The Joy Formidable - 'Anemone'
The Joy Formidable said it themselves on the last song of their debut, ‘The Big Roar’: ‘The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade’. It’s rare that bands actually learn to paint with fewer strokes and show their bare bones, as Wild Beasts did to stunning effect with ‘Smother’. But going by this, the choicest cut from The Joy Formidable’s new EP ‘The Big More’ (bravo, very clever), Ritzy and co have made this progression remarkably quickly.
Much of their debut was a ballistic beast, with even the more delicate moments like ‘Maruyama’ and ‘Llaw = Wall’ glowering menacingly. Having been around live for a while, the newly recorded version of ‘Anemone’ is a chillingly empty thing that seeps in gently like cold realisation carried by the dawn, recalling some of Mogwai’s more delicate moments. Ritzy’s voice is spectral, almost reduced to a beneath-the-sheets whisper. Happily, they’ve stuck to the old adage about the calm coming before the storm – almost three minutes in, after a few teasing bass builds, the intimacy turns to a soft, widescreen maelstrom. These new shades suit them down to the ground.
Laura Snapes, Assistant Reviews Editor
Rihanna - 'We Found Love'
Gigantic and chart-eating as the chorus is, we can’t help but feel that by coming back with what is effectively a guest spot on a Calvin Harris track, RiRi is selling herself short. That said, we felt much the same when we first heard ‘Only Girl (In The World)’ and that worked out alright.
Dan Martin, Writer
El Perro Del Mar - 'What Do You Expect'
Sweden’s Sarah Assbring dons the social commentator hat for this, her urgent, dubstep-tinged take on the recent riots. It builds with slimline grace, via layers of news report samples and a simple plea to “look at the streets”, invoking the spirit of Paul Hardcastle’s Vietnam- referencing ‘19’.
Priya Elan, Assistant Editor, NME.COM
Emeli Sande - 'When You Are Near'
A cut from the latest episode of Later… With Jools Holland, ‘When You Are Near’ shows Emeli in her natural habitat – just a voice and backing, and by gosh is it gorgeous. Her vocals slide silkily around the words, leaving bare notes lesser singers would embellish. Someone coax her off the dancefloor and leave her by the piano forever.
Ailbhe Malone, writer
Jim Reid - 'Black And Blues'
Even if you’ve never heard The Jesus And Mary Chain (soon to reissue their entire back catalogue), their fuzzy snarl has been drawn on by so many recently that you’ll feel like you have. This new track by frontman Jim Reid is heavy with sweet, sleepy evil.
Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor
Spectrals - 'Get A Grip'
Even though autumn is closing in, Spectrals are bringing the beach back. Shimmering guitars and louche vocals combine with tom-toms for a sound that’s better suited to swimming pools than to sorting out the central heating. Hey, we’re not complaining.
Michelle Burke, writer
CANT - 'Be Around'
Chris Taylor from Grizzly Bear has got himself a thick synth-probe, and he’s going to use it to sweep across your frontal lobes like a musical MRI scan while a nurse administers funky chuntering bass to an unhappy ghoul. Thankfully the side-effects are completely benign.
Fraser McAlpine, writer
Friends - 'I’m His Girl'
Brooklyn’s Friends get electric for their latest, a funky little track rather similar to The Phenomenal Handclap Band that abounds with plugged-in piano, elastic basslines and syncopated cowbell in the best possible way. They cover Ghost Town DJs’ ‘My Boo’ on the B(oo) side too, which is all the more reason to add them to your pals.
Tim Chester, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
Born Blonde - 'Radio Bliss'
Their first single may have established them as more-than-competent space-rock adventurers, but this follow-up shows Born Blonde are equally capable of classically structured songs that belong on the medium mentioned in the title – while never losing that all important best-experienced-at-5am feel.
Hamish MacBain, Assistant Editor
Enter Shikari - 'Sssnakepit'
The St Albans trance-metallers might have just returned from sunning themselves in Thailand, but they’ve left none of their intensity on the beach. The first taste of their third LP slams through the genres at their usual bruising pace, going from old skool drum’n’bass to crushing hardcore in a heartbeat. Ssstonking.
Tom Goodwyn, writer