Xander – Ka Ikk Holde Mig Væk

“While someone’s doing metalwork next door.”

Tim: Or, in English, ‘Don’t Hold Me Away’. Xander’s 29 and from Copenhagen, and hasn’t had a hit single since his debut, 2010’s Det burde ikk være sådan her. Here’s his latest, though, so see what you think.

Tom: That is a very… R&B choice for you. Particularly given there appears to be a bloke hammering metal on an anvil somewhere to the right of wherever they recorded the song.

Tim: You what? Look, you may be interpreting that title, given the calm, pleasant and fairly gentle style of music, as a nice message, at a relationship level – a sort of “I love you, we’ve known each other a while, please let’s be together”. Well, I’d like to immediately disabuse you of this notion, because the first line doesn’t mess about: “Take my hand, take your clothes off”. IT’S ALL ABOUT DOING IT.

Tom: While someone’s doing metalwork next door.

Tim: Just…what?

Tom: Sorry to bang on about it, but I actually couldn’t listen to this, that anvil sound grated so much. I had to listen just through my left headphone, where the sound’s still present, just a lot quieter. How did you not notice that?

Tim: Oh…oh GOD why would you point that out to me? I’d not heard that as a thing, but now I can’t unhear it. But I will – MUST – get through this. Because despite that (a consideration made easier by the facts that (a) I don’t speak Danish, and (b) I don’t have to see him looking like a bellend with the cap and sunglasses if I’m just listening), I still like this. That’s largely because of the aforementioned calm, pleasant and fairly gentle style of music.

Tom: DINK. DINK. DINK. DINK. THAT IS NOT CALM AND PLEASANT.

Tim: YES IT IS. It’s chilled out synth work with a good hook and relaxed vocals, and when done perfectly those are ingredients for an excellent song. Here they’re done fairly well, so I’ll happily take this, ignoring the fact that you’ve slightly ruined it for me.

JCY feat. Sisqo – Thong Song

“I’m sorry, WHAT?”

Tom: I’m sorry, WHAT?

Tim: Well, yes. If the question “what irritating late ’90s ear worm would you like to be redone for 2017” was put out to the general public, I’d put money on very, very few people saying Thong Song.

Tom: For me, it’s Aqua. I could go for a full-on remix of Turn Back Time about now. But yeah, not this.

Tim: Ah, see I’d have gone for Cher’s Believe, I could see that working. But no, JCY (pronounced Juicy) decided to get on the phone to Sisqo and say “hey, mate, here’s a thought…”

Tim: To be fair to them, they’ve done a bang on job with the whole bringing it up to date thing, because it does sound entirely 2017.

Tom: I actually had to go back and listen to the original — and I blame you for that —

Tim: You’re very welcome.

Tom: — and I’m surprised by how minimal it is. Maybe I heard a remix or something? Either way, yes, this is Very Much Now.

Tim: It also, though, and rather unfortunately, sounds very very Thong Song, which is just as awful and just plain offensive as it was 18 years ago. I don’t know why they did it – scratch that, I know exactly why they did it, we all do, it was because they figured it’d be easy money – but I really really wish they hadn’t.

Tom: Everything about this is unnecessary, but then that was true of the original too.

Tim: That song was consigned to the dustbin of history for a good reason, and it really, really didn’t need to be brought out again. AAARGH I HATE IT.

Sigala & Ella Eyre – I Came Here For Love

“Bruce”

Tim: Last time we came across Bruce (yep), we pointed out that he had basically produced a Galantis song. His latest is slightly different, in that it actually sounds more like classic Galantis than current Galantis does, so I don’t quite know where that leaves us.

Tom: Better than actual Galantis?

Tim: Ermm…not…hmm…oh. Well.

Tim: Actually, the main thing it leaves us with is a bloody good song, and let’s be honest, that’s really all that matters.

Tom: It should be all that matters. I don’t think it’s massively memorable, but I also don’t think that matters for a track like this — it just sounds good.

Tim: It starts out great with that repetitive but very good synth hook; the chorus is an utter joy, both vocally and instrumentally; and the video is colourful, cheerful and joyously infectious with all its dancing.

Tom: There’s also enough interesting stuff going on in the chord progressions and melody that it doesn’t sound like a completely generic dance song. Even at three minutes it does feel a bit long, though.

Tim: I love this track very, very much, genuinely can’t think of anything bad to say about it, and, with no trace of hyperbole, can’t get enough of it.

Kelde – No Reason

“You’ll know whether you’ll like this or not within the first couple of seconds.”

Tim: Just to save anybody potentially wasting three minutes of their time, I’ll say this up front: you’ll know whether you’ll like this or not within the first couple of seconds.

Tim: I said that at the top because while those kind of vocal samples have grown in popularity recently, a lot of people (including me, until not too long ago) still can’t stand them, and so there’s not a lot in there for them.

Tom: They’re more obnoxious here than usual — I still have absolutely no idea what the original line was. But I don’t dislike them just for the sake of it; there have been stranger synths in the past.

Tim: Well that’s certainly true, and speaking of strange: there’s also that somewhat bizarre respite of a string section that appears halfway through – different as anything, though I doubt that’d be enough to convince anyone not already on board.

Tom: I was about to say “it won’t exactly fill a dancefloor”, but then that’s clearly false based on prior evidence. Doesn’t really have the same build, though, does it?

Tim: Few things do, because that’s one hell of a tune, good callback. But overall I’m alright with this. I don’t love it – I still find the sound slightly grating – but I’m fairly sure that if I listen to it a few more times I will end up enjoying it, so I guess that’s something.

Galantis – True Feeling

“Actually, there’s not a whole lot going on”

Tim: Galantis here using the appalling cheap and lazy tactic of using tour footage for their music video, but just this once I don’t care, because (a) the London leg of their current tour was one of the most enjoyable gigs I’ve been to, so this is lovely to watch and (b) they have at least done effects and stuff with it.

Tom: And every “old VHS” off-the-shelf filter in the book. That’ll get old at some point, but not yet.

Tim: Another thing the video did, the first time I heard it at least, was help me not notice the fact that, actually, there’s not a whole lot going on in the song, is there?

Tom: There never is, but at least they usually do “not a whole lot” with way more enthusiasm than this.

Tim: There’s a big ramp up at the end of each vocal chorus, but then the big drums drop out and leave us with the steel drums and marimba beats.

Tom: Also, and I realise this is a really specific complaint, that static-whoosh effect they’re using instead of the stock “euphoric build” effects is difficult to listen to.

Tim: Oh, that is specific, and I see where you’re coming from, but that doesn’t bother be so much.

Tom: I mean, sure, the rest of the instrumentation’s good, I guess.

Tim: Yeah, and I think “it’s good, I guess” kind of sums up the track. I certainly prefer the style to many of the more recent tracks, but it doesn’t change the fact that the song doesn’t actually do much. And that’s a big shame.

Stockholm Noir feat. Ofelia – Boy Like A Girl

“It’d be doing this a massive disservice to call it anything like formulaic.”

Tim: So here’s fun: according to the e-mail, it’s “a song for every individual who feels that they don’t fit in within the norms in society,” and the video “captures how society can judge individuals based on structures that some of us don’t feel comfortable with, and not respect everyone’s right to live their own life, in their own way”.

Tom: That’s an incredibly clunky sentence, but I think I get what they mean.

Tim: Regardless of whether or not you think that’s sanctimonious guff, the song does at least deserve a few minutes before any out of hand dismissal.

Tim: The main reason I say that is that there are some very distinct areas in that song; technically they’re along the same verse/chorus 1/chorus 2 that is the standard nowadays, but it’d be doing this a massive disservice to call it anything like formulaic.

Tom: There are some parts of this track — generally the quiet, instrumental parts — where it doesn’t work at all for me. But as you said, it’s worth sticking through it, because bloody hell the rest of it’s good.

Tim: Throughout a lot of it, it’s a difficult listen – you might want something more upbeat, or want it to hurry up a bit – but it’s also somewhat hypnotic, and despite the five minute length, with nothing new happening in the final minute, I don’t want to switch it off.

Tom: I think one of the reasons is that I just haven’t heard this sort of synth arrangement for a while: it’s a bit 90s-trance, and I thoroughly enjoy that.

Tim: They say, finishing up, that “Stockholm Noir will continue spreading the darkness to the world, and recruit all the dark souls out there that feel they don’t fit in the scene,” and I think I feel the same way after reading that as I do after hearing the song: slightly downbeat, but still wanting more.

Zedd, Liam Payne – Get Low

“Gellow! Gellow! Hanson-yehwes-lestgo!”

Tim: Hey, remember six weeks or so ago when no-one in the world could believe quite how useless Liam’s solo debut was? Well here’s a speedy follow-up.

Tom: “Gellow! Gellow! Hanson-yehwes-lestgo!” I wouldn’t normally pick on someone for their diction in a song, but it’s like he’s deliberately slurring.

Tim: I mean it’s still not remotely brilliant, and I think what we have here is very much what we had with Niall: first single is entirely shit, so the second single can only really go up. There are definitively good things about it, though: the music is good, although most of that probably comes from Zedd so, erm, hmm.

Tom: Right! Liam could be replaced by any generic session vocalist here. Which isn’t bad in itself, there are plenty of vocalists who make their mark in other ways, but… well, he hasn’t.

Tim: It doesn’t have any lyrics like “I used to be in 1D, now I’m free”, though that might just be because by the end of the song it feels like ninety per cent of all the words ever spoken have been “get low”.

Tom: Or, indeed, “gellow”.

Tim: Peculiarly, there is one scenario that no-one seems to have at all considered (except possibly Louis – great interview, that): that not all members of the group should pursue solo careers. I don’t quite know where the expectation came from, unless it’s just that “people will listen to them, so just get on and make them, alright?” But now we’re here, and everyone’s going to compare them, and some will inevitably come off worse. And Liam: well, you’re not in first place right now.

Tom: Harsh, but not unfair.

Miley Cyrus – Malibu (Alan Walker Remix)

“…that is not Alan Walker’s trademark style.”

Tom: We described the original as Mostly An Album Track. And despite hearing a lot more through airplay, I stand by that: it’s catchier than I thought it was, but the instrumentation’s dull. Can Alan Walker’s trademark style save it?

Tom: …that is not Alan Walker’s trademark style.

Tim: Hmmm, no.

Tom: I mean, it sounds a bit like him, sure, but the usual staccato synths are mostly gone, replaced by something a bit more generic. It sounds like something you’d find on a discount “fitness workout” compilation CD, rather than something from one of the most popular current DJs.

Tim: Actually, I was all set to agree with you until that post-chorus cropped up, but then I changed my mind. Yes, for the first minute I was ready to dismiss it as exactly you said – generic, and something that might pop up on an Almighty CD a few months from now – but that post-chorus brings something else with it. It’s still not your standard Alan Walker sound, but I’d not go so far as generic.

Tom: Even the ending, which does admittedly start to go Full Alan Walker, is a bit disappointing. I reckon he should have led with that, and then gone bigger from there. As it is, it’s just not enough.

Tim: And with that I do agree.

State of Sound – Love Me Like That

Tim: I saw the act name and got all excited, because I momentarily thought they were State of Drama, a band responsible for an excellent Melodifestivalen track. They’re not them, though, which I realised just after the first note here.

Tim: It might not have been the music I was hoping for, but it’s perfectly listenable. At least, I though it was until 41 seconds into that video, at which point the chorus came along and brought with it the first proper use of that whiny uhhh-uhhh-uhh-uhhh synth sound (can’t think of any decent way to write it, but you’ll know the one I mean). And god, is it overused here.

Tom: Fake sax, I think? At least the strident part is. And weirdly, it didn’t bother me at all until the ending — at which point, I noticed it, and it’s now ruined the entire track for me: it went from my default of “meh” to a flat-out “no”. All because of that one synth.

Tim: When it crops up in the first verse, it’s not so bad, with it being new, brief and in the background. After the chorus hits, though, and it jumps to the foreground, it feels like it never stops – it’s more noticeable in the next verse, and every time it comes back I want to switch the track off entirely. A shame, as the rest is okay. But that noise is just that – noise, and not good noise.

ROOM8 feat. The Sound Of Arrows – Just You & I

“I am somewhat FUMING”

Tim: Okay first off I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly call out The Sound Of Arrows’s social media strategy as being an utter fiasco, because this came out four weeks ago yet it hasn’t been mentioned ONCE on any of their online channels and to be honest I am somewhat FUMING to have only discovered it now, but anyway here it is.

Tom: Background, in case our reader doesn’t remember: Tim loves The Sound of Arrows, I’m somewhat ambivalent.

Tim: ROOM8 are a blend of Sweden and America, and describe themselves, via the frequently reliable Popjustice, as a pair that “combines elements of modern pop and RnB” which to be honest would put me right off if that was actually what this song was, but let’s face it it’s basically just a plain old Sound Of Arrows track, and actually a fairly good one at that.

I know I’ve always had more of a thing for them than you have, but surely you can appreciate the quality we have here?

Tom: So I was all set to say ‘yep, sure, it’s okay I guess’, and then I realised I was tapping my foot. I’ll admit that’s a really good chorus melody. It’s not a ‘download it immediately’, but sure, it’s good.

Tim: It’s a lovely sound, gorgeous vocals, and I could listen to it many times over and over again. It’s great.