Listening Post #15
by Emily Pratten
1. Ship To Wreck - Florence and the Machine
Ship To Wreck is the fourth installment of the third record from Florence and the Machine (set for release on May 29th) following What Kind Of Man and St Jude. It’s certainly the most radio friendly single off the album so far, without the emotionally charged serenity of St Jude or the unforgiving drama of What Kind Of Man. “Did I drink too much, am I losing touch, did I build a ship to wreck?” Florence asks, singing over a guitar led track with consistent and powerful rhythm. Her vocals, as usual, are beautiful, natural, and miraculous; as she muses about her own destructive tendencies, a truly wonderful pop song has been produced. It’s a lot more reminiscent of her debut record, Lungs, in it’s airiness and in the type of vocal performance we’re being treated too. It’s less dark and more summery.
2. Leaning Towers - Matt Woods
This one packs an emotional punch. I tweeted Matt Woods as such. I wanted some kind of apology or acknowledgement from the man himself that he had rendered me unable to get up from the sofa for a brief period of time. The emotional honesty and rawness in this track are unavoidable, from the husk in Matt’s voice to the poignancy of the lyrics: “You stole my heart / I belong to you and surely that’s enough”. I find myself wailing “Surely that’s enough?” as I try to console myself with a cup of tea. My own melodrama aside, Leaning Towers is a wonderfully produced, basic yet not sparse, drifting lullaby of a song. The vocal is individual and strong and works wonders alongside the ebb and flow of soft chords and faint percussion that comes and goes like waves. If you’ve been lying to yourself about anything, this song will get it out of you, I imagine. It’ll softly and gently encourage you to confront your emotional shortcomings head-on and open-handed.
3. The Fool - Ryn Weaver
I mentioned melodrama very briefly in the previous section and I’m very consciously going to attempt to shy away from it when discussing this track because my emotional investment in the career trajectory and general well being of Ryn Weaver is rather substantial. After the success of the Promises EP and the announcement of a debut album The Fool, we’ve been gifted a treasure in the form of the album’s title track. The Fool starts off with a lone drumbeat accompanying Ryn’s signature voice; the trill and the husk and the effortless way in which we’re lead through a tapestry of imagery. The song is fairly upbeat and accessible and appears quite airy and light until the second chorus drops out and the backing drops off, Ryn singing “Old dog, new treat, a shorter leash, I cannot breathe,” and it’s intense and focused. This blends slightly back in with the instrumental from the beginning, but there are spurts and jitters, and there’s a strong staccato finish of full of power. It’s catchy whilst remaining wholly individual. On the note of individuality, I’d like to take this moment to comment that the compulsion to compare new female artists with their contemporaries and place them in creative boxes is a wholly gendered issue, and is one that male artists rarely, if ever, face. The originality in this work and the art that’s being produced by Ryn Weaver is new and separate just because it’s hers, and not anyone else’s. If you don’t hold male artists to the same standard it’s not “different”, it’s sexist. We’ve got a different world view and different frame of experience being used to channel creativity and produce what is arguably wholly wonderful content here, and after absolutely stellar performances at SXSW and Coachella I would argue that Ryn is set to take a few people by surprise and make some serious waves in the alt music scene. If there are actually any haters here then turn your location on, I want to fight.
4. A State of Mind - Ady Suleiman
I was lucky enough to catch Ady Suleiman at New Shapes at Notting Hill Arts Club last month, and since then I’ve been on his SoundCloud and trying to get my hands on his demos. It’s chilled out acoustic singer-songwriter music with a reggae twist. There’s a summery bounce and interesting structure and arrangement in the songs that makes them fresh and vibe-y. Vibey? We’ll leave the word in - it is very vibey. His voice is great and the lyrics don’t hold any punches, and latest from him is single State of Mind, which is just a tune if I’m honest. It’s varied tone and changing rhythm and intricate guitar work make it a track worth taking notice of.
5. Painted - MS MR
Painted is the new single from MS MR from their upcoming second studio album set for release in July later this year. It’s immediately captivating, “What did you think would happen” repeats over and over again as various layers of synth and piano culminate and interact before dropping away. The tempo shifts and changes throughout. It is upbeat and high energy and pulses with the line “What did you think would happen”. It’s quite an epic feat of a track, being big and almost anthemic whilst still being very much within the umbrella of the MS MR aesthetic.