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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, November 17, 2017

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

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: NOEL GALLAGHER’S HIGH FLYING BIRDS – IT’S A BEAUTIFUL WORLD: As the release of their new album, Who Built The Moon?, draws ever closer, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds drop the third taster track in the form of It’s A Beautiful World. And as with the material so far, this continues to move away from the sound we’ve come to expect. Driven by a fantastic back-beat, some propulsive electronics and some stirring guitar riffs, this is fuelled by a tremendously invigorating energy. Gallagher’s distint vocals work brilliantly in tandem with those instrumentals, which benefit greatly from the presence of a certain David Holmes on production details. The chorus then breaks free from the main instrumental to lift the track into soaring, anthemic territory, that’s tailor-made for sending those spines tingling in live form. Coming off the back of previous singles Fort Knox and Holy Mountain, this new album promises to serve up something really special. Heck, we even like the French speaking interlude late on.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Alexander Wolfe

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: ALEXANDER WOLFEOSLO: Described as a spine-tingling and emotive song about love and loss, Alexander Wolf’s new offering Oslo is as striking as that description sounds. Combining the epic elements of acts like Elbow and Peter Gabriel (both instrumentally and vocally), this takes a very cinematic approach to its songwriting, both in terms of the lyrical picture it paints and the intricately layered nature of the instrumentals, which range from snappy beat arrangements to sombre piano chords and – eventually – some soaring electronic elements. Speaking about the new single, Wolfe explains: “The song is about loss and grief. It’s about the feeling that comes with the realisation that a person you cared about is gone for good. It’s about not wanting to be deleted. Hoping that each of you left your mark on each other and that despite everything, it was worth it. The song came soon after the death of a family member and a relationship breakdown. I was in Oslo for a few days. There’s a certain absence, a cold alone-ness to the place that definitely fed into the song. To me, it sounds like Oslo feels.” Whether or not Norwegians will be happy to read that, this is a stirring, emotive and quite beautiful slow-builder of a ballad.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fall Out Boy

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1: FALL OUT BOYHOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T: This week, Fall Out Boy surprised their loyal fans with a new single, Hold Me Tight Or Don’t and the news that they are returning to Europe for an arena tour in 2018. The new track is the fourth song to drop from the band’s eagerly anticipated seventh studio album M A N I A, which is released on January 19, 2018 – and it’s a typically lively offering, straddling the worlds of both alt-rock and pop. There’s a lively, carnival-style beat, some thrashing guitars and a melody-soaked chorus that proclaims, in typically spiky fashion, “hold me tight… or don’t”. Hence, while the song itself retains an upbeat energy, there’s a bittersweet undertow lyrically that’s synonymous with much of the band’s material. That doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself singing along, though. The video, directed by Brendan Walter and Mel Soria, is a love story embedded in a colourful and vibrant celebration of Dia de los Muertos. Fall Out Boy are Patrick Stump, Pete Wentz, Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley. The Grammy-nominated four-piece hail from Chicago and are one of the world’s most successful rock bands.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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DJ Snake

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 2: DJ SNAKE feat LAUV – A DIFFERENT WAY: Grammy-nominated French DJ and producer DJ Snake has finally released the video for his single A Different Way, featuring Lauv – and it was worth the wait. The heart-warming, uplifting video was directed by award-winning director Colin Tilley (DJ Khaled & Rihanna’s Wild Thoughts, Kendrick Lamar’s Alright), who also shot DJ Snake’s video for his single Middle. Tilley’s involvement in the video brings the journey of A Different Way full circle, as the director also captured DJ Snake’s journey in September through the streets of Paris that culminated in a historic performance atop the Arc De Triomphe where he originally premiered the track. Shot in LA, the video for A Different Way prominently features Sheadan Gabriel, a young dancer and actor most known for his work with Justin Bieber, as well as singer, actress, and dancer Internet personality Montana Tucker. As for the song itself, A Different Way offers up a pretty catchy mix of electronics and pop that combine DJ Snake’s trademark electronic loops and mixing skills, with a songwriting sheen that could only have been delivered by someone of Sheeran’s hit-making quality. Indeed, when left to the vocals, the song takes the form of a pop ballad that Sheeran himself could deliver, albeit with a softer set of vocals. But the chorus is pure Sheeran enhanced for the way it delivers on the catchy, sing-along elements. The instrumentals, meanwhile, find DJ Snake throwing off the shackles and delivering what his own fans would expect from him.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Rhys Lewis, Reason To Hate You

RHYS LEWISREASON TO HATE YOU: Hot off the success of hit record Wish I Was Sober, Rhys Lewis bares all in this poignant and heartfelt new ballad, Reason To Hate You, out on Decca Records. The new track tells the tale all too familiar to anyone who has ever had their heart broken. A song of quiet desperation, Leiws’s soulful voice stands strong alongside a simple guitar accompaniment – gripping and heart-rending from beginning to end. Commenting on the track, Lewis said: “I wrote this song about a past relationship. She ended things, but it’s not like we’d fallen out of love or had a massive fight – it just wasn’t quite working and mainly down to bad timing. It was hard for me to accept the situation, or find any reason to stop loving her. There was nothing negative to walk away from, and I remember thinking – I wish she’d cheated on me or met someone else, because it would be so much easier to get over her. I found writing and recording this song extremely soul-bearing – it’s the first time I’ve recorded a song straight after writing it so I was still very connected to the emotions of it all. I recorded it as a live take with just a guitar, which really allowed me to feel the song and the performance. It creates a totally different energy but I think recording it that way suits the more intimate songs on the record, and I hope that comes across when people listen to the song.” With lyrics such as “help me get over you” and “tell me you love somebody else, or say you’ve been unfaithful to me, because I need a reason to hate you”, this screams with the torment that Lewis must have felt – but it’s relatable. And, as ever, Lewis’s delivery is extremely powerful, his soulful vocals working so effectively against that simple guitar strum.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Paramore, Fake Happy

PARAMOREFAKE HAPPY: Paramore’s latest offering opens in one way and ends in another. Early on, there’s a melancholy set of lonesome vocals, proclaiming “we’re all so fake happy”, over a simple acoustic strum. But around the 40-second mark, a more lively electronic pulse kicks in and the song enters more alt-rock/pop territory and immediately becomes more endearing. The result is a bittersweet offering that has a lot on its mind. As a social commentary, it raises plenty of questions about social behaviour. But instrumentally, it bounds along, offering plenty of radio-friendly melodies and a typically feisty set of vocals, as well as a “ba ba ba da ba ba” harmony late on that’s tailor-made for live fun. The later choruses really grandstand, even entering euphoric territory. Fake Happy is taken from the band’s fifth studio album After Laughter, which also includes the acclaimed singles, Hard Times and Told You So. The accompanying video was directed by Zac Farro, who comments: “The Fake Happy video was a very special video for me. This is the first time I’ve directed a music video on film. It was shot on 35mm. Also the first time working with my talented friend and DP, Josh Goleman. Everyone involved was amazing. I’m super stoked for people to see this music video. I feel it’s subtle and charming and suits the song perfectly.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Alt-J, Pleader

ALT-J – PLEADER: Despite having already been released earlier this year as the climax to their album Relaxer, Alt-J have decoided to re-issue Pleader as their latest [and final] single from that LP, complete with a strikingly cinematic video. An epic creation, this is nevertheless a new and shorter version than that which appears on the LP, stripped of the flamenco-style guitars and pan pipe solo that marked the original. But it’s still heavily reliant on instrumentals, with cinematic strings and electronics providing a swirling, highly atmospheric backdrop and taking centre-stage for long stages. When the lyrics do eventually kick in, it finds the singer asking “how green, how green was my valley?” in a pastoral style (the line is lifted from Richard Llewellyn’s 1939 novel of the same name). It’s striking, distinct stuff, indicative of the Alt-J style. And the video, which unfolds like a Paul Thomas Anderson mini-movie, is equally as striking and atmospheric.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Off Bloom

OFF BLOOMLOVER LIKE ME: Having just released their 5-track Lover Like Me EP, rising Anglo-Danish trio Off Bloom today share a steamy, sensual video for the confident title track, directed by Abbie Stephens. Speaking about the video, the band had this to say: “The Lover Like Me video is the last chapter of the video trilogy that we have made in connection with the EP. Every video has one of the primary colors as a theme and they are all linked together. Shut Up And Let Me Walk is yellow and aggressive and rockefe11a is red and mellow! Lover Like Me has a blue theme and moves in more emotional, sensual universes dominated by reflections, doubled images and contorted frames. It plays with the idea of craving a lover like yourself and the gross and narcissistic elements in that but also the very human thing of wanting your lover to be as close to you and to know you like you know yourself.” The song itself is propelled by an insistent back-beat, some flute-like flourishes that add extra edge, and a melodic chorus that taps into the sensuality and sexuality of the lyrics and accompanying video. It’s upbeat, lively, provocative in its own way and a surefire hit for them – a song that is more than capable of breaking into the mainstream, while retaining the signature identity of Off Bloom.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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New Arcades, Irreparable

NEW ARCADES feat NINAIRREPARABLE: A meeting of 80s inspired synths, big pop hooks and a soaring vocal delivered by Nina!, London duo New Arcades return with their new singe Irreparable – and succeed in sweeping you away amid a tidal wave of ’80s nostalgia. Combining elements of dream synth pop with bombastic ’80s pop (circa Go West meets Tangerine Dream via Roxette), this washes over you in an almost entrancing fashion. The retro synths have an oddly feel-good vibe, in spite of being cheesy as hell, while the vocals and lyrics (which talk of being broken, yet with a heart wide open) also tap into that soap-pop sound of the past. It works much better than you think it should. Detailing the song, Adam, from New Arcades, explains: “The song itself is about the break down of a relationship and it therefore being Irreparable I guess the song flows like a story painting the picture of a relationship that’s become so bad, yet no party can consider why its gone so bad! Just the acceptance that they are unfulfilled and broken and putting the blame on each other, yet there’s that element of hope “my heart is still wide open.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Fergus

FERGUSYOU OR NOTHING: Singer-songwriter Fergus makes his debut with some impressive backing credentials. For starters, his debut single You Or Nothing has been produced by Jake Gosling (of Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes fame), while his ear for a strong ballad is without question. His voice, meanwhile, is utterly distinct. In fact, it’s the type of voice that could make you do a double take the first time you hear it, given its pitch. But that only marries itself to the instrumentals in a more striking fashion. And the instrumentals on You Or Nothing are disarmingly simple but beautiful. There’s predominantly a striking guitar loop, with only mininal electronic support, thereby allowing Fergus’s aforementioned vocals to soar, particularly over the sweet chorus. It’s a genuinely striking debut. Speaking about the track, Fergus said: “You or Nothing is more of a snapshot than a story. It captures an unknown feeling caught between complex emotions. I like the combination of the simple, clear sounds and the maybe-dark/maybe-sweet lyrics. There’s a holiness to it you can hold up and examine in the light, but you might not like what you find.”
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Danu5ik

DANU5IK – IMAGINE: Originally hailing from London, Danu5ik is now a local Edmontonian looking to share his talent and passion with music fans worldwide. His new release, Imagine, was mastered in the famed Abbey Roads Studio in London. The track itself is a sharp slice of synth-pop that combines the pop sheen of Jean-Michel Jarre with the indie edge of Daft Punk, over a soulful, falsetto set of vocals. It sweeps along, really hitting its stride during those instrumental moments (where it is capable of cutting a swathe across the dancefloors of Europe). Danu5ik has dropped a compelling statement of intent. The release of the song includes the premiere of the Imagine music video and is the final single to be released before Danu5ik’s new album, which is set to be released in early 2018.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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