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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, April 6, 2018

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

Eels, Dry Bones

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: EELSBONE DRY: Eels come over all gothic with new single Bone Dry – but impress in a major way. A rock-driven slice of Eels-inspired songwriting, this is unmistakeably the work of the band despite sounding fresh as well. There’s a sense of melancholy (“what becomes of a man like me, drifting off to sea”) attached to the love-lorn lyrics, which tell the tale of a man attempting to be reunited with a lost love – and the torment that brings. There’s some snazzy guitar work at several points (not just the obligatory mid-track solo effort, which also rocks), as well as some “sha la la” harmonies to add to the sing-along value. And the pace is snappy, meaning that the track zips along and is full of life, contrary to those lyrics. The video, meanwhile, is a stunner. Directed by Sofia Astrom, it’s a stop-motion wonder that features a sad skeleton on a mission to reclaim his lost heart. Set in a misty cemetery, the film starts off with a bearded man as he finds his heart being ripped out by a mystery woman. He re-awakens as a skeleton to wander among the tombstones in search of his lost love. The track is the latest to emerge from the Eels’ latest album, The Deconstruction, which is out now.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Plan B, Grateful

PLAN B – GRATEFUL: Plan B has unveiled another new track, Grateful, taken from forthcoming album Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose, which is set for release on May 4 through Atlantic Records. A mix of soul-infused lyrics and moody beats, this contains elements of everything that has helped Plan B – aka Ben Drew – reach where he has today. It also shows just why he’s been able to achieve such crossover appeal. Gratitude therefore plays well to fans of soul, hip hop and pop, while combining the social with the personal. It starts by taking aim at a society who too often feels ungrateful for the things they have at their fingertips, before turning into a heartfelt love letter to his child and the joy that has resulted from fatherhood. Hence, the lyrics kick off with “What the hell have I got to be grateful for? Can’t be the money else I wouldn’t be trying to make no more. Can’t be the car or the house or the things I got. Can’t take that shit with me up to heaven…” Before he goes on to state: “Only one thing’s true, oh yeah, my life changed forever on the day that you were born, so it could only ever be, oh It could only ever be you.” It’s delivered with typical passion, urgency and style. And arriving in the wake of the similarly well received Guess Again, Plan B looks to have delivered another great album onto his CV.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDSSHE TAUGHT ME HOW TO FLY: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds have dropped the new single She Taught Me How to Fly – the third to be taken from the Number 1 album Who Built the Moon?. But it’s the lesser of the tracks to have been released so far. Owing more to Oasis than the David Holmes produced sound of former album tracks Fort Knox or It’s A Beautiful World, this has a distinctly indie-rock vibe. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, there’s not enough variation in the delivery to maintain the same kind of energy, excitement or – ultimately – interest as those former tracks. Gallagher’s vocals drift in and out without sounding particularly emphatic, while the guitars keep a steady momentum without ever really bursting to life (there’s even a lack of an electrifying solo). Hence, while catchy enough, it’s a song that drifts a little too easy from the memory, while threatening to outstay its welcome a little before it reaches its climax. The single is released on 12” vinyl, which is available to order now, and includes a limited edition picture disc via Noel’s official store. The vinyl features the album version of the track, with an instrumental rendition plus a remix of the single by legendary DJ and producer Justin Robertson.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Ben Howard

BEN HOWARDBOAT TO AN ISLAND ON THE WALL: A Boat To An Island On The Wall is the first new music that Ben Howard and his band have shared since the release of his number 1 charting second album, I Forget Where We Were, in October 2014. It welcomes in a new full length record, Noonday Dream, which is due for release on June 1. The track, clocking in at seven minutes, is a typically uncompromising, richly textured epic of an introduction to Ben’s next body of work. It’s also something of a patience test (in a good way). Early on, there’s a disconcerting electronic noise, which then ushers in a minimalist set of vocals. It’s then almost three minutes and 40 seconds before a back-beat kicks in and the song takes on a warmer feel. But even then, Howard’s vocals remain vaguely haunted and sometimes ethereal, evoking memories of classic Pink Floyd in the way they’re delivered. The instrumentals, meanwhile, become more and more layered, with the electronics augmented by stabs of guitar, those back-beats and a greater overall sense of urgency. It is the epitome of an epic slow-builder, albeit delivered in the thoughtful, intelligent and carefully composed style that Howard has now become synonymous with. As a calling card for what may possibly lie in store from the new album, this gets us suitably excited – so long as you’re patient enough to stick with it. But then Howard has never been one to overly rely on songs that deliver instant gratification. He’s a much more thoughtful songwriter than that.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lova, Insecurities

LOVAINSECURITIES: Insecurities, the new single from Sweden’s Lova, is a vibrant pop track born out of a destructive place. It follows the success of her debut single, the deliciously odd You Me and The Silence – a song that mixes organic, warm production with modern, idiosyncratic song-writing – the perfect introduction to the sort of young, outspoken female artist 2018 needs and deserves. On this occasion, the track bursts forth with slick beat arrangements, robust acoustic guitar licks and fizzing synth arrangements. It boasts a tremendous energy (the type of which is guaranteed to get your toes tapping), as well as a breeziness that belies some of the insecurities inherent in the lyrics. Says Lova: “I got so sick a while ago after I got out of a really bad relationship and I can look back at it now and see that I was so insecure. My biggest fear is not being good enough so when someone breaks up with you it’s confirmation that you aren’t good enough. But when you realise it and become aware of your insecurities and accept them it doesn’t make you weak.” LOVA (real name Lova Alvilde) is a 19-year-old singer-songwriter who’s been singing and playing piano her whole life, and has studied at Stockholm’s prestigious Rytmus Music School where alumni include Robyn, Tove Lo and Icona Pop. She wrote her first song at the age of seven and signed with Universal Music Sweden one year ago. Since then she has been in the studio writing and discovering her own sound. LOVA writes personal, vulnerable, social criticism from the perspective of a young woman.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Homesick, Gucci Gucci

THE HOMESICKGUCCI GUCCI: Quickly building a reputation as a cult underground act to watch, Dutch trio The Homesick have joined forces with Yala! Records (The Magic Gang, Yak, FEET) for the release of their new single Gucci Gucci. Often compared to some of the most influential artists from the post-punk era onwards, The Homesick defy easy categorisation. Gucci Gucci demonstrates their leftfield approach, as they contrast strident hooks and sweet melody with angular aggression and a confrontational attitude. It’s simultaneously anarchic and enticing – their fiercely independent spirit connecting with people at home and abroad. As a result, the track is capable of appealing to anyone from fans of early Strokes to classic Pixies, with a little Modest Mouse thrown in, courtesy of the cute guitar hooks and melodic tendencies. It’s the instrumentals that really work for them – and the band isn’t afraid to place them front and centre for long periods. The single comes as the band prepare for a UK tour that includes a headline show at The Shacklewell Arms as well as The Great Escape
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Mullally, Sweet Coffee

MULLALLY feat BASSETTESWEET COFFEE: Twenty one-year old soul vocalist Mullally unveils his new single Sweet Coffee, featuring a sublime vocal offering from London songstress Bassette. Produced by P2J (Stormzy, Lily Allen, Yungen) Sweet Coffee displays the rising stars organic and powerful vocal ability, positioning him as a true contender for 2018. Combining soft melodies and poignant harmonies, Mullally perfectly blends his inspirations from R&B, pop and soul, marrying them together to create a blissful all-encompassing sound. It’s got feel-good beats, a nice tempo and a really satisfying blend of boy-girl vocals that work well in tandem with each other. And while the idea of a song about sweet coffee may sound a little lightweight, there’s actually more to it than meets the eye, as Mullally explains: “Sweet Coffee, for me, is exploring all the avenues of the analogy of someone being your ‘Sweet Coffee’. How someone can wake you up and keep you awake and excited all day. It’s referencing the addiction of new love and needing to go back to the same person every morning, every day, so that your ‘sweet coffee’ can wake you up. It’s youthful, it’s happy; it’s about young new love.” It’s a really well produced package.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Magic Numbers, Ride Against The Wind

THE MAGIC NUMBERSRIDE AGAINST THE WIND: Mercury Prize nominated and multi-platinum selling London quartet The Magic Numbers have released their new single, Ride Against The Wind as the second track to be taken from their new album Outsiders, which is due out via Role Play Records on May 11, 2018. The new cut follows in the footsteps of the 6 Music-supported Sweet Divide and looks set to help reaffirm the band’s grittier, more robust sensibility. Hence, while not quite as gritty as Sweet Divide, the track nevertheless works well off a kick-ass back-beat and some edgy guitar licks. The vocals, though, are delivered in a much less edgy fashion, culminating in a chorus that feels warmer and more folksy than some of the accompanying guitar licks would suggest (particularly during the solo). The overall result is a song that, like so much of The Magic Numbers offerings, comes steeped in classic values, but which combines a warmth and accessibility that’s tailored to winning them even more fans. Heck, there’s even a brass element thrown in once or twice to augment the overall sound. It’s a breeze of a listen in so many ways.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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John Legend, Good Night

JOHN LEGEND feat BLOODPOP – A GOOD NIGHT: John Legend’s latest is an ode to the night he met his wife. But anyone anticipating a slushy slice of romance in the form of a ballad had best think again. This is a trademark slice of R’n‘B that’s infused with groovy guitar riffs, rumbling bass lines and sassy soul backing vocals. There’s a distinctly dancefloor groove to proceedings to, evocative of the type of atmosphere in which Legend met his beloved. While there’s also a celebratory vibe, too, in the sense that Legend is clearly celebrating a night that still means so much to him. To add to some already impressive production values, Legend has teamed up with Bloodpop, who has already worked with the likes of Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey and HAIM. Hence, their mix of slick beats and soulful vocals serve to ensure that this will provide the soundtrack to a good night for anyone who listens to it. So, just go with the flow and have your own good time. Who knows, it may help to provide some special memories of your own!!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Friendly Fires

FRIENDLY FIRESLOVE LIKE WAVES: Friendly Fires announce their comeback with a swift change in direction. Hitherto known for their indie dirge sounds, new single Love Like Waves feels decidedly more club-orientated with a huge pop sheen to add to the radio friendly appeal. Hence, there are large swathes of synth, falsetto style vocals over the feel-good chorus and club-focused beats that lend the track plenty of bounce. A mid-track electronic breakdown merely underlines the track’s club leanings, which could see it featuring prominently during the forthcoming summer clubbing scene. Vocally, it’s lively and upbeat, as if to underline the song’s celebration of love. It’s a track that finds Friendly Fires inviting people to put their troubles behind them and go with the flow of this particular anthem. Hell, you could even describe it as tropical!
Rating: 3 out of 5

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