Lily Allen

This Week’s New Single Releases (24th November 2013)

My round up of the new singles available for digital download this week.

Afrojack feat. Spree Wilson – ‘The Spark’
First on the list this week is a lyrically uplifting track with a positive message, though one that is wrapped up in a typical sounding 2013 dance rnb track. That said the ‘Gym Class Heroes’-esque rap fits well into the tune, it just leads into a pretty generic chorus and breakdown though the build up to it is pretty addictive. It’s not a song that’ll blow you away and the autotune is blatant, but it’s a pleasing, positive distraction with some well-produced lifts and a fun stripped back ending, sort of a dancier ‘Firework’. (6.5/10)
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Ameira – ‘Where I’m From’ (EP)
Opening track ‘Ties That Bind’ is a pretty familiar sounding rock track that treads pretty well worn ground, lacking a killer hook to define it as a track. Lyrically it covers familiar ground too but works well enough. Fans of the genre will find this slipping nicely into their favourite rock set list as a well sung, progressing song, it just lacks that big moment. ‘We Never Close Our Eyes’ continues the enjoyable rock style with a stronger focus on the guitars, showcasing another well-constructed chorus and including a surprising reprise for the final fifth. The EP is rounded off with three more tracks and a demo, creating a middle-of-the-road collection of rock songs that will please the fans. (6/10)
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Beady Eye – ‘Iz Rite / Soul Love’
Liam Gallagher’s Oasis spin-off band returns after a long period away in my consciousness. ‘Iz Rite’, the third single from their second album, is a slight tweak on the formula set up by the huge 90s band though Gallagher’s drawly vocals are as obvious as ever. A little  poppier than their usual flavour, this is pretty perky and catchy for one of their numbers. Though still definitely in the shadow of the exciting material his brother came out with, it is an enjoyable retro-sounding number that smooths the hard edges of their previous numbers. ‘Soul Love’ is a bit more Oasis-like, a slow drawl of a number that doesn’t work half as well as the first, with a very nasally Gallagher sounding bored, and a sub-par Beatles sound, creating a sound that sounds like someone parodying an Oasis track. (5.5/10)
Watch ‘Iz Rite’

Watch ‘Soul Love’

The Bloody Beetroots feat. Theophilus London  – ‘All The Girls (Around The World)’
Kicking off with a very funky opening, ‘All The Girls (Around The World)’ picks up the baton from Daft Punk to create a song that defines toe-tapping, though it struggles with a drum beat that feels off with the synth and a chorus that drowns out the vocalist with the music. Production issues aside, there is plenty of joy within its four minutes and a catchy chorus, but it’s a struggle to latch on with the awkward off-kilter elements. Lots of potential and it’s certainly a grower, but it’s masked, pretty much like the DJ’s famous Venom headpiece. (6/10)
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Breach feat. Andreya Triana – ‘Everything You Never Had (We Had It All)’
Sounding nothing like their previous hit ‘Jack’, ‘Everything You Never Had (We Had It All)’ is a repeatable slice of old-school 90s dance led by the powerful vocals of Andreya Triana, who holds the record together. With echoes of Black Box and classic Basement Jaxx, and with the James “It Takes Two” Brown sample making its presence known in the second half of the track, this is a simple but really catchy track that triggers some happy memories for a 90s kid like me. (6.5/10)
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Calvin Harris and Alesso feat. Hurts – ‘Under Control’
Taken from Alesso’s debut album, ‘Under Control’ makes a great use of the vocals of Hurts to cement a strong verse but sadly Harris continues to lack the imagination he showed on his first two albums as the bridge and chorus are carbon copies of each one of his last few singles. The drum machine programming, choral breakdown and the general feel are now so tired. It’ll sound great in a club but a promising verse just turns into an overused idea that we’ve heard dozens of times before. Come on Calvin, sort it out; it’s only the fact that, like Aloe Blacc on Avicii’s number one, Hurts’ vocals make me enjoy the track, certainly not the boring chorus. (6.5/10)
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Childish Gambino – ‘3005’
Donald Glover’s alter-ego has produced some cracking tracks and collaborations in the past and ‘3005’ just about keeps it together, even if it does drop into some rap clichés at times. And though the Gorillaz-esque verses may fluctuate in quality, the repetitive but catchy chorus holds the piece together and there’s something about the bounciness that I like. Mixing in some pop culture references and some strangled metaphors, it’s not as great as some of his older material with the verses dragging on too long, but the chorus keeps it alive and his channelling of Eminem works. I don’t think you’ll still be hearing it in a thousand years, but should be worth a play for a few weeks. (7/10)
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Dido – ‘NYC’
Taken from her new greatest hits compilation, ‘NYC’ has a Eurythmics and Pet Shop Boys feel to proceedings and mixes the traditional Dido sound with something a little more electronic, which ties together her fourteen year discography nicely. It’s not going to win over any new fans but the subdued, lovingly-sung chorus will stick in your mind and it feels like her strongest single in a while. Beautifully sung as ever, and a chorus that keeps on giving. (7/10)
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Editors – ‘Honestly’
The third single from their The Weight Of Your Love album, ‘Honestly’ sounds less like the Editors than I expected, with the familiar sounding vocals of their lead singer sounding different. With a stronger focus on strings, I always feel Editors work best in their faster, more powerful numbers, and this feels like a quieter affair with shades of ‘The Racing Rats’ but lacking the bombast that made that record so brilliant. As a slower ballad it’s a gentle, nice listen and the chorus, with its falsetto elements, grows as the tracks nears its end, but the number doesn’t particularly grab me as a good addition to their discography, ambling on to its conclusion. (5.5/10)
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Empire of the Sun – ‘DNA’ (EP)
With a release made up of a selection of remixes, ‘DNA’ is no real big departure from the recognisable EotS sound. Matched up with a video that stops and starts, possibly to add something to a pretty bland sounding number, ‘DNA’ has boredom flowing through its genome. The chorus has flashes of interest but as a four-minute-plus piece it really lacks the energy. Big fans will like it for its recognisability, for others it’s a little too bland. (4.5/10)
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Gabrielle – ‘Say Goodbye’
From her 20-year-retrospective-CD, ‘Say Goodbye’ from Gabrielle sees a comeback of sorts, with this song one of seven new tracks. Her voice is as listenable as ever and though it lacks the killer punch of ‘Dreams’ or ‘Rise’, the touching, well sung chorus tugs at the heart strings and the production, with the echoey repeat of the song’s title, pulls it together. A worthwhile new song from an excellent artist who proves that great new music can still be made two decades later. (7/10)
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Ghetts feat. Kano and MYKL – ‘Party Animal’
With a video that owes more to ‘Blurred Lines’ than you’d expect, ‘Party Animal’ at least builds up an image based on the title. Featuring a Justin Timberlake-sounding chorus and some well laid out raps from Ghetts and Kano, it’s a poppy number that holds your interest for its perky three-minute running time. It’s a little too messy structure-wise and the production and music does more work than the rappers do, but it straddles the genres nicely enough. (6.5/10)
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Josh Record – ‘Bones’ (EP)
Joined by four other remixes, ‘Bones’ is a smooth, gentle number that by its nature disappears into the background. Using a choral effect well, ‘Bones’ isn’t an earth shattering number but one that touches with its lyrics, even if ‘clothe your bones’ is not the most romantic statement ever. It’s quiet, subdued and forgettable, but sweet while it’s on. (6.5/10)
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Justin Bieber and R Kelly – ‘P.Y.D.’
There’s always a hope that R Kelly’s inclusion on the record might make up for the last few weeks of terrible songs, and in many ways ‘P.Y.D’ is at least different from others in his special ten collection, even if the shortening of ‘Put You Down’ sounds like he’s singing an ode to puberty. Possibly the most distinct song he’s done recently, this at least sounds like a song that Justin Timberlake would consider singing rather than throwing it straight away. R Kelly adds an extra flavour and the titular hooks holds well, but the repetitive electronic music grates quickly and it’s a mess of lyrics and rap, with content really not suitable for his malleable young audience, who already have to put up with his questionable antics. Better, but still not great. (4/10)
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Lily Allen – ‘Hard Out Here’
With the anti-‘Blurred Lines’ video already causing controversy with its own questionable morals, this tongue-in-cheek record boasts a catchy poppy synth riff with some bouncy lyrics that carry the satire well. It’s just a shame that Allen has loaded the record with too many expletives to really reach out to a wider audience with a message, and the autotune wasn’t a wise move. But the musical riff and poppiness really works and it feels like an earworm, and is very singable. A mixed bag from Lily “retired” Allen but it’s a welcome return for her fun, enjoyable music with a message. (7/10)
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Manic Street Preachers – ‘Anthem For A Lost Cause’ (EP)
Sounding more like traditional MSP than their recent singles, ‘Anthem For A Lost Cause’ is a slow tempo ballad with shades of a slowed down ‘A Design For Life’. It’s not one of my favourite Preachers tracks at the moment but I could see it becoming one eventually thanks to its smooth sound, retro-feel, winter-sounding gentleness and well pulled-together lyrics. In general just a nice tune to listen to and one that ties in more with their older hits. Two extra songs and a live track complete the EP. (7/10)
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Maxïmo Park – ‘Brain Cells’
Ahead of their fifth album ‘Too Much Information’ out next year, this lead single – available free from their website – feels more like modern Maxïmo Park than classic MP but the more electronic, ethereal sound suits them. Dreamlike and haunting, its catchiness isn’t immediately obvious and though it lacks the killer punch you expect from the band, their sound is still there and its memorability is in its subtleness. I think it’ll split the crowd though, and it’s more the experimental music that brings the song its appeal, though the chorus proves to be a grower. (7/10)
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McFly – ‘Love Is On The Radio’
While they’re currently flaunting around as McBusted, here is the Fly with their own normal offering, an Irish-enthused number with shades of ‘Lord of the Dance’. And even as they grow up in sound and image, they’ve still managed to nail a cracking pop sound and ‘Love Is On The Radio’ is one of their best poppy numbers with enough of their trademarks to keep their established fan base happy but enough fresh ideas to maybe bring in some new groupies. It’s not high art but it’s a perky, poppy number perfect for, well, the radio! (7.5/10)
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Olly Murs – ‘Hand on Heart’
The sixth single from his latest album – well the cash-in deluxe one anyway – features a video homage to Robbie’s ‘Angels’ (he even makes a cameo), but the song doesn’t quite have the timelessness of that record, though it is a strong ballad and carries itself well and proves to be quite the grower. Another strong single from a very promising artist, creating a poppy, jaunty number that manages to be emotive and memorable in the same breath. (7/10)
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Rainy Milo – ‘Rats’
The second single from London jazz-hip-hop artist, ‘Rats’ finds itself sounding like an undiscovered Eliza Doolittle record, but sadly without any of her musical magic. ‘Rats’ is a gentle, well produced number but one that doesn’t really have a destination, happy as it is to amble along. It’s Ok, and that’s as far as I’d go. A difficult four minutes and the slow rap doesn’t particularly help it. Musically interesting but too plodding for my tastes. (5/10)
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Say Lou Lou – ‘Better In The Dark’ (EP)
With an extra track and three remixes of the title song alongside it, ‘Better In The Dark’ is an ethereal number with a slight CHVRCHES sound and hints of Enya and Enigma styles. It’s a smooth number with a gentle chorus that sticks in with its slight repetitiveness though it gets tired pretty quickly. Not bad. ‘Beloved’ is even more transient and distant, but has a more easy-to-love chorus and feel. Both songs are an acquired taste. (6/10)
Watch ‘Better In The Dark’

Watch ‘Beloved’

Scouting For Girls – ‘Make That Girl Mine’ (EP)
‘Make That Girl Mine’ is a new song from SFG on their latest four-track EP. If you’re expecting a shift change in their sound then you’ll be disappointed as this is their classic sound: poppy, catchy and cheeky, but it’s mainly just one for the fans. Repeating the title does not a good song make and it’s too close to their other hits, but it’s certainly one for their fanbase in the wake of their greatest hits and quickly becomes catchy. It does have a whiff of a b-side though especially with its short length. ‘One Last Time’ with its faster vocals and vocoder effects feels more accomplished though it doesn’t quite have the chorus to match up to the promise. ‘Moth Into Your Flame’ continues the sound and a more adult turn in direction and the strings pulls this together more, but it’s not as exciting musically as track two though it does have some good pop vibes and even a Minaj-esque tweak on a nursery rhyme. ‘Pressure’, with an opening nod to ‘Pinball Wizard’, has a darker beat and a refreshing sound and a neat ‘Let Go’ hook, vocoder trickery, and strong synth riff, completing a worthwhile EP, even if it feels like they’ve discovered a vocal box of tricks recently. (7.5/10)
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Tanika – ‘Bad 4 U’
Here’s a song with a delightful warning message delivered by a scantily clad model grinding on a truck. No, I’m not kidding. As a song ‘Bad 4 U’ isn’t, well, bad, as it has a simple but catchy chorus that takes some generic off-the-shelf lyrics and at least spices them up a little. Not a bad number and one that will catch you out. (6.5/10)
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Wet Wet Wet – ‘Step By Step’
‘Step by Step’ is an anomaly of a track as it sounds older than it actually is and I had to check that it wasn’t actually a cover. Another song released this week to tie in with a greatest hits, this special track from Wet Wet Wet really works, nailing the catchy pop sound and radio-friendly chorus. Marti Pellow and the gang have created a cracking pop hit that nails the 90s sound and should keep their fanbase and casual admirers happy alike. Great pop ditty to round off this week’s mixed bag of releases. (7.5/10)
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Post Author: Philip Lickley