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Music - Singles of the week - Friday, October 20, 2017

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

Weezer, Pacific Daydream

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 1: WEEZERHAPPY HOUR: Weezer deliver another doozy of a track from their new Pacific Daydream LP in the form of the ultra breezy Happy Hour. Lyrically, it’s a song about needing to reach that particular happy hour at the end of a long week, or a tumultuous set of personal circumstances. But it’s delivered with trademark Weeze verve. The chorus declares “I need happy hour from sad days” and assumes a naturally anthemic, sing-along quality that’s easy for anyone to get behind. The slacker tendencies that infuse a lot of their songs are absent this time, with the guitars much more reigned in. Hence, there’s a greater emphasis on synth-pop, which should enable the song to reach out and embrace an even bigger set of fans. It’s another example of why Pacific Daydream, with songs such as Mexican Fender, Weekend Woman and Feels Like Summer, rates as one of the finest of their career, not to mention one of the best and most accessible of the year.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Tom Figgins

SINGLE OF THE WEEK 2: TOM FIGGINSRETROGRADE: Tom Figgins goes from strength to strength with the release of latest single Retrograde. Beautifully composed, thoughtfully written and intricately layered, this is the type of song that keeps on delivering something the longer it continues. Lyrically, the track was born out of Figgins’ need to tackle the past. “It’s about immersing yourself in who you were, embracing that and emerging from the flames knowing a little bit more about yourself,” he explains. Instrumentally, it delivers a more familiar brand of folk-tinged indie, while broadening out to include the best of his eclectic influences. Hence, the song is infused with traditional folk guitar elements but also includes delicate string passages, and ambient guitar lines, as well as some violin from none other than Tom Hobden, of Noah & The Whale fame. It provides a richly layered listen that is truly memorable and evidence of a songwriter at the top of his form. Retrograde is the second track that has been produced solely by the artist himself.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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MGMT, Little Dark Age

MGMTLITTLE DARK AGE MGMT return with their first track in four years in the form of the dark but playful Little Dark Age. Without ever coming close to the euphoric synth pop of signature tune Time To Pretend, this nevertheless drops some shimmering synths and plenty of bass, together with a drone-like central vocal that captures the dark, possibly Gothic undertow of the track as a whole. Hence, the overall vibe is akin to early Depeche Mode mixed with Gary Numan, with classic MGMT elements thrown in. It’s vaguely retro, yet hip enough to be contemporary too. The darker lyrical undertow is highlighted by lyrics that find Andrew VanWyngarden speaking of rotted feelings, failed jokes and finding himself in a very solitary space. Yet, for all of its melancholy, those synths and beats have a toe-tapping quality that infuse the track with an energy that belies its darker elements. All in all, it’s a welcome return from MGMT that looks like furthering their success.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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10 Years, Ghosts

10 YEARS – (HOW TO LIVE) AS GHOSTS: 10 Years return with the new studio album (how to live) AS GHOSTS and welcomes back band members Brian Vodinh (guitar / drums) and Matt Wantland (guitar). The result is a typically powerful offering, as evidenced by the lead single and title track. A potent, politically infused offering, this combines some typically stirring guitar work with emotive lyrics (“you’re running through the motions of the emotionless”). The band says of the song: “After traveling the world and seeing all the political, social and religious turmoil, it had me thinking about how many people are judging and preparing for death, but are actually missing life. And, instead of using spirituality for good, a lot of people use it to point fingers and judge. Instead of worrying where we end up in the end, we need to focus on the now and the humanity.” It’s an empowering message and one that’s delivered in a suitably robust rock style – slower verses, soaring choruses that evoke comparisons with the likes of Foo Fighters and company. Welcome back, boys.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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Supersonic Blues Machine

SUPERSONIC BLUES MACHINE feat STEVE LUKATHERHARD TIMES: Supersonic Blues Machine released their new album Californisoul – featuring Billy F. Gibbons, Steve Lukather, Eric Gales, Robben Ford & Walter Trout – on October 20. One of the best tracks is this new single, Hard Times, featuring Lukather. A blues-soaked track, it finds Toto’s Lukather assuming the bulk of the guitar work with some tremendous blues solos, as well as a backing element of soul singers who infuse proceedings with a soul-pop vibe. Hence, far from being a song reserved solely for the blues purists, this extends its appeal to admirers of soul and pop too, albeit those who get their kicks from a more classic style of soul and pop. It’s got something for fans of acts like Clapton, Plant, ZZ Top, Toto and Jeff Beck too (to name but a few). But it’s the guitars that really standout – and in the cracking solos. It’s where the biggest kicks can be found, especially during the extended solo that draws the track to its sublime close. Supersonic Blues Machine is Lance Lopez (guitars/vocals/songwriter), Fabrizio Grossi (bass, producer, songwriter), and Kenny Aronoff (drums). As they’ve proven on their first album and round of shows, it’s not a party unless you invite some friends, and for Californisoul, they’ve brought along some heavy hitters. It’s a record that pays some huge dividends.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Maroon 5 feat ASAP Rocky

MAROON 5 feat A$AP ROCKYWHISKEY: Maroon 5’s latest offering from forthcoming LP Red Pill Blues marks a change of pace from the likes of What Lovers Do and Help Me Out. In fact, it’s more of a ballad. Adam Levine’s vocals have a more sorrowful quality, befitting the theme of addiction that is contained within the song courtesy of lines like “she kissed me, like a whiskey”. The singer is clearly consumed by his feelings for the woman in question. The low-key, slow-burning nature of the song even boasts a blues-pop quality and is further enhanced by a belated rap from guest singer A$AP Rocky, who enters the fray around the two minute, 28-second mark. It’s a nicely judged rap addition that doesn’t derail the song. In fact, it gives it a little belated zip, accompanied as it is by a slight upturn in the beats. Whiskey is another strong addition to an album that would appear to find Maroon 5 back on form.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Nabihah Iqbal

NABIHAH IQBALSOMETHING MORE: Announcing her debut album on Ninja Tune, Nabihah Iqbal leaves her old moniker behind and embraces the name she was born with. Formerly known as Throwing Shade, Weighing of the Heart is being hailed as a big statement in two ways: first, because she’s taken her real name to stand proudly as a female British Asian artist making music and secondly, because she’s moved her music in a bolder, more expansive direction. New single Something More showcases that more expansive sound, emerging as a cross between Cure-inspired guitar sounds and Saint Etienne vocals. Iqbal’s subdued vocals explore the feeling of being eternally unsatisfied with what you’ve got. “[It’s] a song about a universal feeling that everyone shares, even if they try to hide or ignore it” she explains. “It’s about how true happiness and freedom only exist in the dimension of our fantasies, dreams and private thoughts. The reality of our physical existence constantly leaves us dissatisfied, frustrated and yearning for ‘something more’, even though we’ll never find a way to remedy these feelings.” The ensuing track is laidback, stress relieving and shot through with ear-catching melodicism. It bodes well for the rest of the album.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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HOULTPHARMACY: Hoult has developed a rare knack of sounding both dreamy and sharp at the same time. This, married with vital yet wistful song-writing, concocts his imaginative brand of guitar pop. New single Pharmacy is a case in point. The track builds from an affecting intimacy into a song with a grand scale possessing folk-tinged anthemic choruses: reminiscent of Bombay Bicycle club and Frightened Rabbit rippling with personal lyrics that tap into wider themes, it’s nicely delivered, anthemic in its own way and befitting a grand stage once it hits the highs of its soaring chorus. Better known as Sam Fowke, Hoult shares many songwriting sensibilities with Coldplay’s Chris Martin. Heck, he even sounds like Martin when he adopts a falsetto [as he does throughout Pharmacy]. But there’s a keen sense of his own sound, too, and Pharmacy has an urgency that’s appealing, building from that mellow, even humble, opening to something quite inspiring and panoramic. Fowke says of the track: “Pharmacy summarises the feeling of frustration when you cannot help someone you care about. Darker themes run through the veins of this track, yet the energetic and cheerful instrumentation represent the mask a lot of people wear on a daily basis.”
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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L.A.D, Dancefloor

L.A.D – DANCEFLOOR: L.A.D are a synth funk trio from Reading with a shared love of 80s nostalgia. Multi instrumentalists Jack and Luke, having spent years accumulating vintage synths, guitars and drum machines, have teamed up with ginger bombshell Natalie to update the music they love. After spending the last six months making all kinds of noises in the studio, the debut album is due out later this year. First up is Dance Floor, an homage to the disco sounds of their favourite era. Hence, there are traces of early Madonna, as well as elements of Kelela and Whitney Houston, mixed in with a synth sound that Daft Punk or even Miami Sound Machine might dabble with. Admittedly, you probably need a healthy appreciation for all things ’80s to get the most out of it, but Dancefloor nevertheless boasts a cheesy, carefree abandon that should have you reminiscing about that colourful decade, while quite possibly heading to a dancefloor of your own.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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