First Impressions: Louis Tomlinson, N.E.R.D, Ed Sheeran & Beyoncé And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 12/06/2017

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 PRETTYMUCH, N.E.R.D, Louis Tomlinson, DJDS, Vallis Alps and Ed Sheeran face the jury.

PRETTYMUCH – No More (Feat. French Montana)

David James Young: The Latin flavour feels like it’s trying to get in on a bit of that Despacito money. This feels like a mix of Usher and Enrique, can see this sizzling quite nicely on playlists across summer. Not normally the kind of thing I go for, but it’s got enough bounce and bubble to whet the appetite. 3

Ti Butler: I know this is literally the idea, but this vocally sounds like the English language equivalnt of SHINee. Because of that, it sounds to my ears like this strangely cobbled together mix of K-pop vocal delivery, alt-R&B production, and that so-hot-right-now Latin sound. I’d also like to note that, following his appearance on Dirty Sexy Money with David Guetta, Afrojack, and Charli XCX, this is two features in a row for French Montana which features exactly the right amount of French Montana. Well done all concerned. 3

Liz Ansley: Ok yeah, definitely feeling bandwagon-jumping in a few different ways here, which is pretty boring – but I don’t totally hate this, I found myself bopping a bit at a couple points. Mostly just whenever it takes a sharp turn into full on early 2000s throwback territory. 2

Jackson Langford: Do people know that Latin music existed before 2017 or is it just some mass discovery everyone’s making now? Either way, this is alright. I appreciate the more subdued approach as opposed to trying to make a Despacito or Mi Gente 2.0. It’s a little sultrier, a little smoother, and French Montana’s feature – for once – fits like a glove. 3

N.E.R.D – 1000 (Feat. Future)

David: N*E*R*D have been one of my favourite acts since I was a teenager. I grew up with In Search Of and Fly or Die, and I’ve always been in awe of the way Pharrell crafts music. With both this and “Lemon,” it’s clear that he’s wanted to turn it up a notch for awhile after the clean fun of “Happy.” It’s so good to hear him back in his element – or back on his bullshit, as the kids say. 4

Ti: I listened to this and then I listened to the excellent Millionaire by Kelis and Andre 3000 and that helped me decide that this is okay. 3

Liz: At first I was Really Not Sure about this but that gear change at 0:14 got me good. I’m not a huge fan of Future’s vocals in general but I’m really into how sectioned and frenetic this is. Still reckon Lemon is the stronger song but this will make fans happy. 3

Jackson: Completely contrasting to PRETTYMUCH and ‘No More’, Pharrell’s ability to set trends, not follow them, is as remarkable in 2017 as it was 15 years ago. ‘1000’ is a fantastic follow up to Lemon – it’s rambunctious, chaotic and explosive. Even Future, who perpetually sounds like he’s on the world’s biggest comedown (in the best way possible), sounds electrifying and energetic here. This album is going to be bonkers. 4

DJDS – Love (Feat. Empress Of)

David: Full disclosure – I am not a Lana fan whatsoever. It’s never been for me, and I’ve never understood the mass hysteria surrounding the music. I haven’t heard the original, but I like the production and the melody here. There’s a lot of great electronic music being made right now with a similar aesthetic and palette to this – it’s very intriguing. 3

Ti: The good news is that I also don’t care about Lana Del Rey, and as a result had no awareness of this song existing before this version. So, without that emotional connection to the song that Lana fans probably have, it just sounds like every second song that makes it into Spotify’s New Music Friday every week, and does nothing to stand out from anything else on the New Music Friday playlist. It’s by no means bad, but it just goes into the pile of “absolutely fine songs you’ll forget about in two weeks”. 2.5

Liz: Uh oh, sorry to make this sound a bit broken-record but yeah, I’m not a Lana-head either. This isn’t my total jam – I did sort of keep waiting for something to really hook me, but the rework is super pleasant and floaty. I think it would make good driving music. 2.5

Jackson: And here I am to save the day because I am, in fact, a very big Lana fan and was immediately sceptical of this cover as ‘Love’ (the original) is easily one of the best songs of the year. It’s a soaring ballad that acts as solace in the absolute shit show of 2017, and DJDS/Empress Of have clearly respected that notion. That being said, the way they’ve flipped into a sexy dance number – while still maintaining the adoration and innocence of the original – is astounding. 4

Louis Tomlison – Miss You

David: What a confusing, muddled piece of songwriting. Dude, do you want to be 5 Seconds of Summer or Imagine Dragons? Make up your mind. Has anyone in One Direction that isn’t Harry Styles made a song that is even remotely interesting this year? 1.5

Ti: This could do with approximately three or four additional male vocalists, all doing their own little sections of the song, and then everyone coming together on the chorus. Ring the other lads and resubmit. Score will be issued once song is resubmitted with additional vocals.

Liz: How good is total mediocrity? 1

Jackson: This is Louis Tomlinson’s best song, and that is saying something. 1

Vallis Alps – So Settled

David: This is perfectly sweet and pleasant. It reminds me a lot of Chairlift, who were so overlooked and underrated in their time. I’ve never really given this band the time of day – I see their name fly past all the time on my timeline, usually from younger people. I’m definitely going to investigate more. 3.5

Ti: Vallis Alps just continue to release cute songs you can get lost in. 3.5

Liz: I’ve always appreciated Vallis Alps’ ability to create such gorgeous, lush textures around such solid pop songwriting. It did feel like I was waiting for full-blown euphoria but the hazy dreamscape was just lovely on its own. 4

Jackson: WHY DON’T I LIKE THIS?! Mercury must be in retrograde because Vallis Alps have consistently won my heart with their rich and lush approach to pop. They can make a song seem so eruptive yet so restrained at the same time – a balancing act seldom achieved by anyone. Maybe I’m wanting something more. Maybe my expectations of Vallis Alps are too cemented. Whatever it is, this song isn’t for me and I’ve never been more heartbroken. 2

Ed Sheeran – Perfect (Feat. Beyonce)

David: You know a song is helpless when not even Beyoncé can make it even slightly more interesting. 1

Ti: This song was better when it was just Ed. The thing that confuses me the most is that they’ve changed the production between the original version and this duet – the original kind of burst to life towards the end of the song, and built really nicely, but this sounds like the raw demo production with Beyoncé’s bit sticky-taped on the end. Now, one other important point I have to make here: just a take a second to look at that embedded video there of the song. Click play, even just for a second. But look especially at the snow falling. Now imagine if they’d done that exact same song, but put some festive bells or something behind it. JUST IMAGINE. It’d have been on December playlists for years to come. 2.25, with an option to be revised up to a 3.5 or 4 if they remaster it with the aforementioned festive bells underneath

Liz: This has never been a very interesting song and the idea that Beyonce can see her future in Ed Sheeran’s eyes made me very uncomfortable 1

Jackson: I can only dream of earning in my lifetime the amount Beyoncé must have been paid to do this song. 2

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