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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 2, 2018

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

Imagine Dragons, Machine

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: IMAGINE DRAGONSMACHINE: Our love affair with Imagine Dragons continues unabated with the release of Machine, the third track to emerge from their forthcoming new LP, Origins. Following the same kind of formula as past release Natural (with the use of a shouted, bombastic chorus), this also deviates a little in the way that it juggles some crunching synth arrangements, with some similarly edgy guitar riffs. The beat structure, meanwhile, is as lively as anything they’ve put together before, hitting the same kind of fun intensity as Thunder. And once those chanted choruses landed, the song really takes on an anthemic status that looks set to be a whole lot of fun in live form. And while there is undoubtedly a disposable quality to it, there’s also something empowering in lyrics that defiantly state “I am not a part of your machine”. If you’ve not previously been won over by Imagine Dragons, then this will probably do little to change your mind. But if you’re already a fan, then this is a lively romp of a record. It’s a blast.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Professor Green, Photographs

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: PROFESSOR GREEN feat RAG ‘N’ BONE MANPHOTOGRAPHS: Now here’s a collaboration that’s worth it. Professor Green teams up with artist of the moment Rag N Bone Man for a suitably intense fusion of r’n‘b/pop and rap. It’s an intensely personal track, too, as Professor Green uses the song to open up about his father’s suicide. The artist then posted a video to his 815k followers on his Instagram page which was made up of photos fans had sent him of lost loved ones using the hashtag #wishthatitookmorephotographsofus. Given the power of photographs, the central line of “wish that I’d took more photographs of us”, is something that can resonate with every single one of us. But then Professor Green adds even more telling lyrics, such as “we all thought we’d live forever, we all thought that the moments would last… but the moments don’t last, the only thing that lasts are the photographs… but what about the moments that we forget, what about the memories that we’ve lost?” He delivers those with his trademark rap, while the Rag N Bone brings a typical gravity to his sung chorus, which is further enhanced by those R’n‘B/hip hop beats. It’s a song to inspire love… to stop regret and to make you delve back into countless photograph memories, while also making sure to capture some for your own future.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Clean Bandit, Baby

SINGLE OF THE WEEK/VIDEO OF THE WEEK: CLEAN BANDIT feat MARINA & LUIS FONSIBABY: Clean Bandit have unveiled their new single, Baby (featuring Marina and Luis Fonsi), alongside the band’s self-produced official video. A breezy, Cuban-influenced dancefloor-filling single, Baby is also notable for featuring vocals from Marina and Luis Fonsi. The song and official video (shot in LA) follows a storyline of lost love and marks the band’s second collaboration with Marina following Disconnect, a track drop that set the Internet alight last summer after its live debut at Coachella. Baby stands out by virtue of its Cuban influenced beats and guitars, which have an intoxicating dancefloor vibe, as well as the Cuban guest vocals, which further infuse the dance vibe, as well as the sweeping sense of romanticism that also can be found throughout. The hip-hop leaning dance beats are a bonus, too, further enhancing its dancefloor appeal. It’s a red hot record for these cooler autumn evenings. Announced last month, Clean Bandit’s new album What Is Love? is confirmed for release on November 30.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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James Arthur, Empty

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: JAMES ARTHUREMPTY SPACE: The striking video for James Arthur’s new single Empty Space has now premiered and features Harry Potter actor Tom Felton. The video perfectly captures the emotions contained within the lyrics, and has a movie-style quality befitting an actor of Felton’s quality. Who knows… it could be the perfect romantic drama audition tape for him! The song itself is a beautiful, soaring, guitar-led song about love and loss. The lyrics are trademark Arthur… raw and honest, they document the pain and self awareness that follows a break-up. It includes lines such as “I’ve been drinking, I’ve been doing things I shouldn’t do. Over thinking, I don’t know who I am without you. I’m a liar and a cheat, I let me ego swallow me. And that’s why I might never see you again. I’m alone in my head looking for love in a strangers bed. But I don’t think I’ll find it ‘cause only you could fill this empty space.” James himself commented: “This song is for anyone who has ever deeply loved and lost someone dear to them, and is then faced with the struggle of trying to fill that void. It is about coming to terms with the fact that only that special person can truly fill the empty space.” As ever, it’s nicely impassioned, emotionally intense and utterly stirring.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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David Gray

DAVID GRAYTHE SAPLING: David Gray has confirmed release details for a new album, Gold In A Brass Age – his first album of new material in four years – alongside a 17-date tour of the UK for 2019. The album will be available on March 8, 2019, through IHT Records / AWAL Recordings, with first single The Sapling out now. Produced by Ben DeVries, son of producer and soundtrack composer Marius, Gold In A Brass Age finds Gray in renewed creative form. And this is evident in first offering, The Sapling, which adopts a slightly more pop style than normal, whilst maintaining the vocal intensity that is a Gray trademark. A song about life and love (“don’t ask me where the time has gone”), this is beautifully delivered vocally, while drawing on elements of Northern Soul-inspired beats, toe-tapping beats, traces of gospel and slick electronics. It’s a nicely composed, lushly layered and highly appealing return from an artist who has long been impressive to us.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Kawala

KAWALAMOONLIGHT: Kawala make a welcome return with their harmonious new single Moonlight, a genuinely breezy, easy listen. Built around lilting vocals and joyous electronic harmonies, the track has a really laidback, feel-good vibe that translates effortlessly well to the listener. It’s also celebratory in its lyrics, which have a hypnotic appeal. Speaking about the track, Kawala explained: “Writing Moonlight was really the first time we’ve set our main focus on a storytelling lyric and consistent harmonies, over rhythms and instrumentation. We’ve tried to balance a super chilled feel with a heart-warming positivity, while taking you on a personal journey in search for an escape from their mental demons.” In that sense, it’s nicely empowering and even inspiring, especially at a time when there’s renewed focus on understanding issues of mental health – be they diagnostic or just anyone going through a difficult time. Moonlight is a follow-up to Kawala’s compelling debut DILYDEP, which featured the singles Small Death, Do It Like You Do and Funky, and which has collectively reached over seven million streams. This London-based band looks set to release a heck of a lot more based on the strength and easy appeal of Moonlight.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Chvrches, Graffiti

CHVRCHESGRAFFITI: Chvrches uncanny ability to marry sorrow with beauty is fully evident on new single Graffiti, the opening track from new album, Love Is Dead. Instrumentally, there are some striking electronic arrangements (especially during the track’s opening salvo) and disco friendly beats, married to an impassioned yet bittersweet vocal from Lauren Mayberry. But lyrically, the song really taps into the sadness and regret that comes from heartbreak – a sentiment that’s to be found throughout the new material on the LP. Lyrics here include such pearls as: “I’ve been waiting for my whole life to grow old / And now we never will, never will.” It’s a sad lament, which becomes all the more tearful the longer you hear and ponder it. But rather than bringing you totally down, those synths and beats help to keep the song as a whole on the right side of radio friendly. It’s another great offering from Chvrches that could yet win them even more friends.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Anne-Marie, Perfect To Me

ANNE-MARIEPERFECT TO ME: “I’ll eat my body weight in chocolate and ice-cream… I’m OK with not being perfect”. So sings Anne-Marie over catchy new single Perfect To Me, which offers a shout out to maintaining a sense of one’s own happiness and refusing to conform to society’s need for perfection. The song itself is more ballad than pop song, with the beats a lot more sedate than we’re perhaps accustomed to. But that only endears the song’s sentiments even more, helping the listener to pick out a handful of lyrics that are sure to put a knowing smile on your face. Lyrical gems include “don’t feel like putting make-up on my cheeks… love every single part of my body… I’m not a supermodel from a magazine”, as well as “sometimes I wake up late and don’t even brush my teeth” and “you know I get depressed, are you impressed with my honesty?” That’s a resounding yes from us.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Dolores Haze

DOLORES HAZESUCK ON MY EGO: Given that the name of Dolores Haze’s new album is Play Hard F**k Hard Love Hard, it should come as no surprise that the tracks comprising it are similarly provocative. And so it is with new single Suck On My Ego, a typically no-nonsense effort that underlines their capacity to make you sit up and take notice. Suck On My Ego is one of the more hip-hop infused tracks on the LP and was inspired by producer Lil Pz first meeting with the band’s Groovy Nickz, claiming ‘her spirit’s so high, I’m getting vertigo’. The track is an ode to the diva in all of us and unrelenting confidence in just being yourself. The beats are slick and urban in hip-hop leaning, the synths have a haunted quality, while the main vocals are semi-rapped and ultra sultry (in a kind of confident, ‘I don’t give a f**k’ style). But the inclusion of a foreboding background male voice ruins things a little and detracts from the overall quality. Nevertheless, it’s fearless, provocative and catchy for most of the time.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Lokki

LOKKIHIGH: High is the first new music from Lokki – the solo project of Glass Animals’ Drew MacFarlane – since his debut EP Cirrhi, which arrived earlier this year. Sprung from writing sessions at his flat in leafy South London, the off-beat pop of High finds Drew fleshing out the nocturnal vulnerability which characterised so much of the gauzy Cirrhi EP. Picking at that disconnect between the individual and collective experience, High refracts a nervy questioning of identity through MacFarlane’s love for classical composition. Hence, there are some very cinematic arrangements that sound strings-based, along with bouncing pianos and some brisk beats. MacFarlane, meanwhile, employs the kind of flamboyant vocal style that artists such as Freddie Mercury or Rufus Wainwright might be proud of themselves. The track arrives with a stop-motion video, which animator Tayo Kopfer filmed with Drew in the quieter corners of a London arts centre. Created via a painstaking process during which Kopfer added hand-drawn illustrations to thousands of stills from the resulting footage (before stitching the whole thing back together), the video intersects with the track’s acceptance of imperfection and temporality. Says Drew of the video: “A big part of the song is about zooming way out, seeing your life (and other peoples’ lives) fast forwarded, a bit like a time lapse. The paint moving across the screen plays with everything in the video, including me, mirroring how all of our actions ripple out into the world, even though we don’t always see it.”
Following solo shows across 2018, the release of High will be followed by soon-to-be-announced live dates from Drew.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Lucia, Cheap Talk

LUCIACHEAP TALK: Glaswegian indie rock four-piece Lucia have just released their highly anticipated Cheap Talk EP on Sweet Jane Recordings. Produced by Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Adele) and mixed by Craig Silvey (Arcade Fire, Florence) the EP features the new single and EP title track Cheap Talk, their critically-acclaimed recent single Summertime and two more new tracks: All The Money and What I Am. The title track is a livewire listen, propelled by some blistering guitar hooks and a typically feisty central vocal from Lucia Fairfull. It’s a lament about the state of the world and the power of cash, featuring lines like “she can promise anything because her money talks”. But it’s equally countered by lines such as “but I can see right through her” and “shut up, shut up”. Fairfull is a no-nonsense kind of singer and that brash, go-for-it approach works to this particular song’s advantage.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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