Florence + The Machine: The Hype Strikes Back. How do you follow up a majestic Brit-winning, Mercury nominated debut? With an overblown, bombastic sequel. And, after a four year hiatus, how do you follow that?
So far that remains to be seen. What Kind Of Man appears to be a slight change of sound: what begins as a haunting ballad with heavy vocal processing soon turns into a bitter and twisted rock track full of stabbing guitars. It’s the sort of track that harks back to the likes of Kiss With A Fist from ‘Lungs’, though it lacks the memorable, soaring melodies of her earlier work. Then there’s the contrasting introductory video for forthcoming album ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’ that’s mostly a pretentious orchestral instrumental.
What these both have in common, though, is a great flair for the cinematic: the former a traumatic love story, the latter a dance with a mirror-self. So far, though, it seems more effort has been put into the visuals than the music.
Listen: What Kind Of Man is available now. ‘How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful’ is released on 1st June.
Madeon – Pay No Mind (feat. Passion Pit)
French boy-producer wonder Madeon wowed us all in 2012 with his track Icarus, blending colourful Daft Punk funk with neon whizzing synths and rhythmic sample manipulation. Three years on and his debut album has finally been announced, including this summery house-pop collaboration with Passion Pit. Released at the end of March, it should be an absolute joy.
Listen: Pay No Mind will feature on debut album ‘Adventure’ released on 30th March.
MKS – Back In The Day
Look, there are too many jokes to be made about this absolute shambles of a comeback. Flatline was brilliant but since then the girls’ return has, well, flatlined. Now another track has surfaced, Back In The Day, and as the name suggests it’s a retro 90s gospel ballad that features a sample of Ahmad’s 1994 track of the same name. Though it features some nice vocal harmonies, it’s too mellow to make much of an impact. Hopefully now, though, they’re back for good.
Emile Haynie – Come Find Me (feat. Lykke Li, Romy)
Haynie is probably best known for his work producing Lana Del Rey’s ‘Born To Die’ album and this track, taken from his own forthcoming debut, has a similarly downbeat and evocative feel with its lush strings and synths. Add in a wistful vocal from Lykke Li plus some gentle guitar from the xx’s Romy Madley Croft and the result is a meditative wonder.
Listen: Come Find Me will be included on Haynie’s debut album ‘We Fall’ released on 24th February.
Incubus – Absolution Calling
16 year old me was very excited to hear this. That said, Incubus’ career has slowly declined with each recent album and Absolution Calling is unlikely to prove their relevance, even if the title sounds more like a Muse track. It might be far removed from their funk-metal early days, but it’s a thumping and melodic alt-rock track that’s stadium and festival ready. Don’t dismiss them yet.
Listen: Absolution Calling is available now and will feature on a forthcoming EP, ‘Trust Fall (Side A)’, on 24th March.
Kwabs – Perfect Ruin
Kwabs has outdone Sam Smith with this new track, a raw and soulful ballad. His voice is beautiful as the melody soars in the chorus, accompanied by sombre piano, strings and a subtly pulsing beat. This is an artist full of surprises, even before his debut album is released in May, but Perfect Ruin is his strongest track to date. Gorgeous.
Listen: Debut album ‘Love + War’ is released in May.
Say Lou Lou – Nothing But A Heartbeat
AT LONG LAST Swedish-Australian sister duo Say Lou Lou are releasing their debut album in April. Since they first came to attention with the beautifully dreamy Maybe You back in 2012, the girls have gone through a name change and a string of moody electronic tracks. Nothing But A Heartbeat veers more towards the electro-pop end of the spectrum, which should only ensure the album doesn’t get bogged down in a dirge of melancholy feeling.
Listen: Debut album ‘Lucid Dreaming’ is released on 6th April.
Marina And The Diamonds – I’m A Ruin
Another month, another new Marina track in the run up to ‘Froot’. I’m A Ruin is the strongest yet: a tantalising glimpse at the darker, electronic direction of the new album. Fittingly, the video features strong Madonna Frozen vibes. My hunger for some ‘Froot’ is growing every day.
Listen: ‘Froot’ is released on 6th April.
Prides – Higher Love
Prides make an obvious comparison to Chvrches. Both bands are from Glasgow and both deliver synth-pop full of sing-along hooks and strong rhythms. Prides, though, are altogether more joyful and Higher Love is no exception. Synths fizz and beats clatter beneath a chorus ripe for live shows. The band are currently on tour and are likely to be a major draw at this year’s crop of summer festivals.
Listen: Higher Love is available now.
Charli XCX – Boom Clap
Just for lolz, and to prove what a legend she is, here’s Charli XCX singing Boom Clap in Japanese.