Florence + The Machine – ‘What Kind Of Man’
News of Florence Welch’s return has been circulating for a while, and then this week the singer unveiled a promo video for he upcoming third album. Then, last night, the campaign kicked into gear, and ‘What Kind Of Man’ was unleashed upon the world. Tackling the cruelty of love, Welch attacks the senses with the music video; surreal and uncompromising images of lust, destruction and sex are matched with stabbing guitars and signature choral vocals, while a huge brass section punctuates through the chorus. It’s not a subtle affair, but it was never going to be – and, dodgy acting aside, it proves that Florence is just as much a visual artist as fashion favourite FKA Twigs. However, unlike Twigs, Florence is able to convey hooks and melodies with aplomb. Welcome back.
Calvin Harris – ‘Pray To God’ ft. HAIM
Some of Calvin Harris’ best work comes when he’s paired with an unlikely collaborator – as was the case with his work the Florence + The Machine. His typical EDM flicks are paired down when the other artist can bring something to the song. In the case of ‘Pray To God’, HAIM have managed to put enough of themselves into the song that something magical happens. Rather than overtaking the song, Calvin’s production compliments the girls’ own signature style of staccato guitars and pronounced percussion, resulting in an almost low-key banger. Also, in the video, the HAIM girls sit on horses, stroke rabbits and seemingly get stalked by a wolf, and that in itself is rather fun.
Ed Sheeran & Rudimental – ‘Bloodstream’
For a song that’s about taking MDMA, the original version of ‘Bloodstream’ was about raving as getting high off of washing powder. It’s handy then that Ed has called in his friends at Rudimental to re-work the track for its release as a single. Enhancing the sinister quality of the track, atmospheric production and muted drum & bass beats elevate the song out of the mundane. It’s not quite a dance track, but more like a hit of adrenaline, kicking you into focus and preparing you for whatever madness might ensue.
FRANKIE – ‘Problems Problems’
Mixing the doo-wop of Ariana Grande’s first album and the cutesy chic of Becky G, Californian born singer FRANKIE’s latest song ‘Problems Problems’ is a hook driven ditty (and it is a ditty) that reminds us of the colourful, world spinning force of teen romances, and their often hyperbolic destructions. Yet don’t be fooled by the quirky, sugary coating of the track, as there are pockets of personality that interject throughout the track, cleverly hidden under the singsong melody. Whether FRANKIE will be relegated to the role of Carly Rae Jepsen Mk.2 is yet to be seen, but for now ‘Problems Problems’ is taking us back to our teens.
Madonna – ‘Living For Love’
Madonna’s latest campaign has been a mess of Instagram filters, hashtags, leaks and #unapologetic controversies. But that doesn’t stop ‘Living For Love’ from being her best lead single since ‘Hung Up’ – the song is a complete banger. From the house-y flecks in the verses, MNEK-like crooning and gospel singers basically singing the best part, it’s a smorgasbord of old and new, mixing what Madge does best with tight, modern production. While we might not be #RebelHearts just yet (we’re saving that for Madonna’s Grindr Q&A), there’s definitely something here that has substance, even if it doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights it set out to achieve. However, with repeated listens, this doesn’t really matter – aren’t we all just #livingforlove after all?
Swim Deep – ‘To My Brother’
There’s a 90s Britpop vibe flowing throughout Swim Deep’s comeback single ‘To My Brother’ – in fact it reminds us of when we once saw Primal Scream do Screamadelica at Bestival a few years back. You can hear the acid house influences throughout, from the fuzzing synths to the slack percussion, and the song’s spacious production allows for the backing to really shine. It may, at times, be a tiny bit pastiche but there’s enough here for ‘To My Brother’ to stand out. If this is the direction Swim Deep are heading, we’re definitely interested in hearing more.
Avril Lavigne – ‘Give You What You Like’
We’re not going to lie, ‘Give You What You Like’ was the best song on Avril’s last self-titled album and it deserves more than being used for a Lifetime Movie about teen escorts (although, it does look crap/amazing). In fact there’s another film out about kinky sex at the moment for which the song would have been perfect (*paging EL James*). Regardless, ‘Give You What You Like’ is a sublime sex-ballad that showcases Avril’s songwriting, and how good she can be when she acts her age rather than cavorting with giant cupcakes. There’s a deep sadness in the song, examining how in love one allows pieces of themselves to be chipped away until you’re lost in a sea of compromises and mistakes. The yearning in Avril’s vocals is almost spin chillingly acute, while the heavy percussion wraps around the emotions in the song like a dark shadow. Let’s hope, when Avril comes back, there’s more of this.
Hozier – ‘Take Me To Church’ (David LaChapelle video)
Hozier’s ‘Take Me To Church’ has been a proper sleeper hit, and there’s not much more to say about the song apart from how wonderful its menacing quality is. What we’re in awe of here is David LaChapelle’s recent video featuring Ukranian bad-boy of ballet Sergei Polunin. Capturing the oppressiveness of the song, Polunin exemplifies the magical and heart wrenching contemplation on sin and love, personifying the demons hidden amongst the music.
Jessie Ware – ‘Champagne Kisses’
The song may be called ‘Champagne Kisses’, but it isn’t about “expensive blowies”. Rather, the song is a gorgeous ode to romance and the feelings that Jessie has for her husband. Now, most singers and songwriters wouldn’t manage to maneuver such a topic without creating something vomit inducing, but Jessie Ware’s inherent sense of class and grace manages to shy away from the sickly sentiments of love. In fact, it straddles the balance of that warm fuzzy feeling with a glorious cinematic quality. Like a film, we’re just voyeurs in this touching track.
Etta Bond – ‘18’
Produced by MNEK, Etta Bond’s ‘18’ encapsulates something that Lily Allen’s early work did – an honest, humorous dissection of youth. The verses are delivered with such deadpan exactness, that it’s hard not to laugh at the almost tangible moodiness. Of course, MNEK delivers some punchy production that can, at times, become a bit monotonous, but there’s so much more here to get stuck into. Go on, relive your youth.