Single Review – First Aid Kit – Ruins

The title track of their album to be released on Friday (the 19th January), Ruins, drops as the soothing final hint at First Aid Kit’s fourth LP. Glimmering with guitar and soaring with simply gorgeous harmonies, the country-esque ballad deviates somewhat from the more upbeat It’s a Shame, but not too far, pretty much guaranteeing that the track list will flow beautifully. Ruins puts Klara and Johanna’s lush, folky vocals at centre stage, floating laxly on top of the soft and simplistic instrumentalism. Both almost haunting, but also strong and grounded, Ruins is a wonderful track.

Eleanor Chivers

Single Review – First Aid Kit – It’s A Shame

Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit release ‘It’s A Shame’ the first single from their forthcoming album, following 2014’s ‘Stay Gold’. A slide guitar lament on the waste of reminiscing after the end of a relationship, the single was written while sister’s Klara and Joanna Söderberg were in sunny Los Angeles. Not that you can really hear any influence of sun and sea as the track remains filled with an enchanting chilled air of loneliness. Produced by Tucker Martine (My Morning Jacket, Sufjan Stevens) the single perfectly maintains First Aid Kit’s retro Americana tinge, laced with sorrowfulness and themes of brief romances. Though the duo aren’t trying anything experimental within ‘It’s A Shame’ their sound is so calming and heart-wrenchingly beautiful that the you can easily forgive them for staying true to their sound. 

Hayley Miller

Little Dragon – Season High Review 

Little Dragon’s new album ‘Season High’, their fifth and follow-up to 2014’s Grammy nominated ‘Nabuma Rubberband’, is the first time the band have sort production skills from outside sources, in the shape of producers Patrik Berger (Charli XCX, Lana Del Rey) and James Ford (Foals, Arctic Monkeys). Creating an album that at times almost seems a little more passé than sensually psychedelic for Little Dragon. Each track reflects not only Berger and Ford’s previous work but appears heavily intertwined with that popular ‘The Weeknd’, ‘Anna Meredith’, 80’s high-fashion evocative atmosphere.
Opener ‘Celebrate’ pulls right back to a dark corner of a badly lit 80’s New York club, with one line even including ‘one hundred red balloon’s, which may or may not be a slight Nena reference. Though Nena isn’t the 80’s icon clearly embraced among Little Dragons new tracks. Echoes of Prince are woven through each second of ‘Season High’, as though a reminder of everything that experimental pop has lost over such a short amount of time. ‘High’, ‘The Pop Life’, ‘Butterflies’ and sugar coated eight bit sound-effect ‘Sweet’ continue the use of expertly precise moody synths, as though the Swedish band are brooding over alt-pops loss with some intensely retro demo settings.
Over all ‘Season High’ displays Little Dragons expertise in the current 80’s revival sound. Where tracks like ‘Should I’ and ‘Push’ are at a first headache inducing synth buzzes that strive to be moody dance tracks, filled with clanking percussive layers and some Charlie XCX conspicuous lyrics, gems like ‘Don’t Cry’, ‘Strobe Light’ and ‘Gravity’ enhance lead singer, and songwriter, Yukimi Nagano’s vocal creating gentle atmospheric wanderings that encapsulate the overall feel of the album – a little uncomfortable at first but with the intention of escapism to some surreal corner of the universe – each working to remind you why this band is in such demand as collaborators. 

Little Dragon – Season High = 6/10

Hayley Miller 

Single Review – Little Dragon – Sweet

The Swedish quartet have announced that they are to release their fifth studio album Season High on April 17th and along with that, they’ve released a second track from it with ‘Sweet’. This song has a greater sense of rhythm and is more dance oriented than the mellow ‘High’. Heavy beats are joined by chiming synths and whirring electronica. The higher pitched, but faded vocals in the chorus are contrasted with their clarity in the verses for a subtle, but very noticeable variation within the track. It has all the fundamentals of a dance track, but remains calm and cool with Pop melodies for a relaxed yet vibrant track. 

Owen Riddle 

Single Review – Little Dragon – High 

Gothenburg’s electro-pop quartet are embarking on the release of their fifth studio album with the release of their new single ‘High’. ‘High’ will most likely feature in the follow up to 2014’s Nabuma Rubberland and is a chilled, steady track with hazy electronica, a warping bass line and a sharp beat accentuating it. Yukimi Nagano’s softly spoken vocal matches the musical furniture and from this subtle foundation, she can easily go on to reach high notes without sacrificing the soft edged, nudging progression of the song. An accomplished and well produced track from a group with a lot of confidence in their ability. It remains to be seen how this sound develops though. 

Owen Riddle 

Single Review – Colleagues – Talk It Out

Up and coming Swedish band Colleagues offer us a light hearted electronic pop track with their latest single, Talk It Out. Along with its undeniably 80s sound, the track has a catchy chorus that has you singing along in no time, making it the perfect candidate for a top pop hit. The vocals are light and airy, a perfect complement to the gentle drumbeat and synth chords. At the two minute mark the track breaks, offering a slower, quieter segment where the glittering synth takes focus. This helps to keep the track interesting, yet I feel it could be longer with a more dramatic build up to the reprise where the drums and enduring chorus return for a quick singalong before the track comes to a close. This reflects the downfall of the single for me; although it’s a catchy tune it seems to be over far too soon, almost as though it’s been rushed. Despite this, Talk It Out is a solid track and one which I expect will be hummed by many as that repetitive chorus gets engrained in their minds.

Ellie Scott @elliemaryscott

Sunday Suggestion – The Knife – We Share Our Mothers Health

Foto: Divulgação.
Over eleven years ago today, The Knife recorded the ground-breaking and pioneering Deep Cuts. The ground shook, but nobody noticed as it ventured far beyond the norm and to the point were it’s hard to grasp their sound. Nevertheless, we are now living in their sound in 2014 as everyone finally got to grips with their sound. The same will be the case in 2023 or even beyond as the world catches up with potential of Shaking The Habitual. The Swedish duo’s last album before they announced their spilt in the summer. Our 2013/14 sound (The Knife’s 2002/03 sound) is perhaps best demonstrated with the Deep Cuts track ‘We Share Our Mothers Health’. The trap drop-like, pulsating beats continuously burst out throughout the track with sharp and clean synth sounds cutting and slashing their way across the beat. The aggressive and bold, higher pitched vocals from Karin are countered by the divulging and warping, low pitched vocal from Olof that are a little unsettling while acting as the perfect harmony for Karin’s vocal. See The Knife as a long term gift that keeps on giving.

The Knife and what sort of legacy they will leave

The Knife have announced that they are to split at the end of their Shaking The Habitual tour that concludes in Reykjavik, Iceland on September 7th. Upon the news, they were hailed as one of the most influential acts of the millennium by The Guardian and even though you won’t be familiar with them; that evaluation could not be more true. Sweden’s Karin and Olof Dreijer were initially pushing the boundaries of electro-pop with their 2003 album Deep Cuts and their most popular single ‘Heartbeats’. With it, they were grasping the heavy distorted synth sound and trap drop like beats nearly a decade before they were in widespread use like they are now. Today we’ve even reached the point where McCartney is doing just that. Throughout the 21st century so far, they have continued to develop and push this sound on beyond it’s very advanced boundaries; encompassing the very best of the unknown and the future of music progression. The fact that today’s groups have only just cottoned on to what they were doing eleven, twelve years ago while they were taking their first steps is testament to their advanced ability. Most recently they have reached the heights of experimentation; to the point where a label or genre cannot be applied. Shaking The Habitual and it’s fear inducing, synth laden, cave dive was their sound of 2013, however, we will not see music of that tenacity and inventiveness until 2024 at the very earliest, such is their progressiveness. Their legacy is not what they’ve done but what other people do with what they’ve done. The legacy does not hark back to the past, but to the future. We just haven’t reached it yet. They shouldn’t be stood alongside The Beatles, Bowie, Sex Pistols and the like; they will take their place of the modest sort of innovators. The one’s that aren’t appreciated until long after they’ve gone. Like The Sonics, Silver Apples, John Foxx and Broadcast; their music will be uncovered like a archaeologist discovers and rare artefact.
Hopefully their separate projects will be just as advanced and as enthralling for god knows we can’t afford to lose some of the last great innovators of music we have left.

Sunday Suggestion – The Knife – Heartbeats

The Knife are one of the few musicians operating beyond the boundaries of music and exploring a little. The Swedish duo didn’t just do this with the unparalleled Shaking The Habitual last year; they were pushing the boundaries eleven years ago too. Even with the most light hearted songs they could muster. Heartbeats is a wonderful, all out synth affair from their second studio album Deep Cuts and it sounds like the sort of music a large amount of synth groups are producing right now over a decade later. It’s heavy and blocky with it’s synths sounds and intertwines a combination of them to build hook on to hook. The tumbling 80’s drum sample and the curious vocal link it together in a simplistic fashion that is enhanced by it’s minimalism and production. The synths have an added kick and spring to them after each chorus and also go into a hook filled, melodic feast at one point that is only enhanced by the less obvious but still harmonious vocal style. This song is quite simply everything that’s good about 21st century pop music.

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Single Review – The Franklys – Puppet

The Franklys are an all girl quartet hailing from the UK, US and Sweden and are based in London. Their debut single ‘Puppet’ is out on April 7th and it is a fantastic piece of garage nostalgia enthused with small pop hints that adds a further dimension to the track which features a gritty punk riff along with a razor sharp lead riff. The vocal is evocative of Siouixsie Sioux in many ways with the hint of aggression wrapped around a cool and easiness of a bold 60’s garage vocalist. The song is full of hooks, handclaps and snarling gestures all rolled into one. It completes some key but pretty basic function in that you can sing a long with it easily, it has a simple structure and rhythm that you can dance along to and it also encourages you to go wild and I imagine this track being a real crowd pleaser at their shows or in a club. Speaking of which, they played the aptly named The Garage in London yesterday and go on to play at New Cross Inn on March 22nd and launch their single on April 2nd at The Barfly before heading to the well known Good Mixer in London on the 26th of April. If you are nearby then please attend as if this song is anything to go by; it will be well worth it.

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