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First Impressions: FKA twigs, Disclosure, CHVRCHES & More

Written By the interns on 08/18/2015

FI_18AugFirst Impressions is an interns roundtable review of songs on their first (or second) listen. Each week we review six new songs from the past week, each giving them a score out of five and awarding our pick of the week. This week we pick apart tracks by FKA twigs, Slum Sociable, CHVRCHES, Vic Mensa, Deer and Disclosure.

FKA twigs
in time

Zanda: More sparkly goodness from FKA Twigs here. This is actually one of the simpler tracks that I’ve heard from her, and it benefits from not trying to do too much. The modest melodic aspect of it ensures that her incredible vocals remain the centrepiece of the whole track, with strong bass lines also giving it another dimension and some depth. 3.5

Sam: All the most recent tracks we’ve heard from FKA twigs have all been pretty sparse and electronic but this one feels the most accessible. It’s bound by this early 2000s R&B aesthetic but then peppered with heavy, affecting electronic sounds. twigs sounds gentle and sensual bringing a real direct honesty to the song – the lyrics help that too. When twigs sings over a sparse beat she has this knack of making it feel startlingly intimate and that’s what in time achieves. This could actually be her best track since Two Weeks. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Slum Sociable
Anyway

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/slumsociable/all-night[/soundcloud]

Zanda: I’m immediately taken by the gorgeous, twinkly piano line that sits in behind the vocals. It’s an accompanying line but it sits above the vocals in pitch which makes it stand out. and that’s just one aspect of the superb layering that makes this track so impressive. With various piano, bass, guitar and synth/effect lines coming in and out of prominence, Slum Sociable explore a massive range of textures and timbres within a relatively limited melodic space. Oh and its funky as hell. 4.5 Zanda’s Pick

Sam: Wow. First single Anyway was good, but this one really makes you sit up and take notice. It sounds like an old-soul brought forward to the future with smokey, crackling vocals accompanied by a jazz-infused instrumental. Australia has really found it’s sound in terms of electronic music recently but it’s beginning to sound a little tired. No one else is really doing this in the country and it’s so damn refreshing to hear. 4

CHVRCHES
Never Ending Circles

Zanda: So far CHVRCHES new album sounds like it’s going to be exactly what you’d expect, an exploration in synth pop. They stick to a relatively simple formula, but it works incredibly well and happy melodies make people happy. Gorgeous contrasting sections of Lauren’s pure vocals vs affected vocals give this track another catchy dimension to it as well. 4

Sam: Totally with Zanda – CHVRCHES have delivered up a few solid tracks now and it’s exactly what you expected it to sound like. That’s a good and a bad thing. On one hand, Leave A Trace and this one are really excellent, which they are, but on the other hand it sounds like the album may be a bit of a sequel to The Bones Of What You Believe and it may get a little boring. In saying that, we’ve only heard two tracks so they could have some really interesting stuff lined-up for the album. In the meantime I’m just going to take Never Ending Circles for what it is which is a big, bold, sparkling electronic track that features Lauren Mayberry killing it once again. 4

Vic Mensa
I Been

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/vicsavemoney/i-been[/soundcloud]

Zanda: I remember listening to an interview Vic Mensa did on triple j about the huge success of Down On My Luck and he was honestly quite surprised as it was very different to most of his stuff. I Been is probably a bit more reflective of his true style; its grimier and definitely not as easy to listen to as DOML so if that’s what you’re expecting you’ll be disappointed. Having said that this is a dank track and his flow is excellent. 3

Sam: The first 15 seconds of this is so good. It sounds really dark and also builds you up for a tempo-raising, fire-spitting rap but we don’t really get that in the end. It’s a solid track that’s right up the alley of his most recent stuff particularly U Mad but in many ways it’s predictable and a little forgettable. It would be good to hear Mensa rapping over some more interesting beats – something a little faster and even a bit glitchier. I Been is demonic and abrasive but it needs a moment that really punches you in the gut – we never get that. 3.5

Deer 
Cry For Help

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/deermelb/deer-cry-for-help[/soundcloud]

Zanda: There’s a lot to like in this track. The effects and synths all work nicely to create some positive vibes and an overall pleasing aural aesthetic. However I feel like the EQ’ing sounds unfinished and overall the tune is lacking depth. There is also very little melodic development, it just seems like two very recognisable sections alternating back and forth. Lots of potential though, as this is in fact Deer’s first single release! 3

Sam: This one’s a really interesting one. It takes a few cues from that tropical, cartoon-like sound that producers like Paces and Sable have nailed but it darkens it a bit with darker, rumbling beats. Those beats really dig it into the ground and give the track a bit of strength. It’s kind of like TNGHT have been stripped-back to their bare-bones and recreated in paradise. As such, we’re left with ear-candy aplenty but alongside a hip-hop influenced weightiness that makes it feel less fleeting. Really promising stuff from the new producer. 4

Disclosure
Willing & Able (Feat. Kwabs)

Zanda: This track really showcases Disclosure’s ability to tailor their production to the style of any vocalist that they are featuring. Willing & Able has so much soul, and that is just as much to do with the tempered version of house music that lives underneath the awesome and catchy, soulful vocals by Kwabs. The typical bass used is held back in tempo, really allowing Kwabs to shine, whereas when featuring guys like Gregory Porter they’ll really up the anti and produce a track with much more intensity (ie. Holding On). It may not sound like it on first listen, but Disclosure are genuinely becoming one of the more versatile acts going around. 4.5

Sam: Kwabs is one of my favourite new vocalists and him teaming-up with Disclosure is an absolute no-brainer. Willing & Able is smooth as hell, soulful and built around a swelling chorus – but so are all Disclosure tracks really. At this point I’m starting to get a little nervous about the Disclosure album based on the fact that so far all the tracks have been solid but nothing has been different enough from Settle to really capture attention. I thought Bang That was a really positive step for the duo, delivering something with a little more gusto but since then it’s been a little predictable. That’s not to take away from the song as a standalone product – if I was hearing it with no context I’d say it was a banging song. The unfortunate fact is, I’m not and I’m just craving something that really catches me off-guard. 3

Now it’s time for your vote: 

Best First Impression Of The Week?

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