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Music - Singles of the week - Monday, March 30, 2015

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

Malka, Let It Go

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: MALKALET IT GO: Under various guises, both solo and as frontwoman of the acclaimed 6 Day Riot, Tamara Schlesinger has enjoyed chart success, extensively toured the UK and North America, achieved acclaim from major press, synced her music to domestic TV shows (Skins) and even Hollywood films and trailers (Scream 4, 127 Hours). Her latest incarnation is Malka and it could be her most successful yet. New single Let It Go is a song-led slice of electro alt-pop that offers up an extremely enjoyable listen. It’s insanely catchy, effortlessly beautiful and lyrically intelligent to boot. If you imagine The Bangles’ Walk Like An Egyptian mixed with Imogen Heap, then you’re somewhere in the right neighbourhood for what to expect. It’s taken from her forthcoming album, Marching To Another Beat, which drops in June and which, on the evidence so far, promises to be a real treat.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Ed Sheeran, Bloodstream

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: ED SHEERAN & RUDIMENTALBLOODSTREAM: Ed Sheeran teams up with Rudimental for his latest single, Bloodstream, a melancholy lament about a loss of confidence and love (“how did I get so faded?”). It’s a darker, edgier affair than some of Sheeran’s material, yet all the better for it. The guitar licks have a brooding quality, the background humming adds a nice touch over the chorus, and the beats tick along nicely, while the heart-on-sleeve lyrics scream pain and agony and self-doubt (“oh no, don’t leave me alone if you love me/this is how it ends, I feel the chemicals burn in my bloodstream”). Ben Howard would also love to deliver a song like this. It’s another example of why Sheeran is currently one of the biggest – and best – acts on the planet right now.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Kooks, See Me Now

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: THE KOOKSSEE ME NOW: “If you could see me now, you would see a little boy, oh would you be proud”… so sing The Kooks over the opening moments of their latest single, See Me Now. And it’s something intimate and beautiful. Stripped down, heartfelt and piano backed, this is an indie power ballad of immense quality. The piano work is nicely realised, the lyrics thought-provoking and encouraging, and the intricate layering really, really well observed. Yes, there’s an inevitability to the way in which the track builds towards a bolder, more anthemic single – but there’s suprise elements, too, such as the inclusion of a gospel-tinged backing chorus, some strings, some handclap beats and a grand sense of wonder. It’s cinematic, it’s empowering and it’s just a really fine listen.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Ben Howard

BEN HOWARDRIVERS IN YOUR MOUTH: Young Devonshire artist Ben Howard releases Rivers In Your Mouth as the latest record to be taken from his critically-acclaimed, chart-topping second album, I Forget Where We Were. One of the LP’s many highlights, this is under-pinned first and foremost by an insistent electronic loop and a brisk back-beat, before ushering in the type of guitar licks that Dire Straits would have been proud of. Howard, meanwhile, brings customary emotional gravitas to the vocals, filling the song with a deeper meaning that has become synonymous with his particular brand of intelligent songwriting. If there was any doubt why Howard is now rightly considered to be among Britain’s brightest talents, then listen here. The album is terrific too.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Muse, Dead Inside

MUSEDEAD INSIDE: According to some reports, Muse’s latest single Dead Inside has drawn a mixed response. It was officially dropped last Monday ahead of the release of their Drones LP and certainly has a venomous edge. A lament about a lost relationship (possibly Matt Bellamy’s own recent break-up), this is a slower building effort than previous taster single Psycho, yet packed with simmering rage. The chorus offers lyrics such as “your lips feel warm to the touch, you can bring me back to life, on the outside you’re ablaze and alive, but you’re dead inside”, while the guitars and synths have a grit and twisted energy to them that’s totally in keeping with the song’s bitter sentiments. Nevertheless, in our opinion, it’s compelling as hell and typical of the quality we’ve come to expect from Muse – with even a little of Queen’s flamboyance thrown in.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Cribs, Burning For No One

THE CRIBSBURNING FOR NO ONE: The recipient of the hottest Record In The World accolade on Zane Lowe’s BBC Radio 1 show, Burning For No One heralds the much-vaunted return of indie-rock trio The Cribs, with Gary taking lead vocal duties. The resulting track finds him overseeing a pop edged three minute flourish that continues to see the brothers bristle with renewed vigour, a new home and boundless self belief. Burning For No One opens amid a flurry of jangly guitars and a robust central vocal, before blossoming into a heady blast of indie-rock energy. The guitars weigh in with some grittier riffs, while the chorus opens up into something that’s highly melodic, effortlessly toe-tapping and radio-friendly enough to have fans [and the uninitiated] nodding their heads while whoo-hooing along. The track is taken from The Cribs’ new album, For All Our Sisters, which was also released last week.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Tape Runs Out, Friends

TAPE RUNS OUTFRIENDS/FLOWERS: Cambridge-based indie pop purveyors Tape Runs Out unashamedly display their edgy, refreshing pop-mindedness in double-A side release Friends/Flowers, with a potent elixir of guitars, hooks and the familiar soft hush of early ‘90s male vocals. The former is a layered jangle anthem sure to inspire dreaming and gazing, which benefits from some nice boy-girl vocal swaps and a cool back-beat. The sudden finale is a nice touch too, catching you off-guard just when you’re sinking into its slick rhythm. The stand-out track of the two, however, is arguably Flowers, which is reminiscent of Rock Action-era Mogwai on ecstasy with a remarkable Cure-laced cool-down effect. The opening is extremely laidback, combining dreamy shoe-gaze elements, with that cinematic touch befitting a Mogwai production, and the beauty-mixed-with-melancholy that The Cure have perfected so well. It’s well worth taking the time to seek out.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Fourth And Folsom, Golden Dunes

FOURTH AND FOLSOMGOLDEN DUNES: Making their way in the indie/ Americana scene, and having supported Primal Scream, Fourth And Folsom now release their new single Golden Dunes with B-Side Iowa. The new tracks were recorded by the band themselves and produced at Metropolis Studios in London, mixed by Senior Engineer Xavier Stephenson (The Who, Amy Winehouse, Winner of ‘Pro Sound’s Rising Star’ award in 2013) and mastered by Andy ‘Hippy’ Baldwin (The Who, Arcade Fire, Interpol, Blur). The track itself is a slow-building affair that’s largely built around a subtle, intricately constructed guitar riff and some low-key vocals. Lyrically, the track explores themes of fulfilling potential and realising dreams and, as such, gradually becomes bigger and brighter, belatedly incorporating that West Coast anthemic sound that helped to inspire their songwriting in the first place. It’s a good entry point to the band, which makes you want to hear more from them.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Two Ways Home

TWO WAYS HOMETIME LASTS FOREVER: Anglo-Australian country folk group Two Ways Home drop their debut single in the form of Time Lasts Forever but kind of underwhelm. The formula is simple: acoustic guitar, boy-girl vocals and slow-building percussion. But it has an over-familiar vibe to it that places it in the accomplished but far from spectacular category. The guitar work has a country rock meets acoustic folk vibe, as does the delivery of the chorus. There’s plenty of emotional in the way the lyrics are delivered – but it’s a mid-tempo, Radio 2 on a Sunday afternoon kind of track that just needed a little more kick.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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Heard a great single, but yet to buy it? Well, we may have reviewed it. Previous reviews: