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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, May 11, 2018

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

Ash

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: ASHCONFESSIONS IN THE POOL: Ash drop one of the hottest tracks of the week with new record Confessions In The Pool. Available as an instant grat track, the track is something of a change of gears from the band – a celebration of friendship in life’s lowest moments. The effervescent track is buoyed for the mainstream by rippling synths and a heightened sense of melody (which even drifts from indie into pop). If anything, there’s an almost slacker style quality to the sunshine track that recalls the breeze-alt pop of bands like Weezer and Fountains of Wayne from the US. But in typically English style, the bubbly melodies and laidback delivery are offset by some bittersweet sentiments, as the central chorus laments: “Confessions in the pool, isn’t life cruel?” It’s a belter of a record from Ash and one that shows the band is still more than capable of tossing in surprises. The new track follows 6Music-playlisted singles Buzzkill and Annabel, all of which feature on Islands, which sees the band return to their original label home at Infectious (through which they previously released the No.1 albums 1977 and Free All Angels) some 26 years (and 18 Top 40 singles) after forming.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Yonaka, FWTB

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: YONAKAFWTB: Explosive Brighton quartet Yonaka have unveiled their volatile new single F.W.T.B. and continue to impress. Shot through with urgency and edge, this boasts a punk-inflicted post-rock energy that’s difficult to ignore, especially when the incendiary chorus lands. Prior to that, the song adopts an almost rapped-rock form, which makes it stand out even more. It’s the type of defiant call-to-arms song that demands to be heard, and which may even boast crossover appeal despite its harder elements. The spiky guitars are another big plus. Imagine listening to L7 crossed with early Beastie Boys, for the kind of thing to expect. F.W.T.B. is the follow-up to the band’s hotly-received, October 2017 debut Heavy EP. The self-empowering track exudes Yonaka’s defiance and is statement of intent from frontwoman Theresa Jarvis, who takes the reigns with her stellar vocals. She commented: “The song is a big “f*ck you” to anyone who tries to get in your way and tell you no. It’s about taking back the power, standing up for yourself and being heard.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Chromeo, Bad Decision

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: CHROMEOBAD DECISION: Chromeo’s funky new single, Bad Decision, is the latest release from their highly anticipated forthcoming album Head Over Heels, which releases on June 15 via Big Beat/Atlantic Records. Already hailed by The Guardian as “a jaunty, electro-funk mega-banger”, this channels ’90s-era Prince (thanks to its sexy guitar licks), as well as more contemporary Justin Timberlake and Jamiroquai. It has a celebratory, party-style vibe thanks to its slick fusion of retro elements and future funk-dance grooves. It’s a romp, with production elements that are off the charts stylish (right down to the way it comes to an abrupt finish, leaving you thirsting for more). And while there are some bittersweet elements in the lyrics (which reflect on a wayward relationship and the bad decisions it induces), you’ll be having too much fun making the good decision to have some fun to worry too much about any regrets. Head Over Heels, recorded over the past two years at Chromeo’s Los Angeles studio, is the group’s most collaborative effort to date. Bridging generations and sub-genres, it features guest vocals from The-Dream, Stefflon Don, French Montana and Amber Mark, among others, plus musical contributions from neo-soul legend Raphael Saadiq, 2000s R&B mastermind Rodney Jerkins, D’Angelo collaborator Pino Palladino, Nuyorican jazz ensemble Onyx Collective and more.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Klara, Broken

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 4: KLARABROKEN: Since meeting Justin Vernon, of Bon Iver, at Glastonbury in 2015 and being invited to spend time with him and his musical cohorts at his Eaux Claires Festival, Swedish singer/songwriter Klara returned from Eaux Claires Deux in 2016 with a clear vision for her own music. Broken first started percolating in Klara’s mind as she travelled through the beautiful green expanse of the Wisconsin countryside on her way to Justin’s hometown festival and further evolved as she then made her way down the well-travelled Pacific Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles, breathing in the nature and epic views that surrounded her. With lyrics and melody in place, Klara finished writing the track in London in Paul Epworth’s Church Studios, before recording the track at Peter Gabriel’s wonderfully tranquil Real World Studios in the Bath countryside. The result is quietly stunning. Ethereal yet beautifully involving (in spite of the sorrow inherent in the subject matter), this is like listening to a female version of Jose Gonzalez (an IndieLondon favourite). It’s soothing, thought-provoking, beautifully poignant and cinematic to boot. The song, which is the first to be released from her next album (which will be released later this), year follows hot on the heels of her These Woods (Human Made) single, which soundtracked a Volvo television and cinema campaign and saw Klara hit number 1 in the iTunes UK Singer/Songwriter chart earlier this year. This is every bit as good.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Snow Patrol, Empress

SNOW PATROLEMPRESS: Snow Patrol’s fourth offering from their forthcoming Wildness LP is a much-needed pick-me-up following the intimacy of last week’s stripped back ballad, What If This Is All The Love You Ever Get?. Empress, which doesn’t come with a video, is a med-tempo slice of rock that is driven by lively guitars and a more upbeat vocal delivery from Gary Lightbody. The guitars have a siren-like, surging quality to them that serves the track well, while Lightbody’s vocals have a greater sense of urgency and (as a result) vibrancy. As ever, the lyrics have an intelligence to them that belies the easier listening elements of the song as a whole. It has a message and it has plenty of heart. But in comparison to the quiet introspection of last week’s offering, this feels fresher and much more radio friendly. It’s the type of track that could emerge as one of the new album’s crowd-pleasing anthems.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Johnny Marr

JOHNNY MARR – HI HELLO: Smiths guitarist and acclaimed solo artist Johnny Marr builds towards the June 15 release of his new album Call The Comet by sharing a new track Hi Hello together with an accompanying video – and he couldn’t possibly sound more like The Smiths if he tried. Vocally, Marr actually seems to be channelling his inner Morrissey, with the type of high-pitched turn that could easily be mistaken for The Smiths’ frontman. The guitars, too, have a very indie-rock meets Smith twang to them. They’re distinctly Marr. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, none of the aforementioned points are. If anything, this is Marr operating within his comfort zone but clearly enjoying himself. And fans of both The Smiths and solo Marr won’t be disappointed. The climax is particularly rousing, with the guitars assuming an epic quality. Commenting on the track himself, Marr said: “It was one of the songs that just fell into my hands and mind as I was playing. The tune evoked something natural so I just followed it and it felt like I had to sing something personal, something we might all feel about someone sometime.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Justice, Stop

JUSTICESTOP: Justice have shared new track Stop along with a stylish neon-hued animated video created by Mrzyk and Moriceau, the French creative duo who have previously animated music videos for the likes of Air and Sébastien Tellier. The track itself is unmistakeably the work of Justice. Built around swirling synth arrangements, slick beats and falsetto laced vocals, this has a sexy shine to it that feels utterly intoxicating. The sound combines something ultra French and European with both a retro ’80s tendency and a sleek pop feel… the sort of which, belatedly, Daft Punk might like to call their own. But the seamless blend of boy-girl vocals also works really well, creating an ear-pleasing, dance-floor leaning slice of polished Euro dance-pop that feels achingly cool.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Angelique Kidjo

ANGELIQUE KIDJOONCE IN A LIFETIME: Now this is interesting… Angélique Kidjo is airing the new video for Once In A Lifetime, which is lifted from her forthcoming album release Remain In Light (out June 8). If the name of the track sounds familiar, then it’s a reinterpretation of the Talking Heads classic, produced by Jeff Bhasker (Kanye West, Beyoncé), and featuring contributors including Blood Orange and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. The ensuing track has Africa written all over it, with African rhythms influencing the pace and Angelique, herself, contributing a feisty set of power vocals. There are times when it’s unrecognisable from the original. But whenever the familiar refrain of “when the days go by” returns, the song recalls The Talking Head classic of old. Hence, it’s a clever, buoyant reinterpretation, which manages to pay homage to the old, while bringing something fresh and new. Speaking about the track, Angelique said: “In the 1970s, under the dictatorship of Benin, it was really difficult to find music to listen to from the rest of the world. When I went into exile in Paris, in 1983, I discovered so much new music, and among them was the song Once In A Lifetime. Initially, it felt strange to me. People said it was rock and roll, but it felt African somehow. When I performed in New York in 1992, at SOB’s, David Byrne was the first American artist to come see my show. Many years later, I discovered that Brian Eno and The Talking Heads had been influcned by Fela Kuti and studied John Miller Chernoff’s book, African Rhythm and African Sensibility about the power of African music. Once In A Lifetime was released at the start of the Reagan presidency, and you feel the anguish and anger in its lyrics. I feel the same tension in today’s political climate. Bringing Once In A Lifetime back to the African continent, with the help of superstar producer Jeff Bhasker, Black Panther’s percussionist Magatte Sow and guitarist Dominic James, feels so right today.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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LIFE, Grown Up

LIFEGROWN UP: Fresh from a typically raucous and sweaty week in Austin, Texas for SXSW (where the band played for DIY, BBC 6Music and Fluffer Pit), LIFE announce their return with the endlessly frenetic Grown Up, their first new material since last year’s breakthrough debut album Popular Music. Alas, it’s perhaps a little too raucous and energetic for most tastes. The guitars have a relentless, unforgiving brashness to them, chugging into your head like an incessant, unstoppable drill. While the punk-infused vocals have more edge than is comfortable to the casual ear. There’s a brash energy to the chorus, as they belt out lines like “I’m too grown up for you”, which seems tailor-made for the mosh-pit. But you tend to feel that a little more restraint may have gone a long way in helping the track boast wider appeal. Frontman Mez describes the new single: “Grown Up is about getting to grips with adulthood and wanting to fall in love again. Seeing the decay of human life as it ages in a park with the dying swans. Is there hope between the space on your plate as you fork at your tea? Can you be too grown up for love?”
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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