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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, July 20, 2018

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

Muse, Something Human

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MUSESOMETHING HUMAN: Muse fans rejoice! Muse have released Something Human, the new single taken from their upcoming album, which will be released this November. Co-produced by the band and Rich Costey and mixed by Mark ‘Spike’ Stent, the track is being hailed as an uplifting, cinematic, yet intimate track that lyrically addresses the need to reset and re-engage with our human emotions. It’s a timely message as electronics threaten to consume our attentions and the world’s politicians fall into disarray. We should all remember the little things that make us human. Rather than being as bombastic as they can be, however, Muse deliver this particular message in understated fashion. The beat shuffles along nicely, even gently, while the electronics have a future pop sound with the odd touch of Erasure. There’s a nice acoustic guitar strum, too, which adds a breeziness that makes the sentiments underpinning the song even easier to get behind. It’s an upbeat, positive record delivered as only Muse know how. And it comes complete with a typically stunning video, which was directed by Lance Drake, who also directed the band’s video for Dig Down and Thought Contagion. Drake commented: “Our aim with Something Human was to continue the journey that began in ‘Dig Down’ and ‘Thought Contagion.’ Pulling further into a simulated world we follow Matt, Dom, and, Chris on the chase of a lifetime – where something as simple as returning some video tapes becomes an epic journey.” Commenting on the track itself, Matt Bellamy said: “Life on the road can bring out your inner beast, this song and video is about taming that beast, desiring a return to something human. Plus, Teen Wolf is cool.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Imagine Dragons, Natural

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: IMAGINE DRAGONSNATURAL: Imagine Dragons deliver a bolt from the blue with stand-alone new single Natural. Released earlier this week, the song has been chosen as the anthem for ESPN’s coverage of the upcoming American college football season in the US. And it’s a hard-hitter of a record. Built around hit-hard beats, chiming electronics and urgent, raw vocals, this lands a chorus that has all the power of a wrecking ball. And yet, while as emphatically delivered as anything in the band’s back catalogue, the keen sense of melody and the toe-tapping energy of the band’s material is evident. It’s anthemic, rousing and chart-friendly. Commenting on the inspiration behind the song, vocalist Dan Reynolds explained: “Living in a dog-eat-dog world can bring out the worst in you, and sometimes, the best. It would be a lie to tell you I haven’t become somewhat sceptical about some things in the last decade of my life. However, I believe that when you truly learn to love yourself, the judging eyes and hateful words become meaningless. Natural is about finding yourself and being willing and able to stand up to whatever adversity comes your way.” You can now add ‘empowering’ to that list of adjectives to describe the impact of this song.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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alice, Heartbreak Hotel

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: ALICEHEARTBREAK HOTEL: London-based pocket rocket newcomer alice has premiered a striking video for her equally striking new track , Heartbreak Hotel. The clip is directed by Favourite Colour Black, who also directed alice’s video for previous release Girls X Boys. It features alice and her dancers in various locations at a Heartbreak Hotel, while also showcasing alice’s amazing dance moves with some slick and spectacular choreography. The track itself is a bass-heavy, throwback inspired tune that pays homage to the 1979 Anita Ward classic Ring My Bell over the chorus. But it doesn’t rely solely on that. The chorus drops that rhythm and melody, somewhat cleverly, to add a ring of familiarity. But at all other times, the track adheres to slick R’n‘B elements, the odd rapped moment and some smooth groove electronic arrangements. It’s an enticing track that’s well worth checking in with. Written and produced by Arnthor Birgsson (Britney, Janet Jackson) Racheal Furner (Little Mix, Craig David) and regular co-writer Kee Ingrosso (Jennifer Lopez), the infectious track perfectly showcases why alice is already causing a commotion amongst pop lovers around the world. Speaking about the track herself, alice commented: “I’ve been heartbroken myself, it’s something most of us can relate to. We all need a good anthem to get us through the pain when things like that happen.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Plan B, Wait So Long

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: PLAN B – WAIT SO LONG: Following the release of his critically-acclaimed fourth studio album Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose back in May, Plan B has unveiled a slick and cinematic new video for album track, Wait So Long. The video paints a bold new vision of the future as imagined by Plan B. Set in the Neoverse – a virtual reality that the human race has become addicted to – it sheds more light on the world that Plan B’s Guess Again video first started to explore. He explains: “The Neoverse VR network is a wonderful place that allows you to escape the real world… a new Utopia where the absence of humans has allowed earth’s recovery from environmental disaster. Although beautiful and plentiful, humanity’s reliance on VR to provide them with the satisfaction they desire has rendered the real world a place that people find too boring to live in.” The Wait So Long video subsequently follows the interactions between one human and a mysterious love interest, who go on to explore their own relationship amidst a performance of the track by digitally re-created entertainer, Plan B, who has been brought back from the dead to entertain the masses. It’s mesmerising stuff. And the track itself is rousing as hell, too, adopting elements of soul, reggae (think Marley) and pop. It’s got an upbeat energy that belies some of the darker, more questioning lyrics that soulfully ask: “Why do I have to wait so long for your love?” It’s yet another example of just how rich and diverse an artist Plan B has become.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The 1975, I'd Love It If We Made It

THE 1975 – LOVE IT IF WE MADE IT: The 1975 drop the provocative Love It If We Made It, the second track to emerge from their forthcoming third album, A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships. And it’s good stuff – again. And provocative. It opens with the lyrics “f**king in a car, shooting heroin, saying controversial things just for the hell of it”… this is a damning indictment of a wasted youth culture that’s two steps away from decay. Don’t believe us? Then the chorus also declares “modernity has failed us”, before hopefully offering “but I’d love it if we made it”. In that sense, it’s empowering. But only just. Sonically, there’s a touch of ’80s Hall & Oates at times, especially vocally. But there’s also something that’s now firmly and distinctly The 1975. And the use of beats, electronics and impassioned vocals creates a fantastically heady mix. It’s a song that has plenty to say, that wants to get noticed. And it will. But it’s also a rollicking good listen on its own terms, complete with a stylish mid-track instrumental breakdown.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sarah Close, You Say

SARAH CLOSEYOU SAY: Following on from her successful Caught Up EP last year, 23-year-old Sarah Close returns with her highly anticipated new single You Say, an enthralling modern pop offering with a distinctly rousing chorus. A riveting electro-pop anthem that also makes a rousing showcase of Close’s vocals, the track is about an ex-partner trying to get back into your life, knowing that you’re happy and have finally moved on from the failed relationnship (“I don’t want to hear you, I’ve got nothing left for you”). Needless to say, with lyrics such as those, the attempt proves a failure, despite creating some confusion in the listener (“I don’t know why you want me back”). But the robust beats and grinding electronics add to the feisty nature of that reply, while creating a distinct backdrop for this song – and Close’s powerhouse vocals – to shine. Commenting on the track, Sarah explained: “I wrote this song about someone I met when I first moved to London and drew on my influences from artists such as Haim, Charli XCX and Carole King, with the aim of creating a powerful, upbeat, fun song to celebrate being over someone. I worked very closely with my friend EasyFunn, who produced the track and gave it the energy I always imagined.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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VRWRK

VRWRKDIFFERENT CROWD: Psychoanalysts by day, electronic musicians by night, London trio VRWRK (pronounced VR-WORK) have been turning heads at the likes of NME, The Line Of Best Fit, The Fader and Clash recently, as well as selling out London shows and appearing at major European festivals like Rock Werchter and Pukkelpop. Their new single, Different Crowd, expertly blends deep, intriguing silky vocal moods and colourful instant beach-ready synth flavours for perfect heatwave chilling contemplation with a rooftop set video. The electronics have a chilled out, Ibiza-meets-Caribbean-style late-night quality, as do the trip-hop laced beats. While the vocals are pure soul. It’s a stylish offering, designed to help you relax for all of its all too brief 2-minute plus running time. The track is taken from VRWRK’s debut album On The Outside, which is due to be released on August 10, on ultra cool Kobalt-backed collective label, Run Tell Secrecy. The band describe the album like this: “[It’s] trying to capture the feeling of being alone while being surrounded by people. The inner struggles from being in a relationship or outside relationships. Being on the outside refers to the negative space of our ‘inner self’.” And while that may sound somewhat melancholy, the composition of Different Crowd is bittersweet [at worst], and soothing at best.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Interpol

INTERPOLTHE ROVER: Post-punk stalwarts Interpol make an always welcome return with The Rover, the first single from their upcoming Dave Fridmann-produced Marauder (out on August 24). The result, we have to admit, left us feeling a little mixed. For while it does contain some classic Interpol traits (including a distinct guitar riff), it also adopts a more experimental tone. And that’s not completely satisfying for fans of some of their more deliberate, atmospheric offerings. True, the darkness is still there, inherent in the lyrics. While there are times when they soundcheck tracks of old (such as the urgent beat, which evokes comparisons with Say Hello to The Angels), and that central guitar riff (which has a touch of Rest My Chemistry about it). But the way in which the vocals are almost a background effect and the unrelenting urgency of the drums means that this is a much more lively offering than some of the band’s most memorable tracks. It’s a grower – a song to get used to more than immediately warm to. But it still falls some way short of their very best work.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Nulberry, Vegan Chicken

NULBERYVEGAN CHICKEN: Nulberry are an Indie Rock band hailing from Daytona, Florida. Guitarist, singer-songwriter Cory Lott’s complex melodies glue together with simplistic indie-pop vocals and dreamy synth textures create a unique indie-math-pop fusion that also draws on influences as diverse as The Microphones, Pavement, Modest Mouse, The Unicorns and early Blur. Debut single Vegan Chicken is a fine example of what they offer. The guitar hooks have a very indie vibe, reminiscent of both Pavement and Blur, while the hazy vocals are lazily delivered in the type of way that invites you to kick back and relax with the record as a whole. It’s a trippy slice of indie-pop that’s very much geared towards the alternative crowd. But it’s distinct enough to stand out from the crowd for those that dig it, with the insistent central guitar hook particularly compelling. And don’t be put off by the lazy/hazy vocals… there’s a great deal of complexity at play, both instrumentally and lyrically. Nulberry would appear to be a band to keep a close eye on.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Yonaka, Fired Up

YONAKAFIRED UP: Brighton band, Yonaka, have announced their new EP, Teach Me To Fight, which will be released on August 17. New track Fired Up is the lead single and it’s a typically fiery offering. There are robust guitar riffs, rousing vocals and insistent back-beats that create a heady, volatile whole befitting the subject matter. The band are talking about frustrations and having to wait… but they’re fired up and ready to be counted on, meaning that for all of the pent up anger inherent at times, there’s a sense of empowerment too. It’s a high energy anthem from one of the UK’s most promising young guitar bands. Yonaka’s Teach Me To Fight EP is being hailed as a chaos-causing statement of intent. Channelling the band’s impassioned, raw subject matter, – written and performed by charismatic frontwoman, Theresa Jarvis – sonically, the EP is united by raucous riffs and explosive hooks. Teach Me To Fight [the band’s second EP to date and the follow-up to their 2017 Heavy EP, which spawned their juggernaut Bubblegum] has been produced by bassist, Alex Crosby, with additional production on lead track Fired Up that comes from Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood, Pixies) and up-and-comer, grandson, whom remixed the band’s track F.W.T.B. earlier this year. Mixing comes from Dan Grech-Marguerat (Liam Gallagher, Radiohead).
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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