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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 22, 2019

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

Coldplay

SINGLE/VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: COLDPLAYDADDY: Coldplay have long possessed the ability to deliver an emotionally resonant ballad. But Daddy is something else. An ode to a father and – indeed – fathers all over the world, this piano-based, stripped back offering is a beautifully constructed, disarmingly simple song that taps into the struggles and passion of being a dad (and sometimes being so far away). The track is accompanied by a stunning animated video, created by Aardman Animations. The film, directed by Åsa Lucander, offers an atmospheric journey through a girl’s fragmented memory about her father. It uses live action puppetry, digitally painted sets and 2D animation to create a tapestry of styles. Lucander said: “I knew when I had the opportunity to pitch on this project that is was going to be a very special one. The first time I listened to the track it spoke to me on a deep level – I immediately started to imagine storylines and images formed in my mind’s eye. When this happens, you know you’re on to something very special! I’m often drawn to emotional stories and I knew very quickly that this was one I wanted to tell.” A tear-jerker par excellence, this is a stunning song and a stunning video; evidence of Coldplay at the peak of their form.
Rating: 5 out of 5

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Nada Surf

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: NADA SURFSOMETHING I SHOULD DO: Nada Surf make a very welcome return with news of their ninth studio album, Never Not Together, which is set for release on February 7, 2020, via City Slang, as well as the lead single and video for the record Something I Should Do. “Empathy is good, lack of empathy is bad, holy math says we’re never not together,” singer Matthew Caws declares at the end of the track, a crashing power-pop track with an insistent melody that adds urgency to his thoughts about 21st-century life (and social media in particular). And while it can be quite scathing about the state of affairs in contemporary life, with some typically thought-provoking sung and spoken lyrics, the track flies high on a soaring central guitar riff and those alt-rock melodies that have become a Nada Surf mainstay. It’s a song that’s destined to become another anthem for them, tapping into classic sensibilities, while also sounding fresh and very, very vital. It’s the type of anthem that could well be embraced by a new generation looking for change because – in reality – there really is something we all can do right now to improve the way we live and affect our planet [and each other].
Rating: 4 out of 5

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haim, Hallelujah

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: HAIMHALLELUJAH: The third new track to be taken from Haim’s forthcoming album, the poignant Hallelujah is a reflective ballad about gratitude that marks a change of pace from the more upbeat likes of Summer Girl and Now I’m In It. “Why me, how’d I get this Hallelujah?” the band ask as they consider how fortunate they are to have the love of family, friends and each other. It’s a stripped back, intimate offering that’s delivered with real heart. But it’s full of warmth, too, once you really listen to those heartfelt lyrics. The guitars are folksy and beautifully delivered, while the girls are as harmonic and melodic as we’ve come to expect, albeit in more restrained, low-key style than of late. It’s another classic offering from a forthcoming album that looks set to be as diverse as it is rich and highly enjoyable. Hallelujah is their first song co-written with friend and fellow musician/songwriter Tobias Jesso Jr. (Adele, Sia, Florence & The Machine) and it was produced by Ariel Rechtshaid, Rostam Batmanglij and Danielle Haim. HAIM have also shared the official video for Halleujah, directed by longtime collaborator Paul Thomas Anderson.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Noel Gallagher and Stephen Graham

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDSWANDERING STAR: Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds have released the new video for latest single Wandering Star, starring acclaimed British actor Stephen Graham (This Is England, Gangs of New York, Line of Duty, Boardwalk Empire) alongside fellow actor and real-life wife Hannah Walters (This Is England, Whitechapel, Pirates of the Caribbean). Shot in London and directed by Dan Cadan and Scully – who also directed the videos for previous singles Black Star Dancing and This Is The Place – the festive video stars Stephen as Santa Claus and Hannah as a single mum doing what she can to ensure her kids have gifts at Christmas. Dan commented: “Their performances bring further to life Noel’s brilliant music and lyrics and we hope this fills you with Christmas cheer, and strikes a chord enough for you to raise a glass to those less fortunate but equally as deserving.” Of the track itself, we always knew Gallagher was taking a shot at landing a Christmas No.1 with this offering. Wandering Star is shot through with seasonal chimes as well as talk of a star to guide you home. It’s the first track to be taken from the forthcoming Blue Moon Rising EP, which is released on March 6, 2020, so it’s not really a Christmas offering either, because in other areas, it actually feels more like a classic Oasis track, rather than the more progressive offerings that Gallagher’s High Flying Birds have most recently offered via their Black Star Dancing sessions. It’s epic, for sure. But it has that Oasis-meets-Beatles kind of vibe, especially over the chorus, which is certainly more familiar and, yes, well trodden territory.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Foals

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 3: FOALSLIKE LIGHTNING: Never a band to do anything by half measures, Foals have shared a new animated video for one of the new album’s key tracks, Like Lightning. The video depicts a world of unrestrained consumerism in which drivers sit in endless traffic surrounded by exhaust fumes, and dead-eyed commuters stare blankly at their phones while crammed together like sardines. The video’s central character, George, is inspired to take action after watching nightmarish news reports of a dying planet. He hits the street wearing a cap that reads ‘Make the world great again’ and soon inspires a wave of like-minded souls to join him, first through social media and then out in the real world. He discovers that the more attention he generates for the cause, the more things change for the better. The Like Lightning video was written and directed by the French animator Virginie Kypriotis. Her visual creations are playful and immensely detailed, and often pay tribute to club culture such as her A Night At Berghain illustration. Virginie commented: “After being angered by the world’s greed, malice and ignorance regarding environmental issues, the story’s hero simply decides to run away. The action makes him a kind of contemporary messiah who people turn to as they begin to change their ways. Although the film is about the environment, we wanted to create a new kind of message about it. Rather than just being pessimistic or even too sentimental, the idea was to use our anger to create something funny and hopeful to celebrate the people who are actually doing something about it.” The video is therefore highly imaginative and capable of inspiring a generation. It’s a bold offering. The track, too, isn’t afraid to deliver its message in emphatic fashion, gutsy guitar riffs mixing with powerhouse vocals and empowering lyrics that declare: “It’s about that time when, I gotto throw lightning” and “Under a setting sun, I will not be undone, My day has just begun”. Foals are one of the most prominent supporters of Music Declares Emergency. The organisation promotes changes to improve environmental practice across the UK music industry, and aims to use its collective voice to pressure the government to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Jessie Reyez, Crazy

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 4: JESSIE REYEZCRAZY: Having just released her new track and cover Crazy, one of the most iconic and recognised songs of all time by legendary country-western singer Patsy Cline, Toronto singer-songwriter Jessie Reyez has shared a dark and disturbing Tarantino-esque video. And it’s one of those videos that’s destined to be like musical Marmite – some may label it exploitative (especially in the #MeToo era), while others will dig the Tarantino homage. The visuals feature a woman laying on the floor, with the man who shot her overlooking her. He waits for her to die, then teases compassion, before finally strangling her to ‘death’. Only, that’s not the end. There’s life in the young girl yet! And in a Kill Bill-style back-from-the-dead reversal, the girl manages to call for help. It’s a video that’s highly cinematic and ultra provocative and it won’t be to every taste. But it’s certainly eye-catching and debate worthy. As for the song itself, it’s a sleek, sexy, playful version of the original song, which both tips its hat to Cline’s classic style of delivery, while adding something contemporary and very Reyez to boot. It’s a song/cover that’s hard not to go crazy for.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Coldplay

COLDPLAYCHAMPION OF THE WORLD: The second new offering from Coldplay’s new Everyday Life LP is the anthemic Champion of the World. The track features a co-write credit for the writers of Owl John’s Los Angeles Be Kind, including Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit, and offers a fanastically empowering journey that is enlivened by a striking central guitar riff, a powerhouse chorus (about riding on a bicycle) and that shimmering sense of wonder that Coldplay often bring to their most rousing standards. Indeed, you know you’re going to be hooked almost as soon as that riff drops. Commenting on the track, Chris Martin said: “Scott had a song called Los Angeles Be Kind, which I love. When I first heard it, I thought it was going to go one way; but it went another. Anyway, Champion Of The World is the song that came from following the other path, and that’s why Scott is a co-writer on this song. Today is also his birthday. So, happy birthday Scott and thank you for your beautiful music, wherever you are.” Coldplay’s Everyday Life LP is available now.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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James Deacon, Hero aka Rich

JAMES DEACONHERO AKA RICH: James Deacon has released his candid alternative pop anthem HERO aka Rich through Bad Future Records and succeeds in offering up something worth thinking about with an impassioned, highly catchy soul-pop anthem. Deacon explained: “This song is a very important one for me. I wrote this song about my relationship with my brother that went from an inseparable bond and a decade worth of good times and life shaping events to an abrupt end in a fiery mess of emotions.” The anguish of that destructive relationship is evident throughout, but never more so than when Deacon blasts out “you used to be my hero”. You can feel the sense of loss. But throughout, there’s high end production values. Vocally, there’s traces of John Legend, while the emphatic beats and gutsy soul-gospel backing enhance a track that is shot through with feeling and that sense of loss. And that’s not forgetting the delicious blues guitar riffs that weave their way in and out at various points. It’s heady, atmospheric, powerful stuff.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The 1975, Frail State of Mind

THE 1975 – FRAIL STATE OF MIND: The 1975 have just dropped a fascinating new video for current single Frail State of Mind, which features Matty Healy dancing in a dress that he has, himself, created. It’s designed to reflect the troubled state of mind behind the lyrics, which confront the issue of mental wellbeing in typically resolute, thought-provoking fashion. The track itself offers a melancholy listen, lyrically, with lines such as “Oh boy don’t cry, I’m sorry but I always get this way sometimes, Oh I’ll just leave, I’ll save you time”. Yet in spite of this, the surrounding instrumentals have a more relaxed vibe courtesy of restrained back-beats (which could stem from a distant garage nightclub) and fizzing electronics. If anything, the instrumentals juxtapose the lyrics, offering something that’s decidedly bittersweet but utterly addictive. And with Healy already promising a late night feel attached to the new LP, this fits that bill almost perfectly… a sort of comedown record for a big night out (good or bad) that somehow brings you into a nice state of mind. It’s a track that gets better with each listen, as you really come to appreciate the complexity at play. Frail State Of Mind is the second track from The 1975’s forthcoming fourth album, Notes On A Conditional Form, which will be released on February 21, 2020.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Little Mix, One I've Been Missing

LITTLE MIXONE I’VE BEEN MISSING: Little Mix have released their first ever Christmas song. One I’ve Been Missing is being hailed as an instant Christmas classic, a 1950’s inspired ballad and a beautiful ode to festive love, steeped in sleigh bells and luscious harmonies. It’s akin to listening to any Christmas cut, with sugary sweet sentiments mixing with chiming bells and that all-girl sense of festive spirit. Mariah Carey did something similar with All I Want For Christmas Is You and one suspects this is tailor-made for the soundtrack of a Richard Curtis rom-com in waiting. Does that make it any good? Not particularly! It’s festive, for sure. But it’s the kind of song that feels pre-packaged for maximum success and, while disposably catchy, one that’s a little too neatly manufactured to ring particularly true. The song is written by Little Mix’s very own Leigh-Anne with Tre Jean-Marie, Jez Ashurst, Sinead Harnett and Rachel Furner. Leigh-Anne says: “We absolutely love Christmas, it’s our favourite time of the year. We’ve always wanted to write and release a Christmas song, we were just waiting for the right moment! The minute I finished writing One I’ve Been Missing, I couldn’t wait to play it to the other three girls.”
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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