Little Boots is knocking outthevideos these days, isn’t she? Get Things Done is one of our favourite track on the recent third album, Working Girl (now finally out in it’s vinyl form) so we think it’s pretty cool that this slice of catchy, bounce-ified ElectroPop get’s it’s own clip.
The video, directed by Nova Dando, slips comfortable into the Working Girl aesthetic that Ms. Hesketh has build up around the album. The pastels and powersuits showing off just what a tight ship she;s runs at On Repeat.
Future R&B wrangler Leo Kalyan’s Get Your Love is his first track to make it to the screen, and a good choice for his début video it is too. A catchy, and Leo’s most accessible, tune that lend it’s soulful ElectroPop style well to video form.
Director Jim Barber heaps on the sumptuous visuals as he takes Leo on a road trip around southern France. Looks like fun. Thankfully they have nice weather. Check it out.
Has it really been three years since the release of MNDR’s Feed Me Diamonds? It really doesn’t seem that long since Amanda Warner and Peter Wade pushed the boundaries of Electronic Pop music with what is still one of our favourite albums of the last ten years. Following on from a handful of singles and EPs that left us slathering for a long player, Feed Me Diamonds didn’t disappoint. Delivering on the previous release’s promise of intricately crafted, left-field SynthPop tunes, Feed Me Diamonds neatly melded knob tweaking experimental sounds and abrasive with catchy Pop hooks.
Warner and co have been pretty quiet since that 2012 release, she’s been writing and producing behind the scenes for the likes of Charli XCX, Clean Bandit and SOPHIE. There have been a few collaborative records out, but none that really grabbed us much, to the point that we feared for future MNDR tracks. But that fear seems to have been unfounded as MNDR unveils her first original track since the album, and it’s good.
Still with WonderSound Records, MNDR released Kimono over the weekend and is our first taste of what might be to come from MNDR’s sophomore LP. Amanda is still in the process of writing and producing the new album, in-between similar duties for other artists, but we should have more news about the forthcoming record soon.
Hitting the ground running with some spiky, modulated beats Kimono makes a few more nods toward the dancefloor than much of MNDR’s previous output. Not that past releases haven’t been dancefloor friendly, but Kimono’s angular digital bass and nostalgic claps make for a slightly Italo, robotic Disco groove. Amanda taken on a hushed tone for her vocal delivery in the verses this time, with a more recognisable holler in the chorus. There’s an enticing enigma to Kimono, a warm and inviting mystery that is unusual to MNDR’s music, a certain smoothness that’s a welcome addition to Amanda’s arsenal. Dare we say Balearic?, in mood if not in sound. All-in-all a pretty amazing tune, and one that once again as stoked out interest in MNDR’s second album.
It’s with caution that we approached Glaswegian ElectroPoppers Chvrches sophomore album, Every Open Eye. It cannot be stated enough how much we love their début full length records, The Bones Of What You Believe; it was our album of the year in 2013 and for a long time a whole day didn’t go by without us listening to it at least once. We believe the words “fucking stunning!” were used.
Difficult second album syndrome may be a music industry cliché, but not without cause. A band’s first record is usually made up of tracks they have written along their entire career to date, usually honed my touring and rehearsing with the best of their best making up their premiere collection. The follow up, however, most likely has to be written from scratch. Touring the first album can give new songs some road-testing, but it really does put a band to the test, coming up with the same amount of material as they have in their entire career to date in just a year or so. Some rise to the challenge and prove their talent, some fail miserable.
Thankfully Chvrches fall into the former category.
That said, Every Open Eye is a widely different album to The Bones Of What You Believe. Sure, critics not so in deep with SynthPop are probably saying it’s more of the same, critics with narrow views of synthesizer music are probably saying Every Open Eye is straight-up ElectroPop; but they would both be wrong. It would be far too easy to say that this is Chvrches flexing their tried and tested formula, that it is a return of vintage electronic music (which was always an odd comment, there’s very little vintage in Chvrches crisp electronic sound. There has been SynthPop since the 80s y’know!) but all that would be to miss the real beauty of Every Open Eye, and album teaming with contemporary influences (it’s an incredibly Indie album, there are flairs of R&B too) to be spotted by the electronic music aficionado..
We’ve been living with Every Open Eye for a couple of weeks not, and one of the biggest things that struck us about it is the notion that this is an album written by a band that has been touring pretty heavily over the past couple of years. This is a album written by a band who plays live to play live. Loaded with bombast and big crowd pleasing moments, Every Open Eye revels in anthems and chants in a way the more introverted The Bones Of What You Believe didn’t. If the previous album was singer Lauren Mayberry’s exposed raw nerve, Every Open Eye is a defiant manifesto. Mayberry’s lament replaced with an invitation to join in the anger and euphoria of the eleven track contained within.
Every Open Eye really does hit the ground running. The opening salvo of Never Ending Circles and Leave A Trace is one of the best album launches in recent memory. Never Ending Circles is pure anthem material. A lurching bassline drives forward a symphony of all those elements that make Chvrches Chvrches. Sampled and chopped up backing vocals, thunderous drums, Lauren in optimism lined with bitterness mode, massive chords and sweeping choruses. Never Ending Circles, combining these elements, could have quite easily turned out to be Chvrches-by-numbers but the trio manage to avoid the formulaic trap with stellar songwriting. It’s a superbly spine-tingling opener who’s elevation is continued in the album’s lead single, Leave A Trace. A impassioned, and personal, song that combines Lauren’s proud opus with a soundtrack of emotive electronics that melds atmosphere with a rock solid groove.
Keep You On My Side is the first of many tracks on Every Open Eye that seems to be written with live performance in mind. It’s high BPM and frantic arpeggios complement the chant-a-long vocals will no doubt become a Chvrches live set highlight, but in a listening scenario gave us our first frown of the record. Highlighting a rawer production style that is present through the album. At times the sparse, upfront mixing style of Every Eye Open works well to convey this live energy contained within so many of the tracks, but at times we did miss the more cohesive, more comfortable, production style of The Bones Of What You Believe. This continues into Make Them Gold, and Indie anthem made synth that sees the first appearance of Iain’s chugging bass, here underpinning Every Eye Opens most euphoric and rousing refrain.
Which brings us to Clearest Blue, another of the album’s standout tracks. Revelling in the history of SynthPop (particularly early Depeche Mode), Clearest Blue serves up a high-energy and heartfelt track that seems to be one big build. Again, this is a song crafted for live enjoyment featuring a couple of moments that were surely written for their ‘crowd going mental’ appeal; when the drop comes, it comes hard.
No Chvrches album would be complete without Martin stepping up to the mic. This time High Enough To Carry You Over comes thick with a synth-Funk as Doherty croons, strangely like a Scottish Dave-1 from Chromeo. It seems more relatable, and to our minds slightly better, that his outing on The Bones Of What You Believe but after this quick aside where dropped straight back into the live focused monster tunes with Empty Threat. More of Ian’s powerhouse bass, more of Lauren and the kind of massive vocal performance that has no business coming out of such a small frame. Empty Threat is possibly the best of the crowd-pleasers, it’s resonant lyrics and crisp vocals being something to shout about.
Moody Future R&B infiltrates the record in one of Every Open Eye’s quieter moments, the smokey sweet Down Side Of Me (a personal highlight) as waves of Lauren’s (in this instance) gentle vocals intertwine with pinprick synths and warm keys to provide a little respite amid the juggernaut numbers. The following tune, Playing Dead is the most The Bones Of What You Believe track on Every Open Eye. It’s melancholy optimism, both vocally and musically, would have actually made an excellent album closer with it’s (again, live focused) but stuttered sample breakdown providing a stark contrast to (what we think is) Mayberry’s best performance on the record. Before the sweet and calming exit of Afterglow, Comes Bury It, perhaps the album’s lowest point, a barrage of synths and chants that is exciting in it’s own way but feels slightly like an afterthought.
Is Every Open Eye as good as The Bones Of What You Believe. Well…no. But just saying “no” without explanation seems unfair. Taken out of context Every Open Eye is a fucking amazing record that we could not recommend enough to everyone. We’ve been listening to it almost non-stop for the past two weeks and loving every second. The Bones Of What You Believe is such a legacy to live up to, I’m not sure anyone could have done it. Every Open Eye just isn’t quite as great as it’s predecessor, but don’t think for a minute that that doesn’t make it one of the best albums of the year. It really is. Top five. It beats the crap out of almost everything released in 2015…it’s just that in 2013 Chvrches released something a tiny bit better.
That’s not a dis though. You need this album in your life right now.
Is Get Your Love the most straight-up SynthPoppy think that Leo Kalyan has ever done? Very possibly. The Londoner has been slowly gaining traction with his R&B infused Pop track that have run the gauntlet of the slickest current styles from PopDeepHouse to FutureSoulDisco and every three word compound genre in-between. At it’s core, though, Leo’s tunes are smooth and soulful Pop songs that are as much for the heart as they are for the feet.
We were first introduced to Leo Kalyan way back in 2013 when our favourite ever PR person said “you have to hear my neighbour’s music” while drunk. Which is an odd bit of promotion, but it turns out we did have to hear their neighbours music, ‘cos it was very good and we’ve been following him ever since. It was actually a while, full of reMixes and mixtapes, before his first proper release; the Silver Linings EP in July this year, but now it seems tracks are coming thick and fast. Hot on the heels of said EP Leo is keeping the momentum going with Get Your Love.
The new single is out at the end of next month, which may be a little too close to to the tail end of the summer for a song who’s first line is “Summertime heaven…” but with it’s laid back sound and carefree vocals maybe, just maybe, it can keep the sunshine feeling going a little while longer.
So, yeah, Get Your Love is less R&B and more pure Pop than Leo’s previous offerings. Don’t get us wrong, the tune definitely has a soulful swing to it, but the toasty synths and solid 4/4 beat make it the most accessible track he’s released to date. The catchy and upbeat chorus doesn’t hurt either when it comes to a certain sing-a-long quality Get Your Love has. Leo lays out the tale of a youthful summer day and night with his love interest to a soundtrack of relaxed keys that are dragged along by shuffling hi-hats and a strong bassline. We could quite easily imagine Get Your Love getting a bit of radio play. And it it did happen to come on the radio, while the sun was shining; well that would be just fine with us.
We may be a little obsessed with this album right now.
We came across Tove Styrke a few weeks ago while browsing the Local paper. Checking, as we tend to do, local gig listings we see Tove Styrke is playing at Start The Bus (a once amazing music venue that has gone somewhat downhill after a failed attempt to go ‘gastro’). The listings include the words ‘Swedish’ and ‘ElectroPop’. We immediately buy tickets. Then we figure we should check out some of Tove’s music. Her just released sophomore album was out first port of call. But before that, some backstory…
Ms. Styrke was runner up on Swedish Pop Idol in 2010 and hastily afterward released her self-titled début, a perfectly enjoyable but slightly bland (although even when bland the Swedish do Pop better than another else) album that Tove herself has since admitted was rushed and that she wasn’t happy with the results (despite going platinum). Fast-forward to 2014, after taking some time out of the limelight Tove returns with the Borderline EP, a preview of the follow-up album to come. It’s was a brash, left-field take on Pop loaded with personality. This wasn’t the work of a post-TV show puppet, this was a self-assured artist grabbing Pop music with both hands and shaking it down.
A year later and this summer Tove released Kiddo, a twelve track musical manifesto that swings between the empowerment of an ex-teen star and outright vitriol against anyone who won’t let her be herself. Tove’s playful and soft vocals comes across as all sweetness and light but with a knife behind her back; and it’s this underlying antagonism amid a sea of perfectly crafted Pop music that gives Kiddo it’s edge. Tove seems to lay out her grievances with the music industry, grievances with anyone who doesn’t like her new music and grievances with anyone who doesn’t understand her new direction and, basically, tells them to fuck off. All to some particularly Scandinavian and eclectic Pop sounds .
Kiddo hits the ground running with opening salvo that kicks off with Ain’t Got No…, a left-field opener that sways to woozy basslines and a juddering beat while Tove croons her policy statement. It’s on Ain’t Got No… that we are introduced to one of the surprising musical themes running throughout the record. Big, dirty, 303 Acid hooks; the album is packed with them. You’ll be settling into a smooth Pop tune and suddenly, from nowhere, this gritty, distorted TB-303 line with inject itself into the track, cutoff and resonance tweaked to the max. It’s one of the many unexpected teats Kiddo has to offer.
Snaren shows off Kiddo’s other musical motif. On more than one occasion Tove weaves a Dancehall flavour into her songs, bringing Dub spaciousness and rolling snares to the mix. Snaren delivers a ballsy party tune with a comfortable Tropical House vibe to the chorus. A vibe that continues into the single Ego, one of the albums more traditional chart friendly moments with it’s big R&B-lite sing-a-long chorus (and , oh look, a burbling Acid line). A mood that is mirrored on the tongue-in-cheek album closer, Brag.
The likes of Samurai Boy and Walk The Line provide typical ScandiPop fare. All crisp synths and thick production while the Dub-Pop of Burn and the majestic anthem of Decay delve deeper into the album’s physiological dark side (and Acid lines. Seriously, they just appear from nowhere!). The height of the Island influence comes on the single Boarderline, a headstrong hymn that mixes aggression and a Dancehall patter with a oddly Folk like elements which contrast nicely with the Pop ballad turned ominous dark SynthPop of Who’s Got News.
Of the album’s other two singles, Number One feels like the earliest track on Kiddo, maybe Tove shedding her former self? while Even If I’m Loud It Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking To You, the records biggest hit, is a crazy, chanted, literal “fuck off” to anyone pretentious to think themselves above Pop music. Possible the most infectious song of the decade.
Sometimes political, sometimes social, always feminist, Kiddo is not just a coming-of-age for Tove Styrke, but the freeing of someone tired of industry manipulation and has zero fuck to give if you like it or not. Which makes for a supremely confident record which is not-at-all hurt by the fact that it is loaded with infectious, expertly crafted, diverse, perfect Pop.
Whoop! It’s the second new tune, following Leave A Trace, from universal ElectroPop overlords Chvrches forthcoming sophomore album Every Eye Open. We’re fast approaching the mid-September release date and so expecting to hear one or two more new tracks int eh coming weeks. this new one, Never Ending Circles, does even more to dispel our fears of a synthesizer abandonment as the Glaswegian trio go stratospheric with three minutes of chirpy SynthPop.
Revolving around a brittle and piercing hook, Never Ending Circles is a resonant, emotional anthem in that particularly spikey Chvrches vein. Robotic tribal percussion rolls over a solid kick to clear the path for those Scottish crisp clean keys and Lauren’s multi layered, modulated backing vocals; on top of which she belts out another spine-tingling lament. Roll on September 25th!
♫ Chvrches – Never Ending Circles
Chvrches’ second album Every Open Eye is released 25th September.
Awesome Canadian experimental Pop outfit Vogue Dots do like a good song with ‘way’ in the title, eh? Following on from their shockingly good single for Cascine’s CSCN single imprint, Way Out they are continuing along their…way…with this luscious new release, Way With Silence. It’s a gloriously rich and emotive slice of smokey SynthPop. There’s a video for the track too! Check it out here for the first time (premiére stylee) below.
Jon Eisener steps up for directing duties on this clip; a clam and still video that really should be boring, but somehow draws you in with a restrained beauty that seems to curl around the song like the smoke it is very very full of.
Vouge Dots are on the tours; see them at the venues: Aug 15 – LONDON – The Waiting Room Aug 16 – BRIGHTON – Green Door Store Aug 19 – LONDON – Bedroom Bar Aug 20 – BOURNEMOUTH – 60 Million Postcards Aug 21 – SHEFFIELD – Picture House Social Aug 26 – BERLIN – Berghain / Panorama Bar Aug 27 – BERLIN – Berghain / Panorama Bar
Disco and House infused hit-maker Duke Dumont has announced a series of new EP releases on Blasé Boys Club; the first one being cleverly titled Blasé Boys Club Part 1. The EP series looks set to replace the traditional album format for the Duke (so don’t expect a full length release anytime soon, just queue up those EPs) and the première release is set to feature legendary ’80s house vocalist, Fingers Inc. member Robert Owens on a track called Robert Talking. That’s not on this track though, although we guess it is possibly Robert singing on this one too, it does sound a bit like him (although more glossy and 21st century), anyway this is Ocean Drive.
Ocean Drive is Duke Dumont’s foray into the world of 80s Boogie. Heavy with digital Funk basslines and a warm Italo Disco tempo. The bassline is the killer app here, a springy and comforting slab of robo Disco. Accompanying that is clouds of lush, easy keys and a relaxed, but passionate, vocal with lots of driving metaphors. This one is a laid back monster for lazy summer days. Great stuff.
The incredible Avec Sans’s new single premièred this week on MTV’s new Scream TV series. That’s some top drawer syncing right there! If MTV aren’t actually going to play music videos anymore then the least they can do is feature the best new music in their TV show. Which they appear to have done. So fair play to them then. Pats on the back all round. Are we in for some more lovely melancholy moods wrapped up in crystal clean and catch ElectroPop. Yes we are. Get your hearing gear around When You Go.
Swoosh! That’s how When You Go begins. Once suitably swooshed you’ll be treated to a booming and majestic tune that sees Jack playing with an almost Dubby groove, albeit it a Dubby groove run through his humming RoboPop machines while Alice’s smoky vocal delivers that particular gloomy optimism that only she can. When You Go is possible the Sans’ most confident and self-assured track to date, a down-tempo masterpiece of cinematic SynthPop. There so much bombast in here, Jack’s thick production sounding as clean and full as ever, but never over-crammed and Alice’s performance rich with an emotional resonance. There’s a new EP on the way. Oh yes there is.