This weeks single releases – 24 February
Phil Lickley takes us through his pick of this weeks new single releases….
Bastille – ‘Pompeii’
The fourth single from their ‘Bad Blood’ album is built around a really catchy click-track and drum beat plus some almost tribal chants. A strong follow-up to ‘Flaws’, this is a little poppier and commercial than I expected. The production really strengthens the track and is matched by a couple of hooky lyrics sections. A strong song that mixes the backing well with its lyrics that becomes an immediate hit for the ears.
Baauer – ‘Harlem Shake’
Buy: Harlem Shake
By now you’ll have seen one of the 4000 viral videos created daily for this song, taking a thirty second sample and building images around it. Whereas that’s quite enjoyable, extending the concept to three minutes becomes draining and ends up sounding like Mr Oizo being attacked by lions and trapped wasps by Sweep. The elements of the track where it builds to drop at the sample really work but elsewhere it’s just a little bit too repetitive. Now where’s my motorcycle helmet?
Dido – ‘No Freedom’
Buy: No Freedom
Dido is back, four years after her last big hit with a few soundtrack songs to bridge the gap. ‘No Freedom’ is very much in Dido’s familiar style: stripped back, emotional, slightly depressing. If you’re not worried about hearing something upbeat and positive then you’ll find much to enjoy here. Her voice is as beautiful as ever and the lyrics also well observed, even if the chorus sacrifices complexity for memorability. It’s not her strongest lead single but it’s a great comeback and at three minutes a succinct message.
Example – ‘Perfect Replacement’
Buy: Perfect Replacement [Explicit]
Example is back with the third single from his latest album and is a big improvement on his recent cuts, even if it’s very much in his typical music mould. Mixing in a sung chorus, rapped verses and a thick breakdown, though it is a bit too ‘squelchy’ in my opinion, it manages to keep your interest for most of its four-minutes. With a different hook thrown in two-thirds in it’s his best single in a while though not as strong as his earlier material.
Josephine – ‘Portrait’
A retro-sounding track very much in the 60s style that sounds so familiar to me I thought it was a cover at first. Josephine has a beautiful voice and brings the song to life, and it sounds like it has been pulled out of a past decade and brought into 2013. With an ‘Under The Boardwalk’ sound, it’s straight to the point over its three minutes, the simple swelling backing music complimented by her strong vocals, and an immediately memorable chorus works in its favour. Familiar, but no less brilliant.
Josh Groban – ‘Brave’
The first single from his ‘All That Echoes’ album sounds like it has been taken from a Disney film, though that might just be the title that throws me, but it certainly employs the build ups and soaring vocals that you’d expect from such a song. Sung in an almost operatic style, it’s a rousing single with a powerful chorus and a string and marching-drum pattern that pulls it into something impressive. The best song never to feature on a film soundtrack it seems.
Joss Stone – ‘Teardrops’
Joss Stone’s latest soulful cover is released, this time of the ‘Womack and Womack’ classic. A little slower than the original, it’s not that much of a departure from the very familiar song, but it adds some different, interesting production effects to the mix at the exclusion of secondary vocals. A beautiful song in its own right, it doesn’t really add much to the most famous version of an oft-covered song and at over five minute it’s perhaps a little indulgent, but it’s an enjoyable version of a great classic that really suits her voice.
Laura Mvula – ‘Green Garden’
Buy: Green Garden
A well-put together track with a strong Nina Simone feel but the inclusion of the autotuned ‘ooh ah’ sections really damages the song and counteracts the hand-clapping, drum and layered vocal sections that lift it up. A frustrating listen as there’s a great song in there, but it’s swamped by odd production decisions and a lack of new ideas as the song reaches its conclusion. With some great moments and attitude, but ultimately struggling with some annoying elements, it’s a mixed bag.
Miles Kane – ‘Give Up’
Buy: Give Up
A new track following his first album, ‘Give Up’ is his strongest since his debut ‘Inhaler’. Very 90s rock, its lyrics sound a little forced at times but it’s backed by a cracking drum and guitar backing and plenty of attitude, culminating in a great chorus. Over within three minutes and ending as if he forgot what the next verse was, it’s not the greatest indie-rock tune you’ll hear but it’s fun enough while it lasts but it’s the most rocking single you’ll hear this week.
Olly Murs – ‘Army of Two’
Buy: Army Of Two
Following the fantastic ‘Troublemaker’, one of my favourite songs of last year, Murs is back with this thumping single that sounds like a cross between the Scissor Sisters and Take That, with a strong forward beat but more than a little owed to the ‘Tears For Fears’ classic ‘Sowing the Seeds of Love’. The army drum sound may have been overused over the years but it’s another cracking pop tune from Murs with a fun beat and a mix of vocal styles. An artist who seemingly can’t do anything wrong musically recently he can even, as the video below shows, climb invisible staircases twice, as well as clone himself.
Paramore – ‘Now’
The first single from Paramore’s fourth, self-titled, album ‘Now’ is a song that takes a few listens to get into. The chorus perhaps borders a little on annoying with its stutter effect, but its appeal becomes apparent. Faster paced and a slight change in sound, it’s not as good as their earlier teen-angst hits but isn’t a failure either. It takes a bit to settle down and the chorus is a little too simple and repetitive, though having said that it doesn’t half stick in your head, but it’s a welcome return for the band
Richard Hawley – ‘Don’t Stare at the Sun’
Buy: Don’t Stare At The Sun
The fourth cut from Hawley’s 2012 album, ‘Don’t Stare at the Sun’ sounds almost like he couldn’t be bothered with the song, singing it in a drawl for five-minutes long. The chorus at least brings the song up to something better comparatively. I’m all for ballads focusing on their lyrics but it doesn’t really have any energy in it even for a slower song until the guitar solo as the song nears the end, though it does show its appeal after a few listens. I loved his 2007 hit ‘Tonight The Streets Are Ours’ but this seems to be a singer lacking focus.
Wiley feat. Chip – ‘Reload’
Wiley once more proves that once you have a formula you stick to it. Outside of the hooky pop chorus from the uncredited female singer, it’s business as usual from Wiley and Chip(munk). It ticks all the boxes as a track and fits neatly into the club, but is nothing we haven’t heard before from both artists. Uninspired.