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First Impressions: Taylor Swift, Maroon 5, George Maple And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 09/06/2017

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 George Maple, Wafia, Taylor Swift, DJDS and Vallis Alps face the jury.

George Maple – Hero

Zanda: Another brooding track from George Maple that threatens to erupt into a full on drop but never does. But that’s okay, there’s still plenty to sink your teeth into with this one, with Maple’s vocals front and centre as always. For me though, the production is just too predictable. I knew exactly how the structure would play out upon hearing the first few bars, and for someone making electro pop like she is, there needs to be a bit more ingenuity/unpredictability in at least some aspect of a track like this. 3

Gabby: I kept waiting for this to hit a big moment, whether that was a drop or the production built into something bigger but it just never quite gets there? It’s a good track, Maple’s vocals are stunning as always but it’s a little predictable. I wish there was a moment where she really brought it up to the next level. 3

Sam: I absolutely love this. It’s such a big, bold statement from her but it’s also really honest and intimate. The last two tracks for Maple have been such a step up and it’s so great to see an artist with as much potential as her constantly growing. The way this one harnesses all this energy in the verses and then lets it all go in the chorus is beautiful. Don’t even start me on that pulsating beat in the final chorus. 4.5

Wafia – Bodies

Zanda: Wow Wafia is really having a bloody incredible year isn’t she. She has well and truly emerged from being a bit-part vocalist for Ta-Ku with the odd song of her own (thank you Ta-Ku for discovering her we owe you a great debt), and has really found her own sound. ‘83 Days’ was such a huge single that it needed just as big a follow up, and ‘Bodies’ is exactly what was required. 4

Gabby: Okay so I am completely obsessed with Wafia and this track is an absolute stand out for me, dare I say it’ll be in my top 3 favourite tracks of the year. Wafia’s vocals are at their best here and she is just continually proving to everyone why she is one of Australia’s most important pop artists right now. The lyrics are clever as she draws links to her personal experiences with the Syrian refugee crisis but in a way that is accessible,inclusive & also allows the listener to bring their own interpretations to the table. 5 Gabby’s Pick

Sam: Such a complex subject matter and yet such a succinct, simple song. That would be a problem if Wafia wasn’t a genuine, knowledgeable songwriter. Instead of being superficial it’s a heart-wrenching pop song.

Maroon 5 – What Lovers Do (Feat. SZA)

Zanda: Particularly apt for the amazing SZA to be here this week with her getting announced on the 2018 FOMO lineup. This is two worlds colliding that despite my best efforts to never listen to any Maroon 5 after Songs About Jane ever again, has me kind of not hating them as much as I have recently. I guess SZA can make anyone awesome. 4

Gabby: I really did not expect to see SZA jumping on a track with Maroon 5 and I also did not expect to love it as much as I do. The track is a chilled out version of Neiked’s ‘Sexual’ and I am very here for it. 4

Sam: I love SZA so much and she almost saves this song but she’s just not in it long enough to salvage it. 2

Taylor Swift – …Ready For It?

Zanda: I was very apprehensive after not really vibing her single last week at all, but was pleasantly surprised by this one. It’s a track that threatens to continue this “dark” vibe that Taylor is clearing going for, but then the chorus goes and undoes this whole facade. And WHAT. A. CHORUS. Silky pop pop production intertwined with classic Swifty vocals. I could listen to that chorus on repeat and just not get sick of it, and I definitely didn’t think i’d be attributing a quote like that to Taylor Swift this year but there you go. 2017 is a weird year. 4.25 (Scientifically broken down; Chorus = 5/5. Rest of it =3.5/5)

Gabby: Honestly I am extremely on board with this ‘new Taylor’, her first track was killer and this is just even better. Those dark ‘half spoken half sung’ verses coupled with the heavy production create a feeling of war but then Taylor’s smooth vocals in the chorus bring this softness to the track that seamlessly ties the whole thing together. This is definitely one of the best choruses of the year & I will not be told anything different (don’t @ me). Whilst everyone is out there writing think pieces about every little thing Taylor is doing/has done she’s re-inventing herself and releasing some of her best work to date, not giving a damn about her ‘bad reputation’. 5

Sam: I’m totally ready for it. I wasn’t really ready to accept Swift’s return but that chorus has me back on board. It’s pure Swift, pop gold, the type that only she can make so effortlessly. 4

DJDS – Why Don’t You Come On (Feat. Khalid & Empress Of)

Zanda: This is the first time i’ve listened to stuff by Empress Of and I must sad I’m certainly empressed (lol). Really cool, chilled vibes from this track, which is obviously what we’ve come to expect from Khalid’s music as well. His and Empress Of’s vocals fit together like they’ve never been apart, and having so much raw power in that part of the track makes the work of the producer so much easier. 4

Gabby: Look I’d never heard of DJDs or Empress Of before this track, Khalid is who drew me in tbh, but boy am I glad he did because this is a match made in heaven. Empress Of’s vocals are so beautiful and work perfectly with Khalid’s, there’s just all of this power but it also feels completely effortless? Love it. 4.5

Sam: I sounds like a broken record but I love DJDS so much and they’ve been releasing the best electronic music for a long time. It’s no surprise to me that this is brilliant. 4.5

Vallis Alps – Oceans

Zanda: This track has been out for less than a week and is already one of my favourites from these guys. It’s got a bit more earthy bite to it compared to their super ethereal stuff, but is still filled with the gorgeous melodic subtleties and harmonies that make the Vallis Alps sound so captivating. The real challenge now will be whether they’ll be able to craft an album at some point in the future with songs that differentiate enough to make it diverse, but given the breakneck speed at which their music is maturing I’ve no doubt they’re capable. 4.5 Zanda’s Pick

Gabby: I’ve never been super into Vallis Alps and only really started listening to them after ‘East’ was released. The production on this track has a heaviness to it that sets it apart from the dreamy, fragile tracks they’ve released previously and I think that’s why I like it so much more? Plus those harmonies are spectacular, i’ll definitely be paying a lot more attention to these two in the future. 3

Sam: This is so nice but it also feels really innovative and forward-thinking which is nice to hear from Vallis Alps. Totally sold on this one. 3.5

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