A good week for fans of the sound of mid-2000s Xenomania productions. Ladyhawke’s “Let it Roll” could be any number of Girls Aloud tracks, although the one that particularly comes to mind is “Miss You Bow Wow” (a crowded field, but maybe their best album track?). And Bearson and Mark Johns’s “Imposter” is very reminiscent of “Nothing Good about this Goodbye” (surely Rachel Stevens’s best album track). As ever you can listen to all the tracks on Mixcloud.
A+ happy hardcore synths in Galavant’s “Lightweight” (which follows the deplorable current trend of not crediting singers; I think the singer here is Natali Noor).
I guess Marshmello’s “Alone” is what happens when the EDM bros discover the fizzy, psychedelic post-dubstep Hudson Mohawke, Rusty, and others have been making. A dumber version of aquacrunk/purple/wonky/whatever? Predictably, I absolutely love it.
Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman is mostly pretty boring; there’s a half-assed attempt at a “teen pop star grown up” narrative that I don’t think no-one involved in the record believes in any more than any of the audience does, executed through songs that are trend-chasing and, worse, dated. Until you get to the bonus tracks: “Bad Decisions” is pretty good, but “Touch It” is really something special. With its rumbling bass psychodrama it reminds me of tATu, or maybe Cassie’s “Balcony,” with its quietly desperate vocals.
On first listen I don’t think I like Pantha du Prince’s new album, The Triad, quite as much as his previous records. Which is perhaps surprising, as The Triad seems like it ought to be more immediate; “You What? Euphoria” is as close to a straight-up pop banger as he’s made, and “In an Open Space” almost sounds like REM. Neither of these things are bad, and The Triad is certainly not a bad album, but I’m not as blown away by it as I was by This Bliss or Black Noise.
Jessy Lanza’s new album, Oh No, is also poppier than her previous album, but in this case that’s a clear improvement. The problem with Lanza’s first album was that it was mostly quite boring, and that’s much less of a problem with the new one. The best track, lead single “It Means I Love You,” is pretty much a straightforward deep house track, and elsewhere she flirts with eighties precursors of her R&B/dance crossover approach; if not quite Klymaxx, then at least Exposé.
Lakker’s Tundra almost sounded like it was a concept album about Dutch flood defences made from samples of archival footage, so it’s perhaps less of a surprise than it might be that Lakker have now actually produced a concept album about Dutch flood defences made from samples of archival footage. Struggle and Emerge is really good, with some inventive uses of samples (some of which are explained on the website about the project) creating a sense of industrial awe and terror.
Helical from Near the Parenthesis is similarly cerebral to Struggle and Emerge, but its affects are primarily beauty and peace.
I’m not sure how much my appreciation of Youngblood’s “Feel Alright” is due to the great neon 80s recycled googie aesthetics of the cover, and how much is due to the 80s MOR song.
Tiggi Hawke is an excellent name for a pop star. “In the Wild” is maybe not quite good enough to live up to her name, but I like the sinister bass in the verses.
Elohim makes… goth MOR electropop? Yes, let’s go with that. And as a fan of the materiality of affect, I can’t not like a song that with the line “we get sensations on the carpet / in the middle of your apartment.”
Against the Current’s In Our Bones is the very poppiest (i.e., best) pop-punk. “Running with the Wild Things” in particular sounds like the platonic form of the genre.
Generic EDM banger of the week is “Closer” by Hoodboi and ASTR.