Well this is a win-win for everyone. It’s been two years since Clean Bandit released their debut album ‘New Eyes’ and now they return with a sure-fire smash. And Louisa Johnson? She’s that youngster who ugly-cried when she forgettably won the X Factor last year. But positioning her as a featured vocalist is a smart move – it worked for Jess Glynne at least. It’s “an epic trap-2step breakup ballad” apparently, which in practice means anthemic vocals, shifting stylistic changes to keep you on your toes, and lots of strings. Finally Louisa will get the number one she was expecting at the end of X Factor.
Can we all agree this is the best pop track of the week? All breezy melodies, fizzing synths and an infectious beat, it’s a modern update of an 80s pop sound with emotive lyrics (“I don’t wanna give you up, I don’t wanna let you love somebody else but me,” she sings in the chorus). That might seem familiar, but there’s a reason this sound is so popular – it’s flippin’ brilliant.
We are in the midst of a Craig David Renaissance. And One More Time fits in neatly with the rest of his recent oeuvre. That is, it sounds exactly the same as all those other tracks he’s featured on recently – garage infused with current dance vibes. That said, it remains a slickly produced jam that proves Craig David is finally getting the recognition he deserves.
NAO – Girlfriend
This is pure sex. Try not hold your breath in those pregnant pauses between electrifying synths.
On the one hand this is a lazy track from Jessie Ware, written for the soundtrack of ‘Me Before You’. But my god does she do sultry well, breathlessly cooing “gonna love you day and night” over laidback guitar riffs. It’s likely this is the best thing about the film.
Bright Light x2 is a big name in the gay community but hasn’t quite crossed over to the mainstream. This track, with casual pal Elton John, could well change that with its Prince-esque funk guitars and blaring horns. It’s an irresistible, uplifting concoction that’ll get you dancing immediately – fitting then that the next album is called ‘Choreography’.
“I can taste the teeth dying in my mouth,” begins this track from London trio SÄLEN. It’s a pretty rank opening to a track filled with bluntly frank lyrics – “why am I in bed with you?” questions vocalist Ellie Kamio, “I’m into your sickness”. It’s a song, then, about falling for the wrong person, the vocals set atop polished beats and twinkling synths. But it’s those lyrics that set this apart.
The problem with the current vogue for releasing a whole string of singles in the build up to an album release is that you never quite understand the full context. And with an artist like Bat For Lashes that’s crucial (forthcoming album ‘The Bride’ is a concept album about a woman whose fiancé is killed on his way to the wedding). As it stands, this is a throbbing, urgent track of gothic synths, Natasha Khan singing angelically “even though I’m falling apart, I want Sunday Love in my heart”. How this fits in with the rest of the album remains to be seen.
Anne-Marie - Alarm
The Rudimental vocalist was hotly tipped at the start of the year and Alarm is the first track she's released in 2016. There's no denying the power of her voice as she sings of a cheating lover (and is that a cheeky Rihanna reference in the bridge?), but besides the reversed intro the production is a little non-descript and lacks the personality the singer deserves. Let's hope there's more to come.
Prides - Rome
The Glaswegian band return following their 2015 album 'The Way Back Up' with another banging synth anthem. Big melodies, big vocals, big drums and guitars - it's typical stuff from them, but not to be missed.