This Week In Records: Sampha, Sälen & Stormzy (03/02/2017)

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It’s February, which means only one thing: train strikes another excuse for folks to push out some tidbits of new music. Today, we have a delightful bunch from Wiley-approved grime superstars to garishly-tinged Tinder ripoffs, but don’t forget to give us a shout if you know of music on the way that needs our attention for these pages. The address you need is records@theedgesusu.co.uk.

Also, this week there’s no mention of largely irrelevant household supplies. Apart from this one, of course.

Sampha – Process

No, your eyes do not deceive you – nearly seven years since his Sundanza EP was released through Young Turks, six years since he stole our hearts with tracks like the utterly phenomenal ‘Hold On’ on SBTRKT’s debut EP, four years since Drake turned ‘Too Much’ into a transatlantic chart hit to support Nothing Was The Same, three years since the BBC tipped him in the Sound of 2014 poll, and coming fresh off a year that drew credits on albums from Frank Ocean, Kanye West, and Solange, there is a full-length album from Sampha in the world and it is every bit as exquisite as it should be.

Sälen – ‘Heartbreak Diet’

After crawling sweetly into The List last month with four singles, including the five-star ‘Copper Kiss,’ that enthralled and disoriented in equal measure, it’s no surprise that Sälen’s second release through Island opens with a line so morbid it drops a microphone into a bottomless pit: “I used to dream of dying so you would cry at my funeral.” With vocalist Ellie Kamio again meticulous in her delivery whilst burrowing in with breakup imagery over bleeps, bloops, and one heck of a bassline,

MUNA – About U

To quote Stereogum‘s Caitlin White on Los Angeles “dark pop” ensemble MUNA:

“Listening to MUNA forces you to remember why they call it a hook. Great pop songs always have one: a huge and prickly soaring moment that sticks in your brain and draws your memory back to the moment. A hook is a musical curveball, something unexpected that feels endlessly familiar. It fools you with trajectory, coaxing you back around the same smooth path again and again, like a lap around a track… It’s such a vulnerable admission that it catches you off guard, crawls under your skin, sticks in your throat.”

Much has been said – including by MUNA themselves – on the harrowing resonance that new single ‘I Know A Place’ carries, however MUNA’s approach to emotion on debut record About U is masterful from the outset: embracing, exploring, and singing them with captivating might over brooding instrumentation of a distinct synthy vintage.

Stormzy – ‘Big For Your Boots’

When deliberating BRITs predictions for the British Breakthrough Act category – as selected from Anne-Marie, Blossoms, Rag’n’Bone Man, Skepta, and Stormzy by the good people of the internet – it became rather clear from One Direction and Little Mix pulling away in the Twitter-based British Video category that the prize will go to whoever has the biggest online following combined with a desire to galvanise it into action. Therefore, my natural assumption was the #MERKY one. It was at that point that I realised his Twitter account no longer existed and he’d fled to the abyss to put an album together after presumably getting sick of rhyming “backup dancer” with “backup dancer.” Today, the details of those endeavours have become clear: the 16-track Gang Signs & Prayer is just three weeks away. With tracks featuring Ghetts, J Hus, Kehlani, MNEK, Raleigh Ritchie, and Wretch 32 being saved for that day, ‘Big For Your Boots’ kicks things off with Stormz bragging about his size 12s and how “you’re never too big for Adele.”

The Knocks – Testify EP

Just last weekend, I was openly bemoaning the lack of new MNEK music as if his Queen cover and writing/production work with Becky Hill and Beyoncé and Craig David and Far East Movement and Jax Jones and JoJo and Little and MØ and Zara Larsson and more wasn’t quite enough of a sign that he’s quite busy in the studio. As if he’s got a handle on my every little word, we get two rebukes at once: in collaborating with Tchami on ‘World To Me,’ his dulcet tones spin the French future house preacher’s style into something strikingly tropical, meanwhile his turn on The Knocks’ ‘Worship’ lifts the same adoringly affectionate lyrical ogling to open the funk-laden gospel that signals a return to form from the New York duo atop their brand new EP.

Digital Farm Animals feat. Hailee Steinfeld – ‘Digital Love’

Seeing both Digital Farm Animals and Hailee Steinfeld break through with chart hits last autumn that had intrigued me from day one felt quite rewarding as an observer of pop, however it did feel as if the releases that had initially caught my attention around a year prior – ‘True’ and ‘Love Myself’ respectively – had been done a severe disservice as they were far more unique, undiluted tastes of what could be on offer. That said, ‘Millionaire’ and ‘Starving’ felt superbly refreshing once elevated to their chart peaks, and the prospect of the pair covering a classic dose of Daft Punk was beyond intriguing.

That is not at all what this is.

“I swipe right ’cause I see just what I like / Baby, I’d tap twice for you / ‘Cause we’re living in a new age / It’s called digital / It’s called digital love.”

MAKE IT STOP.

Selected Other Releases

Albums

Alice Merton – No Roots EP
Big Sean – I Decided
Elbow – Little Fictions
Fenech-Soler – Zilla
Lower Than Atlantis – Safe In Sound
Ten Fé – Hit The Light
The Menzigers – After The Party
Wyclef Jean – J’ouvert

Singles

Alesso – ‘Falling’
Ariana Grande & John Legend – ‘Beauty And The Beast’
Armand Van Helden & Komes – ‘Fried Chicken’
Bipolar Sunshine – ‘The Scientist’
Brooke Candy & Sia – ‘Living Out Loud’
Charli XCX feat. RAYE, Stefflon Don & Rita Ora – ‘After The Afterparty’ (VIP Mix)
Childcare – ‘Kiss?’
CID feat. Conrad Sewell – ‘Secrets’
Cold War Kids – ‘Love Is Mystical’
Day Wave – ‘Something Here’
Depeche Mode – ‘Where’s The Revolution’
Earl – ‘Tongue Tied’
Father John Misty – ‘Ballad Of The Dying Man’ / ‘Two Wildly Different Perspectives’
Fetty Wap feat. Monty – ‘Way You Are’
Future Islands – ‘Run’
Glass Animals – ‘Pork Soda’
Grim Sickers feat. JME – ‘Kane’
Harper – ‘Too Late’
Imagine Dragons – ‘Believer’
Jasmine Thompson & Eden Prince – ‘Mad World’
Jeremih feat. Chris Brown & Big Sean – ‘I Think Of You’
Jidenna feat. Quavo – ‘The Let Out’
Khalid – ‘Shot Down’
LA Riots feat. Great Good Fine OK – ‘Real Love’
Liv Dawson – ‘Searching’
London Grammar – ‘Big Picture’
Mac Demarco – ‘My Old Man’
Mariah Carey feat. YG – ‘I Don’t’
Matthew Koma – ‘Hard To Love’
MJ Cole feat. Alyss – ‘Undo’
Nickelback – ‘Feed The Machine’
Phoebe Ryan – ‘Dark Side’
Rag’n’Bone Man – ‘Grace’
Solo 45 feat. JME & Vida Sunshyne – ‘Higher’
Solo 45 feat. Stormzy – ‘5ive’
Tchami feat. MNEK – ‘World To Me’
Tough Love – ‘Dopamine’

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The Edge's resident grumpy old man, a final year Web Scientist with a name even his parents couldn’t spell properly. Ask him any question and you’ll probably get the answer of “Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2015 album E•MO•TION,” which might explain why we still can't get rid of him.

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