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First Impressions: Troye Sivan, Eminem, Tkay Maidza And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 09/11/2018

First Impressions is our weekly roundtable review feature where our writers give their two cents on new music from the week past. This week, it’s Troye Sivan, Eminem, Tkay Maidza and more facing the jury.

Troye Sivan – Plum

Reece Hooker: ‘Plum’ is such a stunning, lush track that bubbles off the page with attitude. Troye Sivan is magnetic and everything he appears on feels like so much fun. There’s a beautiful blend here of a very well-done, conventional pop chorus that is complemented by some engaging, choppy verses that ties together to create an incredibly complete piece of art.  4.5

Sam Murphy: Bloom as a whole is very good but I feel like Plum defines it best. It manages to retain the intimacy and fragility of the record while also introducing this very immediate pop sound that is current without copying current radio trends. That hook so brilliantly ties into the album’s imagery while giving us a completely different take on his relationship – one that doesn’t pop up so often on Bloom. 4.5

Eminem – Fall

Reece: This is embarrassing. No artist in history has been given a wider berth than Eminem – because it’s hip-hop, because he built a brand out of being subversive (that hasn’t aged well at all), because he’s white, because he’s a straight man, and because he’s perhaps the most technically proficient rapper we’ve ever seen. It’s staggering that, given such latitude, Eminem still manages to mess it up by dropping a tone-deaf gay slur. Hopefully, the fallout from this means that more artists are forced to confront their use of homophobic language: Earl Sweatshirt, Mac Miller, Lupe Fiasco, ScHoolboy Q, J. Cole, Jay-Z, Future, Chance the Rapper, Denzel Curry, and 21 Savage, you guys can start. 0

Sam: If you’re still listening to Eminem, I gotta ask why. Old man yells at cloud is very his vibe and the fact that he didn’t see that and rectify it after Revival proves just how out of touch he is. Paranoid, vintage and offensive. What a knob. 0

Tkay Maidza – Big Things

Reece: Tkay Maidza continues to branch out, try new sounds and dazzle us with her ability to do basically anything. She burst out on a club banger, Switch Tape proved she could rap and TKAY was a wonderful pop-rap debut. Now, she’s developed something exceptionally fresh that marries her wonderful vocals with that otherworldly elastic flow. Featuring dad on bass, this reggae-flavoured number reminds me of Santigold at full flight. There’s few things better than hearing a young artist’s full potential begin to crystalise, and the feeling’s even sweeter when an artist is this talented. 4

Sam: I’ve always loved Tkay, particularly the youthfulness and vibrancy but I always had this feeling she’d become brilliant with time. The whole EP is a massive step up for her and without a doubt the finest hip-hop project to come out of Australia this year but Big Things, in particular, is extraordinary. I’m getting M.I.A.’s feel for melody with Nicki Minaj’s pop sensibilities and I’m here for it. That’s not to undermine the individuality of this song because it’s all grown Tkay. 4.5

Mabel – One Shot

Reece: Mabel’s warpspeed improvement from a promising young artist with top-shelf lineage to an outright pop sensation has been incredible. ‘One Shot’ is a tad boring compared to the lofty standards Mabel has set for herself, but she does this lane very well. It’s easy to see this one dominating radio for months, but Mabel is too good to sound this indistinct. If you’re not around Mabel already, this might be your gateway to stop sleeping, but if you’re already aboard the hype train, you might be able to give this one a miss. 2.5

Sam: There’s no doubt Mabel has had some great moments but she still hasn’t really defined who she is as an artist. It’s too much ‘90s nostalgia and not enough vision on every song. One Shot is good but completely forgettable and very easy to tie in with everything else happening in British pop this year. 2.5

Nao & SiR – Make It Out Alive

Reece: GRADES and Nao can do no wrong. This smooth-as-butter duet is the perfect follow-up to ‘Another Lifetime’, a track which Nao ‘sings the shit out of’ (couldn’t have said it better myself) – showing off her versatility on this one that has fewer huge notes and more intimacy. SiR holds up his end of the deal here, but misses another chance to drag himself from the bottom rung of TDE’s stacked roster. 3.5

Sam: Nao may be my favourite vocalist around right now but it’s not only her vocals that melt me. She finds melodic paths in songs that most don’t recognise and the way she traverses the beat here is nothing short of spectacular. The way she opens the second verse on this track is so great, she sets SiR up for inevitable glory. 4

Gallant – Haha No One Can Hear You!

Reece: Am I the only one who thinks Gallant is criminally under-promoted? He has a sterling voice, ‘Weight in Gold’ blew up in 2016 and then… everyone stopped talking about him. What gives? His output has still been quality, and this one is my favourite Gallant release since ‘Cave Me In’. While he skirts close to a lot of played-out R&B tropes, the brute force of Gallant’s powerful voice is enough to push this song along. That, and a catchy hook, helps make this a well-rounded release for the Maryland native. 4

Sam: I agree with Reece, I’m not really sure why Gallant isn’t bigger. He’s a lovely, making great songs with a spectacular voice. This is probably the most hypnotic, experimental piece of music he’s ever made and yet it still feels like an instant classic. 3.5

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