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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, September 6, 2019

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

Blink-182

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: BLINK-182 – I REALLY WISH I HATED YOU: Blink-182’s fifth release from their eighth studio LP NINE might just be the best yet! A break-up anthem, this finds Mark Hoppus dissecting the pain of a relationship break-up he has struggled to get over. Lyrics include “I don’t really like myself without you, I really wish I hated you right now”. And therein lies the dilemma at the heart of the torment… his continued feelings of love, which inevitably bring about a lasting hurt. It’s a bittersweet offering, delivered in a much less boisterous style than trademark alt-punk Blink-182. Hence, there’s a greater depth of emotion to be found, as well. But that’s not to take anything away from the way the band have still managed to retain that catchy sound. The chorus is anthemic, the guitars bright and the melodies and hooks as tight as ever. It’s a song that instantly gets into your head and refuses to budge in a good way. We’re still loving the Blink-182 comeback charge.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Overcoats, The Fool

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: OVERCOATSTHE FOOL: Critically-acclaimed Brooklyn duo Overcoats have returned with a new single and accompanying video entitled The Fool – and it’s great. On the track, a barrage of neon synths, disco beats and electric bass tosses and turns beneath punk-y gang vocal chants. It’s very much an alternative sound, with an unapologetically feisty vocal delivery (“some days I love you, some days I don’t”) playing off against those sharp electronic loops and funky beats. It’s a song that’s just as likely to have you up and dancing, as it is making you ponder your own relationships that may leave you feeling the fool [and feeling angry about it]! But then that’s the subversion at play in this catchy, alternative offering. Overcoats JJ said of the track: “We wrote it based on The Fool tarot card. It signifies taking a leap of faith and jumping into the unknown. Conceptually, it felt like the beginning of the project. We wiped the slate clean and decided to jump. That’s why the video includes the footage of us shaving our heads. We’re The Fool, and we’re taking our leap.” That accompanying DIY video builds up to a telling reveal. Shot at home, it depicts the group — Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell — making a statement by shaving their heads on-camera and igniting the next phase of their career with fearless honesty.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Celeste, Stream

CELESTESTRANGE: Rising soul artist Celeste is back with haunting, deftly heart-shattering new single Strange. Already a spine-tingling, time halting moment in her live sets, the sparse piano-led ballad is out now on Polydor Records following a BBC Radio 1 ‘Hottest Record’ premiere. “Such a beautiful record,” Annie Mac noted after playing the song. “I can imagine a lot of people being stopped in their tracks right now.” It’s a soul baring offering that thrives on the quality of Celeste’s beautifully serene vocals. But the intensity of the songwiting is notable, too, with Celeste examining a relationship and laying it bare for all to see – pain and all. Celeste wrote Strange in Los Angeles last November, after driving down the freeway and seeing plumes of smoke emerging from the California wildfires. “Immediately I found myself becoming quite overwhelmed,” she recalls. “I began to think of all the destruction the fires caused, the loss, the isolation, people finding themselves in a situation where they have no home, no sense of familiarity. In the first verse I talk about the breakdown of certain relationships, when the burning passion or the fire goes out and you’re left with the remnants of smoke and ash. ‘I tried for you, tried to see through all the smoke but it wouldn’t move…’ Although the news about the fire wasn’t the direct inspiration for the song, it made me feel something I could truly understand that day, and opened me up to my own personal experiences of loss.” It’s hugely intelligent, hugely impressive stuff.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Foals, The Runner

FOALSTHE RUNNER: As Foals prepare to release Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 2 on October 18, they follow-up recent taster track Black Bull with new offering The Runner – and it’s a similarly charged offering. Born from a lurching, serrated guitar, The Runner unfolds in surprising ways. The verses fuse that urgency and vigour with a haunting call-and-response dual vocal before the central guitar hook soars to attention. It’s a livewire track, intricately layered both instrumentally and lyrically. On the latter front, The Runner is set in the aftermath of the landscape described in the final songs of Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 – a world that reflects our current predicament whether emotional, political or environmental. As such, it’s an angry offering, born from the temper of confusion and uncertainty. And that sweeps you along amid those sweeping guitars, soaring electronics, powerhouse drums and impassioned vocals, which declare: “I’m gonna keep on running.” As with everything Foals, this is gutsy, timely, thought-provoking and empowering. The guitar, meanwhile, just keeps getting more and more pronounced throughout, culminating in a solo that brings the track to a suitably powerful finale.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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James Arthur, Treehouse

JAMES ARTHUR feat TY DOLLA $IGN & SHOTTY HORROH: Ahead of the release of his upcoming third album YOU, James Arthur returns with the new single Treehouse, featuring Ty Dolla $ign and Shotty Horroh. With its piano and beats, Treehouse has its roots in retro hip hop, and is designed to offer a feelgood ode to survival and accepting that, some days, it’s okay not to be okay, because it’s what comes after that matters. James says: “Treehouse is a song about surrendering – going to a safe place, a sanctuary where you can get away from your troubles. The sentiment is ‘it’s okay not to be okay’, just take a load off and go to your happy place. The track features two outstanding artists in Shotty Horroh and Ty Dolla$ign, they each talk about what the Treehouse means for them.” The resulting track is neatly affecting, with Arthur bringing a husky set of central vocals that sound vaguely reassuring, especially over the chorus. Ty Dolla and Shotty heighten the hip-hop element but keep their rapping style neatly in check, so as not to detract from the more pop/ballad leanings of the track. The result is an appealing fusion of musical genres that works surprisingly effectively, with great vocal contributions from all three performers.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Editors, Black Gold

EDITORSBLACK GOLD: In continuation of what’s been one of the most prolific creative streaks of their 15 year career, Editors have announced the release of their best of album Black Gold, out October 25, 2019, via Play It Again Sam. The LP will include 13 tracks from their six studio albums, alongside three new offerings: Upside Down, summer festival anthem Frankenstein and the gothically dramatic title track Black Gold, as reviewed here. The track is a typically epic, sweeping offering that showcases the stadium-sized ambition of the band’s current songwriting. There’s throbbing synths, stark beat arrangements (which become more and more pronounced throughout the song) and epic vocals as only frontman Tom Smith knows how to deliver them. It’s a track that’s sure to be embraced by the Editors faithful and which fits in nicely with their greatest hits offering. Commenting on the band’s enduring popularity, Smith said: “To still be doing this is something I’m very proud of. These days longevity might not be seen as cool, but I think it is. We’ve solidified what this new version of the band is, and I think the new songs show that the band are hungry. We’ve always felt like outsiders, but wanted to write songs that connect with people emotionally, and resonate in a deeper way. That can sound pretentious and contrived, but there are people out there that our band mean a lot to. That’s what I always wanted.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Aaron Smith

AARON SMITHBETTER THAN YOU LOVED ME: Having created quite a stir with the release of this debut single Unspoken, which featured as an IndieLondon single of the week, as well as making the No.1 spot on both Spotify UK New Music Friday and Apple Music’s ‘Best of the Week’ playlists – pipping both Beyoncé and Sam Smith to the post – Scottish singer songwriter Aaron Smith returns with his new single, the brooding Better Than You Loved Me. And while not quite as good as its predecessor, this continues to show that Smith has a knack for writing an emotive, cinematic ballad. A slow builder, this wears its heart on its sleeve lyrically, before layering in the instrumentation with atmospheric piano and subtle, but moody back-beats, as well as brooding harmonies. Smith’s vocals remain impressive, capably turning the heartbreak of one relationship into something that can be used to improve the next. As Smith explains: “Better Than You Loved Me is about taking the lack of love from one relationship and turning it around. Whether it’s a relationship between friends, family or a couple, is open to interpretation. The point is that the love you longed for from someone that wasn’t reciprocated can make you appreciate love more and give that to someone else.” It’s an intellignet, heartfelt offering that resonates lyrically, while empowering sonically.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ellen Krauss, Criminal To Love

ELLEN KRAUSSCRIMINAL TO LOVE: Rising Swedish pop artist Ellen Krauss releases her new single Criminal To Love and showcases an intriguing new voice. The song itself is about the destructiveness of certain relationships, personified. Lyrically, she brings a depth of understanding to the subject far beyond her 19 years, as well as a maturity in her vocals that again belies her young age. It’s a low-key track, with just a gentle back-beat and trickling guitar lick to augment Krauss’ distinct, pained vocals. But those vocals are notable, too, and leave you with the impression that – when stretched into other styles – she could represent a really exciting new voice. With its ballad style, however, Criminal To Love doesn’t do enough to stretch Krauss all the way, emerging as a solid offering rather than a really, really head-turning one. Speaking about the song herself, Krauss said: “Criminal to Love is about unfair love. You know that feeling when you give more than you get. I think a lot about why we often get attracted to people who are not good for us. The heart always seems to get its way in the end. It’s weird. Destructive love is strangely attractive and before you know it you are in the middle of it.”
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Belle & Sebastian

BELLE & SEBASTIANTHIS LETTER: Belle and Sebastian have released new track This Letter, taken from their forthcoming soundtrack album Days Of The Bagnold Summer, released September 13, 2019, on Matador. The track is a beguiling, finger-plucked lullaby set to gentle bossa nova sway and rain-drenched trumpet, before concluding on the jarring note: “Though the world is fucked and swinging to the right / doesn’t get you out of what you have to do tonight.” Overall, the song offers a further display of the spellbinding and atmospheric song craft found on the album. But it’s also typical of what to expect from Belle & Sebastian – outwardly sweet, gentle and disarming, yet packing something of a powerful lyrical punch. The difference, here, is the bossa nova sway, which lends the track something of a jazz swagger that’s a little more unexpected. But it lends the track a sharp point of reference that combines nicely with the finger-plucked guitars and the cinematic strings that usher out the track on something of a high. Days Of The Bagnold Summer features 11 new Belle and Sebastian songs, as well as re-recorded versions of classics Get Me Away From Here I’m Dying and I Know Where The Summer Goes. The soundtrack largely exchnages the funk, soul and psych of their recent EP trilogy, How To Solve Our Human Problems, with more pastoral and acoustic textures that make lyrical use of strings, French horn, banjo and the occasional trumpet.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Lucas Santtana

LUCAS SANTTANA feat DUDA BEATMEU PRIMEIRO AMOR: Brazilian musician and singer Lucas Santtana has announced details for his eighth album, O céu é velho há muito tempo, due for release on October 18, 2019 via Nø Førmat!. His third release for the French label (also home to the likes of Oumou Sangaré and Mélissa Laveaux), it is the follow-up to 2017’s Modo Avião, an album (whose title translates as ‘airplane mode’) which probed ideas about the human experience and identity in an age of capitalism, consumerism and 24-7 digital connectivity. Meu Primeiro Amor is a love story interwoven with the nation’s socio-political climate. The class division in Brazil, alive and well for a country recently compounded by slavery, upholds a significant gap between the richest and poorest regions. And yet, Meu Primeiro Amor aims to build a bridge. The gentle guitar licks and lovely vocal exchange between Lucas and Duda works wonderfully in cultivating a sense of calm, which provides some optimism for change. And while the lyrics are delivered in their native tongue (which adds to a certain romanticism inherent in the sound), it’s worth visiting YouTube to get the English translation. The video, shot in the metropolitan city of São Paulo, follows the fruition of a romance between a wealthy young woman from the city and an earnest young man from slightly less fortunate circumstance. Shot in a traditional Forró townhouse, a ‘Remelexo’, where the couple would meet and later reside, the film is interspersed with appearances from Santtana and DUDA BEAT, dancing their way around the narrative.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Lontalius

LONTALIUSSWIM: Wellington, New Zealand-based Lontalius has released new single Swim, a life-affirming indie-pop track examining the anxieties and stresses youth brings with it. The song offers a great mix of searching vocals and indie rock qualities, right down to some searing guitar work (especially during the solo). But while the guitars are frequently prominent, the electronics also add something more cinematic to the mix, confronting the listener with something that feels more inquisitive as a song and not just indie-pop breezy. Speaking about the track, Lontalius said: “Swim is about the acceptance that with all the heartbreak, anxiety and stress of being young, the universe is still leading you on the right path.” The track is lifted from Lontalius’ much-anticipated second full length album All I Have. The accompanying video mirrors the reflective nature of its lyrics; with Johnston singing, ‘you can lead a boy to the water but you can’t make him swim’, just before the track builds to a cathartic crescendo of soaring guitar motifs and driving percussion.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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