Listening Post #11

by Emily Pratten

February has been brilliant for new music so far. It’s exactly what is needed in order to encourage everyone out of a post-January, end of Winter slump. Warmer days are coming and if these tracks are anything to go by, then we have incredible things to look forward to - every artist on this list is due to release an album within the next few months.

1. Florence & The Machine - What Kind Of Man

FLORENCE. Florence. Florence has finally returned from the war. You may be accustomed to seeing some grand phrases and ridiculous emotional investment on my part in certain artists that have featured on this column ([cough] Years & Years). I thought I was at least slightly prepared for a Florence comeback but I was completely wrong. Haha. I laugh at my old naïve self. What a child. In the last few years, while she has been very much out of the spotlight, I have been growing as a fan girl and a music lover, and the obsessive nature within my character has only grown stronger since she was last on the scene. This is not to say that I’m biased. I promise I’m not. It’s just really, really, really good. I will literally fight anyone who says otherwise. Find me on Twitter.

This is probably one of the best songs to have ever featured on the Listening Post. I know the whole point is that I try to describe what the song is like, but it really is too good for words. It’s so, so good that I am just descending violently into the realm of cliché. It was Zane Lowe’s Hottest Record in the World on Thursday - he played it once before deciding that it was incredible enough to play it again. Straight after it had just finished.

Florence has resurfaced with a song that is powerful and grand, with electric guitars and trumpets. 56 seconds into this track, the guitars drop in; these will have people shaking in their boots. A friend of mine jumped about a foot in the air. I said “fuck” very, very loudly on the overground as the train pulled into Dalston Junction. It’s very simple. It’s not lyrically complex but it’s captivating. Her signature vocal is more beautiful and transcendent than ever. “Sometimes you’re half in, and then you’re half out, but you never close the door. What kind of man loves like this?” WHAT KIND OF MAN INDEED. I would follow her down the street banging a drum like an idiot along to this chorus. This song seems to be all chorus. It’s all go, all the time. In addition to this absolute belter of a track, the accompanying music video sees dramatic interpretive dance and erotic hand gestures and car accidents and storms. It’s so cinematically intriguing and complex, and it just adds to the dramaturgy of this entire spectacle. It really is just a sight to behold. Album How Big How Blue How Beautiful is set to be released on June 1st. I’ll have lost my mind by then.

2. Purity Ring - Flood On The Floor

Purity Ring are just on a roll at the moment, after releasing Push Pull and then Begin Again. New track, Flood On The Floor isn’t any different. It’s synth-heavy indie pop with a drop that’s so delectable I need it to be used in a dramatic, cinematic montage of something or other as soon as possible. A persistent beat varying in tempo and tone undercuts the verses, before dropping away to give us silence, and giving way to the words “I hope you’re…”. Then there’s a chorus of instrumental synth that’s melodically incredible. It’s electronic and alternative and poppy and quirky and very, very addictive. It’s another banger. It’s too epic for daily tasks. It makes me feel like I’m washing up on a cocktail of drugs.

3. Kwabs - Perfect Ruin

This one is much lower key than the Florence and Purity Ring tracks, yet equally astounding and probably my joint favourite this week along with What Kind Of Man. This new one from Kwabs really is a stunning feat. It’s slow-moving and melodic, rhythmic and consistent. A slow solitary drum beat accompanies soft and warming piano chords and a honey velvet voice singing of a great and powerful love that has moved his world into some kind of dream: a “perfect ruin”. It’s not cheesy or cliché or corny. It’s not boring. It’s gentle and moving and comforting; it’s a song that’ll settle dust and move us all to be kinder to each other. It’s like if someone transformed the perfect cup of tea into a 3 minute 49 second MP3 file. The music video for this one is truly wonderful also, as we follow Kwabs on a walk through a snowy night full of incredible shots of landscapes and forests and fields, ending on a long distance shot of a sunrise. It’s honey and milk, this one. It’s very, very good.

4. Rhodes - Turning Back Around

This is the new one from another favourite of mine who has just finished recording his debut album. Though not as technically stunning and emotionally moving as Kwabs’ track, or as powerful as Florence, it’s wonderful to see a new kind of style from Rhodes. Not as moody or dark as the Raise Your Love EP though, which is a shame in my opinion because I am a lover of angsty lyrics and dramatic builds and crashing endings and strings. This track is very accessible - it’s good place to start if you’re looking to get into Rhodes, which you definitely should. But go to the Raise Your Love EP straight after.

5. Marina & The Diamonds - I’m A Ruin

Marina has been teasing us all with her upcoming album three by releasing songs every month, each with a specific Froot. This time round we have I’m A Ruin, for the month of cherry. For me, I’m A Ruin is a signature Marina track, while presenting an authentic 90s synth aesthetic. It’s lyrically very good, almost unnerving in its ‘realness’, talking of a need to move on from someone and something despite it being extremely important, ruminating on her life and decisions and a need to stop loving selfishly. It’s emotional and incredibly well produced. A medium tempo beat accompanies a song that builds and entices, lulling us into a comforting trance before we realise an emotionally hard-hitting reality: “Babe, I’m gonna ruin you if you let me stay”. Marina is frank and open in a way we have come to expect from her and it does not disappoint. It’s a beautiful confession, and it’s incredibly sad.