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 (28/08/2013)
The songs on repeat in the NME Office, including MIA, Nine Inch Nails and Iggy Azalea
Unbreak My Mixtape
The tracks from ‘Matangi’ keep on coming, and there’s still no sign of the nasty chainsaw noises that plagued MIA’s slightly rubbish last album, 2010’s ‘Maya’. One of that record’s low-key highlights was ‘XXXO’, on which the London-via-Sri Lankan put her trademark bolshiness away for three minutes to dish out a love song. ‘Unbreak My Mixtape’ is another, except this time round the love is poisoned and rotting away. Over a jagged synth shuffle, the 38-year-old asks a lot of questions – “Did you fight for me?”, “Did you cry for me?”, “How can I stand by you if I can’t find my feet?”, “What did I do for you to call me crazy?” – but the answers don’t come. Instead we get her solution: “While I get my life sorted here’s a mixtape”. This is a sad song, and one that turns to music as therapy. A reference to Toni Braxton’s ‘Un-break My Heart’ (in the title), plus nods to Carly Simon’s ‘Why’ and Fresh 4’s ‘Wishing On A Star’ (both used as samples) all ramp up the feelings of helplessness. But it’s Blur’s ‘Tender’ kicking in after 90 seconds that’s the real tearjerk moment, and a painfully appropriate tune for MIA to play around with considering how bruised she sounds.
Tom Howard, Reviews Editor
NINE INCH NAILS
Up is down. Black is white. Cats and dogs live together. Trent Reznor is happy. “I survived everything”, he sings over a decidedly perky riff. The best thing is, he still manages to make this new upbeat sound absolutely rock. Maybe he just needed a break all this time, the poor love.
Kevin EG Perry, Assistant Editor, NME.COM
CATE LE BON
I Think I Knew (Feat. Perfume Genius)
For 40 long and frustrating years, the question of what Serge Gainsbourg’s ‘Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus’ would’ve sounded like if it had been Welsh has gone unanswered. Now, about bloody time, here are Penboyr’s own Jane Birkin, Cate Le Bon, and Seattle’s Perfume Genius tackling this seductive prospect, and it’s a shrill, pastoral delight.
Mark Beaumont, writer
Decade Of Decay
Synthesizers. Throbbing bass. Low-register vocals. Gloomy title. Spector’s return could be a new single by Editors. It is, in fact, written and recorded with pop golden boy Dev Hynes. So while it doesn’t feel quite right to hear one-man confidence explosion Fred Macpherson singing about “nothing going my way”, it does have a perfectly hummable tune.
Dan Stubbs, News Editor
Change Your Life (Feat. TI)
“I’mma change your life”, brags Iggy Azalea on this new cut, sounding like a less glitzy, more credible Ke$ha colliding with the wobbling bass of Skrillex. She delivers her lines with such ballsy attitude it’s easy to believe she’s capable of such feats.
Rhian Daly, writer
Primetime (Feat. Miguel)
There hasn’t been a really bloody good R&B ballad for a while, has there? ‘Primetime’ simmers with guitar histrionics direct from Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ and vocals that sound like a sample of the “oo-ooh”s from Pixies’ ‘Where Is My Mind?’. I’m praying Janelle and Miguel make an album together. This is sonic perfection.
Lucy Jones, Deputy Editor, NME.COM
Leeds’ Eagulls soar further towards greatness with this intense stab of wailing-siren squalor. Like the moodiest bits of the 1980s all smushed together and served up on a plate for The Cure’s Robert Smith to pick over, ‘Nerve Endings’ is a proper goth-pop delicacy. Any chance of seconds?
Leonie Cooper, writer
Keep In The Dark
“Sleep won’t save you from the night”, warns James Bagshaw on the Kettering quartet’s latest slice of kaleidoscopic pop. Already a highlight of their live set, here it’s more nuanced and beefed up, with decorative harp ripples backed by fat and fuzzed-up licks as the group explore a lysergic dreamland.
Justine Matthews, writer
“Desire, desire, desire”, Kim Gordon calls out on ‘Actress’, the latest song from her new project with guitarist Bill Nace. Over his echoing rumble, she yowls in a way that conveys the experiences of a woman who’s known desire rendered as lust, as well as betrayal, intensity and artifice.
Laura Snapes, Features Editor
Echelon (It’s My Way)
This is something of a U-turn away from Angel Haze’s previous streetwise rhymes and open-hearted confessionals. The first taste of her eagerly anticipated debut album ‘Dirty Gold’ tells us, instead, about her clothes, money, cars and haters. The fact that it’s still brilliant is further proof of her impressive versatility.
David Renshaw, News Reporter
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