAO track but it wasn’t this funky little number! (though NAO consistently delivers up really great tunes to be fair, so maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised after all). ‘Nostalgia’ really is a throwback, a kind of Paula Abdul/early Janet Jackson R&B number and I fuck with it. An album of this will do me nicely, thanks.
NIALL HORAN – ‘TOO MUCH TO ASK’
This song is not better than Niall Horan’s ‘Slow Hands’. I will say though, that I saw Niall live a few weeks back and he was pleasantly surprising! The album is part ‘Slow Hands’-esque pop tunes and the other part this more acoustic singer/songwriter stuff and while nothing on there is as good as the best song of the year, I’m quietly looking forward to it.
NICK JONAS – ‘FIND YOU’ ☑️
Is Nick Jonas over? He feels over. ‘Find You’, ironically, sounds like it could sit quite comfortably alongside the new Jonas Brothers material we never got because he decided he wanted to be an R&B singer instead. It sits right in the space between the single ‘First Time’ and ‘Found’ from the special fanclub live album they released post split and is a much more natural style for him, but I just don’t see this setting the charts alight. That said, I really love it – as I loved both those JoBro tracks – and I hope this is more the direction he’ll head down in the future. He really should have sacrificed Kevin to get ‘Slow Hands’…
REX ORANGE COUNTY – ‘EDITION’ ☑️
Someone else I saw live very recently (this week recently), and just hear me when I say there’s something special about Rex OC. He has that presence, that aura of star quality… the crowd were in the palm of his hand, and I feel like I really witnessed the start of something. As for this song, it’s short and sweet, but like most Rex OC songs, distills a feeling into a short, intense fragment. In this incident, that feeling is the exhaustion of fighting with someone you love. The lyrics are super narrative and specific, but they feel universal. It’s a gift to write like that and I can’t wait to just get more and more from this artist.
SLØTFACE – ‘TRY’ ☑️
My good friend Hoops recommended this band to me a week ago and I never got round to listening to anything, but since this is on the NMF playlist this week I don’t have an excuse not to try it out. A “band band” from Norway with a female vocalist who sound like they’d soundtrack a 90s teen movie (per Hoopsy’s description) I’m pretty much already sold on them without hearing a single note, but ‘Try’ is a bouncing, surf-y summer bop I wish I’d had during our brief heatwave. Will sound great when I’m in the heat of Barbados in 2 months time though. Don’t be jel.
SOFI TUKKER – ‘BEST FRIEND’ ft. NERVO, THE KNOCKS & ALISA UENO ☑️
This song was a last minute edition to the reviews this week, (thanks to a request from Nick!) and I’m instantly struck by how much the verses remind me of a little known and long forgotten track by Antigone called ‘Funky Dancers’. Another Apple advert track, this time for the extremely expensive iPhone X, the news tells me “everyone is talking about this song!” but I haven’t seen anyone talking about it at all. Anyways, hype (or not) aside, this is a tune. Can’t go wrong with a chant-y chorus, can you?
TONI BRAXTON – ‘DEADWOOD’
A masterful vocal performance as always – I love Toni’s unique tone – but I’m not keen on the prominent acoustic guitar. It’s a bit too James Morrison meets Emeli Sandé for me, personally. I need another ‘He Wasn’t Man Enough’ from Toni, quite frankly. I’m craving that kind of savagery in my life.
TOVE STYRKE – ‘MISTAKES’ ☑️
Oh yes, friends, what a fucking song. There’s so much going on here it’s gonna take a couple listens to break down all the layers – the “rewind” sound, the juddering drums, massive handclaps, whirring, bloops, so much more! – but what it all amounts to is one of the most exciting, brilliant pop songs of the year. It’s fresh and bombastic and interesting and the perfect antidote to Julia Michaels bore-pop. Tove Styrke is two for two on fucking amazing bops this year, I cannot wait for the album.