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.

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.

Axwell Λ Ingrosso – More Than You Know

“You know what you’re going to hear.”

Tim: Their new one, and I’l be honest: you know what you’re going to hear.

Tim: A standard vocal on top of a sturdy dance beat, an almost a capella pre-chorus, quick vocal chorus and then we’re ALL IN for the dance heavy part.

Tom: And it is very standard. None of it stands out for me; it’s a middle-of-the-night track. I can’t see many people shouting “yes, this is my song”.

Although, to be fair, I haven’t heard the transition from lyrics to synth happening in the middle of a line before. That’s at least a bit interesting.

Tim: It seems that two verses and two choruses, give or take a bit, is just the way dance tunes seem to be coming these days, which is a damn shame, because I do love a good middle eight, but there you go, guess we’ll have to cope.

Tom: There is technically a pre-chorus in there that could sort-of be a middle eight, I guess, but you’re right: traditional pop song structure is being abandoned here in favour of ‘whatever sounds good’.

Tim: And I know I started this off by setting the expectations as standard, but that’s only because standard Axwell Λ Ingrosso is very good stuff. I’d like a bit more of it, but I’ll take it as it is.

Tom: Although why you’d take an early-1990s video camera to a 2017 dance concert, I’ve no idea. This “slap a 90s filter on everything” is getting old.

Saturday Flashback: The Wanted – Walks Like Rihanna (7th Heaven Remix)

“Can it be improved further?”

Tim: Now, you’ll remember on Monday I pointed out that there are very few songs that wouldn’t be improved by a 7th Heaven do-over. Well, Walks Like Rihanna is already a very very good song, so can it be improved further?

Tom: See, you’re wrong there, because Walks Like Rihanna is a terrible song.

Tim: What.

Tom: You’re right that the composition and production is great, but the lyrics are god-awful.

Tim: No, *some of* the lyrics are god-awful. I am happy to put those aside.

Tom: Fortunately, someone once sang the chorus to me as “she looks like a hammer”, so I’m just going to pretend those are the lyrics and agree: the production’s pretty good.

Tim: Okay, whatever works for you.

Tom: Like you said, can it be improved?

Tim: WELL OF COURSE IT CAN.

Tom: Yep, because I get to sing “looks like a hammer” even before those terrible first two lines.

Tim: Everything that’s good from the original, and oh then so much more – strip out the tedious ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ instruments, replace them with with outrageously poppers o’clock synth beats instead. Finally, for good measure, chuck in a BANGING post-chorus that everybody can utterly lose their nuts to.

Tom: Phrasing.

Tim: I didn’t know I wanted a dance remix of this, but boy, am I now glad that I’ve discovered it.

Icona Pop – Girls Girls

“It’s upsettingly tedious.”

Tim: Icona Pop, purveyors of loud brash music, here with a new one. Last track wasn’t so great, but can’t they pull it back?

Tim: Ah. See, you might not have particularly liked their style, but at least you could never accuse them of being boring. This, though – well, it’s upsettingly tedious. The message is one that’s been done hundreds of times over, typically much better, and the music doesn’t have too much going for it either.

Tom: You’re not wrong. Whatever those instruments in the verse are — they sound half way between cowbells and steel drums — they’re almost discordant. And as for that chorus…

Tim: The vocals are as we’d expect, but what the hell is that oooh-ing all about? It’s not following a particularly massive build, but it still feels like a horrible let down, and it goes on for so, so long.

Tom: How is this song less than three minutes? It sounds so much longer. And then it just… ends.

Tim: This – this is just dull. UGH.

John de Sohn – Hum With Me

“Hum with me? What?”

Tom: I am very skeptical of that title. Hum with me? What?

Tim: I still think back occasionally to the first track of John’s we featured – might be something to do with the video, I think – and remember how several years later it’s still a very good track, and how he hasn’t actually put out a duff one yet. Try this, for example, with all of its tropical fruity goodness (I’m okay with it now, it’s the summer).

Tom: Well, that’s the first duff one. Isn’t it?

Tim: Still not a duff one, though I would say it’s not one of his best. It’s funny – the post-chorus dance bit should be the biggest part of the song, the one that really wants to make me jump up and start thrashing my limbs around, but there seems to be instead a sudden collapse in momentum.

Tom: Yep. I actually let out an ‘urrrrrgh’ sound out loud. that’s one of the most disappointing choruses I’ve heard. Ruins the whole song for me.

Tim: It goes from flowing notes gradually amping up to a staccato top line, with even the drumbeats taking a while to come back in. The rest of it is great, and it’d all be great if it just kept up the movement – but it doesn’t. It’s ridiculous.

Tom: Also — and I realise this is the point of the song — the humming gets really annoying.

Tim: I don’t know, I don’t find the humming so bad – certainly not bad enough to let the song be ruined – but I don’t think I’d quite classify it as duff.