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First Impressions: Major Lazer, Missy Elliot, Martin Garrix And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 01/31/2017

First Impressions are our weekly roundtable reviews sifting through all the fresh new music. Our writers take a listen, slap a score on it and then justify said score. This week Major Lazer, Gallant, Syd, Martin Garrix, Missy Elliott and Methyl Ethel face the jury.

Major Lazer
Run Up (Feat. PartyNextDoor & Nicki Minaj)

Reece: This song is a real grower! By that, I mean this was physically painful on the first listen and now I’ve grown to just plain hate it. It sounds like a bad DJ is playing two songs at the same time, with some drums out of sync with the vocals. The collection of artists on this song reminds me of the season my beloved Los Angels Lakers acquired Steve Nash and Dwight Howard: In theory, the team is too talented to be bad. In practice, it’s bad. Really, really bad. 2

Zanda: This will inevitably be the biggest thing from Major Lazer since Lean On, which I guess should be commended for doing so well. That track, like this one, bored me greatly. I love for all of the music he’s made that has been edgy and new, and for me his production talent is wasted on stuff like this. 3.5

Sam: This will probably be the last hit before the whole commercial dancehall thing dies. It’s pretty basic in terms of the repetitive hook and the beat but it’s not really offensively bad. I like hearing PartyNextDoor take on a commercial jam even though I feel like his own track Not Nice would’ve done better on radio and Nicki is the queen of features so hers is predictably brilliant. To be honest, it just makes me excited for Minaj’s fourth record which she teases in her verse on this. 3

Meshell: Look, this isn’t changing lives but it is damn catchy…I have a hard time hating anything with PartyNextDoor let alone something that ALSO has Kween Nicki. I think Major Lazer are being lazy and resting on their laurels a little ever since the juggernaut that was Lean On but hey, Diplo is a busy man…just check his selfies on snapchat. 3

Average Score: 2.86

Gallant x Tablo x Eric Nam
Cave Me In

Reece: Gallant steal this before his mates even get a look in, but this impromptu boy band has my full support. Tablo’s verse felt a little silly (“It’s got you digging it/Or your grave” LOL) but Eric Nam swoops in to save the day with a star making moment. Look how cool he is! I love this song. 4.5 Reece’s Pick

Zanda: Is it selfish of me to just want every song to just be Gallant on his own? This track is smooth as well, there’s no doubting it, and the inclusion of Tablo and Eric Nam works this boyband angle pretty well, but I love tracks where Gallant explores his full vocal capability. I just want more of that patented Gallant falsetoo yo. 4

Sam: This is such a strange collaboration and everything about it shouldn’t work but goddamn everything Gallant touches turns to gold. His verse at the top end of the song floats by like a magical carpet ride and Tablo and Eric Nam do nothing to break that smoothness. It’s one of those songs that’s so subtle that you have to have a masterclass singer on it to make it interesting. Gallant is that and this is pretty extraordinary. 4

Meshell: BRB SCREAMING IN ADORATION AT GALLANT. 5

Average Score: 4.38

Syd
Body

Reece: Is there such thing as a bad song when Syd is front and centre? I can’t even imagine it. She’s so consistently great. Everything from her sensual vocals to the minimalist production works really well on Body. With every release, Syd is growing as an artist and it feels like we’re only at the beginning of her creative evolution. Get ready for her solo record to be the best bedroom album of 2017. 4

Zanda: Another super sultry, understated gem from Syd. The production on a track like this only works because Syd’s incredible vocals contain everything you want and need melodically, and her lines are layered so beautifully creating tight, impactful harmonies with her own voice. Multi-tracking also allows each sentence to be finished completely without Syd’s voice sounding tired or breathy. Unbelievable. 4 Zanda’s Pick

Sam: I love me some The Internet but I’m starting to think Syd should stay solo because everything she’s pumping out is flawless. She switches up the mood from All About Me totally on this one but still keeps it in the same lane like Aaliyah doing an uptempo versus a downtempo. This is slinky, suave, smooth, silky – just about every adjective that starts with ‘S’. The upper-echelons of her voice are so sweet, I may as well have just consumed a whole packet of Starburst. Almost faultless. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Meshell: Fuck me this is so smooth, I didn’t think anything would out-do Gallant this week but clearly I’m wrong. Syd has this effortless swagger that most R&B gals can only dream of and so often weakly try to emulate. If you’re not doing a slow body roll to this in your seat then you probably hate all nice things in life. 5 Meshell’s Pick

Average Score: 4.38

Martin Garrix/Dua Lipa
Scared To Be Lonely

Reece: Martin Garrix falls into the wastebasket of EDM bros, but I quietly played the hell out of Animals in 2013. Dua Lipa is en fuego right now so this collaboration felt like it had some real potential, but it’s a bit of a deflated balloon. The production is very clean and Dua Lipa’s vocals are as strong as ever, but this moody EDM thing has been done to death. This is the definition of just fine, which is the worst thing you can be. If your song isn’t great, at least let it be awful so I can have fun reviewing it. 2

Zanda: Egh I share the sentiment of everyone else here when I say I fucking hate the production on this. It’s a weird move from Dua Lipa to get involved with this one for me, because she’s making pop in a way that challenges mainstream audiences at the moment. Yet, despite my annoyance at just about all the working parts of this, her vocals are so damn close to redeeming the whole bloody thing. That’s how good she is. 3

Sam: Thank goodness Dua Lipa is one of the most personable vocalists around right now because this would’ve just flown straight over my head with any other singer on it. Let’s be honest, Garrix isn’t a producer who’s going to push boundaries but he’s made a pretty good transition from mainstage EDM to commercial fodder. Lipa’s voice is so smokey and addictive that it makes me want to be a better person while Garrix is about as original as a Instagram stories. With that in mind, I’m halfway on this one. 3

Meshell:Okay I’ve gone into this ready to think it sucks because Martin Garrix’s name is on it. It’s times like this I hate being right because a shred of hope dangled in front of me in the form of the Dua Lipa feature but there was no saving this trainwreck. When will people stop writing shitty EDM anthems because aren’t we all smarter than that by now? Oh wait…no…we’re fucking not. 1

Average Score: 2.25

Missy Elliott
I’m Better

Reece: In her prime, Missy Elliot was as innovative as Pharrell and infinitely cooler. This is not prime Missy Elliott. Where to begin? The dollar store Scott Storch beat? The rapper whose name is LAMB??? Every time Missy introduces some semblance of energy into the track, old mate Lamb shows up to be a charisma vacuum.  At least the video is cool. 1.5

Zanda: If you’re going to create a track as spacious as this the rhymes have to be absolutely outstanding to detract from how boring the production is. I don’t mind Missy’s own verses, but aside from those standalone high points, the rest is just so unengaging. 1

Sam: This one’s proved to be a super divisive cut for Missy and I think that’s because we’re not really used to her going for such a spacious, slow-moving beat. There’s really nothing wrong with what Missy does on this one and the video is incredible but this one suffers from all the others involved. LAMB’s hook is so limp and unnecessary and the beat sounds a little like Max Martin’s Only beat which was uninspiring anyway. I can’t say I’m overly excited by it. 2.5

Meshell:Why is there so much hate on Missy? This to me shits all over the Martin Garrix mess. This has attitude in spades. Nobody is reinventing the wheel but Missy delivers on her signature bad-assery and that is legitimately all I want from her. You go girlfrand. 4

Average Score: 2.25

Methyl Ethel
Ubu

Reece: Methyl Ethel have incredible replay value and Ubu is another refining step towards their inevitable breakthrough. It doesn’t strike gold in the way Twilight Driving did with that catchy hook, but Ubu keeps powering ahead with the swanky cadence, beachy guitars and toe-tapping drums. Jake Webb does a great impersonation of John Gourley from Portugal. The Man and this band is increasingly becoming essential listening every time they release a new track. 3.5

Zanda: Another catchy effort from Methyl Ethel, who are almost definitely set to have their biggest year yet in 2017. Jake Webb is constantly writing all the music for the band, and he’s definitely embracing the weird side of their style of indie rock here. It’ll be interesting to see where their second full LP takes them, given the rose to prominence off the back of a really clean, catchy song, and I know for a fact that a significant chunk of their music doesn’t follow that same path. 3.5

Sam: From the first time I heard Twilight Drive I knew Methyl Ethel were on the path to become one of the most successful bands in the country. This offering off their second record proves that wasn’t a fluke. This is so funky and delectable and they sound like they’re reaching for more than the Aussie festival scene which is an ambition I like. I dig the visuals, I like the hook and I just generally love the vibes of Methyl Ethel. They could be the most successful local band since Tame Impala. Don’t @ me. 4

Meshell: Perhaps my genre preferences are a little too transparent here but Ubu reeks of snotty nosed hipster affiliation. “Why did you have to go and cut your hair” is as vapid as any Zara whatshername lyric (I recall some drivel about a sexy body). This is targeted directly as pseudo-intellectuals who are generally the WORST type of people and I’m not about that life. Not as bad as Garrix though 1.5

Average Score: 3.16

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