Singles Of The Month: January 2018
Soccer Mommy ‘Your Dog’
If there’s a song that makes me morbidly yearn to be going through a break up, just so that I can listen to this song moodily until it makes me feel better, it’s ‘Your Dog,’ the first single from Soccer Mommy’s forthcoming album Clean. Instrumentally it’s sugary sweet, all sing-song melodies and light-as-air delivery, but what quiet vulnerability there is in the instrumentation belies an inner strength. Soccer Mommy is steely-eyed, refusing to put up with a controlling, overbearing partner, taking back the power her own way.
Jorja Smith ‘Let Me Down feat. Stormzy’
Jorja Smith’s been on the up for the last couple of years, but ‘Let Me Down’ is the release that’s really got me excited about the direction she’s moving in. It’s undoubtedly a pop record, even recalling Adele in parts (which makes sense since she drew inspiration from the larger-than-life pop balladry of recent James Bond themes), but her vocal tone - rich and vulnerable all at once - somehow keeps it from tipping into cheesier territory. Stormzy’s verse, in which he takes the role of the neglectful boyfriend, is pretty good, but it’s very much Jorja’s performance that keeps me coming back for more.
Moss Kena ‘Square One’
The dulcet, smooth tones of Moss Kena first made their way to our ears in the form of a rendition of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘These Walls’ in 2016. Since then, we haven’t had much at all in the way of new music bar a couple of collaborative singles. With the release of ‘Square One’, she’s harkening back to the funk-inflected R&B of her Kendrick cover and we couldn’t be happier about it. Throughout the verses she keeps things simple, letting her voice take the lead over a super-minimalist bass-line. She lets the scope widen in the chorus, layering up synth sounds as her voice crescendos, but it never gets away from her. 'Square One' a masterclass in restraint, always leaving us wanting more.
Troye Sivan ‘My My My!’
What can we say, this track is just an absolute joy. From the sexy, half-whispered verses, to the explosive, dance-your-heart-out chorus, we can’t get enough. Troye Sivan has long been a pop star in the making, having released a great debut album back in 2015, but with ‘My My My!’ he’s shown real growth. His vocal performance is self-assured, and his lyricism is outwardly queer. This is the kind of pop star we need in 2018: one who’ll use the pronouns he wants to use in his songs, who’ll shine like a beacon for his queer fans, and who’ll dance like no one’s watching on SNL.
James Blake ‘If A Car Besides You Moves Ahead’
I've long been a James Blake fan but, for me, The Colour In Anything didn’t come close to Overgrown (although admittedly I was into the Peter Blake illustrations, and ‘I Need A Forest Fire’ continues to play havoc with my emotional stability). With that in mind, I’m pleased to report that this month James Blake returned to his roots. ‘If A Car Besides You Moves Ahead’ has it all: the enigmatic charm that won him the Mercury Prize in 2013, the eerie, synth driven self-exploration of his debut and the space-age rocketry of the Harmonimix series. This is best heard on your own and in the dark, or maybe whilst you make the popcorn before settling into to a Blade Runner double bill.
Tom Misch and Loyle Carner ‘Water Baby’
On the second single from upcoming album Geography, Misch continues to build on his web-born success - a 21st century millennial if ever I did see one. In new track ‘Water Baby’ he works again with regular collaborator Loyle Carner. The panning brass may seem old hat but Carner helps extinguish any concerns with his totally contemporary, stripped back spoken-word style. No doubt, Carner serves up a huge slice of a Mike Skinner flavoured cheese-cake, but I can’t deny that it works here. Misch’s voice lends itself to the track's poppy demeanour and I can’t help feel that, if he can avoid featuring on a Rudimental track, he's got a lot more to give.
Rejjie Snow 'Egyptian Luvr ft. Aminé and Dana Williams'
Snow’s latest EP, Dear Annie Pt 1 delivers on all counts. It was pretty hard to pick just one of the four tracks but the silky smooth groove on Egyptian Luvr is too tasty to ignore. Rejjie recruits Animé and Dana Williams for this particular collaborative venture. Dana Williams may not have quite found the right solo record yet, but she excels here. We can’t help but liken the track to Biggie’s Juicy, but there’s nothing wrong with that - a funky beat and slick rhymes are a match made in heaven.
George FitzGerald and Lil Silva 'Roll Back'
This month, FitzGerald delivered another single from forthcoming album All That Must Be. FitzGerald’s album work always feels more intimate than the periodic releases on Aus or Hotflush, and ‘Roll Back’ is no different. For sure, there are expansive moments, but its elements are uncomplicated and few in number. Just when we need it to, the percussion (smothered in Lil Silva fingerprints) slices through the panning synths giving you something to hold on to. This is another track that goes straight into the ‘Tracks We’d Listen To When Driving The Mars Rover’ playlist.