IRL
Fickle Friends

Do YOU like your guitar music led by a strong (but sweet) female vocal? Well do we have a treat for you! Today you have to hear an offering from the new Fickle Friends EP, Weird Years Season One - a five song set that covers various tempos, textures and tastes!

This is one of the most straightforward moments, an indie-pop anthem that questions the intentions and thought processes of a far-off penpal. What Fickle Friends do so well is the juxtaposition of musical style with their lyrics - quite often tales of sadness and depression are set to upbeat, shimmering, knob-twiddling production, and here we have a big pop guitar moment soundtracking a story of deep frustration.

It will be a sound familiar to those already fans of the band - the clear honey vocals of lead singer Natassja make the band instantly recognisable as it is - set to instrumentation that puts us in the realm of The 1975 and the like. For those who are less familiar, we can’t urge you any more to check out the groups debut LP You Are Someone Else which features bops such as this aplenty.

IRL could well be some kind of Covid anthem too, the lyrics (asking a potential partner if the process could be sped up and they could meet in real life) being rather relatable with regards the impatience of not just wanting to speak to somebody through a device (hey there, Zoom!). Something we have probably all been feeling over the last 12 months!

For fans of: Pale Waves, songs high on the Coronavirus relatability scale, guitar tinged music with a heavy female presence

Listen on Spotify Listen on Apple Music

Sword from the Stone
Passenger

A change of pace today, and on the eve of achieving his fifth UK top 5 album, you have to hear this gorgeous new ditty courtesy of Passenger.

We’ve been fans of Passenger since the name represented a jaunty five piece with the release of 2007’s ‘Wicked Mans Rest’ - but one thing that’s always been a strong feature whether as band or solo artist is Mike’s inimitable vocal and the ability to tell a story with just guitar and voice.

This story is a classic, checking in with an ex, and seeing how they are getting by (‘both the cats say hi, I know they miss you too’). It’s relatable territory and all painted by the brushes of a beautiful, fragile falsetto vocal.

It’s hard to offer much comment other than to commend it’s simplistic beauty, there are no bells and whistles here, no crazy production techniques, just a man and his guitar with the occasional drum. But what does break through is honesty, heartbreak and resilience. And we’ve all had to be there.

For fans of: early days Ed Sheeran, songs telling the tale of the everyday, the man who grabs the guitar out around the campfire

Listen on Spotify Listen on Apple Music

Deal With It
Ashnikko ft. Kelis

Don’t be fooled by the opening bars of this song, as a xylophone-esque instrument leads us in with the sounds of what appears to be a nursery rhyme melody - this song is a savage attack on an ex lover and you have to hear the swipes Ashnikko takes on her new single with the help of the legendary Kelis.

There’s an explosive pop chorus at the centre that is it’s most straight forward moment but there is so much more depth and edge throughout, impeccably produced (from just really interesting, left-of-centre instrumentation choices, to a deeper ‘mirror’ vocal underneath Ashnikko’s own, to the use of a familiar buzzing sound that runs rampant(!) during one of the verses) and never, ever dull. And that’s before you’ve even got to the repeated sample of the Kelis classic ‘Caught Out There’ acting as an anchor throughout.

The lyricism is on point here, digs coming left right and centre (‘emotional maturity for dummies’) as well as some great revenge ideas (‘I put that teddy bear you gave me in a blender’) and in all it’s Pokemon Evolution ‘I’m on some next level shit now and I don’t need you’ glory it really is an exciting listen start to finish. Set to the backing of ‘I HATE YOU SO MUCH RIGHT NOW’ and the perfectly placed ‘AAAAAH’ (the worlds best known scream besides Wilhelm?) courtesy of Kelis, this is a ride that never lets up, and we love it.

Plus, what could be more relatable than the opening line ‘I don’t need a man, I need a puppy’? Lyrics to live by.

For fans of: Zara Larsson at her sassiest, calling out your ex and then destroying their lives, reinventing the CLASSICS

Listen on Spotify Listen on Apple Music

They Don’t Know Me
Papa Zeus ft. Justin Jesso

You want a hump day pick me up? Okay, it ain’t Wednesday, but weeks are long and harsh in 2021 and sometimes you just need that lift sooner! We doubt you’ll find a more satisfying one than this - you have to hear the explosive new dancefloor filler from Papa Zeus.

Featuring the sultry vocal talents of Justin Jesso, this is one of those songs that is a sum of many great parts - from a funky bassline in the chorus, to piano chords that lift and build throughout the bridge, to a full on brass explosion that presents as our chorus - but is at its best in the last forty seconds when all of them combine.

It’s a song that will absolutely transform your living room into a party paradise (imagine you’re somewhere with sun, you might as well) but if you read the lyrics stand-alone - you may not expect so. It’s effectively a 21st Century ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ with Justin singing (sometimes in beautiful falsetto, sometimes the opposite, Zeus employing a deep vocoder effect) about how there’s no point trying with anyone else now he’s experienced a taste of the subject.

And that’s sort of how we feel about this song, we dare the dance singles of Future-2021 to be as catchy, as euphoric, as bold and as - well - brassy!

For fans of: Sigala, Sax (the song), Sax (the large golden object), pretending you’re at a beach club when you’re actually in the bath.

Listen on Spotify Listen on Apple Music

4:15
Claudia Valentina

Ever had that booty call / middle of the night text and you swear you aren’t going there again buuuuuuuutttt….. well, Claudia Valentina has and you have to hear 4:15, her ode to initially saying no but getting that knock on the door anyway.

With hints of early Dua, this is dark, exciting pop led by a smooth, deep vocal. It all starts out quite sparse and slinky, and fools you into thinking it’s going to be all pretty laid back before a thunderous clatter of drums leads us into a true big pop chorus, but always with a huge helping of cool.

Notable moments include an earworm introductory synth riff as well as a pretty unexpected football reference ‘defensive.. like a left back’ - but while that feels a touch out of place, overall there are no own goals here! A confident, assured cut and yet it feels like there is plenty more in the tank for this young popstar, absolutely one to watch!

For fans of: Mabel, somewhere in the pocket between Ariana’s old and new styles, texts from your ex

Listen on Spotify Listen on Apple Music