Lana Del Rey, Grizzly Bear, Passion Pit
Passion Pit – ‘I’ll Be Alright’
When Passion Pit’s ‘Take A Walk’ landed a couple of months ago, its recession-based lyrics and familiar-sounding synths weren’t the explosive comeback we’d been expecting from the band’s first track for three years. Thankfully, on ‘I’ll Be Alright’, bandleader Michael Angelakos has plugged into the unfamiliar sounds of glitchy, maximalist Warp producers like Rustie and Hudson Mohawke, and now there’s dynamite (and darkness) to spare. Endlessly twisting and distorting his voice through something called a “kaleidoloop”, he turns his attention to more personal affairs as he sings about gin-swigging, pill-necking and bad times before announcing: “Go if you want to, I’ll be alright”. You’d be forgiven for missing that lyrical gloom though, because his tale of woe is buried underneath a whole heap of hyperactive Friendly Fires-style optimism. As they proved song after song on 2009’s ‘Manners’, Passion Pit are always been at their best when smuggling this kind of heart-on-sleeve honesty into their ecstatic sound. And if there’s more of this to come, it could save summer.
[i]Kevin E.G Perry[/i]
Ariel Pink – ‘Baby’
Ariel Pink loves 1970s crooner duo Donnie and Joe Emerson’s ‘Baby’ so much he’s put it on every mixtape he’s assembled in the past few years AND covered it for the band’s “retro-licious” (his words) new album ‘Mature Themes’. Probably best served while hooking up with a longhaired deadbeat muso in the long grass on a sunny day, but sounds totally gorgeous.
Grizzly Bear – ‘Sleeping Ute’
The first taster from the Brooklyn experimentalists’ hotly-anticipated new album finds them playing to their strongest suit – cramming in myriad mind-boggling ideas while creating one focused whole by the end. Not as complex as ‘I Live With You’, more mental than ‘Knife’ – a welcome return from every Animal Collective fan’s second favourite band.
The-Dream – ‘Dope Bitch’
Following his gloomy, Weeknd-esque ‘1997’ album, Terius Nash returns to his The-Dream moniker and the sunnier end of his repertoire with this summer-flecked (cowbell alert!) tune which sounds like Donny Hathaway singing on a ’90s Mariah track.
Lana Del Rey – ‘Body Electric’
“[i]Elvis is my daddy, Marilyn is my mother – Jesus is my bestest friend[/i]”, purrs Lana Del Rey, bravely tottering around the edges of self-parody on this latest offering of simmering Stepford symphonics. A huge departure from ‘Born To Die’ it isn’t, but, like swigging from a bottle of Chanel No 5, it’s intoxicating.
Echo Lake – ‘Wild Peace’
Seeped in more buzzy gloop than a bumblebee drowning in its own (just like) honey, the title track of the forthcoming debut album from the London newcomers is admittedly a photo of a dream Kevin Shields had once, but a pretty enjoyable dream. Derivativeness be damned if it feels this good though.
Grimes and Blood Diamonds – ‘Phone Sex’
Phone sex always seems like such an awkward, cringey thing (would be with me, anyway), but LA pop artist Blood Diamonds and new BFF Grimes throw themselves 100% into this ode to talking dirty. If you like the idea of K-pop mixed with Madonna’s ‘Material Girl’ – with a drop! – listen up. If not, cheer up.
Micachu And The Shapes – ‘OK’
Come the glorious revolution of 2062, when purveyors of sonic war crimes are incarcerated in the Tower Of London, there’ll be a bronze bust of Mica Levi in the Natural Museum Of Pop Treasures. ‘OK’, from her and the Shapes’ forthcoming newbie ‘Never’, will be her proudest moment: a wonky, warped nursery-rhyme that’s giddier than last year’s ‘Chopped And Screwed’, but no less wondrous.
Toddla T feat. Timberlee – ‘Body Dub’
Sheffield producer and [i]NME[/i] columnist Toddla T is joined by Jamaican songstress Timberlee on this mix of dancehall and electro. She boldly declares “We got the best pum pum around here” in the first five seconds, while he works on the bleep-heavy backdrop and gentle bass wobble. I could compare that wobble to her behind, but I’m not that crass.
USHER featuring A$AP ROCKY – ‘Hot Thing’
Never liked Usher, ‘cos he’s mushy. Dig ASAP, ‘cos he’s weird. Admire The Neptunes (on production duties here), ‘cos who doesn’t? ALL THREE ON ONE SONG: Big. Pharrel’s rapid squelch and Rocky’s rap cameo about “[i]GQ[/i]” and “[i]Nicki Minaj[/i]” inject some pleasing naaaaaastiness into the ickyness of Usher’s vox.