1. The Other - LAUV
I don’t know where to start with this one. I’m sure I’ve written that about certain songs before but there’s not been a song like this, in terms of how obsessively I’ve played it, since I heard Mononoke’s Barefoot and Broken way back in June and racked up over 200 plays in just a few days. I don’t really know what it is about it either. It starts fairly basic. It’s a few piano chords, a male voice, and a little drumbeat - really calming. It continues to be calming throughout and grows layer by layer. I think it’s the quirky well-produced drop into a chorus combined with the brutally open honesty of the lyrics that work together to take it to another level completely. “Who wrote the book on goodbye” is both catchy and heartbreaking - the making of any classic. The work of the keyboard, which sounds almost like a xylophone in places, is really wonderful and the effects used on the piano chords really diversify the track. At 2:14, the beautiful and intricately produced instrumental falls away to leave nothing but the drum beat, creating an empty echoing space for the vocal to come back in, “Who wrote the book on goodbye / there’s never been a way to make this easy,” and it’s so beautiful it almost winded me when I first heard it. The fact that this is a debut single absolutely astounds me. Make more music, LAUV. Make it now.
2. Worship - Years & Years
They’ve done it again. They’re on the listening post again and I’m not sorry. It’s not my fault they’re the best pop/indie/dance act in the game at the moment. My poor little die-hard fan heart was extremely emotional seeing them get to number one and completely triumph at a sold out show at London’s Heaven. I reminisce about the days when they weren’t the band everyone was talking about and yet, of course, I’m filled with immense pride to have seen them succeed so spectacularly, and I am blessed to have been able to hang out with them a few times before they become such big celebrities. Despite this enormous success, their music, their general demeanour, and their spark is unchanged. Upon announcing their debut album Communion, Years & Years released the new track, Worship, from the album. And it’s amazing, like everything else they release in all honesty. It’s a fail safe formula they’ve set up, with rhythmic bass and percussion and creative synths and hugely original melodies, all topped off with a beautiful signature vocal from Olly Alexander. It’s emotional and lyrically poignant, as always, and there’s a beat you can dance to.
3. End - The Half Earth
End is the new track from The Half Earth’s EP, Light Breaks In. It’s a six-minute epic. I’ve described a lot of tracks in this listening post as emotional but this one is almost so emotionally charged that it becomes a visceral experience. It’s patient and calm and carefully constructed, and the result is a delicate yet powerful odyssey. The sole guitar notes ringing out behind ocean imagery begin an atmospheric build that continues throughout. The entire EP is a spectacle of power and restraint. It’s majestic. Five minutes into End there’s a guitar solo of sorts where the settings on the electric guitar are distorted and he powerfully riffs off note after note. It’s a phenomenally epic finish that leaves you feeling almost used up, after becoming terribly invested in a song that lulls you into it’s intricacies and own devices. It’s an incredible and well-produced display of artistry.
4. Still - The Japanese House
The Japanese House are boasting a similar atmospheric vibe to The Half Earth. The vocal is very different and the structure of the song is slightly more basic or “normal” in terms of length and structure. It sounds a little like Bombay Bicycle Club produced with James Blake or Bon Iver.
5. Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix) - Omi
This one boasts a wholly different vibe to the others, except for the fact that I’ve had it on repeat. It opens with a trumpet and is lyrically basic and a little awful really but it’ll be in your head. It’s a summery tropical anthem - it just is – and it’s one of the catchiest songs I have heard all year - light and fun and airy and incredible. It’s the little trumpet that could. It’s so chilled out and accessible I would maybe even go as far to say that it’s a masterpiece within it’s genre. Whatever genre that is - tropical island dance music, perhaps? I need it playing in beer gardens and on beaches throughout the year.