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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 Calvin Harris, Future, The Kite String Tangle, Lastlings, Zedd and The Chainsmokers face the jury.
Reece: I mean, this couldn’t really go wrong, could it? Despite essentially giving us two albums last year, just seeing Frank Ocean’s name in the new releases feels special in a way few other artists do. Kudos to Calvin Harris for realising the talent he has on this track and not overdoing it with the generic club womp. All three artists on this song don’t seem to be trying especially hard, but I almost feel like if they did Slide wouldn’t work as cohesively as it does. People might cringe at this, but Slide honestly feels like Blonde tuned down for commercial radio. It doesn’t top anything from that album, but adds a brilliant addition to every party playlist for the next decade. 4.5
Sam: I didn’t believe that Calvin Harris could actually get Frank Ocean on a release but here we are and, low and behold, he didn’t screw it up. Harris keeps his annoyances to a minimum on this jam that actually feels exactly like cruising in LA. Of course, this track would be nothing without Ocean. The beat is good but it’s Ocean’s monotonous drawl (I mean that in the nicest way possible) that truly makes this. “Do you slide on all your nights like this,” is an effortlessly, instantly iconic hook that only Ocean could deliver. He’s never chased hits but he may just nab one with this. 4
Reece: I’m not sure we truly understand the gravity of Future releasing two excellent albums in two weeks yet. Selfish is a standout if not for anything but how much of a departure it is from Future’s trap-heavy sound. Who knew Pluto could crank out a pop tune like this? It certainly helps he has one of the best pop artists of all-time on hand in Rihanna, and they combine with excellent chemistry to produce something really endearing and engrossing. Selfish is an intimate and patient tune that allows Future’s autotuned vocals to mesh into Rihanna’s gracefully clear chords, working in away I couldn’t have expected. It’s almost hilarious how great this is only a week after I gushed about Draco, a guns-blazing rap flurry by the exact same guy. Future is wild, guys. 4
Sam: Future and Rihanna’s Loveeeee Song is a highlight of RiRi’s catalogue so I was instantly excited to see her on the tracklist for HNDRXX. Selfish is even better though. It continues down the same raw, desolate path of ANTI and Future sings alongside in his greatest vocal display on the album. They’re both gravelly, dark and emotional, juxtaposing the bravado that both of them bring in droves on the harder-hitting urban tracks. This is straight back to the Pluto Future – the one that somehow mixed crooning with rap. Both of them make it so great. Not one outshines the other. 4.5
Reece: I’m quite the fan of The Kite String Tangle, he has an incredible knack of stirring up the emotions and making some really powerful music. That said, Selfish is just… missing something. Like the bottom layer of the track has been cut out or something. It’s not a shocking track by any stretch, but feels more like the filler track of a good album rather than a single that should be spotlighted. 3
Sam: It’s the battle of the Selfish songs this week. Unfortunately for The Kite String Tangle, he’s fighting giants in Rihanna and Future. This doesn’t pale in comparison but it lacks that raw emotion. Obviously, it’s a totally different vibe and it’s actually one of his most accessible, forthright tunes yet. It’s clear his voice is better, his production is more adventurous and his feel for melody has matured. It just feels like it needs to be a little less polished. 3.5
Reece: So there’s been a million different takes on capturing the commercial dynamite The Chainsmokers had on Closer. Whatever, I get it – artists gotta eat. Maybe it’s just my love for Alessia Cara, but Stay is one of my favourite takes on this formulaic ‘let’s make a pop hit’ type of collaboration. Alessia Cara has a brilliant quirk to her vocals that makes every line she delivers feel like it’s bursting with life. Zedd’s production bogs the song down a bit in my eyes, as it straddles an uncomfortable line between Mura Masa and Cobra Starship (not a compliment) but the end product is serviceable enough for me to enjoy. 3.5
Sam: Every time I hear Zedd’s name mentioned I always instantly think I dislike him but upon further pondering I remember what he’s done with Selena Gomez and Lady Gaga and settle that he’s better than fellow EDM giants. I agree with Reece. This is definitely the best take on that post-Chainsmokers drop and it’s infinitely more enjoyable than Chainsmokers’ recent drop. I think it comes down to the sweetness of Alessia Cara’s voice paired with the excellent vocal melody and the treatment of the vocals right before the drop. It’s a small touch but he manages to make something pretty formulaic enjoyable. 3
Reece: Lastlings are the organic progression of that Joel Little sound that exploded under Lorde and Broods a few years ago. On Urges, they capture the atmospheric minimalism brilliantly but manage to keep Amy Dowdle’s vocals feeling strong and guiding. There are so many bright spots in Australian music right now, but this might be my pick for the brightest. Now all I need is that Nico Ghost collaboration we know would be perfect. 4.5 Reece’s pick
Sam: It really feels like Lastlings have arrived with this one. There’s so much of this late night, woozy electronica going round in Australia right now and I’m so bored by all of it but Lastlings constantly manage to grab my attention. Urges is their best drop yet. Amy’s vocals are utterly hypnotising and the backdrop with those howling, distant synths is pretty spectacular. I love seeing an Aussie band growing and these guys are pushing ahead in leaps and bounds. 4
Reece: If your song is uninspired and generic, could you at least make it catchy? I think The Chainsmokers are actually a social experiment, testing to see how many times you can release literally the same song with new vocals before people catch on. I can’t find anything redeeming. What is “this”? What is the “something” you so crave, Chris Martin? Is this song just written so everyone in the focus group agrees that this song just gets them? I have so many questions, so few answers. This is the week one soundtrack of everyone returning to university. Not a compliment. 0.5
Sam: You know what? I’m just over talking about them. It’s clear for whatever reason that The Chainsmokers and Coldplay have decided not to try so I’m also not trying to review. 1
“This song got shat out by 15 writers who’ll make more money this month than I make in a year:” New music roundtable reviewed.