Ariana Grande – Thank U, Next Review

This is Ariana’s second album in under 6 months. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this might mean the quality of the album wouldn’t be up to scratch compared to those she has spent more time on. She’s managed to make 2 albums in such a short space of time; her last was one of the best of 2018, this will probably be on year-end lists this time around.

The singles in the lead-up to this album were all up to her usual standard, with the title track being one of her most commercially successful to date, and it’s not hard to see why.

 

NASA and Bloodine are examples of what Ari does best; Confident, catchy pop tracks with great vocal performances & infectious hooks. ‘Thank U, Next’ has her strongest vocals to date throughout; keeping those breathy tones that make her voice distinctive but proving she has real vocal power. This is a more confident Ariana than we saw on Sweetener, with this being a completely solo effort with 0 features at all; quite apt for an album with self-love as one of its main themes.

‘Ghostin’ is one of the strongest cuts on the album; really showcasing Ariana’s voice with haunting, soft strings and spacious production. ‘Make Up’ is a bit of a forgettable track, and sounds like a left-over from her previous effort.

The album’s closer ‘Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored’ has the difficult task of following big singles ‘7 Rings’ and the title track, and it doesn’t quite fit in with the flow in the tracklisting,& would have been much better suited to the middle of the album if anywhere, it’s a rather generic trap-inspired song that doesn’t amount to much at all; ‘ Thank U, Next’ would have been the perfect closer.

Overall, ‘Thank U, Next’ is a very solid pop album that should ensure Ari’s place at the top of pop for the time being.

80%

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Nina Nesbitt – The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change Review

This is Nina’s second album, and it’s been a long time in the making. With a myriad of record label troubles and other issues plaguing her path so far, it must take someone tough to come through and eventually put out an album, especially one like this.

‘The Sun Will Come Up..’ is a focused, brilliantly produced pop album with Nina’s crisp, controlled voice and new found confidence cutting through each and every song.

‘Is It Really Me You’re Missing’ is an honest, open point on the album that shows off Nina’s Voice with minimalist production and a soft piano backing, and the title track which closes the album is another example of great storytelling by Nina.

The run of tracks from ‘The Moments I’m Missing’ through to ‘Somebody Special’ show the quality of the songwriting on show here; most of the tracks here feel like they could be singles but the album still flows very well as a whole.

A great album that shows real promise for the future from Nina.

85%

New Release Roundup – 1st Feb 2019

Jaws – Do You Remember?: On this new single, Connor and co. have really stepped up the production value to a much grander, epic scale and it pays off massively, with the quality of the songwriting still being there; this sounds like Jaws on the scale of a band like Foals or Doves, and it bloody works. 92%

Billie Eilish – Bury a Friend: The beat on this song reminds me of a very, very low-key version of Kanye’s Black Skinhead. Pair this with some matching low-key spoken/sung verses by Billie and this makes for an interesting track, and it shows that Billie still has more variety up her sleeve. 85%

Wev – Find Yourself: A great piece of growing, developing dance music here from Wev; ‘Find Yourself’ has rings of early Disclosure and Jax Jones, but also it’s own, clear personality. 80%

Haiku Hands – Dare You Not To Dance: This new Haiku Hands track sounds like Warpaint, M.I.A. and Kero Kero Bonito all at the same time, and it’s absolutely brilliant. Slaps. 90%

Interpol – Fine Mess: I’m not sure what Paul Banks and the other two were going for here, but the production on the vocals is just TOO fuzzy and glitchy, making it a jarring, annoying listen, and underneath this is an underwhelming Interpol track. 20%

The Chemical Brothers – Got To Keep On: Can they make a bad track ever?? Standard Chem Bros stuff, but again it seems as fresh and relevant as ever. How do they do it? 90%

Circa Waves – Me, Myself and Hollywood: A lot more understated than their previous releases, this new single is my favourite they have ever released. Catchy, with great lyrics and a really controlled, focused performance. 80%

Sports Team -M5: The new Sports Team single ‘M5’ is Advert-Ready in the best possible way. Insanely catchy ‘ooh-oohs’ throughout the tracks and an incredibly powerful, blasting chorus make this one of the most exciting new singles I’ve heard from anyone in a long time. Sick. 95%

Ady Suleiman – Strange Roses: A really pretty ballad from Ady here, with ‘Strange Roses’ showcasing his really smooth, focused and controlled vocals that really make this track just.. lovely. 80%

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Cyboogie: Sounding like a mix between Bowie’s ‘Jean Genie’ and Daft Punk, this new King Gizzard track is a lot of fun, and very catchy, and of course with it being King Gizzard it’s well over the 6 minute mark in length. 75%

 

New Release Roundup – 25th Jan 2019

Vampire Weekend – Harmony Hall: Vampire Weekend return with their first music since 2013 with 2 new singles, the first of which being ‘Harmony Hall’. They haven’t lost it – Harmony Hall is a great comeback single; an upbeat, Primal Scream-esque track with all the trademark VW touches. It’s nothing revolutionary from them, but it’s exactly what you want. 90%

Vampire Weekend – 2021: The second of the 2 singles, ‘2021’ is much calmer and understated, with Ezra reflecting on the future over a lullaby like soft synthy backing. Very nice. 80%

The Islas – A Generation To Forget: This is the debut EP from Norwich indie rock band The Islas, and it’s a great, punchy collection of tracks, with highlights being the short but sweet ‘Hits & Misses’ and the heartfelt ‘Somewhere in Between’. 70%

JK COLLECTIVE – Keep on Crashing: ‘Keep on Crashing’ is the debut single from Alt-Pop duo JK COLLECTIVE, and it is a low-key but really catchy synthy tune, with slight echoes of The 1975 and new Bring Me The Horizon mixed in. 75%

Pip Blom – Daddy Issues: So far, there have been no bad songs from Pip Blom. ‘Daddy Issues’ continues that trend; a really strong riff drives this energetic, punky track that sounds a bit like Courtney Barnett and Franz Ferdinand at the same time, which turns out sounding very nice indeed. 94%

Blaenavon – Catatonic Skinbag: This new Blaenavon track is a cool, punky cut that shows the group still have that driving energy that garnered our attention in the first place. Nice harmonies on the verses too. 80%

Crows – Chain of Being: In my opinion, Crows sound like a heavier version of Doves (I didn’t even realise the bird name connection until I finished typing that) That’s fine by me, and ‘Chain of Being’ is a brilliant piece of progressive rock. 83% 

Lauv & Troye Sivan – This will probably become a big hit because the chorus is so simple, but extremely effective. 70%

Malory – Blue Umbrella: ‘Blue Umbrella’ is a chill, breezy upbeat track with a really catchy chorus and clicky-clacky instrumental. It’s very pleasant and Malory’s vocals are really sweet and fit the track well. 70%

Diplo ft. Niska – Boom Bye Bye: This is just really, really annoying. 20%

Parekh & Singh – Hello: My favourite duo from Kolkata return with a really lovely new single. ‘Hello’ builds on the sound of their debut album with more complex production and songwriting, but still maintains the charm that made me love them the first time around. 95%

Dua Lipa- Swan Song: Taken from the upcoming movie ‘Alita’, this new song from Dua is a bit better than the quality of song you’d expect to be made for a movie, but it never reaches the levels of her bigger singles from the past few years. 60%

Feet – English Weather: The new tune from Feet is a brilliant, groovy cut with an almost annoyingly catchy chorus. You’d better pack an umbrella. 90%

 

 

 

 

 

James Blake – Assume Form Review

The new album from Singer/Producer James Blake can be a bit of a mixed bag, and seems a bit one-note at the beginning, but when it gets into its stride and you give it more listens, it’s not hard to see why he gathers so much attention, this being his best project to date.

‘Tell Them’ is a mesmerising, low-key trap infused track, with great features from Moses Sumney and Metro Boomin, with Moses’ vocals melding really well with James. This flows beautifully into the more sombre and touching ‘Into The Red’, which is a genuinely lovely tribute to Jameela Jamil, his current girlfriend.

Rosalia’s vocals are silky smooth as always on the track ‘Barefoot In The Park’, again James showing he knows who fits in well with his own sound, and the following track ‘Can’t Believe The Way We Flow’ continues a great run of tracks.

‘Where’s The Catch?’ with Andre 3000 is my favourite track on the album, with Andre unsurprisingly delivering an amazing verse over a great, complex beat provided by James, with the track shifting from calmer chill-hop to glitchier beats effortlessly.

‘I’ll Come Too’ is another heartfelt ballad, set to slightly spooky sounding theramin-esque backing synths and strings, but it works really well.

This is James at his best: honest, open and with all his emotions on his sleeve, allowing him to make the best music he ever has.

82%

Dodie – Human EP Review

The latest EP from Dodie is her best project yet, with brutally honest and open lyrics paired with a selection of the best produced and written tracks the singer-songwriter has put out so far.

‘Monster’ is a brilliant track; it’s one of those songs that appear simple upon first listen, but the instrumental with its groovy synth pattern and developing layers is really deep and complex, and the backing vocals are lovely too. Her best one to date.

‘Not What I Meant’ has Dodie pair up with Lewis Watson, and the duo’s voices blend really nicely together for a really pleasant, chill folky ballad that reminded me a bit of Seth Lakeman. The Title track, ‘Human’ with Tom Walker is another example of how hard hitting her lyrics can be ; specific to her experiences but again so relatable they are especially effective paired with those vocals and haunting melody.

To me, ‘If I’m Being Honest’ sounds like a track that would fit right into ‘La La Land’ or ‘Mary Poppins’, and that’s in no way a bad thing; it plods along in the nicest way and I can picture her walking along in the rain singing it in some kind of musical.

A great EP that shows Dodie just keeps improving, and shows real promise for a potential full album; but if the quality of her EPs keeps up like this, i’m not sure she needs to do one.

85%

Track Review: Foals – Exits

Foals are back! This new single is the first taste of a lot to come from the lads in 2019, as they have two full-length albums coming out this year under the name ‘Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost’, with part one coming in March.

‘Exits’ is a long first track, coming in at around 6 minutes, but it doesnt drag. It’s unmistakably Foals, with groovy riffs and Yannis’ powerful vocals, but as with between their previous albums there is a slight difference in their sound that has helped to keep them fresh; ‘Exits’ is a lot more synth heavy and dance influenced than their last effort ‘What Went Down’.

The more you listen to ‘Exits’, the more little layers of synths and guitars you pick up you begin to realise just how well produced this is, especially towards the tail-end of the track where everything is building up and with lyrics that reference the world being upside down and ‘all the exits being covered’, Foals prove they still have their fingers on the pulse.

85%