Hilary Duff – ‘ Sparks’
Returning with two country-pop ditties last year, Hilary Duff’s comeback didn’t quite gauge the response that it deserved. Unperturbed, she headed to Sweden to work on new material. One song to emerge from that time in the land of pop is ‘Sparks’. Co-written by Tove Lo and produced by Peter Thomas (Betty Who) and Bloodshy (Britney Spears), ‘Sparks’ is the bouncy electro-pop song that Hilary should have re-launched with. Complete with Kylie-like synths and an infectious whistle that’s sure to niggle into your head and linger, the song also showcases how pop music can capture those miniature, but exciting, moments in life. The heartbeat of the synths and percussions doubles during the chorus, mirroring an increased heart rate. It’s all quite simple but it’s effective. And really, no one does a bop like Hilary.
Carly Rae Jepsen – ‘All That’
With ‘I Really Like You’, Carly Rae Jepsen set an agenda for her new material. Attempting to match the mass appeal of her first hit song ‘Call Me Maybe’, the singer was stating that she was back and meant serious business. This has only been extended with ‘All That’, a sparkling 80s ballad created in collaboration with Dev Hynes and Ariel Rechtshaid. Not only is Jepsen channeling Prince, she’s tapped into a vulnerability missing from her last record. There’s a delicacy to the song amidst the shiny synths and pronounced bass that marks Jepsen as more than just general pop fodder. Rather, there’s artistry here that hasn’t been exhibited in a pure pop song since Taylor’s 1989. It’s sublime listening and something to soak in.
The Japanese House – ‘Teeth’
The third cut lifted from The Japanese House’s EP, the project of 19-year-old Amber Bain, ‘Teeth’ is probably the biggest sounding track to be showcased so far. Like previous efforts, there are hints of Imogen Heap and Guy Sigsworth’s work as Frou Frou in the production, while the vocal is almost arrestingly altered, paying havoc on the senses and elongating the feelings of melancholy. While the whole thing can sometimes seem overproduced and loud, there’s definitely a determination to try something different in the music. The luscious synths and tiny guitar riff add nice texture to the song, giving the track warmness amongst the cold electronics. It’s alt-pop done right and shrouded in glorious mystery.
Mika – ‘Last Party’
Gone are the days when Mika jumped around all primary colours and annoying enthusiasm. Instead, his latest track ‘Last Party’ is an emotive ballad, with a subdued video shot by fashion photographer Peter Lindbergh. Talking of the video Mika states that Lindbergh wanted to capture the natural honesty in the song, and the video definitely delivers. Mika’s unfaltering gaze penetrates into the viewer, making the song even more potent. For those with a short attention span, the video and song might come across a tad boring. However, we’d rather have this Mika than ‘Grace Kelly’…right? Also, there’s a rather good crashing post chorus towards the end of the song that deserves to be heard.
Erik Hassle – ‘No Words’
The first proper feel-good summer track we’ve heard this year, Erik Hassle’s latest offering is a slice of Swedish pop perfection. The track’s sentiments are delivered with Hassles smooth vocals and the funk driven guitar. Likewise, the strings add a bonus layer of fabulous to the song. However, it’s the melody that sets this song apart, full of little memorable hooks that linger after the track’s completion. Amusingly, the song’s ‘cover art’ juxtaposes with the bounciness of the song, which leads us to question whether Hassle has actually dropped his usually emo ways for unadulterated pop. Whatever he’s up to, it sounds pretty great.
Florence + The Machine – ‘Ship To Wreck’
From the tracks that have been teased out, Florence + The Machine’s new album is going to be an eclectic mix. Previously released track ‘St Jude’ was an emotive ballad that placed Florence’s voice in new territory. Following that trend, ‘Ship To Wreck’ definitely sounds like a Florence song yet shows a progression that is so often missing from artists.. The guitars and riffs in ‘Ship To Wreck’ is more akin to The Cure than the grungy interpretation of Kate Bush. While 2011’s Ceremonials was just her debut but louder, it seems that the upcoming third album How Big How Blue How Beautiful will play with sounds, and that’s no bad thing.
Tinashe – ‘All Hands On Deck’
While we’re not actually sure whether Tinashe’s album campaign has come to end, what with her dropping mixtapes all over the place (well one mixtape), it’s ice that she’s decided to serve up her fiercest video yet for ‘All Hands On Deck’. The song might be a tiny bit repetitive and at times tuneless, but none of this matters when you watch the video. Basically, Tinashe is dancing in a giant crate, in a wall of crates and she is serving it. There’s even a bit where she wields a metal pole. What’s so exciting about this video is it showcases the birth of a potential superstar. Also the song’s bonkers panpipes are pretty amazing. Hopefully, Tinashe will be given the right material for her second album and become the biggest pop star on the planet.
MSMR – ‘Painted’
We’ll be honest; MSMR tricked us with their last album, which ended up being a tad forgettable. It seems that they were aware of this fact, too, and have upped their game for new single ‘Painted’. House pianos and crazy percussion drives the song forward, while repetitive rounds of vocals and big bass gives the song a proper polished feel. It’s not too different from their old material, but packs an extra oomph that was distinctly lacking. Whether it’s a newfound confidence in their material, or a desire to make more noise, ‘Painted’ is a sign that MSMR might actualize the potential that they originally exhibited.