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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, August 30, 2019

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

Cigarettes After Sex

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: CIGARETTES AFTER SEXHEAVENLY: Cigarettes After Sex will return with their anticipated second album Cry on October 25, via Partisan Records. Recorded during night time sessions in a mansion on the Spanish island of Mallorca, the album is a lush, cinematic meditation on the many complex facets of love – meeting, wanting, needing, losing… sometimes all at once. As a taster, the band have released the majestic Heavenly. The track employs the same minimalist pop style of their former work, yet is heart-meltingly beautiful and slightly melancholy at the same time. The lyrics include lines such as “needing you now to come into me, feeling it slow, over this dream, touch me with a kiss, feel me on your lips”, before declaring: “I’m giving you all my love.” The instrumentals, meanwhile, are impossibly, deliciously laidback and mellow, allowing you to meditate on the themes behind the track and invest emotionally in the beauty of its sentiments, as and where they can be applied to you (as a father, son, daughter, mother or lover). It’s an intoxicating offering that further indicates the brilliance of Cigarettes After Sex and their brand of songwriting. If the rest of the album is even half as good, then we’re in for another treat.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Cold War Kids, Complainer

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: COLD WAR KIDSCOMPLAINER (STRINGS & KEYS): Cold War Kids have released Complainer (Strings & Keys), a powerful acoustic version of their acclaimed latest single of the same name. Produced by Lars Stalfors (St. Vincent, HEALTH, Foster the People), Complainer marks Cold War Kids’s first co-write with multi-platinum songwriter Bonnie McKee (Katy Perry, Rita Ora) and Electric Guest’s Asa Taccone. The track is a call to transcend and do something constructive rather than dwell on all the things that might drag us down; its message inspired vocalist Nathan Willett throughout the recording process. Lyrics include “you say you want to change this world…but you can only change yourself, don’t sit around and complain about it”. In original form, the song was potent enough. But the strings and keys version really brings out the lyrics, as well as the sense of yearning for change in Willett’s vocals. The strings add a cinematic majesty, too, and really mark the track out as different from its original form. As such, it’s another must have for fans of the band, as well as newcomers.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bombay Bicycle Club

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUBEAT, SLEEP, WAKE (NOTHING BUT YOU): “We’re so excited to be sharing new music after five years away,” announce Bombay Bicycle Club, as they unveil their new single Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing But You). “Recording it earlier this year reminded us all of the joy of working together on something we love. Hopefully, you all like it as much as we do.” Like it? We love it. Employing some signature elements (thoughtful lyrics, buzzing instrumentals, beautiful layering), this zips along in effortlessly enjoyable fashion, and immediately puts a smile on your face. Frontman Jack Steadman may drop a somewhat quivering voice but the instrumentals are as lively as ever… slick beats, Cure-esque guitar riffs at times, and a real sense of vibrancy that embraces their feelings of joy about coming back (and enjoyment in recording it). And while the title of the song implies an infatuation, the lyrics actually unveil themselves to be about disconnecting. It’s a beautiful paradox in so many ways. But the song continually delights and looks set to go down as another anthem for them – one to be celebrated whenever it’s delivered in live form.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Liam Gallagher, One Of Us

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: LIAM GALLAGHERONE OF US: It’s 10 years since Oasis split following a cancelled show in Paris. Liam Gallagher’s current single One Of Us looks at the impact that their break-up has had in a song which explores issues of family, belonging and potential reconciliation. Now Liam delves further into those themes with the track’s official video, which was written by Steve Knight and directed by Anthony Byrne – the latest project from the duo following the launch of the fifth season of Peaky Blinders. Shot in a striking, stark monochrome One Of Us: The Ballad of the Blue Eyed Boy finds Liam in contemplative mood as he looks back on a variety of photographs of the Gallagher family in happier times. The song’s poignant qualities are heightened by the video’s evocative symbolism, with the power of three being a recurring visual motif. “It was a pleasure for me to venture into this new world of music video,” says Knight. “No matter what the form, storytelling is storytelling and I really responded to the story Liam wanted to tell. It has become a creatively fruitful collaboration.” The video is as stylish and – indeed – poignant as the themes suggest, with Liam looking genuinely melancholy as he reflects on the past and how times have changed. Knight and Byrne, for their part, also imbue the video with some Peaky Blinders qualities – namely, the moody moor that the action takes place on. As for the song itself, One Of Us could be Gallagher’s finest hour as a solo artist. His distinct vocals soar and retain an element of hope for the future, the guitars mix brilliantly with the drums and strings and the inclusion of those gospel tinged backing vocals late on brings the song to a really, really nice – even epic – close. It’s assured, mature, cinematic even, and deserving of a video of its quality.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Post Malone, Circles

POST MALONECIRCLES: Post Malone may have swapped up some of his more gritty, rap-infused style for a softer, acoustic-based style of ‘pop’ but the darkness remains in the lyrics of new track Circles, which precedes the release of his forthcoming album, Hollywood’s Bleeding, due out on September 6. A pensive look at a failed relationship in which Malone is fully prepared to take the blame, this is a lament for a lost love that is screaming with the pain of failure and loss. And yet, the two lovers in question continue to torment themselves in the hope of change. As Malone sings: “Seasons change and our love went cold, feed the flame ’cause we can’t let go… run away, but we’re running in circles, run away, run away, I dare you to do something, I’m waiting on you again, so I don’t take the blame”. It’s an honest offering, showcasing a sensitive side to Malone that translates well to the more mainstream listener. It’s evidence of his growing ability to mix styles and genres and appeal to a much, much wider fanbase. Malone’s third album, Hollywood’s Bleeding, is the follow-up to last year’s No.1 charting Beerbongs & Bentleys. Circles follows previously unveiled recent singles Goodbyes featuring Young Thug and Wow.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Charli XCX & Haim

CHARLI XCX feat HAIMWARM: Charli XCX once again confounds expectations with the release of her Haim-featuring new single Warm. The pop queen actually reins herself in with this track, delivering a more ballad-style offering that thrives more on the vocal collaboration and harmonising between both parties as opposed to pop beats or stylistic electronic flourishes. Rather, the instrumentals are subdued, with a low-key electronic backdrop and very subtle, barely employed beats. The name of the song also suggests something more positive than the lyrics deliver, with the central chorus lamenting: “You’ve gotta tell me the reason, why we can’t fall in love.” As such, it’s about an unrequited love and the hope/sadness that comes with realising this is going to be the case. It’s the sound of Charli XCX at her most poignant and bittersweet, but no less engaging and endearing. The singer said in a statement: “It’s a really beautiful song and the idea actually came about because [producer AG Cook] sent me this demo of him singing just a melody, no lyrics, but it was so beautiful, and I sat with it for ages and just played it over and over again. I really like it when AG sings… it’s always really inspiring to me so I wrote these lyrics, it’s about unrequited love or more just like when you are in it with someone and they are a player and you aren’t in that zone and you just can’t get on the same page. Danielle, Este and Alana came over to our studio house and they wrote their part, we were in LA when we did that and I’m just very happy we got to collaborate.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tom Tripp, Ring

TOM TRIPPRING: Tom Tripp is back with a confessional and soul-baring new ballad, Ring. The track reflects on the sour end of a relationship, in which Tom finally owns up to being the bad guy (somewhat like Post Malone with his latest offering, also out this week). With minimal production and his vocals at the forefront, its infectious chorus sees him belting out: “I put my hands up high, some things just sting my pride. But it’s true, I swear I’m sorry.” The level of emotion is what helps the track to make such an impression, with Tripp wearing his sorrow on his sleeve and yearning for that forgiveness. It’s a soulful lament, classily delivered with sleek production values befitting a cinematic ballad. The gospel-tinged backing vocals that occasionally drift in and out, during the chorus, are an especially impressive addition. Commenting on the inspiration behind the song, Tripp said: “I was in a very bad mental state last year and it affected everything from my social life, relationships and my music. I would over think everything to a point where I just wouldn’t do anything. I ended a relationship with someone in a bad way and it’s something I still regret, so this song is basically about me admitting my faults and taking responsibility.” The track follows the recently released TAM and Glow, and hints at another side to the North Londoner’s genre-defying new collection FLAG.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Wretch 32, Mummy's Boy

WRETCH 32 – MUMMY’S BOY: Tottenham rapper Wretch 32 returns to share his first single of 2019, Mummy’s Boy. The track is the first to be taken from his forthcoming fifth studio album, Upon Reflection, and sees Wretch redefining a term that’s followed him throughout his life. “In a Caribbean household, ‘Mummy’s Boy’ is almost like the worst insult you can give a kid,” explains Wretch. “I was the mummy’s boy, with two older sisters and two younger sisters. Me, I take power in it, because the mummy’s boy became the man of the house; the head of the family. So, it’s just something that has a negative connotation can be flipped into a bigger positive.” Always one to speak out about his beliefs, it’s also an opportunity for Wretch to celebrate the women in his life: “The strongest people I’ve ever known in my life are always women. The strongest woman I’ve ever known is my grandmother. My mum with five kids, no partner, having to work to pay for all of our lunch money, all of those uniforms in September, all of those school trips, dinners every night: no one pats her on the back. I feel like women need the words of encouragement, and it’s important to see a man giving it as well.” Honourable sentiments about mothers and women in general aside, this is heartfelt but somehow uninspired. The lyrics carry real potency and clearly come from the heart, but the trappings of the song as a whole – the beats, pianos and vocal delivery – have a generic, urban vibe that don’t really bring anything fresh or above average. Aside from the insight it gives into Wretch’s personal life and feelings, it’s a strangely underwhelming listen.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Jax Jones, Jacques

JAX JONES & TOVE LO – JACQUES: Following the success of his latest hit Harder with Bebe Rexha and preceding the release of his eagerly awaited debut album Snacks (out on September 6), Jax Jones drops his latest single Jacques with Swedish electro-pop sensation Tove Lo. The result is typically lively, combining the style of both artists to generally ear-pleasing effect. The slick dance rhythms inherent in most Jax Jones offerings are present and correct, with a very late night Ibiza kind of club sound. But the feisty girl attitude and electro-pop leanings of a classic Tove Lo offering are also present. The two styles compliment each other well. Speaking of the single, Jax said: “It’s one of my favourite new tracks from my album Snacks (Supersize) because it alludes back to my deep house background. If you liked my first song, I Got U, then this is for you. It’s got a fire bassline which in order to create I channeled the late great Jerry Barnes. So, if you like it funky, check it out”. Tove Lo added: “I’ve had House Work on repeat, we use it as our amp up song on tour before going on stage! I’ve wanted to work with Jax for a long time and our two days in London were some of the most fun and awesome sessions I’ve had. He played different ideas and tracks and I would just get in my zone and improvise melodies til I sang something we all loved. Writing the lyrics together was a lot of fun. Jacques is about a one night fling with a french dude. It’s raw and cheeky, because that’s what that night was. This is the club banger on my new album Sunshine Kitty.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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SA Zeiner

SA ZEINERCOULD YOU BE GOOD TO ME: Norwegian artist and producer SA Zeiner has dropped her new single Could You Be Good To Me via Microheart Records and immediately impresses. With haunting, melancholic synths and R’n‘B esque beats that entwine perfectly with SA Zeiner’s soaring, imtimate and delicate vocals, the song is the sound of a very assured artist whose voice is something to swoon for (especially when she lands the chorus). Having started singing a the age of four, and having been influenced by her father’s jazz records and Norwegian classic music, SA Zeiner is also a classically trained singer and theatre performer. With this single, however, she brings classic style vocally with some ethereal pop tendencies and a cinematic beauty that help the song to soar, both emotionally and sonically. Speaking about the song, Zeiner explained: “Could You Be Good To Me’ is about trying to find your place in the world. It’s about being drawn to people who are similar but different than you at the same time and then trying to figure out if you could meet on common ground. The book ‘Quiet’ by Susan Cain was quite inspirational because she writes about the world of introverts and how her extroverted friends make her come out of her shell more and in return how she calms them down. It’s an ode to relationships of any kind that make you feel balanced and complete.”” With these sentiments in mind, the song is also beautifully empowering and very relevant.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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