Listening Post #3

by Emily Pratten

The fourth week of term is upon us already, and as I predicted, the rain has begun. It’s not surprising. With Autumn well underway, it’s easy to get bogged down in endless reading and summer nostalgia, to step in puddles in old hole-ridden shoes and long for the sun and the beach. Hopefully you are all managing to keep your heads above water and are enjoying the fact that we can now return to wearing our sorely missed jumpers and sweaters. Despite the disappointing weather, the music of the moment has not suffered the same fate, and upbeat dance tracks coupled with emotionally raw and rather stunning vocals are on display in the Listening Post this fortnight.

1. Years & Years - Desire

Following the success of their previous single, Take Shelter, the boys are back with new track, Desire, an upbeat, fast-moving, and intricate track full of pulsing synths, clicks, and drops. Set for release on 23rd November, the track has already reached the #1 spot on the new music haven that is Hype Machine. The reason for this is not only the band’s loyal fanbase, which is expanding daily, but because the incredible signature vocal from Olly Alexander once again pushes the track that little bit further. Even Ellie Goulding expressed admiration and awe about it on her Instagram. This, along with increasingly relatable lyrics and a brilliantly produced dance track, means that Desire hits the top of the Listening Post, no question. What’s more, the band are currently supporting Clean Bandit on their UK tour and are stopping off at the Great Hall in Exeter at the end of October.

2. Laurel - Shells

The piano in this song is simply amazing. This song is set to be on the Radio 1 playlist this week, and I am overjoyed. Laurel’s soft and delicate vocal delivers power and emotion alongside a beautiful piano melody which is joined later on in the song by a punchy beat that drives the song onwards. It’s a really, really stunning song and I can say from personal experience that Laurel’s vocal is even more breathtaking when she performs live. One to watch, for sure.

3. Montgomery - Piñata

This song is slightly moodier and more Lana Del Rey-esque than Laurel’s Shells; it’s slower and darker and covers themes of love, loss, and abuse in a raw and emotional amalgamation of drowsy bass and slow percussion. The vocal is sweet and the song certainly does not hold back any punches. The shortest song on the Listening Post this fortnight, but it does not suffer as a result.

4. Eastside - Ellie

No one actually knows anything about this band. Not in a cool, hipster, underground way - I just genuinely don’t know anything about them, and I’m not the only one. It’s actually not an original song; it’s a mash up of Ed Sheeran’s Don’t and Chris Brown’s Loyal. It’s safe to say that these men are perhaps two of my least favourite artists of all time, and are incredibly overrated. It speaks wonders about this band that they’ve transformed two over-hyped and mediocre songs into a really beautiful and rather sassy track. What’s interesting about this is that Ed Sheeran’s song is rumoured to be about Ellie Goulding cheating on him, and Chris Brown’s Loyal is about women not being particularly loyal to their partners. The band then named their new creation Ellie. It’s really rather shady, it’s certainly bold, but it’s excellent. The female vocal on this track is husky and the guitar work is solid, not to mention the production and arrangement of the entire thing is something to be marveled at. The layering of the two songs at the end is a joy to behold. It’s catchy and controversial and really quite fantastic.

5. Marina And The Diamonds - Froot

To close this rather female-heavy listening post (I’m not sorry in the slightest) is the new long awaited track that marks the return of Electra Heart beauty queen pop rebel, Marina Diamandis. Released only days ago on her birthday, the oddly named song starts in a slightly annoying fashion, and I think sounds a bit like an 80s video game, which I think is quite deliberate given the promotional images of cartoon fruit and Miss Pac-man references. However, her sultry velvet-like voice comes into it’s own in the chorus as she sings “Living la dolce vita,” alongside sound snippets sampled from arcade games and punchy synths. It’s a song I disliked slightly at first, but then it was stuck in my head later on in the day. Give it a chance, would be my advice.