This Week In Records (15/09/2019) – Sam Fender, Charli XCX & Green Day

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No bad luck this Friday 13th, with some great music to fight off the bad energy.  We have the highly anticipated Hypersonic Missiles from up-and-coming Sam Fender, as well as the collab-filled release from Charli XCX.  Courtesy of Charlie’s Angels, we’ve been gifted a track from three of the biggest names in pop.  On the other side of the music industry, Green Day are back, and you all know I have a lot to say.

Sam Fender – Hypersonic Missiles

After months of steadily releasing singles, Sam Fender has finally released his debut album, Hypersonic Missiles.  After his 2019 BRIT Award win, all eyes have been on Fender to deliver one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year, and it’s finally here.  We’ve heard many of the songs from his previous EP, but it also brings us some brand new tracks.

Even though it’s early days in Fender’s career, he’s established a unique sound very quickly.  A welcome break from most of the young, male singer-songwriters we hear today, Sam Fender has a bit of an edge.  His well-crafted lyrics are supported by a talented band, and the consistent use of electric guitar in his debut album gives us something a little less polished than what we expect, but this only serves to make him more appealing.

The singles that we’ve already heard are of course the highlights of the album – ‘Hypersonic Missiles’, ‘The Borders’ and ‘Will We Talk?’ are rightfully the most popular songs from the album.  But there are some real hidden gems to pay attention to as well.  ‘White Privilege’ and ‘Dead Boys’ are much more honest than many other artists, and this vulnerability is what makes the album so enjoyable.

Sam Fender’s Hypersonic Missiles is out now via Polydor.

 

Charli XCX – Charli

Okay, contrary to what I thought before, it turns out that Charli isn’t actually a collaborations album.  It’s just an album on which well over half of the songs are collaborations.  Already this is a little off putting – what is the concept here?  Collaborations are becoming a tired formula, but this album doesn’t even seem to commit to them.

That’s not to say that some of these contributions aren’t great – ‘Gone’, featuring French pop sensation Christine and the Queens is super catchy.  Any song featuring Lizzo is going to be a success.  Unfortunately, this is part of the problem. Many of the collaborating artists strongly overshadow Charli XCX, which swiftly defeats the purpose of a self-titled album.

The few solos that are on the album work well enough, in particular the more laid-back ‘Official’, but are mostly more forgettable.  It’s a good album to hear a range of pop styles, with some of the most popular artists in the music scene at the moment.  However, as a Charli XCX album, it fails to take off.

Charli XCX’s Charli is out now via Asylum Records UK.

 

Green Day – ‘Father Of All…’

Okay, it’s Green Day, so I obviously have a lot to say about this release, being the kind of fan who could (and probably will) write an analytical book about their discography.  So skip to the end if you aren’t that emotionally invested.

I’m not fully sold on this song, but I think it has the potential to grow on me.  The vocal style in the verses is different from anything we’ve heard from Billie Joe Armstrong – a super compressed falsetto that’s almost unrecognisable.  However, while I originally thought this was down to overusing effects in production, hearing the live version at their recent show changed my mind.  ‘Father of All…’ transfers better live.

Next up is the theme.  The song is described by the band as being about ‘the life and death of the party’` – which is to say, a step back from their political, conceptual albums of the past.  Basically, ‘Father Of All…’ is more like the less-than-successful Trilogy than the glory days of American Idiot.  For me, these chaotic party albums never conveyed the emotions that I wanted to hear from Green Day.  American Idiot, 21st Century Breakdown and Revolution Radio meant more to me.

The choice of artwork has also raised a lot of questions among fans in the last few days.  It is an obvious reference to American Idiot, despite the differences they’ve cited between the 2004 album and the upcoming release.  Some love it, some hate it.

It’s also important to mention the whole internet conspiracy that you might not be aware of.  The general theory is that Green Day’s contract is up with Warner after this ‘album’ (which it 26 minutes, so just counts as an album legally).  A lot of fans seem to believe that Father of All is an F-You album to their label and that in fact we’ll be getting the “real” album later in 2020.  Almost definitely fake; most likely this is just a short album that Green Day are having a bit of fun with, but time will tell…  Anyway, this has gone on long enough.

TL;DR – I’m not sold, Green Day fans love a conspiracy theory and we’re back to the days of the Trilogy, maybe.  Also good to mention that they just announced the intense Mega Hella tour, co-headlining with Fall Out Boy and Weezer, coming to London next June.

EDIT: In the time I’ve been working on this article, the chorus has grown on me more.  I think that I just have the potential to enjoy literally anything Green Day do.  I’m not a reliable person to review this.

Green Day’s ‘Father of All…’ is out now via Warner Music.

Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus & Lana Del Rey – ‘Don’t Call Me Angel’

The idea of a collaboration between Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey is one that was undoubtedly exciting news.  And it is exactly what we wanted in many respects – an ode to the power of women, it’s bold and confident.

The issue with this song is the fact that this collaboration is based on names over vocal styles.  With Ariana, we have a strong voice; Miley is rougher around the edges, and Lana is much softer.  Although this had the potential to be an interesting mix of styles, it comes across as rather unbalanced.  Ariana Grande overpowers the track, and Lana Del Rey comes in at the end sounding out of place.  Further proof that collaborations must prioritise a balance between the artists involved.

Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey’s ‘Don’t Call Me Angel’ is out now via Republic Records.

Halsey – ‘Graveyard’

After the release of ‘Nightmare‘ (possibly one of the best songs of the year), Halsey has now released another song, ‘Graveyard’.  It begins soft and smooth, and builds up in its energy.  ‘Graveyard’ is another powerful track, which I’m hoping is going to be the theme of the upcoming album.

Emotionally, the feeling of vulnerability is incredibly powerful on this song, although I must admit that it doesn’t hit quite as hard as ‘Nightmare’ does in both musical and lyrical content (although the gasp towards the end will catch you off guard).  But Halsey has always proved herself a talented artist in her lyrics, and ‘Graveyard’ is no exception.  And if you get a chance, watch the time lapse music video to this song, in which the singer herself paints a giant self portrait – her talent is unbelievable.

Halsey’s ‘Graveyard’ is out now via Capitol Records.

Other Selected Releases

Singles

Becky G – ‘Secrets’
Dave – ‘Professor X’
Ella Henderson – ‘Glorious’
Fall Out Boy – ‘Dear Future Self (Hands Up)’
FKA twigs, Future – ‘holy terrain’
Nina Nesbitt – ‘Black & Blue’
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – ‘A Dream Is All I Need To Get By’
One Republic – ‘Somebody To Love’
Pet Shop Boys, Years & Years – ‘Dreamland’
Rex Orange County – ’10/10′
Sub Focus – ‘Illuminate’
slowthai – ‘Psycho’
Sports Team – ‘Fishing’
Weezer – ‘The End Of The Game’

Albums

Belle & Sebastian – Days of the Bagnold Summer
Charli XCX – Charli
Emili Sandé – REAL LIFE
Metronomy – Metronomy Forever
Sam Fender – Hypersonic Missiles
The Lumineers – III

This Week In Records: Playlist Edition

Looking for a short and sweet playlist with only the best new releases?  We have just the thing.  Check out our This Week In Records playlist on Spotify, updated every Friday.

 

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Records Editor 2019/2020. Second year French and Spanish student. Always going through some kind of music-based phase, frequently crying about The Cure.

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