Singles Of The Month: September
TORRES ‘Helen in the Wood’
We’ve been fan-girling over TORRES ever since we heard the incredible ‘Three Futures’ a few months ago (she’s actually released two previous albums, the second of which was particularly critically adored, we’re just late to the party). ‘Helen In The Woods’ stands in opposition to the languorous, sensual ‘Three Futures,’ lilting guitar and soft voice swapped for distortion and cracking screams. It’s a furious two and half minutes filled with obsession and paranoia. We can’t help but imagine the Helen of the title as a kind of pagan outcast, a witch thrown from society, or maybe we just watched The Blair Witch Project a little too recently.
Superorganism ‘Something For Your Mind’
The first single from newcomers Superorganism is the perfect antidote to the influx of hyper-shiny stadium pop dominating the airwaves right now. Stripped back, conversational vocals throw it back to the The Mouldy Peaches-era Americana. Had this song been released 2007 it would no doubt be soundtracking an indie movie staring Ellen Page and Michael Cera. Experimentation with strings and synths throughout echo MGMT’s debut Oracular Spectacular (interestingly released the same year as Juno - these guys clearly have a thing for 2007). A sleepy slide guitar holds an otherwise eclectic amalgam of sounds together - stream of consciousness lyrics are interrupted only by samples of bubbles popping and people taking bites from apples. This is perhaps one of the more eccentric records of 2017 but that’s what makes it so damn good. Here’s hoping this 8-piece transatlantic collective continues to keep it distinctly bizarre.
Elli Ingram ‘Better Alone’
Comparisons have been made between Elli Ingram and a huge swathe of greats - Amy Winehouse, Jill Scott, Adele. Personally I can’t listen to ‘Better Alone’ without imagining queen of the world Erykah Badu - the intonation, the drawl, it’s all there. There is, though, a kind of ragged brightness, a lightness of touch that keeps Ingram’s sound fresh. The song itself is an ode to spending time with yourself, free from the romantic complications. This is the perfect song for a post-breakup night in, or for an evening of self-care after a hard week.
There’s an internal strength in Ibeyi’s music that I’ve become obsessed with. It’s the tone of the sisters’ voices melding, the chanted melodies, the lyrics that are at once otherworldly (‘we are deathless’) and prosaic (‘do you smoke?’). Combine their transcendent sound with the musicianship of saxophonist Kamasi Washington, former collaborator of Kendrick Lamar and Thundercat, and we’ve got ourselves a piece of music that wouldn’t sound out of place on another spiritual plane. If they continue to create pieces like this, their legacy really will be deathless.
Jessie Ware ‘Alone’
If there’s one thing Jessie Ware is good at (and she’s good at a bunch of things) it’s writing a big, soulful ballad. ‘Alone’, the third single from Ware’s forthcoming album Glass House is, like most of what she’s written over the years, a song for her husband, Sam Burrows, with whom she has had a baby since the release of her last record. In interviews Ware has been super candid about how having a baby shifts perspective, and challenges the structure of a relationship, but on ‘Alone’ she exorcises those anxieties, and just asks her husband to love her. It’s honest and real, just like Ware herself.
Charlotte Gainsbourg ‘Deadly Valentine’
The second single from Charlotte Gainsbourg’s forthcoming album Rest is an absolute groove. ‘Deadly Valentine’ is the kind of cinematic song that can be imagined soundtracking a club scene as easily as it can a Tarantino-esque murder sequence, a danceable beat intermingling with a melody line that spells disaster. A blistering Italo disco bass line bubbles beneath Gainsbourg’s breathy delivery of wedding vows, brightened only by strings and piano stabs. French electro producer SebastiAn has outdone himself her. Be sure to catch the video, featuring our everlasting crush Dev Hynes as Gainsbourg’s life-long partner.
Jamie xx ‘On Hold (Remix)’
You’re not going mad - the ‘On Hold’ remix did indeed make it into our Sunday night roundup on the week of its release, but we’re hoping you’ll forgive us the repetition on the grounds that the exclusion of this great record would’ve just felt wrong. We reviewed The xx’s third album I See You back in January, and even then we had a feeling we just couldn’t shake: a lot of the tracks felt like rejects from Jamie xx’s 2015 release In Colour. ‘On Hold’ was the track that sounded the best, and its because its the one that most resembled Jamie’s solo work. This thumping remix really brings that into focus. Only after its release did we realise it was the post summer anthem we we’d been waiting for.
St Vincent ‘Los Ageless’
‘Los Ageless’ is the second single from St Vincent’s forthcoming Masseducation, set for release in a month’s time. Following the balladeering of first single ‘New York’, with ‘Los Ageless’ Clark steps back into the bombastic territory she inhabited on her 2015 self-titled album. It’s big, it’s bold and it clearly contains a multitude of influences, each expertly teased out by producer-of-the-hour Jack Antonoff. St Vincent is a multi-instrumentalist extremely comfortable testing the traditional conventions of song writing, and a lesser musician may have turned this into three songs instead of one. The outro is a particular highlight, a drama-filled one minute thirty that gently lifts track out of the pop bubble and into a more operatic place that we can only hope signals the inclusion of some major melodrama on Masseducation.