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 – Phoenix – Goodbye Soleil

Phoenix continue their summery streak with new track Goodbye Soleil, the third single to be released from the upcoming album Ti Amo. With a high-pitched robotic lick and building synth to match, Goodbye Soleil equals the lax and floaty rock of recent material, including the French chorus reflecting the universal feel of titular track Ti Amo released in May. The echoic vocals of Thomas Mars adds to the smooth resurgences of the song, its chilled feel being its greatest asset. Yet its lack of change throughout makes for a track that is frankly a bit uninteresting. Unfortunately, Goodbye Soleil doesn’t reach the height of Pheonix’s previous two singles, but its diverse direction surely gives hype for the upcoming album.
Ellie Chivers

Single Review – Phoenix – Ti Amo

Phoenix take a universal approach to their latest and vivacious single Ti Amo, which confesses Thomas Mars’ love in a multitude of languages. Accompanied by bubbly beat, heavily reliant on a thumping bass that recalls an amplified version of If I ever feel better, the summer-y sounding track has strong roots in a funky ambience that strays from the heavier synth-rock journeyings of 2014’s Bankrupt. An infectious chorus paired with a chilled computerised beat makes for a staple holiday playlist addition, and confirms that Phoenix can master electro-pop from all angles. The new album – also called Ti Amo – promises a similar sunny effervescence, and drops in June.

Ellie Chivers

Single Review – M83 -Solitude

Anthony Gonzalez’s ambient electronic collective have released a six minute single in ‘Solitude’ from their upcoming April 8th album Junk. This track is a piano ballad with sweeping strings and that has echoed vocals sifting though the grand instrumentation . Atop this is whirring synthetica at certain intervals to produce a track that seems quite at home in the mid 70’s. In general it seems to be taking inspiration from Daft Punk’s foray into that era in 2013 albeit a little more extrapolated. The track is indeed graceful but they are yet to make a statement with this album.

Owen Riddle

Single Review – M83 – Do It, Try It

The French electronic collective led by Anthony Gonzalez and hailing from Antibes have returned with details of their Seventh studio album Junk which is expected on April 8th. The album is expected to take a less ambient-driven tone and instead have a greater dance influence. The first single ‘Do It, Try It’ confirms this with echoed and sprung piano chords arranged to form a hook. From this foundation stretch more distorted electronic melodies, wiry synth chords and bass manipulated piano chords. The track has that matured dance feel to it and has several quirks of production to it. It is well produced, but there is little engagement with the track beyond that and it is often disjointed in its progression. Hopefully more tangible sounds will emerge.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Christine and the Queens – Chaleur Humaine Review

The reserved and quiet Héloïse Letissier from Nantes becomes Christine at night, in the studio and in front of thousands, even millions when you look at the view count of her videos on Youtube or her almost cult performance on The Daily Show in America in December. Before that performance, she was already a superstar in France and on the continent, but that is Christine’s domain and it is her that we shall speak of. She is being hailed as the next stage of Pop evolution with her streamlined, yet graceful arrangement and delivery along with the slickest of slick production. When you tie this to her introspective and assertive lyrics and solid Pop harmonies then you see Pop as a genre being pushed beyond it’s perceived limits. File Christine next to Grimes and FKA Twigs for acts who are pushing the boundaries of popular music. The question has to be; is she even better than her innovative contemporaries?

‘Tilted’ is the single that most people are familiar with and the track coolly announces itself with short, whirred synth chords and light, echoed overtures with a simple whispered backbeat behind it. Christine’s vocals are as clear as glass and fit around the sounds hand in glove. Her vocals swing from calm reassurance to selective bursts of fluent vocal harmony. Once the arrangement pulls back we are shown through her French rap from blocky and bold transitioning to hushed and easy tones that her range is more wider than we thought. It is a song that does so much without much effort. The sounds are minimal, yet infectious and catchy. Each hook is perfectly balanced and advanced by vocals that are masters of their surroundings. Beyond this, it is just ridiculously stylish. One of the best Pop tracks of the year. ‘iT’ is a track that opens with spaced out piano chords and vocal murmurings with Christine’s vocals isolated vocals driving the song with raspy bursts. When set against the soft nudging electronica and distorted bass samples, we see power resonating from the soft edged arrangement. The power of her self-discovering lyrics and embracing of the individual are just as potent as the vocals that deliver them. We find a contemporary, graceful ballad in ‘Saint Claude’. Between the strung out piano chords, subtle whirring synths and slightly distorted hip hop beat sample, there is yet another vocal variant in Christine’s faint falsetto alternating with her lowered tones. String sections roll in with her rising falsettos in a somewhat cheesy fashion, but it functions with the nature of the track.

Darker shifts and clasps define the rhythmic, yet mysterious track that is ‘Narcisuss Is Back’. The arrangement moves cleanly from echoed, lone vocals to rumbling electronica in the most natural fashion. Spared loud points of vibrant electronics ring out at intervals across the song. ‘No Harm Is Done’ with Tunji Ige is a piece of Hip Hop greatness with power behind each beat. It goes on to shift to a more gradual motion as the track is led by a leading bass line before easily throwing itself back into those heady beats. Christine’s vocals are complimented by Tunji’s gruff harmonies. Another example of the diversity on show. ‘Jonathan’ with Perfume Genius is a beautifully delivered, tragic swoon with Mike Hadreas’ quivering tones met with strings whilst Christine’s wistful French prose met with blocky synth chords. The song entwines electronica and string orchestras in an unheard and lifting fashion. A wonderful and dignified track. ‘Here’ is another effortless delivery of vocal variation in an imitation of the rising tones of the chords around her. Even the comparatively weaker tracks on the album feature popping beats and seamless transitions from English to French. Each track receives the respect of urgency or contemplation depending on the feel and is produced as wonderfully as Christine delivered the songs. This is quite simply Pop mastery. Pure and Simple. Remember the name, but more importantly the sound.

Christine and the Queens – Chaleur Humaine – 9/10

 

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Housse de Racket – The Tourist

Parisian electro-pop group Housse de Racket are to release their new album The Tourist next week and have released the title track as a single this week. It’s a track that features blocky synths and beats arranged in rotating rhythm which makes it easier to throw in other elements such as a beat and bass line and these fall into place nicely. This simple arrangement makes for a track with an infectious rhythm. The monotone vocal worked for the opening moments of the track, but it does grow a little monotonous for them to remain the same as the track expands and grows and it takes a bit of life out of those moments. A more prominent backing vocal alone would have done the trick here.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Single Review – Beach House – Sparks

The Baltimore Dream Pop duo that is Beach House return with a new single from their upcoming fifth studio album Depression Cherry which is expected on August 28th. ‘Sparks’ is that single and it is another development on the sounds featured on their 2012 album Bloom. The washed out and faded vocals of Victoria Legrand are torn through by a shredding guitar riff before embarking on the awkwardly meandering rhythms of the warping organs. This rhythm is then met with the highly wistful and echoed vocals with the occasional shred of a riff leading the song on. They are masters of the Dream Pop genre and just demonstrate it here.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Sunday Suggestion – La Femme – Sur La Planche

French Psyche- Punk group, La Femme from Biarritz are quite simply an excellent, dynamic group who try their hands at Surf Rock, Ye Ye, Coldwave as well as elements from other areas. They deliver their music with typical smooth, melodic rapidity and urgency and performing in French only adds to these qualities for them. Their most successful single ‘Sur La Plance’ features most of these varying elements to their music. From their 2013 debut album Psycho Tropical Berlin, it’s a track with a quick electronic beat and airy, rotating rhythm guitars and the soft, yet confident vocals. These add that piece of familiarity of French Rock songs, but exudes so much more and wraps this around an undeniably catchy rhythm and hook. It’ll be difficult to get bored of this track.

Owen Riddle @oriddleo1995

Musical World Tour – France – Moodoïd – Je suis la montagne