Abel Tesfaye's dark, twisted album is at odds with the glossy pop world he's been thrust into
10 Tracks You Have To Hear This Week (09/07/2013)
The best tracks out this week, including Pixies, MIA and Babyshambles
And just like that, the world’s greatest alt.rock band are back in the game. ‘Bagboy’ is Pixies’ first song since 2004’s ‘Bam Thwok’, and comes shortly after bassist Kim Deal announced she’s sacking them off and never coming back. Oddly, the backing vocals in the chorus sound a lot like Deal, but according to frontman Frank Black they’re actually “my good friend Jeremy Dubs”. Who is, presumably, a man. A man who’s amazing at imitating Kim Deal. Strange. ‘Bagboy’ itself is: 1) Just shy of five minutes, the longest single Pixies have ever released. 2) Disjointed, like much of 1988 album ‘Surfer Rosa’. 3) Big on electronic drum sounds, like their 1991 record ‘Trompe Le Monde’. Unlike the best Pixies songs, though, it lacks the lyrical bite of being about something. There is no “THEN GOD IS SEVEN” moment. And Black sounds like a man trying to be weird, rather than a man who actually is weird, when singing lines like “I’m not feeling your buzz/I only smell your crock of stew”. But this is a 48-year-old man who says he wrote the lyrics in Starbucks, so let’s just be grateful that when he gets to the “dead things that you licked” bit he still sounds like the shouty guy in an institution trying to make sense of it all. Plus: that chorus. Let’s bask in that for a while, shall we?
Tom Howard, Reviews Editor
Jay-Z & Justin Timberlake - 'Holy Grail'
Jay-Z and JT collaborate on the first track from Hov’s ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’. Justin croons “I just can’t crack your code” over lonely keys. Then the rolling beat hits and Jay spits verses about taxes and getting papped with his daughter, Blue Ivy. Together they riff on ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ like a couple of lager-drunk teenagers. Intriguing.
Emelie Joy, writer
Janelle Monae - 'Dance Apocalyptic'
Just when you thought ‘QUEEN’ would be the hit on Monáe’s new album ‘The Electric Lady’, along comes this bar-raising banger. With a skittish ‘Hey Ya’ beat, surreal lyrics – “Your chicken tastes like pork” – a singalong verse AND a giant chorus, ‘Dance Apocalyptic’ should catapult Monáe onto main stages everywhere.
Lucy Jones, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
Beck - 'I Won’t Be Long'
Beck is so over conventional records. Last year, he put out an album entirely on sheet music. This year, he’s releasing a string of 12-inch singles. The latest, ‘I Won’t Be Long’, is a brilliantly wonky slab of guitar pop – evidence of music’s biggest polymath at his most prodigious.
Jenny Stevens, Deputy News Editor
Holograms - 'Meditations'
In a couple of years, Holograms will be the name of a Tupac-Kurt Cobain-Jimi Hendrix digital supergroup, but for now they’re a Stockholm-based four-piece who specialise in relentless post-punk rhythms. If this single is anything to go by, their second album ‘Forever’ is going to have people pogoing fiercely. Long live alive music!
Kevin EG Perry, Assistant Editor, NME.COM
Babyshambles - 'Nothing Comes To Nothing'
If there’s one thing you can rely on Mr Doherty for, it’s melody. While everything else in his grasp has a tendency to go awry, ask him to come up with a Grade A chorus and, more often than not, he’ll come up trumps. Babyshambles’ first new material in six years is no exception. It’s good to have them back.
Matt Wilkinson, New Music Editor
Tinie Tempah - 'Trampoline'
Tinie returns with the Diplo-produced, twerk-friendly first cut from his second album, ‘Demonstration’. He bounces and brags about his new-found wealth, rapping “my mansion is so tidy” like a hip-hop Mrs Doubtfire before coming through with “strictly speaking, Anne Frankly” – a line good enough to make you forget just how much this sounds like Big Sean’s ‘Dance (A$$)’.
David Renshaw, News Reporter
Hayden Thorpe & Jon Hopkins - 'Goodbye Horses'
Electronic musician of the moment Jon Hopkins taps into his classical piano training on this sparse version of Q Lazzarus’ new wave classic, ‘Goodbye Horses’. And he meets a fine foil in Wild Beasts’ Hayden Thorpe, who delivers a divine vocal. Not the easiest song to cover (many have tried), but this is superb.
Phil Hebblethwaite, writer
MIA - 'Only 1 U'
Eastern beats meet Crazy Frog vocals on the latest taster from MIA’s forthcoming album. It’s less melodic than ‘Bad Girls’, and sounds like it’s been put through a mincer. “More jiggy than Will”, she sings. ‘Only 1 U’ proves one thing and one thing only: ‘Matangi’ is going to be bonkers.
Dan Stubbs, News Editor
King Krule - 'Easy Easy'
It’s been a long time coming, but Archy Marshall has finally confirmed his debut album proper, ‘Six Feet Beneath The Moon’. And he’s gruffer than ever on this first cut, howling “Easy, easy, there’s no need to take that tone” over barely-there guitar. An exciting glimpse of what’s up next.
Siân Rowe, Assistant Reviews Editor
The Cavan teenagers attack album two with abandon, largely at the expense of quality
A still-vital John Lydon rages towards retirement on a saucy, scuzzy new album
10 Tracks You Need To Hear This Week (26/8/2015)
Oxford's finest flit between gnarly rock and frustrating slickness on an often-brilliant fourth album