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First Impressions: Charli XCX, Sigrid, Cub Sport And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 10/11/2018

First Impressions is people with opinions reviewing people with songs out of five. This week Charli XCX, Cub Sport and more face the jury.

Charli XCX (Feat. Troye Sivan) – 1999

Reece Hooker: This might be my most played song of the year and it’s been out less than a week. Charli XCX takes the science behind pop, perfects the formula and manages to make it feel spontaneous and alive on every beat. The chorus on ‘1999’ is intoxicating and Troye Sivan’s understated guest feature doesn’t dominate the song, but also doesn’t feel tacked on at all. I don’t know how something so simple works so well, but that’s the magic of Charli. 5

Kate Carnell: I’m not really a fan of this one TBH, which sucks because I had high hopes for this pairing.  To me it’s a crummier version of Anne-Marie’s ‘2002’, but at least they were closer to the correct year ‘Baby One More Time’ was released.
The two points are awarded for the JTT reference. 2

Sam Murphy: Charli XCX knows exactly what to do when it’s time to deliver that mainstream bop without compromising her sound. This is a kitsch, nostalgic pop song that’s almost scientifically designed to stick in your head. I’m stoked to hear Troye doing something light-hearted and while I never really saw him working with Charli, she’s managed to find something perfect for the pair of them. Yep, the lyrics are absolutely ridiculous and the idea that Troye was only 4 in 1999 is even more so but who cares. It’s pleasure pop at its finest. 4.5

Cub Sport – Sometimes

Reece: This might be my favourite track from one of my favourite bands. The opening 45 seconds give Tim Nelson’s stunning vocals so much room to breathe, then it kicks into gear with some backing vocals that feel tastefully Blood Orange-influenced. Once ‘Sometimes’ hits full force in the chorus, it’s a pulsating, blurry masterpiece. The instrumentation moves like an anxious heartbeat and the songwriting feels cathartic and devastating, all at once. ‘Sometimes’ is overwhelming in the best possible way. 4.5

Kate: For such a tiny, tiny song, they’ve packed so many words in!  But they are beautiful, relatable words; especially as I listen on World Mental Health Day.  4

Sam: This is an absolute triumph for Cub Sport. It’s the most crisply-produced, forward-thinking song they’ve ever released and in many ways feels like a new beginning for the band. Tim sounds artistically liberated but lyrically he traverses that line between stability and finding new horizons. It’s a gorgeous song and a real highlight for Australian music this year. 4.5

Jessie Ware – Overtime

Reece: ‘Overtime’ is one of the best Jessie Ware tracks I’ve heard in years and it’s so refreshing hearing her back on dance beats. The skittish production gives Jessie’s airy voice ample room to duck and weave around the song, a luxury not afforded to her on many of the sparser songs from her last record. The chorus packs a punch and the all-star team behind the boards (featuring members of Bicep and Simian Mobile Disco) makes for one fun club-ready jam that feels like a welcome return to form for Jessie Ware. 4

Kate: Summer club anthem!! This’ll be absolutely everywhere this summer.  I listened through my phone speakers and it had my phone physically vibrating and pumping hard (it even gave me numb fingers – like when you put your hand on a bus window.  Ew don’t touch bus surfaces). So yeah either I need to see Telstra about fixing my phone or this is a banger.  3.5

Sam: I thought we’d left club Jessie in 2013 but I am so glad she’s popped up again even if it’s just for a moment. From Silk City to Robyn it feels like pop and club music are colliding once again. This is such a sleek, seductive number that feels like its crept from the depths of early morning darkness. Jessie is one of the few artists that can handle a beat like this without overdoing. She’s a class act and we need a vogueing video for this ASAP. 4.5

Sigrid – Sucker Punch

Reece: Sigrid’s never been the type of artist with blow-away vocal power, but she’s been a personal favourite for the personality and charisma she emanates on her catchy singles. Unfortunately, ‘Sucker Punch’ is lacking on all counts for me. The chorus feels horrendously dated and limp, coasting off lethargic songwriting and production that sounds ripped from a  budget TV soundtrack. This feels like a bad parody of a Sigrid song from a boardroom of execs that have misunderstood that is fun about Sigrid. 2

Kate: Sucker Punch is a cute little pop song.  The lyrics aren’t amazingly strong but it’s definitely a little bop. 3

Sam: I really like this, alot actually but I have this sense that it’s been A&R’d within an inch of its life. For a song that is so candid with its lyrics, we should hear a bit more of Sigrid’s personality coming through and it just doesn’t. That said, the chorus is bloody huge. 

Halsey – Without Me

Reece: I’m all for publicly dragging your famous ex, but is this really the best Halsey could do? There’s no doubting this song is incredibly personal for her, but I honestly couldn’t tell by the muddied mixing on this track that leaves Halsey feeling totally lost in the shuffle. That wouldn’t be so criminal if there was anything else interesting happening on this track, but there’s just not. If you looked up generic in the dictionary, it’d just be a URL that links to this song. 2

Kate: Solid, solid tune.  I wonder if it was written while she and G-Eazy were split up, but now they appear to be back together.  Awkies. 4.5

Sam: Overbearing, cold pop music that just doesn’t hit the sweet spot for me at all. I get that it’s extremely personal for her and it does feel raw but that hook is an absolute clunker that just sinks the song. There’s nothing remotely special or individual about this. 2

Kim Petras- Close Your Eyes

Reece: I’ve been sleeping on Kim Petras, but this tape has shaken me awake. ‘Close Your Eyes’ is a great microcosm of what I love about Turn Off the Light, Vol. 1: it feels sweaty, dark and thumping. This is great music that doesn’t shoot to re-invent the game, but simply nails all the visceral levels of music: Petras’ vocals sound good on the ears, the core of the song is loaded with energy and it knows how to build and release big moments. That all being said, I can’t in good conscience thumbs up a Dr Luke production so… 1 (3.5 if you ditched the abuser)

Kate: Damn I really enjoyed this track.  It’s a little dark yet super fun; but after discovering it was produced by Dr. Luke (cheers for the heads-up Reece), I’d have to agree with the 1 point. 1 (4 if Dr. Luke is binned)

Sam: Kim Petras is clearly a great artist because she makes some very generic songs like this sound great but she’s not going anywhere unless she finds new collaborators. She’s hanging around with Charli XCX and Leland at the moment, she could start there. 1

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