First Impressions: Taylor Swift, Miguel, N.E.R.D. And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 11/08/2017

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 Taylor Swift, David Guetta, Miguel, Kota Banks, N.E.R.D. and The Presets face the jury.

David Guetta & Afrojack – Dirty Sexy Money (Feat. Charli XCX & French Montana)

Zanda: While it’s super difficult to criticise anything that Charli XCX does, it almost seems that in collaborating with DG the things that make her music so outstanding are just dimmed a little. Her vocals are flawless as always, and unmistakably her. Can’t say I’m a fan of French Montana’s verse. The production is decent in parts, but it just feels borderline like it’s specifically trying to make Charli easier to digest for people who listen exclusively to Kiss FM and Nova. 3.5

Sam: I love that this sounds 80 per cent like a Charli XCX song and 20 per cent like a David Guetta song. That’s a big plus. It’s actually a pretty flawless pop song for the most part. Charli XCX navigates floaty verses, a rushing bridge and a pretty clunky chorus effortlessly but then French Montana busts in with one of the most horrendous verses of the year. To me it sounds like he only uses two words, “clap” and “you”, and I’m not even 100 per cent sure that he’s in time for any portion of the beat. 3

N.E.R.D. – Lemon (Feat. Rihanna)

Zanda: Love that gritty, glitchy N.E.R.D sound even if it’s a far cry from their guitar-dominated 2000s stylings. I actually didn’t know this was Rihanna the first couple of times I span this one when it came out last week, but I have to say I’m giving the YES vote to Riri rapping. As if she needed to add any more strings to her bow. It’s undoubtedly the feature piece of the whole track, and she pulls, it, off. 4 Zanda’s Pick

Sam: I really wasn’t prepared to like a N.E.R.D. song in 2017 but here we are. This is the most relevant and exciting Pharrell has sounded in years, pulling us back to those perky Neptunes beats once again. Just when he’s won me over with his verse, Rihanna waltzes in and wipes the floor with a verse that oozes effortless cool. She’s having such a stellar year without even releasing a track of her own. 4

Kota Banks – Holiday

Zanda: I’m on the fence on this one. It’s a great pop track and it’s easy on the ear, but I feel as if it could be one that gets lost in the ever-growing list of artists trying to crack that cute pop aesthetic. 3

Sam: I am 100 per cent here for all of this. Swick has always been one of my favourite producers and hearing him wrap his talents around something more pop-leaning is really satisfying. Kota Banks is a phenomenal writer and she takes this beat and makes a monster pop songs out of it. That chorus is equal parts cute and fierce while her voice floats through the verses with such ease. It’s got all the elements for me and I honestly haven’t been this excited by a local pop track for a while 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Taylor Swift – Call It What You Want

Zanda: I’m just kinda waiting for this to take off and become something but it never really gets out of first gear. I’ll stop short of saying this is downright boring, but it’s not far off. That ‘pop’ rhythm effect is really shitting me by the end of it too. 1.5

Sam: I haven’t been sold on every song from Reputation so far but this one has me thinking I could really invest in Swift again. Like her or not, she’s a damn good pop writer and the fact that she can make something brilliant out of something as simple as this is a testament to her talents. When she pulls back the drama and goes for something more minimal, she’s always more successful. This is the most earnest she’s sounded in years. 4

Miguel – Told You So

Zanda: Another winner from Miguel. There’s something really captivating about his voice kind of wistfully sitting above this weird, glitchy production. It’s different, and I’m a big fan. So basically this: 4

Sam: Sky Walker was so subtle that it was a little hard to get my head around initially but this one I caught onto immediately. Sonically, it’s got so much texture and depth but it’s driven by this instantly addictive melody that takes us right back to the smooth Miguel of Adorn-fame. Props to Miguel for always doing something different but still sticking to those groovy melodies. 4

The Presets – Do What You Want

Zanda: Sure this could probably slip seamlessly into a bar or club playlist, but there’s nothing really standing out that grabs my attention. Oh look i’ve already starting watching This Boy’s In Love from the list of suggested videos. 2

Sam: This sounds perfect for a Mazda commercial. I was really digging the experimental direction The Presets were going in on the previous singles but this just feels like a return to Apocalypso. It was cool then, it sounds aged now. I wish I could dig it but it just sounds like too much of a throwback. 2

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