It’s a bit of a quieter one this week, as Meg zooms around the country following her review of The Wombats’ gig in Bristol (go read that here), I struggle to get this dissertation off the ground, and the record companies decide to take a bit of a breather. There’s not so much in the way of chart-shattering albums this week – although Manic Street Preachers would probably have something to say about that, given their record of two chart-toppers and their most recent effort peaking at Number 2 – so instead, this week’s condensed edition will be taking a closer look at all the singles released this past week that are, for better or worse, worth your attention. To get us underway, of course, must be the ever-irresistible Janelle Monáe.
Janelle Monáe ft. Grimes – ‘Pynk’
Following a year that was dominated by the #MeToo movement – which continues to make positive impacts across the globe – it’s refreshing to see its message still making making waves in the entertainment industry. Teamed up with alt-pop star Grimes, Janelle Monáe wastes no time cutting straight to the innuendo (“Pink like the tongue that goes down, maybe / Pink like the paradise found”), but sells it on her confident delivery and assured backing production. Throughout the track, her soft, high tones contrast with the underlying, pulsating synth beat, making for a rather delightful listening experience reminiscent of Charli XCX‘s equally magnetic ‘Boys’. Of course, Monáe’s not one for delicately singing at the sidelines for an entire song; when the chorus hits, it hits hard, serving just to reinforce her impressive range and message of female empowerment. The accompanying video is even more brimming with innuendo; yet with the utterly terrific ‘Make Me Feel’ also discussing bisexuality so freely, Monáe is treading no new ground here. Get ready for a brilliant, provocative and liberating sophomore album in Dirty Computer come April 27.
Sigrid – ‘High Five’
The tracks are well and truly tumbling for List Of 2018 feature – and BBC Sound of 2018 winner – Sigrid. Following ‘Raw’ and ‘I Don’t Want To Know’ from the past couple of weeks, this one is by far the most bombastic of the bunch. Probably most sonically similar to ‘Plot Twist’ out of the Norwegian popstar’s ever-expanding discography, ‘High Five’ still has enough up its arsenal to stand it out from the crowd, and truly has the power in that chorus to get you off your feet. Sigrid, please keep doing what you’re doing: it’s magnificent.
Florence and The Machine – ‘Sky Full Of Song’
More Florence and The Machine is always good Florence and The Machine as far as I’m concerned. Growing up with 2009’s Lungs tuned me to the group’s distinctively tender yet powerful pop-rock-come-soul sound, although with their latest track the focus is well and truly on frontwoman Florence Welch. Singing almost a capella, her full vocal range is on show, and – characteristically – it impresses. The group’s first music off upcoming fourth album High As Hope, it’ll be available as a limited edition 7″ vinyl single for this year’s Record Store Day, April 21.
ZAYN – ‘Let Me’
The first solo single off ZAYN’s upcoming second album (following one of my guilty pleasures from last year, the Sia-featuring ‘Dusk Til Dawn’) has the former One Direction member promising the world to an unnamed love interest. There’s probably a lot more gossip going on around the track, given Zayn’s recent break-up with Gigi Hadid of Little Mix, but to be honest I don’t really have the time to get invested in all that. What I do have the time to get invested in is the production and lyricism which, well, is standard Radio 1/Captial FM fodder, so not really worth a huge amount of my time either. All I can say is at least it’s not Liam Payne.
5 Seconds of Summer – ‘Youngblood’
Ugh. I’ll be honest, I’m only including this one because their recent announcement of an upcoming fifth studio album sent them to the top of the iTunes pre-order charts, so someone must love them. It’s just a shame that meant I had to listen to three minutes of painful mediocrity.
CHVRCHES – ‘Miracle’
‘Get Out‘ was more of the same, albeit executed as well as anything else in Chvrches‘ discography. ‘My Enemy’ was a very strange change of pace, so slow and brooding. ‘Never Say Die’, similarly, stripped things back to mixed results for its first half, before erupting in a stirring if uninspiring crescendo. Finally, at the fourth time of asking ahead of their third LP, Scottish synthpop trio Chvrches have landed something different and exciting. ‘Miracle’ is Chvrches in Stranger Things‘ Upside-Down: dark, decayed, and spookily ominous, but still harnessing onto that core Chvrches DNA. At the very least, it’s more variety, hinting at an album that is as diverse as it is electric.
Selected Other Releases
Breaking Benjamin – Ember
Isaac Gracie – Isaac Gracie
Manic Street Preachers – Resistance Is Futile
Sofi Tukker – Treehouse
Nicki Minaj – ‘Barbie Tingz’
Bebe Rexha – ‘Ferrari’
Dakota ft. Not3s – ‘Sober’
Craig David ft. Yxng Bane – ‘Magic’
Plan B – ‘It’s A War’
Snow Patrol – ‘Life On Earth’
Frank Turner – ‘Make America Great Again’