Friday, April 28, 2017

Three weeks off - what did I miss?

Huge apaologies for the (latest) break in blog posts. It was a double whammy of work deadlines leading into a family holiday. But I'm back once again like the "renegade master" ("tired father of two"). And here's a round-up of what I listened to in the break.

Paramore - Hard Times
Paramore have really been through the wringer - with an ever-changing line-up and all sorts of legal demands from former members. It got so bad they nearly packed it all in: "Two years ago I asked Taylor (York, guitarist) if we could start a new band," Hayley Williams told The Guardian. "I was so sick of this crap. I said we should just try something new, give it a new name."

But, as she's done many times before, Williams clung on and turned the bad times into a rollicking radio hit. The aptly-named Hard Times takes its cues from Talking Heads and Blondie, all clipped guitar lines and arch vocal stylings. It is an utter triumph.

Lana Del Rey ft The Weekend - Lust For Life
Of course, in Lana Del Rey's world, "lust for life" translates as "drifting woozily over a moonlit graveyard" but what a song. What. A. Song.

Katy Perry - Bon Appetit
Plans for Katy Perry's political album have been shelved in favour of this ode to oral sex.

Kendrick Lamar - DNA
Kendrick's new album, DAMN FULL STOP, doesn't move me in quite the same way as To Pimp A Butterfly - its lyrical and musical introspection makes it a much tougher listen. But DNA is a standout, with Mike Will Made-It's starkly simplistic beats focusing your attention on Kendrick's densely-layered lyrics.

The video, in which he takes possession of Don Cheadle's body, is also worth watching.

Goldfrapp - Systemagic
The lyrics are some old bollocks about the moon - but the song is vintage Goldfrapp, with Alison's ethereal vocals the chocolate sprinkles on Will Gregory's synth cappuccino. (Sorry, I'm all out of metaphors).

Ardyn - Together
Ardyn are twin brother and sister Rob and Katy Pearson, who hail from Gloucestershire. Their new single was written in a caravan on a keyboard purchased from Lidl; and it's messy tangle of strummed guitar and dark-pop harmonies is an absolute delight.

Haim - Right Now
Haim's comeback song is very emphatically not a single (that comes next week, fact fans), which is a relief as Right Now feels very much like track nine on a 10-track album. Great video, though.

Tove Styrke - Say My Name
Tove Styrke's second album, Kiddo, was my favourite record of 2015 - and now she's back, with a typically quirky take on Swedish pop. Her girl power lyrics have transmuted into something altogether more sex-obsessed, but her wayward lyrics are still superb: "Say my name - wear it out like a sweater."

Dua Lipa ft Miguel - Lost In Your Light
A steamy banger, in which Dua and Miguel tussle over lyrics like "let me ride in your love all night". Phwoar.

Harry Styles - Sign Of The Times
According to Cameron Crowe's Rolling Stone profile of Sir Harry Stylesworth, this song is written from the perspective of a mother who, while in labour, is told she will die if her baby is to survive, which is quite a thematic departure from, say, Best Song Ever.

I'm still ambivalent about the song. Depending on my mood, it's either a brave attempt to write a power ballad that mixes the best bits of Life On Mars and Purple Rain, or a Stereophonics cast-off that outstays its welcome.

Royal Blood - Lights Out
This is going to KICK OFF at the Pyramid Stage come June.

Kygo ft Ellie Goulding - First Time
Yet another midtempo EDM song that wimps out at the chorus. Note to producers: A squiggly synth line is no substitute for a melody, and we're onto your trick now.

Ride - All I Want
I wasn't expecting much from the Ride reunion. The Stone Roses aside, I was never that keen on shoegaze indie; and Andy Bell's stint in Beady Eye didn't exactly set the world alight. But this is, somehow, rather brilliant.

Ibibio Sound Machine - The Chant
Fronted by London-born Nigerian singer Eno Williams, Ibibio Sound Machine smash together West African funk and British electro-pop in a way that will make your jelly shake right off its plate. The Chant has just been added to the 6 Music playlist, and rightly so.

DNCE ft Nicki Minaj - Kissing Strangers
Ridiculous. Good. But not ridiculously good.

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