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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, May 10, 2019

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

Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber, I Don't Care

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: ED SHEERAN & JUSTIN BIEBER – I DON’T CARE: As super-collaborations go, this has to rate as one of the biggest of recent times. Globally recognised superstars Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber team up for I Don’t Care… and the result is sure to delight followers of both. Admittedly, the style of the song – which was produced by Max Martin, Shellback and FRED – leans more to Sheeran than Bieber. But unlike more traditional Sheeran, this is guitar-free, relying instead on a lively, bouncy back-beat and the vocals of both singers. It’s also a tale of empowerment that offers up a rallying call for anyone struggling to overcome difficulty. It’s also an ode to love, as only Sheeran knows how to deliver. The chorus proclaims “I don’t care when I’m with my baby yeah, All the bad things disappear, And you making me feel that maybe I am somebody”. It’s a worthy sentiment and one that works for anyone in love or just needing a little reassurance of their own. What’s more, it’s catchy as hell! If this doesn’t become one of the year’s biggest singles, then I’ll eat my hat!
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Madonna & Swae Lee, Crave

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MADONNA & SWAE LEECRAVE: Another week, another new Madonna offering, and another reason to get excited by the prospect of her 14th album, Madame X. It’s another different track, too. An edgy, ballad-laced, mid-tempo offering that is part-pop, part hip-hop and part Latin elements… it’s both edgy and romantic. And it features a guest rap from Swae Lee (of Post Malone fame). Initially, the song sets itself up as a purely romantic offering, with a passionate intro. But as the song takes shape, the darkness infiltrates with warnings about the dangers inherent in pursuing their feelings. At one point, Madonna laments: “The feelings never fade, I don’t think we should play with this.” Lee seems to be agreeing when he joins in, conceding about the dangers too. But the mid-tempo pacing, the slick production values, and the strong contrasting vocal styles make this the type of track to crave more of too. It’s another gem from the returning queen of pop.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Deportees, Time Is The Tiger

VIDEO OF THE WEEK: DEPORTEESTIME IS THE TIGER: Ahead of the release of their debut international EP Re-dreaming on May 17, award-winning Swedish trio Deportees have unveiled an evocative, skateboarding-themed video for latest single Time Is The Tiger. Directed by Peder Bergstrand and Mike McMillin, the video was shot in the Californian desert and Joshua Tree national park, following skateboarder and free spirit Mike ‘Trast’ Lopez for two days on an epic solo skate through the desert. It’s utterly beautiful to watch, hypnotically delivered and yet strangely moving and thought-provoking. The melodic, propulsive Time Is The Tiger is the second single to be taken from Re-dreaming, following lead single Bright Eyes. And it’s both epic and cinematic, boasting similarly thought-provoking, reflective lyrics and beautifully evocative guitars and synths. The chorus is bittersweet and contemplative (“and you almost feel religion, as you’re burning all the bridges”), yet shot through with some excellent melodies. It’s radio-friendly, yet as epic and poignant as anything bands like Elbow and Bear’s Den can deliver – albeit on a more immediate level. It’s time to take notice of Deportees.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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James Arthur, Falling Like Stars

JAMES ARTHURFALLING LIKE THE STARS: James Arthur returns with emotive new ballad ‘Falling Like The Stars. Built around subtle piano arrangements and earnets vocals (as only Arthur knows how to deliver), the track features a captivating story that fans of James are sure to instantly fall in love with. Written by James with Jamie Grey and Anders Hojer, this is chock full of romantic sentiments as the singer relays a tale of falling in love, complete with heart-melting sentiments such as holding one’s hair up, or praying to God not to take her away (“because without you babe, I’ll lose my way”). In classic power ballad tradition, the song gets more and more emotional and layered the further it goes, with additional instrumentals (strings) serving to heighten the sentiments at play. Arthur fans will doubtless swoon, soundtrack moments beckon and newcomers may also be added to the singer’s burgeoning fanbase.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Avicii, Tough Love

AVICII feat AGNES, VARGAS & LAGOLATOUGH LOVE: Ahead of the release of Tim, the posthumous album from Avicii, as readied by his family in his memory, a second single has been unveiled in the form of Tough Love, featuring Swedish singer Agnes. A departure from the more trademark Avicii sound, and completely different from the tropical melodies that informed SOS (featuring Aloe Blacc), Tough Love combines worldly instrumentals with sensual vocals. Although stripped back to the vocals at some points (an Avicii trait), when the beats and main instrumentals arrive, they infuse the track with Indian musical influences, which create a head-spinning, world music kind of vibe that’s akin to the headrush sensation you get from watching something like the finale to Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. It’s inspiring stuff and further evidence of what a phenomenal global talent Avicii was. He continues to be sorely missed.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Sebastian, Thirst

SEBASTIANTHIRST: Sebastian has released a new track and video today, Thirst – and the result is highly provocative and entirely disturbing. The film is by Gaspar Noé (Irréversible, Enter The Void, Climax), who Sebastian previously collaborated with for his 2012 video Love In Motion. The hyper-realistic video is set under a nightclub’s strobing lights, where conflicts of masculine violence take the viewer on a disturbing, vertigo-inducing rollercoaster ride. It’s a barrage of violence, as one punk-like character is repeatedly struck by fists, bottles and feet after initially acting inappropriately. The accompanying instrumentals offer up a wall of sound that’s similarly provocative. Thirst finds Sebastian combining cinematic musical styles, including futuristic electro and R&B, to deliver a fitting soundtrack to its brutal accompanying visual – a visceral and violent representation of our times. It’s message is stark and ugly – often like the track itself. But you can’t take your eyes off it, for all of its ugly brutality. Whether that’s a recommendation is an entirely different matter. It’s like watching the worst kind of horror movie – scarring, disturibing but allegedly with something to say.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Pocket Sun, Lucid

POCKET SUNLUCID: Pocket Sun are a young synth-heavy quintet from Montpellier in Bristol, and their debut five-track EP – Sleep Inventions – is released on May 24. The band create aim to create a warm, hyper-melodic sound and have been picking-up support from BBC Introducing, among others. It’s easy to see why. With Lucid, they have created a genuinely laidback slice of synth-dream pop that washes over you like a cool breeze on a hot day (summer needs to start paying attention). The female vocals are hypnotic and beautifully delivered, while the accompanying synths have a playful, retro-laced quality that could make them ripe for pick-up on a Nicholas Winding Refn soundtrack such as Drive. But they also blossom beautifully in places, adding to the trippy, laxadazical overall effect. It’s nice just to kick back and relax with, easing any of your worries away.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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DJ Snake, Enzo

DJ SNAKE feat OFFSET, 21 SAVAGE, SHECK WES & GUCCI MANEENZO: DJ Snake has released the video for his all-star hip-hop anthem Enzo, featuring Offset, 21 Savage, Gucci Mane, and Sheck Wes. Directed by Daps (the award-winning filmmaker known for his work with Migos, Kendrick Lamar, and 2 Chainz), Enzo stars each of the track’s featured artists alongside DJ Snake himself. Right from its epic opening shot — a real-life embodiment of the Ferrari logo’s prancing horse — the black-and-white visual is genuinely attention-grabbing, even if it appeals to the worst instincts of a bling-obsessed hip hop culture. That being said, there’s plenty of urban attitude, edge and verve to the song itself, which finds the hip-hop artists delivering a straight-shooting rap about careers and the trappings that come with it. The beats are atmospheric and accompanied by an eerie synth, lending it a cinematic vibe instrumentally that compliments the lush visuals. It’s strangely compelling, visually and sonically.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Sea Girls

SEA GIRLSDAMAGE DONE: Sea Girls have unveiled their new single Damage Done as Annie Mac’s Hottest Record on Radio 1. The propulsive track is designed to offer up a euphoric, ear-worm guitar anthem, which could be destined as a stadium-sized crowdpleaser. And, for sure, there are traces of classic indie acts such as James and Embrace with the way in which they slow-burn during the verses, before hitting the listener with an anthemic, power chorus. Indeed, it’s the chorus that elevates the song as a whole, confidently delivering the type of energy that is required to get the track noticed. Vocalist and songwriter Henry Camamile says of the track: “Damage Done is about young love and moving on. The night before the song was written I recognised that a part of my past was amazing, a bit flawed and broken all at the same time. I wanted to try to be at peace with it, and to realise that better things are to come rather than holding onto the past. I sort of told myself I’m singing to no one if I’m not thinking of the future.” It’s a song that’s shot through with noteworthy sentiment and it could be an empowering indie anthem for anyone experiencing the same kind of emotions right now.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Julia Shapiro

JULIA SHAPIRO – A COUPLE HIGHS: Suburban malaise meets Pacific Northwest beauty in this subtle homage to the Kelly Reichardt film Wendy and Lucy – the new video from Julia Shapiro to accompany her new single, A Couple Highs. The track is the second single from Perfect Version, the solo debut of Julia Shapiro, singer/guitarist of Chastity Belt and Childbirth. When Shapiro flew home from a cancelled Chastity Belt tour in April 2018, everything in her life felt out of control. Dealing with health issues, freshly out of a relationship, and in the middle of an existential crisis, she realized halfway through a tour supporting her band’s third album I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone that she was going through too much to continue. “I was really struggling; I was really depressed. I felt like I couldn’t sing or be a person,” Shapiro recalls. “At that point I couldn’t even imagine playing a show again, I was so over it.” Returning home to a newly empty Seattle one-bedroom apartment, Shapiro had wanted for a long time to learn how to record and mix her own music, and out of the uncertainty of the future of her music career and her health, she began to record the songs that would become Perfect Version, her solo debut for Hardly Art. What she created in the space of 10 songs is an intimate and beautifully self-aware examination of feeling lost in the life you’ve created for yourself. A Couple Highs is evidence of that – a slacker-infused offering that J Mascis would be proud to call his own. The guitars and vocals are hazy as hell, the tone bittersweet – yet there’s a surreal beauty to it, which is only augmented by the accompanying video. It’s strangely compelling, heart-on-sleeve stuff.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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