The must-hear songs we've got on repeat this week
Judging by the tracks they’ve casually let slip so far, Bombay Bicycle Club’s fourth album will be one of 2014’s most exhilarating returns. ‘Luna’ is the best of the new bunch – a polyrhythmic beast constructed from heavenly harmonies and a skyscraping melody. With more than a touch of Foals’ ‘Holy Fire’ bolshiness about it, this is the sound of the London band playing with the big boys.
Leonie Cooper, writer
The first taste of new album ‘The Take Off And Landing Of Everything’ finds Guy Garvey surveying the nation with his barbed pen ready: “Someone’s dancing on the box/ Former MP, and no-one’s watching,” he sings, his vocals multitracked to mesmerising, robotic effect. Urgent and dark at first, with stings of wailing sax, Garvey turns the lens on his own lifestyle: “I’m reaching that age when decisions are made, are made on the life and liver.“
Dan Stubbs, News Editor
Former Wu Lyf bassist Tom McClung’s first proper single under his Francis Lung guise is a jangly pop affair at odds with the heaviness of his previous band, and a progression from his previous demos. There’s a catharsis in the lyrics – “they say you can’t come back, that’s why I never left” – and whether they refer to a broken romance or McClung’s relationship with former bandmate Ellery Roberts, they help create a brilliant pop confessional.
Jenny Stevens, Deputy News Editor
Riding valiantly into this year’s disco-friendly nightclubs on the back of Daft Punk’s success in 2013 come Montreal duo Chromeo. Toro Y Moi man Chaz Bundick features on this slice of super-happy space funk, which straddles the ice cool/very cheesy axis and is packed full of slap bass and lyrics urging someone on the dancefloor to “give it up” lest she “lose her mind“. Not big or clever, but fun.
David Renshaw, News Reporter
An offcut from ‘Nothign Was The Same’, ‘Trophies’ details how Drake is just “tryna stay alive and take care of my people“. “They don’t have no award for that,” he adds. All the accolades should go to the track’s producer, Hit-Boy, instead, for providing the mighty trumpets that toot over a half-step beat and offset Drake’s whinges. His best work since Kanye and Jay Z’s ‘Niggas in Paris’.
Kate Hutchinson, writer
Such a tease, that SBTRKT. After months of radio silence, Aaron Jerome dropped this sliver of warm synths and broken beats at the end of his New Year’s Eve set in Mexico. It features Jessie Ware in full Ashanti mode, trying to keep her love life together while Sampha croons over jittery violins in the background. At just over a minute, ‘Runaway’ is tantalisingly short, but hints at more good stuff in store this year.
Hazel Sheffield, writer
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One of two solo tracks posted online by The Horrors’ synth player (the other is ‘Extensions’), this ditches Tom Furse’s band’s euphoric tendencies in favour of something more minimal. Beginning with Balearic beats, a simple keyboard and a repetitious vocal sample, the track builds into something as tastefully experimental as you’d expect from one-fifth of Britain’s most innovative bands.
Lisa Wright, writer
Nothing says romance like a CD bought from a coffee shop, right? But let’s forget, for now, that this track is taken from a Starbuck’s Valentine’s Day compilation, and concentrate on the music instead, because Beck’s cover of John Lennon’s 1970 song ‘Love’ is a beautiful thing. It perfectly recaptures the laid-back playing of the original, that’s plodding but never dull, and the lyrics, that mix invincibility with doubt, are delivered sweetly and deftly.
Andy Welch, writer
Featuring ex-members of Weird Dreams and Male Bonding, Cheatahs are a London band who love a bit of trendy fuzz. Pleasingly, though, they don’t let it get in the way of either their ability to riff the fuck out or singer James Wignall’s way with a melody. The result is a pretty Dinosaur Jr, a poppy My Bloody Valentine or Yuck with big drumming and actual tunes, and ‘Get Tight’ is the sloppy and loud centrepiece of their soon-to-come debut album.
Tom Howard, Reviews Editor
Rick Ross celebrates the end of his protracted courtroom battle with ’90s drug baron ‘Freeway’ Ricky Ross by dropping a slouching freestyle over the sun-faded soul samples of Kanye West’s ‘Bound 2’, and injecting it with grit using threats such as “run into your home, put your infant in a blender.” Sinister, sumptuous and strangely addictive.
Hotly tipped for 2014, London soul man Kwabs (full name: Kwabena Sarkodee Adjepong) kicks off a year he intends to own with the title track from his debut EP. Produced by up-and-coming James Blake-aping singer Sohn (who’s also worked with Banks), he conjures a defiant electro ballad that’s far more textured and uplifting than both those artists, delivered with a compassionate croon that rivals Sampha or Sam Smith
Eve Barlow, Deputy Editor
Alongside their own prodigious output of existential psychedelia, The Flaming Lips have spent the last couple of years earning a reputation as the world’s trippiest covers band. Compared to their shimmering overhaul of ‘The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face’ with Erykah Badu this is relatively faithful. Hopefully covering The Beatles’ LSD anthem will inspire their own drug anthem. ‘Mary Dances Madly Alone’, anyone?
Kevin EG Perry
Dave Sitek’s Federal Prism label kicks off 2014 with a new EP from his London representative, who is also named Dave, although that’s almost certainly just a coincidence. Lead track ‘Soul Reprise’ suggests that the power of goth, significant in 2013, shall not be waning in the year ahead: a thing of grandiose, gesticulating misery given thrust by a brawny synth sequencing and a chorus that recalls Depeche Mode in their sex dungeon pomp.
Louis Pattison, writer
Please don’t call it a grunge revival, but if you thrill to the raw, sexy grind of Drenge and Loom, come peep at Dublin’s Girl Band. No period pastiche, they fuse a hodgepodge of sounds into this seven-minute “anti-single” which starts off like Bikini Kill’s ‘Rebel Girl’ before whirling up a punk-funk-grunge-metal racket that cocks a snook at early Liars.
Emily Mackay, writer
On which you will find six minutes of pure raucousness. ‘Pearly Gates’ won’t be the entirety of all of the “big things” The Men promised they had ready for 2014 when they downed tools at the end of last year, but it’s certainly a bold start: the sound of gnarly barflies drinking each other under the table, with distilled rock’n’roll, bluesy riffs aplenty and the formidable honky-tonk of keys in the far distance.
Hayley Avron, writer
Ostensibly, this is a bonus track on the European deluxe edition of El-P and Killer Mike’s ‘Run The Jewels’ album, which they initially released as a free download last July for fun, before it was hailed as one of the best rap records of the year. Yet, rather than being “from the cutting room floor”, as El-P says, ‘Pew Pew Pew’ is a new song that features – massive blast-from-the-past klaxon! – a monster scratch solo from Qbert.
Phil Hebblethwaite, writer
The YouTube clip for this seems like something you’d leave running in a background tab – it looks like a still photo of Annie Clark. But look carefully and she’s moving ever so slightly, thought it seems like a trick of the eye. It’s a nod to the subject of the funky ‘Digital Witness’, where Clark tackles the theory that the act of observing changes the outcome, and that the internet is leaving us incapable of living without documenting.
Laura Snapes, Features Editor
This is like the Hawaiian pizza of covers: it makes no sense at all, but it’s still damn good. Previously made famous by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman in the mid-’90s, the track chugs along over a dubby beat and sweeping, angelic synths. Like Beck’s ‘Love’, it’s available on the Starbucks Valentine’s Day compilation, ‘Sweetheart 2014’.
Lucy Jones, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
One-time punk band member, anti-government protestor and Major Lazer collaborator, Danish singer MØ has done some varied stuff. This, though, is the Eliza Doolittle via Mark Ronson pop smash she’ll be hoping stomps all over radio. It’s cheery and has a touch of sparkle, but it’s nowhere near as interesting as her character, or anything else she’s recorded, sounds. On this form she’s either the Scandi-Jessie Ware or another Delilah.
Greg Cochrane, Editor, NME.COM
Coming in at almost a quarter of an hour long, Merchandise’s epic, two-parted debut track for 4AD features freeform saxophone peals, churchy piano tinkles and what sounds like a man humping a spaceship. About a third of the way in, Carson Cox’s buttery baritone flirts with the idea of taking centre-stage, but surrenders to the sci-fi jazz swirls. Infuriating yet enthralling experimentalism.
Leonie Cooper, writer