No Strings

This Week’s New Single Releases (25th August 2013)

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

Bastille – ‘Things We Lost in the Fire’
Download:Things We Lost in the Fire
Single number six from Bastille lands firmly in the ballad territory telling an emotive story of lost memories over a retro-sounding keyboard riff and the band’s familiar vocal trickery. With some very wordy and clunky verses, but with some neat turns of phrase, and then a completely opposite simple chorus, it feels more like a Maximo Park record but lacking the kick of their big hitters and, indeed, the last couple of Bastille singles. It’s a pleasant enough single with their usual ear for production and a singable chorus, but lacks any true emotional kick to make it a huge ballad. (6/10)
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Chloe Howl – ‘No Strings’
Download: No Strings [Explicit]
Sounding like Kate Nash if she’d been told to tone down the Cockney-ness and duet with the Pet Shop Boys, ‘No Strings’ is laid over a very funky, Sugababes-“Wear My Kiss”-esque bassline and though, at times, it feels more like it’s spoken than sung – hence the Nash comparison – there’s plenty of attitude and balls in the song, kicked off by the expletive-led chorus. It’s definitely catchy on first listen and though it feels like the tempo needs to be pushed up a little, it’s a neat slice of listenable indie pop with some fun lyrics. (6.5/10)
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Hardwell & Dyro feat. Bright Lights – ‘Never Say Goodbye’
Download: Never Say Goodbye (Radio Edit)
It’s always a fear of mine that when I type in something into YouTube like the above I’m going to get another DJ-led Calvin Harris-sound-a-like dance track with female vocals, that familiar speeding-up bridge washing-machine sound and a long dance breakdown. And in this case I’m right. It’s fun, danceable and pleasant to listen to but it’s so cookie cutter it’s practically guest starring Mary Berry. (3/10)
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John Legend – ‘Made To Love’
Download: Made To Love
The second single from his upcoming fourth album, ‘Made To Love’ is a raw sounding, soulful number, recorded over an irregular steel drum effect with some haunting female backing vocal effects that take me back to the days of Enigma. It’s a free-flowing number with little structure to grasp too, but the memorable chorus and general vibe definitely work together. With some strings nicely worked in and a dramatic end, it’s a difficult song to classify but one that I’d definitely want to hear a few times more. (7/10)
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Marques Houston – ‘Only You’
Download: Only You
Taking Marvin Gaye’s ‘Let’s Get It On’ as its starting point, ‘Only You’ is a slow, soulful RnB number with Gaye-like falsetto vocals and calls. Though it makes a playful nod to that classic track, ‘Only You’ is a little bit too samey and bland to really make as much of an impact and finds itself becoming a little bit like musical wallpaper. Houston’s song is a smooth, chill-out track; worth a listen but doesn’t really play any new cards after its first sixty seconds. (4.5/10)
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Mausi – ‘Move’
Download: Move
A dance track that’s a little bit fresher than the usual tropes we’ve come to expect recently, the lead vocals make the track and it mostly avoids the clichés. The beat holds ‘Move’ together and though the lyrics are written-in-five-minutes-let’s-go-record-it, there’s something that makes you want to re-listen. It’s just a shame that the chorus triggers me into One Direction’s recent hit, which I hope wasn’t their intention. (6/10)
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Olly Murs – ‘Right Place Right Time’
Download: Right Place Right Time
The fourth single from the titular album sees Murs adopting a clubby vibe for a change and his vocals seem to suit the genre with its thumping bassline and obvious piano-riff. An artist not afraid to cherry pick styles, RPRT might lack the killer hook of ‘Troublemaker’ or ‘Army of Two’ but he still carries the track, sounding like a male Emile Sande benefiting from Naughty Boy-style production, and proves he has a good ear and talent for some memorable and singable pop songs. (7/10)
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PAPA – ‘Young Rut’
Download: Young Rut
With the best inanimate object love story since Blur’s ‘Coffee and TV’ in the video, PAPA’s ‘Young Rut’ is a gruff, raw-sounding number that will please indie fans looking for something a little different. With a sparky chorus and some vocal oohs that draw you in, it’s a simple but involving number that definitely leaves you wanting more. (7/10)
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Rizzle Kicks – ‘Lost Generation’
Download: Lost Generation
The lead single from their ‘Roaring 20s’ album out soon shows they’ve changed very little in their vocal style – which isn’t that much of a bad thing – but have smothered their tongue-in-cheek raps in a big-band heavy brass sound that you half expect to burst into ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ by the Avalanches – remember that? Crossed with the Specials, the sound works for them and though it’s not that different from their first album singles, there’s enough lyrical jiggery-pokery and musical interest to hold it together, and the brass-led sound really works for them. (7/10)
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Shane Filan – ‘Everything To Me’ (EP)
Download: Everything To Me
The former lead singer of Westlife arrives with his first solo single. The title track is a lightweight, sickly-sweet ballad that should keep the fans of the band happy. Though it doesn’t really have the big hook that the boyband used to enjoy it’s a very happy, positive, life-affirming track and it’s hard to fault its sunny outlook. A little bit cheesy, perhaps, but it’s a gentle slice of ballad pop that showcases his smooth voice. (6.5/10)

Second EP track ‘Everytime’, from the small sample available, feels very much in a similar vibe but with more action for the drums. The EP is rounded off with ‘Once’ and ‘Today’s Not Yesterday’, which sounds like a riff on John Legend’s ‘Imagine’ from the strong piano, but is once more another heartfelt, similar-sounding ballad.
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Temples – Keep In The Dark
Download: Keep In The Dark
Fans of the Vaccines will like this dark, gritty indie tune that sounds like it’s stepped out of the sixties, flirted with the eighties and landed in the 2010s. ‘Keep In The Dark’ boasts a strangely involving ethereal sound, mixing the darker elements of the Beatles with the riffs of T-Rex. It’s a mixture of styles that works, especially for fans of glam. (6/10)
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The 1975 – Sex (EP)
Download: Sex [Explicit]
With acoustic tracks and remixes supporting the title track on the EP, ‘Sex’ is a low-key indie track with muddy guitars and a creaky lead voice, but the lyrics are worth exploring and help construct a catchy, toe-tapping chorus. It doesn’t really propel itself to any great heights, but indie fans will get a kick from its simple, relatable words. (5.5/10)
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White Lies – ‘There Goes Our Love Again’
Download: There Goes Our Love Again
The first cut from the London-based band’s third album, ‘There Goes Our Love Again’ doesn’t make any huge leaps with their sound but it’s actually a little perkier and happier than what we have had from the band in the past. Long-standing fans will be pleased with this return and it has the guitar work and memorable chorus and bridge to carry it, even if the vocals do get lost in the hazy production. An expected return from ‘White Lies’, but no revolution. (6/10)
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Wretch 32 feat. Jacob Banks – ‘Doing OK’
The third single from his as-yet-untitled second album, Wretch 32 teams up with Jacob Banks on this African tribal-tinged number. Excelling most in the silky vocals of Banks, Wretch 32 sounds better than usual too, even if his random raps includes how he pays VAT. Clearly keeping it street. It’s not the most bombastic single you’ll hear all week but it’s smooth and very atmospheric, and the slow drum-rolls layer well. (5.5/10)
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Post Author: Philip Lickley