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 (21/08/2013)
10 tracks on repeat in the NME office this week, including Arctic Monkeys, Lady Gaga and Eminem
One of the world’s worst things: when bands make grand claims about new directions and mad influences, only to return sounding exactly the same as they did before. Take The Big Pink, who promised in 2011 to come back with a hip-hop album before delivering the exact opposite on ‘Future This’. Where are they now, eh? We don’t even know. Thank Christ, then, that when Arctic Monkeys said their new record sounds like Dr Dre, they bloody well meant it. It’s all part of the constant reinvention that’s seen Alex Turner, Jamie Cook, Nick O’Malley and Matt Helders go from gritty northern kids to loved-up crooners via desert rockers over the course of their career. On fifth album ‘AM’ they take up the role of slick LA superstars, and ‘Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High?’ is the third taste from it. It is, along with album tracks ‘One For The Road’ and ‘Arabella’, one of the more overtly hip-hop influenced tracks on the record. Its slinking beats and Helders’ falsetto have tinges of Dre’s second album ‘2001’, and like previous single ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ there’s a cool and lusting groove pulsating through it. What we’re saying is: you might think you know what you’re gonna get on ‘AM’, but judging by this, the reality is far, far more exciting.
Rhian Daly, writer
Lady Gaga - 'Applause'
Stefani Germanotta loves hype, and has been encouraging her Little Monsters to tweet the number of days until the release of this single from third album ‘Artpop’ by posting pics of herself naked, holding prosthetic limbs. It’s created such excitement that ‘Applause’ had to be rush-released. The song’s all ’90s piano house and handclaps, combined with two uses of the word “kunst”. Love or loathe her, the free bitch is back.
Eve Barlow, Deputy Editor
Parquet Courts - 'You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now'
On which the Parquet Courts modus operandi of taking Pavement songs and speeding them up to Strokes pace is given a maudlin injection by lines such as “I thought I knew a thing or two about the blues/But you’ve got me wondering now”. Brilliantly, they still don’t sound like they give a fuck about anything.
Kevin EG Perry, Assistant Editor, NME.COM
Anna Calvi - 'Eliza'
An early taste of Calvi’s ‘One Breath’ album suggests the Londoner has moved away from the flamenco and frowning of her debut to something more forceful. Not since The Damned’s cover of ’60s classic ‘Eloise’ has a girl’s name been sung with so much emotion as that of the titular Eliza. Stirring stuff.
Dan Stubbs, News Editor
Wolf Alice - 'She'
Ellie Rowsell coos and snarls through a gritty grunge-pop thrash redolent of prime Breeders or Belly (and occasionally snagging its fishnets on Deap Vally and Hole). Then comes the tremulous xx-ish middle eight, and the urban soul warbler within breaks loose, making this track – from their debut EP ‘Blush’ – a swerving, schizoid delight.
Mark Beaumont, writer
Polica - 'Chain My Name'
Put your dukes up, folks: Poliça’s Channy Leanagh is preparing for fisticuffs. “End it all on the bottom line/So are we made just to fight all our lives”, she husks. But her voice is enveloped in synths so smooth and spangly it’s as if they’re angling for a smooch rather than a scrap.
Ben Hewitt, writer
Big Sean Feat. Kendrick Lamar & Jay Electronica - 'Control'
Not since Nicki Minaj’s guest verse on Kanye West’s ‘Monster’ has an artist been so extravagantly upstaged as Big Sean by Kendrick Lamar on ‘Control’. He uses the track as a platform to crown himself King of New York – he’s from Cali – and sounds fiercer than ever. Ante up.
Lucy Jones, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
Glasser - 'Shape'
“My home has no shape”, Cameron Mesirow sings on the first taste of her second album as Glasser, “but it keeps me safe from imagined pain”. Fittingly, ‘Shape’ itself is a fluid thing, with her ribbon voice unfurling around a grating sparkle and garage blips. Unusually comforting.
Laura Snapes, Features Editor
Giggs - '(Is It Gangsta?) Yes Yes Yes'
“Got a not guilty, feeling so blessed now”, says Giggs on this, his first new track since a brief prison stint for firearms charges earlier this year. So, Giggs, what do you want to do now you’re free? “First thing first, think I want sex now,” he raps sloooowly over a showy Mark Ronson beat. He’s back and he means business.
David Renshaw, News Reporter
Eminem - 'Survival'
Something new for Reading and Leeds and it makes sense that the world’s biggest rapper has unveiled his first new music since 2010 in the trailer for the world’s most gigantic computer game franchise – this is the big league, after all. So what have we got? A rock riff, a verse from singer Skylar Grey and aggressive call-to-arms rhymes. Textbook.
Tom Howard, Reviews Editor
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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