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

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

Kasabian, You're In Love With A Psycho

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: KASABIANYOU’RE IN LOVE WITH A PSYCHO: Kasabian are wasting no time in releasing their new material. Just weeks ahead of the release of their new LP, For Crying Out Loud, which will be released on April 28, comes the lead single You’re In Love With A Psycho. And, as is this week’s norm, the sound seems to have mellowed somewhat. The guitars are still present, along with the trademark Kasabian background electronic whine, but there’s also more of a pop twang to proceedings that could yet yield big dividends in terms of the track’s commercial success. It’s a bouncy, catchy slice of rock-pop that zips along in ear-pleasing fashion without completely compromising the band’s harder edge. If anything, this is the band’s attempt to keep guitar music contemporary… hence, according to Serge Pizzorno, there are elements of ESG and Talking Heads in the songwriting. And if that’s not necessarily immediately apparent on this release, it’s the type of offering that fills you with a certain amount of optimism. It’s sharp, catchy, slickly produced and trades well on the familiar as well as ushering in something new (and evolving). Kasabian may not be back with a bang… but they’re back with style. And the track really does grow on you.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Linkin Park, Battle Symphony

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: LINKIN PARKBATTLE SYMPHONY: Hot off the back of their surprise single Heavy, Linkin Park serve up another offering from their forthcoming album that would seem to confirm the heaviness more usually associated with them has been put to the side for the new material. Once again, the guitars are kept on the chain, allowing for a more synth-based, pop sound to emerge. Whether that will please the die-hard fans remains to be seen, but this certainly boasts wider, more universal appeal. And, as with Heavy, there’s another catchy as hell chorus. The beats are subtle but toe-tapping, the synths pop but bright and the chorus shot through with enough melodies that this could well become one of the band’s more sing-along anthems. The title does, admittedly, suggest the type of guitar-led anthem that could land a place on the new Transformers film (and it still could), but this is an entirely different beast. Some may argue that Linkin Park seem to have sold out and gone more commercial; but if they are, they’re doing it well. This has big hit written all over it. The new album, One More Light, drops on May 19.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sylvan Esso, Die Young

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 3: SYLVAN ESSODIE YOUNG: Underpinned by some typically beautiful, spell-binding female vocals, Sylvan Esso’s Die Young is a bittersweet slice of electro pop that endears from the first moment you hear it. Opening in low-key, minimalist fashion, the track slowly drops the layering, with a distinct synth also creating a strong hook. The beats, meanwhile, are similarly subtle, even sparsely employed, leaving it to the vocals to create the fireworks. But when the chorus lands, the track really takes off, thereby also allowing room for more electronic activity. Hence, while the song may have an air of melancholy with lyrics that talk of dying young, the song itself never feels depressing or sad. Rather, it’s perversely celebratory. And that chorus is insantly catchy. The North Carolina duo are gearing up to release their new album, What Now on April 28 and on the evidence of this latest offering, it could be well worth a listen.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Bear's Den

BEAR’S DENGREENWOOD’S BETHLEHEM: Bear’s Den have unveiled a video for their new single, Greenwoods Bethlehem. Released on April 7 via Communion Records, the track is the latest to be taken from their top ten charting second album, Red Earth & Pouring Rain, which is out now. Channeling the likes of The War On Drugs and Bruce Springsteen, the anthemic Greenwoods Bethlehem has become a firm favourite amongst live audiences and sonically portrays how the band have grown. Recorded with the band’s long-term producer Ian Grimble (Laura Marling, Daughter), Greenwoods Bethlehem retains the heartfelt lyrics that have been synonymous with Bear’s Den since day one, set against a powerful backdrop of driving rhythms and emotive melodies. In our review of the album, IndieLondon’s Jack Foley wrote: “The lush, gentle acoustics of Greenwoods Bethlehem boasts a somewhat breezier sentiment with lyrics that recall running in the rain and potentially happier times – albeit tempered with a bittersweet element that notes how things have changed. It remains a more upbeat record instrumentally and is further evidence of this band’s ability to create soundscapes that entrance.” We couldn’t agree more with him! It’s another instant classic from this consistently impressive band.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Weezer, Feels Like Summer

WEEZERFEELS LIKE SUMMER: What’s happening to the established norms this week? Linkin Park have mellowed and now Weezer have abandoned their slacker rock sound in favour of something more akin to clap-happy cheese-pop meets hip-hop. Driven by that hip-hop styled beat and some day-glow melodies, this finds Rivers Cuomo almost sing-speaking at times. It’s big, brash, even euphoric at times, especially when dropping the chorus in the latter stages. And it’s designed to be anthemic. But it’s not Weezer… at least not the Weezer of Buddy Holly or Island In The Sun or countless other tracks we’ve come to know and love. Yet while the ‘new style’ may take some adjusting to (especially for die-hard fans), there’s a celebratory, feel-good element to it (which is, kind of, Weezer-esque). It’s the kind of song, with its insane harmonies and trip-happy beats, that leaves you feeling good about yourself and pining for those sunshine rays. Now, throw your arms in the air and sing along please!
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Agnes Obel

AGNES OBELSTRETCH YOUR EYES: Stretch Your Eyes is the fourth single to be taken from Agnes Obel’s critically acclaimed new album Citizen Of Glass, following the BBC 6Music playlisted tracks Familiar, Golden Green and It’s Happening Again. It’s a typically classy affair. Built around a vaguely African sounding instrumental backdrop, that flits between the edgy, the tribal and sometimes sinister, this again makes striking use of Obel’s distinct vocal style. If anything, her dreamy, wistful delivery serves as a nice, even soothing, contrast to those instrumentals, while the inclusion of piano and violin also does much to enhance the overall feel (which transports you on a journey of the mind as only Obel knows how). Indeed, those violins grow in stature the longer the record lasts, interweaving their way around the lyrics to hypnotic, even threatening effect. It is, as we’ve come to expect, kind of cinematic… and incredibly ambitious. Citizen Of Glass has been Obel’s most successful album in the UK, doubling the first week sales of her last album, 2013’s Aventine, and giving the Danish artist her first Top 30 album – and deservedly so.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Sea Bed, Silent Song

SEA BEDSILENT SONG: Pulsating, sparse and occasionally spine-tingling (especially during the chorus), Sea Bed’s Silent Song may be the B-side to their recent single Pretender (released last month) but it’s further evidence of why this band continue to draw so much positive praise. Atmospheric, love-lorn yet hopeful (“will you ever change your mind for me?”), this makes striking use of Lizzie Massey’s powerful, borderline ethereal vocals, while also employing some orchestral back-beats (think Depeche Mode meets OMD). It’s great for listening to on a late night drive. Commenting on the track, Sea Bed said: “Silent Song is about the unique insecurities and hushed vulnerability we feel when we’re falling in love. The song is like a love letter that can never be sent, because the truth is too exposing and unguarded.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Watch the spy-themed video to Pretender

Fenne Lily, What's New

FENNE LILYWHAT’S GOOD: What’s Good is the new single from Fenne Lily. Drawing on her own personal experiences, Fenne’s exposed vocals on What’s Good naturally reflect the heartbreaking, heart-on-sleeve honesty in her lyrics. Fenne herself explains: “Waiting for an ending hurts, sometimes more than the ending itself. I wrote What’s Good at a time when I was trying to allow myself happiness despite knowing that it would be short-lived. It’s about realising that something you trust in and depend on is coming to an end, and the feelings of helplessness and inadequacy that go hand in hand with this sense of loss.” The ensuing song is set against a subtle acoustic-folk backdrop, with Lily’s vocals almost whispered at times. There’s a fragility at play that fully conveys the sense of heartbreak inherent in the lyrics. It’s understated but achingly, almost beautifully sad. Recorded and produced at the home of Fenne’s friend and professional collaborator, Dave Dixon (aka Tamu Massif), What’s Good follows previous singles Bud and Top To Toe, which have now amassed a staggering 14 million Spotify streams – quite a feat for an unsigned solo artist self releasing her music.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Noga Erez

NOGA EREZTOY: Tel Aviv’s Noga Erez is back with another gutsy statement from her hotly tipped debut album Off The Radar (set for release on June 2 via City Slang worldwide) in the form of the provocative Toy. “Toy is sung from the point of view of someone who has inherited leadership, regardless of their talent or experience” explains Erez. “The lyrics, while short, are meant to show the contrast between someone who disowns his ‘crown’ vs. someone who embraces the privilege, entitlement and influence and uses it for their own personal needs. They become self-absorbed and destructive. Showing how quickly and easily power can corrupt a person.” It’s a timely release from an artist who is not averse to making bold political and social statements. What makes it more striking, however, is the way in which it is deliverd. The beats are spliced together, to create a very distinct, almost stop-start sound. While the abbreviated vocals have an edgy, atmospheric quality that demands you pay attention. It’s a highly addictive, highly unique sound that Erez has created – but one that succeeds in capturing your attention. The video is directed by Hen Makhluf and edited by Noga’s musical collaborator, Ori Rousso. “I am the son of your leader/Give me your love, and I’ll spare you,” sings a hooded Erez on a Tel Aviv rooftop, delving further into her compelling world of poised and innovative political pop.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Be Like Pablo, There She Is

BE LIKE PABLOTHERE SHE IS:There She Is is the best Be Like Pablo song to date,” says lead songwriter, Ewen Watson, of the mischievous Scottish band. A bold statement to make for a band with a consistent record of quality music behind them. But with influences like The Rentals and The Cars, the band’s interest in retro imagery and sounds are prominent in the track, complete with their trademark Moog synths and fuzzy power chords. The sleek sweet video, produced by the award-winning company, Freakworks, and starring Jerry-Jane Pears (The Royals, Survivor), depicts a Notting Hill-like tale of celebrity vs ‘normality’ and how images in the media blitz society. Watson explains this further: “There She Is tells the story of a high-school crush who left home and grew up to be the most famous person on earth. When writing the song, I could see a music video in my head from the outset: billboards and magazines spectacularly coming to life with their star – a glamourous model – breaking from her still-image form and reaching out to the real world.” The ensuing record is a retro-soaked breeze. If you’re a fan of The Cars, in particular, this has the same kind of retro pop-rock vibe, which translates well to the listener and becomes utterly infectious (right down to the woo-hoo style headrush harmonies). And that video is great fun too.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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