Singles Of The Month: June 2017
Drake’s back doing what he does best. Where the foray into grime made us cringe, ‘Signs’ gives us a summer jam we can work with. Maybe we were in the minority but The Tung was not a fan of More Life. It was too long, tried too hard and aside from ‘Passionfruit’ it just didn’t deliver. ‘Signs' is a return to form via a proven formula for groove-able tunes. Drake’s sleek and sexy voice lends itself perfectly to these slow, R&B beats. More Moncler jackets and meme-able dance moves please, Drizzy. This is what you do best.
Arcade Fire ‘Creature Comfort’
Arcade Fire is a band known for its epic scope: rousing lyrics atop semi-orchestral movements that rise to create enormous walls of sound. ‘Creature Comfort’, the latest single from forthcoming release Everything Now, delivers on all fronts. While the first single diverged into disco, ‘Creature Comfort’ treads a more familiar path. The clear electronic influences present in Reflektor return here, with a synth-heavy intro that ushers in a driving drum beat with soaring guitars in hot pursuit. Keep yours ears open on the 28th July for the album release.
Wolf Alice ‘Yuk Foo’
Wolf Alice have always been good at swinging between sounds, their 2016 release My Love Is Cool containing both sweet odes to friendship (‘Bros’) and snarling Nirvana-esque rock (‘You’re A Germ’). ‘Yuk Foo’ definitely falls into the category of the latter. It’s unapologetic, aggressive, and irreverent – basically everything I want in a song, and everything I want in a front-woman. It’s pretty unusual to hear guitars in the mainstream these days (not that ‘Yuk Foo’ will get much radio play, thanks to a whole bunch of swearing), but it’s refreshing to hear live instruments and a voice left raw. In many ways ‘Yuk Foo’ feels nostalgic. Straight after I heard it for the first time I put on Be Your Own Pet, and basked in the memory of what it felt like to be fifteen. It was so important to me then to hear strong female voices, and it makes me happy that Ellie Rowsell is filling that void for a new generation of teen fans.
Grizzly Bear 'Four Cypresses'
Having released very little since 2013, the aptly named Grizzly Bear have been prowling quietly in the shadows. The time has come now for the American rock band to emerge, and have released a number of singles in anticipation of the release of their latest studio effort, Painted Ruins. ‘Four Cypresses’ is a master-class in the art of the atmospheric build. Over the course of almost five minutes, the track grows from a lonely heart-monitor beep to full-on explosion and back again. Save a little time for this sprawling reflection on a the state of our chaotic world.
Ibeyi ‘Away Away’
Ibeyi are back, and thank the gods. The sisters are the queens of spiritual, soaring melody, and ‘Away Away’ bears that out, only this time bubbling beneath their vocals is a semi-urban beat. Still though, they retain the thread of multi-cultural homage that has been woven through each and every one of their releases. ‘Away Away’ culmimates in a Yoruba chant for the Orisha Aggayu, asking for the strength to find a better place for us all. To listen to this is to feel cleansed.
Benjamin Clementine ‘God Save The Jungle’
Possibly our favourite artist of the past few years, Benjamin Clementine doesn’t just write ‘songs’. Instead he writes poems and combines a flourish of musical theatre, the powerful tones of opera and a keen understanding of modern production that results in music of biblical weight and complexity. 'God Save The Jungle' is no different. Like 'The Phantom of Aleppoville', released earlier this year, the harpsichord makes a strong appearance and, whilst on paper it should be ludicrous, under Clementine’s stewardship it makes perfect sense. Dark lyrics, many a nod to our own national anthem and that stimulating vocal range makes 'God Save The Jungle' a modern masterpiece.
Vince Staples ‘Rain Come Down’
The 23-year-old California rapper has already achieved so much that it’s actually kind of annoying. ‘Rain Come Down’ was released as a pre-cursor to the drop his fourth studio album, Big Fish Theory, and although for sure the album in parts is classic rap, this single feels like a statement of intent for a growth in sound. A menacing big-room-house bass line, reminiscent of the Mr Fingers sample in Kanye’s ‘Fade’, lurks beneath Ty Dolla $ign’s languid hook. It’s a danceable beat, but it feels threatening nonetheless, inflecting Staples’ verses heavy with references to gang culture and police negligence with tense foreboding. It’s a big tune in an even bigger album: make sure to give the whole thing a listen.
Ray BLK ‘Doing Me’
With ‘Doing Me’, Ray BLK firmly fixes herself on our Songs of the Summer playlist. It’s chirpy ‘la la la’ intro leads us into a 90s R&B nostalgia-trip with a difference. BLK’s lyrics are super-empowering, listing all the ways she’s firmly her own person: wearing what she wants, acting how wants, brushing the haters off. We’re used to all of that, not that it’s not great to hear. What makes ‘Doing Me’ a real triumph is its inclusivity. When BLK sings ‘I’m gonna show ya show ya show ya’ she’s not squaring up to her detractors, she’s offering her friends and fans a role model. She’s doing her, so why don’t you do you?