First Impressions: Bruno Mars, MØ, Lido And More

Written By the interns on 10/11/2016

first-impressions-bruno

First 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 Tkay Maidza, , Stwo, Bruno Mars, George Maple and Lido.

Tkay Maidza
Tennies

Reece: Tkay Maidza is one of my favourite artists in Australia. She can rap, she can sing, she can even make Martin Solveig listenable (okay, I only got about 90 seconds in but that’s still 89 seconds longer than I would have lasted if not for Tkay). Point being, Tkay Maidza is amazing and her music makes me want to be friends with her. Tennies, however, is a curious second single from her album. Tkay has an impressive ability to balance EDM and rap through her music, but it feels sometimes when the song tilts more towards EDM that it feels more filler than killer. Tkay feels at her best when she’s slicing and dicing a track, or slaying a huge production. That being said, for a ‘filler’, Tennies is a still pretty darn good. If the album uses tracks like Tennies for brevity as Tkay catches her breath between some slaughters, it’s going to be a classic. Hype is tennies out tennies (sorry, not sorry). 3.5

Zanda: I absolutely loved the first minute of this song but i’m a stickler for development; whether it be rhythmic or melodic. Nothing happens in the last two minutes. Is this still going? 2.5

Sam: I’m pretty sure that this is just a promo single and not an actual single but regardless of that this is pure heat. These kind of Salva beats are so good that you could leap them for 10 minutes with a good vocalist over top and you wouldn’t get sick of it. What I’m loving about Tkay’s flows at the moment is that they sound more spacious than ever. She’s really improved as a rapper and both this and Carry On sound like a serious step-up for her. Zanda, you’re listening to something different to me because I heard the beat and melody switch-up three times in the last two minutes. This is a bucketload of fun but it’s also skillful and tightly produced. 4

Average Score: 3.3


Drum

Reece: There was a time when I felt MØ had the potential to really push pop into some weird and wonderful places, and Charli XCX was a talented but drab popstar. Since that thought a few years back, some Freaky Friday antics must have happened because they’re totally swapped roles. I’d probably be higher on Drum if I hadn’t heard tracks like Kamikaze and Pilgrim from MØ. It’s a well done pop song, but feels formulaic and predictable. That’s a shame because MØ is a rare artist who can make weird unconventional pop tracks that feel brilliantly polished. I miss the old MØ. 3

Zanda: *Adds to ‘Music That Puts Me To Sleep’ playlist on Spotify* 1.5

Sam: I’m gonna be careful what I say about this because when Final Song came out I pegged it as being generic but now after hearing it on the radio many times it’s undoubtedly one of the more exciting pop songs around right now. It also became a big hit for her. Drum is a sharp pop song written by some of the best, most innovative pop writers in the game right now. The bridge is beyond excellent, the verses are spacious and the drop is less annoying that most DJ Snake-esque drops. While I agree a little bit that the old MO was excitng, I still think these are unconventional pop songs. Her personality shines through and still delivers those subtle oddities. In terms of creating a track aimed at radio, which I think is nothing to be ashamed of, this is near flawless. We need to celebrate songwriters and artists like MØ even when they shift towards the mainstream because that’s the only way everyone will quit whining about the radio. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Average Score: 3

Stwo
Overdue

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/stwosc/overdue[/soundcloud]

Reece: Talk about a journey. Overdue starts off feeling spacious, with a cloudy atmosphere bubbling away under the rim of the track as the distorted vocal sample lurks and bends away. Then the drums pick up and start to really pound, like accelerating heels on concrete, and it’s full pelt ahead until the flatlining finish. If your heart rate doesn’t kip up listening to this, you might want to check to make sure it’s still there. 4

Zanda: Stwo has come a hell of a long way since he was making future funk in 2013 with tracks like Try To Resist. This is spacey and awesome. It’s a darker and broodier effort from the French producer – but at the same time captivating and thought-provoking. Loving it, but hoping he plays some of his old stuff too when he touches down in Aus later this month. 4

Sam: Everyone was freaking out about the Stwo EP but for me, as a personal taste thing, I kind of prefer him in this realm rather than the hip-hop centred one. This is a real lush piece of production that takes its time and expands beautifully over the course of three minutes. The vocal sample is really haunting and the groovy beat that kicks in at the end takes it right home for me. Really different stuff for Stwo but so good. 4

Average Score: 4

Bruno Mars
24K Magic

Reece: It’s so rare we can see the equation of a song so transparently. Take a teaspoon of Roger Troutman, half a cup of Grandmaster Flash, a pinch of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ Downtown and mix it in with Uptown Funk and you have 24K Magic. People are falling over themselves to say Bruno is doing something new, or ‘bringing funk back’, but I don’t buy it. Bruno Mars is an incredibly talented artist. He doesn’t need to steal Kurtis Blow’s style or nick KRS-One ad libs to make a good song. On quality, this song falls somewhere between a 3.5-4, but on principle I’ve got to mark it down. 2

Zanda: Congrats Bruno you managed to use a talk box in a song – something that’s only impressive if you take it to its limits and actually explore textures with it like Chromeo do. There isn’t enough room here to tell you all the reasons I hate this song. It’s boring, almost insanely-predictable, the lyrics sound like you looked up the most searched hashtags on Instagram and ordered them randomly and went ‘yeah that sounds like something someone might say’. The video clip is even worse. 1

Sam: I kind of understood people copying the style of Uptown Funk a year ago because it did so well but it’s kind of inexcusable to copy that funk style two years later when you’re also the artist that was featured on the track that kickstarted it all. This is a throwaway novelty hit, at best, and it’s not even a hit. It failed to hold the number one position in most of the major iTunes markets and for an artist of his stature on his third album he should be blitzing it with the first single. That’s what happens when you favour novelty over melody. And saying “#Blessed” in a song…don’t start me. Also I second everything being said above me ^^^. 1.5

Average Score: 1.5

George Maple
Lover

Reece: It’s been really warming to see George Maple find her sound and some confidence over the past few years since we met her on Flume’s debut record. It feels like every new release sees George back herself in more and use that incredible voice even better than she did the last time out. Lover is an excellent consolidating effort – giving us more of an impression of who she is as an artist, but invoking some new melodies to distinguish Lover from her other singles. All things considered, George Maple looks like she’s gearing up to take her profile to another level in 2017. 4

Zanda: Ooohhh i’m actually really intrigued by the production here. It’s quite brooding and Maple’s vocals really move in and out of it nicely. I certainly didn’t expect that guitar solo in the back end either. Having never been a huge fan of George Maple; it might be time to get a bit more of this under my belt. 3.5

Sam: I’ll always reward ambition when it comes to Australian music and George Maple is one of the only popstars in this country really testing the limits visually and sonically. I think the production on this is next level. It sounds like it cost a million bucks to make and that’s probably just because Maple’s voice is that of a top-tier popstar. I’d really like to see this do well because I think we could really benefit from having a powerful artist like Maple taking to the biggest stages in the country. And around the world as well. 4

Average Score: 3.8

Lido
Tell Me How To Feel

Reece: Everything Lido does feels powerful. When he pulls back the arrangement, it’s like coming up from underwater for much needed air and when his tracks punch back in, it’s like a jet engine grazing your head. There’s even the tantilising middle ground, with waning synths and an airhorn, which basically asks the listener to beg for more. Even when Lido’s presence vanishes and it’s just Astrid S delivering a haunting, album closing outro, everything feels perfectly placed. Breathtaking feels like a dramatic claim about this song, but everything about Lido’s music has an urgent, ecstatic feeling of drama about it. 4.5 Reece’s Pick

Zanda: A truly majestic achievement and definitely in the top few tracks on his brand new album Everything. Truly in this effort, Lido tells us how to feel through powerful call-and-responses between vocal samples and synths,  followed later in the track. by some of Lido’s most explorative production on the whole record. Astrid S is a revelation. 5 Zanda’s Pick

Sam: Well, I would’ve been sold on the last thirty seconds of this. That Astrid S vocal is phenominal and it’s got this regenerative spirit that bookends such an emotional album such as Everything beautifully. I almost wish the rest of the song had some more of that fragility but at the same time I’m excited by the way everything combusts. “Who the fuck cares anymore,” he says, right after it feels like he’s taken a bunch of beats into battle. The different motions of this song are what make it thrilling. Such a valiant closer to an excellent record. 4

Average Score: 4.5

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[…] First Impressions is an interns roundtable review of songs on their first (or second) listen. Each … […]