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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, February 8, 2019

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

Beck, Super Cool

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BECK feat ROBYN AND THE LONELY ISLANDSUPER COOL: A song called Super Cool absolutely has to be as cool as its name suggests. Fortunately, the producers of The LEGO Movie 2 have got two (if not three) of the coolest acts around to deliver it. Beck has long been an advocate for cool, while Robyn is no slouch when it comes to that. The song itself therefore drops hip-hop inspired beats, synth-pop and euphoric melodies to smash the coolness out of the park, complete with some savvy lyrical nods to the subversive nature of the LEGO Movie itself (there’s rap work about the importance of the film’s end credits). OK, so there’s not much meaning attached. But if you’re looking to feel good, funky and to exit the cinema on the highest of highs, then this ticks all the right boxes. Beck’s vocal prowess is matched by Robyn’s ethereal tones, to create something that could be produced by Mark Ronson and occasionally even delivered by The Beastie Boys. You can have some super cool fun with this one.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Seafret

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: SEAFRETLOVING YOU: Seafret have released their striking new single Loving You through Kobalt. Sparse and almost desolate at times, it’s an emotional return for the East Yorkshire duo, which explores a relationship in raw, honest and utterly heartfelt passion. It’s a song about an undying love that is bittersweet, yet achingly romantic (especially when they declare that “I’ll still be lving you” and “proud to wear the scars”). The accompanying instrumentals are cinematic in quality, built as they are around strings and pianos. Speaking about the new single Seafret explained: “After the release of the last EP, Monsters, we wanted to follow it up with something a little different. Loving You was one of those songs that seemed to write itself. We first recorded it onto a voice recording memo on a phone and there was something about the rawness in just the vocal and the piano that we loved. With that in mind we took it to the studio and decided to accompany it with a cello and sparse drums played with mallets for more of a texture than a beat, keeping the space and rawness of it’s original form. We love how it’s turned out and hope you do to.” Loving You is accompanied by a very emotive video, directed by Stuart Alexander, who shot the video for their previous single Monsters. Speaking about the video’s inspiration, Stuart said: “The idea for the video is inspired by my great-grandparents. My great-grandmother died of a broken heart 11 hours after hearing of her husband’s passing. I wanted to capture the feeling of that person being by your side regardless of how impossible the distance is between you.” He goes further to say: “Skye is a mixture of incredible beauty and isolation, everything that we needed to capture the tone of the video. We filmed through rain, snow storms and a constant sub-zero temperature. People thought we were nuts for attempting something like this in January, especially taking a grand piano up a mountain. It was worth the effort, especially seeing the look on the Brazilian hill climbers faces as they walked past.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Olafur Arnulds

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: OLAFUR ARNALDSEKKI HUGSA: BAFTA-winning artist, composer, musician and producer Ólafur Arnalds has released the new music video for his latest single Ekki Hugsa. Filmed in his native Iceland, the title of the new release translates as ‘don’t think’, and features uplifting synthesised melodies combined with acoustic cello hooks, resulting in Ólafur’s distinctive, multi-layered sound. “The video is about not overthinking and getting lost in a moment. When you turn off the noise in your brain so much creativity can be discovered inside of yourself,” explained Arnalds. The video, produced and directed by Arni and Kinski, features a highly-choreographed routine created by Asrun Magnusdottir and Alexander Roberts, showcasing both contemporary and traditional steps. Ekki Hugsa features Ólafur’s ground-breaking new software, Stratus, which transforms the piano into a unique and entirely modern instrument. The Stratus Pianos are two self-playing, semi-generative player pianos and the centrepiece of Ólafur’s latest works. The custom-built software controlling the pianos is the result of two years of work by Ólafur and audio developer Halldór Eldjárn. The result offers up a cascading loop of electronic melodies that wash over you like sonic waves, albeit with strings weaving in and out. It’s lively, it’s beautiful and it’s inspiring. When put together with the video, it offers up a moment of pause that’s breathtaking.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Mullally, Think About You

MULLALLYTHINK ABOUT YOU: Brit-soul contemporary Mullally returns with emotive new ballad, Think About You – a track produced by Grammy-nominated duo Rice’N’Peas, the brains behind G-Eazy hit, Some Kind Of Drug, and Bazzi’s standout smash, Beautiful ft Camilla Cabello. “Think About You is me spilling my feelings on a page, and into a song. Sometimes we forget that the world doesn’t stop when you go through shit. I had to pick myself up and go to the studio when I was emotional and drunk, and in a happy accident we captured a really honest, true reflection of what was happening in my life at the time. Writing this song allowed me some clarity.” Given that the song stemmed from a drunken low, it’s all the more impressive. The soul-searching is piercing and honest as he reflects on a love cherished and lost, yet accompanied by snappy back-beats and electronics that heighten the pop-soul vibe. Mullally’s vocals are suitably emotional, digging deep into the depths of his despair and trying to find some optimisim for the future. Hence, by the time reaches its powerful climax, the song has started to soar.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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The Chainsmokers, Who Do You Love

THE CHAINSMOKERS feat 5 SECONDS OF SUMMERWHO DO YOU LOVE: The Chainsmokers return to form with new single Who Do You Love, featuring 5 Seconds of Summer. Tapping into the darkness that’s inherent in a lot of their most recent material, this is a break-up anthem that finds the EDM giants exploring what went wrong and demanding the truth. It’s shot through with that heartbroken emotion, with the hard-hitting beats and darker electronic loops reflective of that. 5 Seconds of Summer also augment the sense of heartbreak with some blistering vocals of their own. Sure, there are some overly intrusive dance elements punctuating proceedings, where The Chainsmokers can’t completely resist the urge to drop in their more trademark club sound. But in the main, this is the kind of easy listening offering that offers up a lively chorus, bittersweet sentiments, and plenty of crossover potential. It is back to doing what Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart arguably do best.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lucy Rose

LUCY ROSESOLO: Lucy Rose has shared the second track in preview of her forthcoming new album. Solo(w) is streaming now and lifted from her fourth album, No Words Left, which is released on March 22, 2019. A beautifully stark, intense listen and another telling introduction to a record of raw emotion and heart, Solo(w) is a tale of longing and confronting emotions. It’s raw, intimate, tender and quite often heart-breaking, but further compelling evidence of Rose’s ability to confront humanity in an authentic, endearing fashion. The piano work is understated and belatedly accompanied by some sax and strings, while Rose’s vocals have an underlying sense of melancholy that strikes a nice contrast to the sweetness she always brings to her songs. Commenting on the track herself, Rose explains: “This was the last song I wrote for the record. It feels like it was the first time I could look back at a period of time and understand it. I wasn’t out of the dark but I could see a light. Like every song on this record, it’s helped me in a way but this one felt like it was pulling at me to say ‘it’s ok’ and it’s time to move on. I confronted a lot of thoughts in this song, it was time to finally accept it all and come out with a better understanding of it all – ‘I’m afraid of the morning and I’m afraid of the evening, maybe I’m afraid of everything.” The song is accompanied by a black and white performance video.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Cleo Sol, One

CLEO SOLONE: Cleo Sol is a London-born and raised singer and songwriter beginning 2019 with a new release called One. It follows her acclaimed debut EP last year, entitled Winter Songs, which i-D magazine deemed ‘a collection of four heartbreakingly beautiful tunes’. One is being billed as a transcendent track featuring Cleo’s commanding, soulful voice intertwined with an array of hazy, moving instrumentals and rich percussion. It not only demonstrates Cleo’s abilities as a singer but as an excellent lyricist as well, serving as a hazy, blues-infused call to action for the human race to come together for strength, as one entity. And, as the PR suggests, Sol has delivered a genuinely thought-provoking, beautiful song in One that should be embraced by the world as a whole. Her bluesy vocal tones are an addictive guide to the message behind the song [one of global unity], while the R’n‘B infused beats and instrumentals [coupled with those vocals] evoke memories of classic artists from Nightmares on Wax to Diana Ross with Michael Kiwanuka and Macy Gray thrown in.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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ViVii

VIVIILOVE LOVE LOVE: Following their latest well received single And Tragic, and a series of stunning performances at Eurosonic, Swedish dream-pop trio ViVii release their new single Love Love Love and continue to impress. Built around some beautifully ethereal hooks and harmonies, this combines boy-girl vocals to similarly striking, ethereal effect – especially when playing on the dreamy female side of things. But it’s an ode to love that finds warmth in the coldest of places. It’s echoed harmonies, subtle acoustics and delicate vocals are designed to put the listener at ease and allow them to soak in the song’s message from a state of bliss. Speaking about the single, ViVii explain: “Anders recorded a melody on his phone right after his daughter was born, the beginning of Love, Love, Love. And when we met up a couple of weeks later we finished it.” ViVii’s eponymous debut album will be released in March 15, 2019.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Marina

MARINAHANDMADE HEAVEN: Multi-faceted, award-winning and platinum-selling pop innovator Marina (previously Marina & the Diamonds) returns with her eagerly anticipated new single, Handmade Heaven. Her first solo material in four years, the track is a lush, surging slice of piano-laced pop and a welcome reintroduction to Marina’s distinctive, ethereal vocals. The powerful, self-penned track finds Marina imagining a world as simple as the beautiful creatures and nature that surround her. It’s an instantly compelling track, fuelled by the potent imagery that talks of escaping from the real world (and all of its pollutants, political upheaval and angst) to something solitary, beautiful and driven by nature itself (“in this handmade heaven, I come alive, blue birds forever, colour the sky”). It’s designed to offer up a piece of musical escape that also carries a timely call for action. Marina’s distinct vocals regularly soar, combining ethereal edge with melodic potency, thereby providing the song with a distinct sound that’s still completely radio-friendly and therefore capable of appealing to the masses. It’s a successful comeback.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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