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This week’s single releases – 26 May (Part 2)

This week’s single releases – 26 May (Part 2)

Part 2 of Phil Lickley’s roundup of the week’s top new single releases. See Part 1 here.

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – ‘Mermaids (EP)’
[rating:3.5/5] I’ve never been a big fan of Nick Cave and this song, in some ways, emphasises why but also suggests that there might be some reasons for me to change my opinion. Joined on the EP by two other tracks and a live version of the title track, ‘Mermaids’ doesn’t feel like it goes anywhere though it does at least generate an intriguing atmosphere that fits in with the nautical elements of the record. Scattered with questionable lyrics through its four minutes, it does employ a far more enjoyable final third when it gets going. With some tongue-in-cheek lyrics raising a smile, ‘Mermaids’ becomes a mixed bag of great, multi-layered moments and more ponderous elements but ends up being a more positive experience than negative, though it ultimately feels unnecessarily gloomy. ‘Lightning Bolts’ is a monologue set to a rejected film soundtrack and doesn’t really qualify as a song but ‘Needle Boy’ fairs a little better but once more is more spoken than sung.
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Robin Thicke feat. T.I & Pharrell – ‘Blurred Lines’
[rating:3.5/5] Prince’s version of ‘Kiss’ mixes with Madonna’s ‘Give It 2 Me’ to form this slick, cool r’n’b ditty. The mixture of vocal styles from Thicke and the guest acts create an interesting mix of styles and sounds buts the lyrics and context is at the worst end of rnb cliché and stereotype and at times it comes across as almost a parody of the genre. That said, if you can get past the immature wording, the simple electronic music, use of falsetto and catchy chorus thanks to the vocal work make for an addictive, catchy slick hit.
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Sinead O’Connor – ‘Old Lady’
[rating:3/5] The third single from her latest album is Tracy Chapman in style but with a heavier focus on guitar than I’d expect from O’Connor. Much stronger and better flowing than her previous single, its straight-forward approach benefits the unveiling of the lyrics. It does, at times, feel separated from its musical backing, but is a strong, album track given a bit more exposure, with a memorable and singable chorus. It’s missing a little something to take it to the next level, but a very enjoyable single release from O’Connor.
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Stylo G – ‘Soundbwoy (EP)’
[rating:2/5] Mixing in a smattering of genres from reggae to electronic to rnb, Stylo G’s EP is a messy track that doesn’t really hold together as one cohesive piece of work. With a variety of remixes to back up the title track on the EP, the bridge holds up the song with its ‘burning speaker’ hook and the verses show some talent, but with a relatively short running time and a lot going on, it feels too bitty to be a hit, though the reggae-ska enfused elements are much fun.
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Suede – ‘Hit Me’
[rating:3.5/5] The third cut from their Bloodsports album, ‘Hit Me’ carries on the well-created lyrics established after ‘Barriers’ with a similarly successfully crafted chorus that sticks in your head though not as singable as that earlier free release. With ‘Hit Me’ Suede have another raw, Manic Street Preachers-style tune that proves they still have it.
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T.I. feat. Lil Wayne – ‘Wit Me’
[rating:1.5/5] The first cut from T.I.’s new album, ‘Wit Me’ is this year’s contender for either the Guinness World Record for the most clichéd explicit rapped verses ever, or alternatively the most use of pitch change on the chorus as they sing the title in as many different levels as possible. A tedious five minutes of noise that, although showcasing some great rap talent and a catchy, but overly familiar, music track, ultimately just falls down as a poor, almost laughable song.
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3rdeyegirl feat. Prince – ‘Fixurlifeup’
[rating:3/5] Though appearing here as a featured artist, it’s Prince that does most of the hard work on this rockier track than we’d expect from the artist now known again as Prince. It’s a refreshing change of direction for Symbol with the band line-up of 3rdeyegirl giving his work a bit more grit but whilst also sounding like Prince at the height of his powers. It does at times take its time to get to the point, but has enough moments scattered through the piece to keep you interested. Messy, at times muddy, but an intriguing experiment nonetheless.
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Travis – ‘Where You Stand’
[rating:3/5] The first single from Scottish band Travis’ new album is a much more downbeat track than I’d expect from the group. Showcasing the voice of Fran Healy much more than they have in the past, ‘Where You Stand’ lacks the ear for a hook that the band used to have, but by the time the four minutes of the song are up you will have an appreciation for this understated, vocal-led ballad with a chorus that will eventually grab you in its quiet way. A grower.
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We Are The Ocean – ‘Machine’
[rating:3/5] Shouting lyrics over a machine-gun sounding backing makes this a very angry-sounding track. But get beyond the shouty choruses and to the better powerful verse and ‘Machine’ will leave its mark and, once the choral-style final chorus hits you, its chant will be firmly rooted and it feels like the making of an anthem.
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