Single Review – Pale Waves – Kiss

Following their EP All The Things I Never Said, released earlier this year, Pale Waves’ new single Kiss is another shot at their 80s sound, radiating energy and shimmering with synth. The song kicks off with an excitable riff, which is reflected in the bright, euphoric chorus, made up of instrumentalism equally as ecstatic and catchy lyrics. It’s sweet liveliness and joyous innocence seeps through in every note, and the subtle flamboyance makes it the perfect summer song. I can see the Manchester quartet bouncing around to this – as well as to all their other delightful numbers – in front of crowds of people doing exactly the same.

Ellie Chivers

Single Review – Christine and the Queens – Girlfriend

Heloise Letissier as Christine and the Queens returns off the back of a masterful Pop record from 2016. It was minimalistic, energetic and intelligent. In 2018 she looks to start ‘a new chapter’ firstly by striking out most of her stage name in promotional material, leaving the name Chris from it. With regards to this she said “It’s interesting, the process of striking something out, it’s perverting something, but you don’t make it disappear.” Beyond that, her as yet unnamed second album is set to a bold affair that is more up tempo and more elaborate reference pints with a rough edge.

Her latest single ‘Girlfriend’ features Funk artist Dam Funk and certainly ditches the subtlety, heavily laden with Funk instrumentation. There’s no denying that she suits the environment as she effortlessly rolls off each lyric which are raw in their passion as opposed to the intricacies of her debut. It’s a switch also performed with ease. Though she owns the sound, it’s a well worn one and not as uniquely functional as her debut record. You’d still hope for Heloise to inject some inventiveness to marry with her new approach elsewhere in any new album.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Alice Merton – Lash Out

After the huge success of 2017’s No Roots, Alice Merton returns with the equally ferocious and addictive Lash Out. A funky opening riff paves way for fiery lyrics of rebellion, with Merton stating the song detailed the struggles of the industry: “Being an artist and a human in this world always means confronting people who make you feel like you have to act according to their rules. Like most people, I wanted and still want to live by my own rules. The idea, or, if you like, the need, to write and record ‘Lash Out’ was born of a feeling within me.” The track has an undying energy, peaking at the effervescent choruses. It’s the vocals of Florence and the Machine meeting the bold vitality of nostalgic 2000s indie pop classics.

Ellie Chivers

Fickle Friends – You Are Someone Else Review

Have you ever gone through a long, dreary day at work thinking about a giant chocolate bar or something you’re going to devour when you get home, and then when you eventually eat it you eat it too quickly, or have too much, and you feel a bit off for the rest of the evening? A bit of a disappointment, right? Well, that’s kind of what Fickle Friends’ debut album, You Are Someone Else, feels like.

The Brighton-based 5-piece first started getting noticed in 2013 after playing Jamie Oliver’s ‘The Big Feastival’, and five years later their first LP has finally arrived. The album hosts 16 tracks, filled with glimmering indie-pop hits, guaranteed to soundtrack the ideal summer barbeque. Summing up their sound best is Brooklyn, with pulses of eighties sizzle pumped throughout to support catchy lyrics and chorus instrumentalism comparable to a more pop-ish The 1975. It’s a track guaranteed to inspire emphatic dancing in the venues they’ll sell out. In similar veins come Lovesick – which has an incredible bass hook – Hello Hello, and Say No More. Alternatively, Midnight injects a bit of a heavier element of bass in the intro, showing a little more diversity to their happy-go-lucky indie style. Aside from that, there’s not a whole lot of change. Fickle Friends’ take on the genre is one I really like, and many songs will definitely feature on a good summer playlist, but there’s just a lot of it, with no songs really standing out, as many just blur into the next.

Having said that, not everything is all smiles and rainbows. The shimmery synths often engulf introspective and bleak lyricism. Hard To Be Myself is riddled with anxiety, while Paris offers a sense of self doubt when it comes to ending a relationship. The youthful euphoria of the backing tracks often juxtapose the lyrics, which seems to be a clever way of representing a sense of naivety as this young band begin to experience different things for the first time; dominated fervour and ecstasy, underscored with a tinge of fear.

Other times, the solemn lyrics are more noticeable. The incessant joyous instrumentalism is broken up by In My Head, which strips away the extravagance of the earlier songs to provide a raw intermission about mental deterioration and loneliness. Album opener Wake Me Up – though much more prevalent in it’s instrumental presence and thumping bassline – chants some pretty pessimistic lyrics: the chorus, for example, is dominated by the words “we are absolutely failing”.

There’s not much more to say about You Are Someone Else other than it’s just…good. There’s no doubt Fickle Friends are hugely talented musicians – this album proves it in bucket loads – but after you’re 16 songs worth of persistent jaunty indie-pop down, you’d be forgiven for switching onto something else.

Fickle Friends – You Are Someone Else: 6/10

Ellie Chivers

Gengahr – Where Wildness Grows Review

When you first hear the title of Gengahr’s second LP – Where Wildness Grows – you might think that it could signify a more experimental, more ‘out-there’ album than their previous. No. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing; the album is a subtle, shimmery nod to a chilled summer playlist, with the wildest thing to come from it being a solid Gengahr identity emerging from behind the shrubbery.

Where Wildness Grows cements a definite sound for the London four-piece. Many of the songs (Pull Over (Now), Before Sunrise, Is This How You Love) find their greatest assets in their twinkling, echoic riffs; they give the otherwise-basic-indie tracks extra buoyancy, something to remember them by. Each song is wonderfully layered and textured – take the eponymous Where Wildness Grows, for example, which sizzles with minor distortion and shudders with bass, juxtaposing the delicate vocals of Felix Bushe and the quiet finger picking on the guitar. However, Mallory is the track to sum up the album best: rich with different flavours and a range of sounds that are so fluent, it feels like relaxing on a pool lounger.

While many of the tracks sparkle in the sunlight, others a darker and gloomier. An track list highlight is single Carrion, in which an eerier intro paves way for a rock-centred labyrinth of fierce guitars and a pulsating bass. Whole Again begins in the same vein, with thrashing guitars leading the way, but drifts softly back into the colourful pool of indie rock we’ve already come to know. The instrumental section at the end, however, is something quite wonderful, and as a conclusion to the track list, works excellently. Even the songs that divert from Where Wildness Grows’ framework don’t seem out of place; the album flows pretty nicely.

Well, maybe too nicely. A lot of the tracks sound the same. While the slightly-edgy agenda of a pretty riff, some kind of percussion and chords lying on top works very well indeed, it’s also kind of boring. There’s no doubt that this is an ideal album to relax to for any indie fan, but maybe not one to enjoy with any particular fervour.

Gengahr – Where Wildness Grows: 7/10

Ellie Chivers

Single Review – Gengahr – Is This How You Love

Gengahr have treated us to some beautifully different tracks in the build up for the release of Where Wildness Grows, with their latest offering being Is This How You Love. The newbie follows the more chilled, summery vibes of Before Sunrise and Mallory, as it twinkles with an echoic riff and laidback bass. Felix Bushe’s falsetto tones come out to play a little more, dusting the track with even more sunny glow, before it gets progressively heavier towards the end, though the single never strays from being a golden example of relaxed. With all the incredible singles the band have released in anticipation for their sophomore LP, you can just tell it’ll be a winner.

Ellie Chivers

Single Review – Everything Everything – Breadwinner

Off the back of a strong fourth studio album in A Fever Dream, one of Manchester’s and indeed the UK’s quality groups Everything Everything have released a new EP in A Deeper Sea and the single single from this is ‘Breadwinner’. In this track recorded during sessions with producer James Ford for their last album, they tackle male identity and mental health. Leading from cascading, buoyant piano chords come Jonathan Higg’s rapid, operatic delivery of their typically obtuse and unavoidable lyrical messages. Into this mix arrives ringing, siren-like guitars and a myriad of shifting electronica to form a instrumental and marked change of tone. This is a song as good as any from their last album and it’s hard to think as to why there was no place for it, though they certainly made the right choice releasing what is relentless track.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – Janelle Monáe – Make Me Feel

In new single Make Me Feel, Janelle Monae has bought Prince’s Kiss to a modern audience. The silky tones of Monae’s vocal melt over effortlessly funky hooks, quirky percussion and plush bass, smoothly singing lyrics deliberating lust and her sexuality; the subject of many a Janelle Monae interview. It is a song that is truly alive with colour. The eightiesness of the track makes it undeniably fun, with velvety harmonies adding a layer of sophistication to the pop-y single. There’s something electrifyingly cinematic about the song, which makes the announcement of her new album – Dirty Computer – very exciting indeed.

Ellie Chivers

Single Review – Father John Misty – Mr Tillman

Joshua Tillman took his ironic and astute songwriting as Father John Misty and turned it into stinging and biting observations with last year’s Pure Comedy. A year on from its release, he’s now released new material with the single ‘Mr Tillman’. In a track that peels its instrumental layers back and forth, with spaced piano chords making way for a staccato keys and guitars and Tillman’s double tracked chorus strips back to singular, echoed vocals of verses. Lyrically, its reflective of pre-2017 material which was akin to a series of monologues of Tillman’s thoughts and experiences. In that sense, it is a step back to familiarity, but to what end we don’t know? Just that it’ll still be an intriguing if not the most accomplished Father John Misty material.

Owen Riddle