Tim: We featured their last tune about a month back and both enjoyed it; they’ve now pointed us in the direction of this, their new one.
Tom: Well, that’s a pretty dull first v– oh.
Tim: Yes indeed, and I will absolutely take that. Verses don’t do anything for me, same as you, but I’m guessing they’re not meant to – all about that chorus, and what an instrumental it is in the second part of it.
Tom: You can’t hang an entire song on just a chorus — well, okay, you can, but it has to be absolutely spectacular. Don’t get me wrong, though, this is a good chorus.
Tim: Proper banging, proper dancey, and there’s not a lot more to say about it. Two good tracks in two months, and that’s a good rate as far as I’m concerned. Though still, wouldn’t mind a bit more in those verses.
Tim: A new artist from Sweden, and within a couple of seconds of pressing play I was already thinking, “ooh, this’ll do me nicely”. Have a lyric video, which as we shall discover is possibly a misguided choice.
Tim: You see the thing with lyric videos is that, by their very nature, they draw your attention to the lyrics. And when your entire song consists of a metaphor that starts out fairly well but eventually ends up comparing ex-boyfriends to mixtapes, that might not be an ideal outcome.
Having said that, though, that’s all I really have to complain about with this song.
Tom: I really like the verses; I really like the builds that they’ve got going on. But the choruses really aren’t my sort of thing — and I’m surprised they’re yours.
Tim: Really? Because my initial reaction of ‘this’ll do me nicely’ was entirely borne out musically, as he’s got a decent voice and the sound’s exactly my type of thing, so overall I’ll give this a thumbs up.
Tom: Good heavens, how times have changed. I remember you complaining so much about this type of sound — both the dubstep influences, and the overcompressed synths. I agree there’s nothing wrong with them; I would have just preferred something a bit more traditional in the choruses given everything that led into them.
Tim: Hmm. You saying that prompted me to listen again to the choruses to see what I’d missed – and yes, I guess there are influences there, but so very minor that they work very well with the rest.
It’s just – well, could they not at least have updated ‘mixtape’ to ‘playlist’?
Tim: Another one from Norway, another one that got knocked out in the first round, but for entirely different reasons. RAVE ON!
Tom: I’ll admit to being surprised by that sudden RAVE. And by the bold hair choice from the middle singer, there. Who are they all?
Tim: From what I can find out (or rather, from the total lack of anything about them to be found), it seems as though In Fusion are a group made specifically for this, which would go some way to explain the slightly iffy vocals here and there, which is both a shame and a relief, really.
Tom: To be fair, the harmonies aren’t all that bad. Why do you say it’s a shame?
Tim: Because it’s a good song, and deserves better than being mauled on stage by a group whose personal looks are entirely at odds with everything else that’s going on – would it kill you to smile as you sing one of the most upbeat songs to grace the stage that evening?
Tom: That’s what seemed wrong! Part of that’s because there’s only so much you can do while holding a smoke flare in one hand and a microphone in the other, but yes. Why a relief?
Tom: That’s fair. As someone who generally likes EDM, I think that’s the real shame here. Well, that and the complete missed opportunity for a key change. I’d be happy with more songs like this in Eurovision.
Tim: I’ll take the studio version, though – many, many times over, because that’s just lovely. Though you’re right – that would have made a golden key change.
“This can be summed up quickly: it’s a bit of a mess.”
Tim: GIG DROP: I saw Galantis on Saturday night, and as I write this on Sunday afternoon I am still on something of a high from it as it was the best gig I’ve been to in a long long time. Here is their current track.
Tim: This can be summed up quickly: it’s a bit of a mess.
Tom: Yep. By one minute in, it’s pretty much shot its bolt; it’s just doomed to repeat those sections twice, and squeeze a middle eight in there somewhere.
Tim: It doesn’t really ever settle down into one particular groove, but instead flits from style to style – the vocal is regular in some parts, distorted upwards for others and way down low for others. Musically it can just about squeeze into the broad tropical spectrum, but it’s pushing at the edges each and every way trying to get out and jumping around in between. Video reinforces this, veering between typical lyric video, standard filmed stuff, cartoons, pictures flashing around. Utter mess.
Tom: Full marks to the designer for putting all that together, though; that’s a lot of effort and time for a lyric video.
Tim: And yet despite all that: it works. For all the messiness, it’s got a good tune, a decent chorus, and is still pretty catchy. So many reasons that this shouldn’t work, and yet it does. It’s good.
“That’s what you’ve got to show, after three years of working a song to perfection?”
Tim: Says the PR guff for this, the Swedish duo’s first track since 2014: “We’ve made a lot of music since ‘A Better Tomorrow’ in 2014. Or a lot of different versions of a few songs to be exact. That’s how we usually work,” and they go on to talk about a “slow but top-quality release timeline dotted but a new track every couple years.” So, guess we should be prepared to be blown away in astonishment by this. Strap in.
It’s…okay? Thing is, I’ve never been one for writing music, and I don’t know exactly what style they’re going for, so I don’t want to be too harsh criticising them here, but…really? That’s what you’ve got to show, after three years of working a song to perfection?
Tom: To be fair, I know people who spent years on a dissertation, only for a big chunk of the work to be done in the last few days before the deadline.
Tom: Maybe that’s what happened, and they just had to use whatever they came up with?
Tim: A fairly drab beat, minimal variety in the lyrics, and a melody that I’ve trouble remembering even though I’m still listening to the song? I know I said I don’t want to be harsh, but I’m really not sure there’s much to be nice about. Maybe in 2020, though.
Tom: Bloody hell, Tim, I’m jetlagged and I’m tired, and I…
Tim: Nice, right? Samlight’s a Finnish guy, Neea is harder to track down – I’m assuming she isn’t, as a standard web search would have me believe, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance based in Portland, as she’s got much better vocals than they’d probably have.
Tom: That’s the sort of quality music writing that our reader keeps coming back for.
Tim: I like this a fair bit – it’s really quite jump aroundy, the music going around and about and inviting the listener to do so as well.
Tom: That chorus melody line is really very nice, and while I’m fairly sure that’s a synth patch I’ve heard somewhere before, it’s still a really good one. It’s got your Standard Euphoric Build in it, too, but the little touches here are what makes it: the resampled vocals, the little right-channel keyboard twitches.
Tim: In a DJ set I reckon it’d do very well as a “keep people going on the dancefloor” track, and frequently, that’s enough, so good work.
Tim: In case you’ve been missing Avicii, Britain’s Sondr have teamed up with Sweden’s Peg to bring us something approximating that.
Tom: Sondr and Peg sound like a Nordic comedy duo.
Tom: Blimey, never mind, Sondr and Peg sound like Avicii. Or at least, everyone else that did Avicii-esque tracks a couple of years ago.
Tim: Verses with a gentle instrumental, yes. Chorus vocals over a building backing, yes. A post-chorus that then proceeds to GO OFF, oh, very much so. Deviation from the formula slightly in the first chorus, but otherwise it’s all there, and all behaving very, very nicely.
Tom: And there’s even the beautifully-directed road-trip video, too.
Tim: Ooh, I hadn’t even thought of that, but yes. And not only all those tropes, but we’ve also got the lyric “roll with the punches and twist with the turns, you live, you love, you learn”, which could be my favourite line yet this year. I will very much take this, that you very much, and stick it right on my GOING OUT playlist.
Tom: Just don’t jump into a freezing-cold lake. I don’t recommend it clothed, I can only imagine that naked would be worse.
Tim: Ah, but how will you learn if you’ve never lived?
Tim: This was sent in by our reader, Emma, who simply writes “I LOVE IT!” Hats are an Israeli production duo who’ve been going a few years, and this is their latest.
Tim: So the first time I heard it I fund it difficult to pay much attention to the song because I was trying to work out just what the hell is going on in that video, but apparently it’s won loads of awards and stuff, so that’s something.
Tom: I’m going to file that video under “extended metaphor”. Not sure it’s suitable for this, though.
Tim: Listening to it again without the video they’ve chosen to accompany it, though, and it’s a pretty good dance track.
Tom: It is, although a lot of the sounds in here sound like they’re from about ten years ago — which is perhaps why I like it as well. All the this-year trends of single-instrument synth pads and messed-about lyric samples are absent. This could fit on a compilation CD from the 2000s. Which is fine by me, but I’ve no idea how well the rest of the world will look at it.
Tim: They’ve certainly got the big post-chorus nailed, with a great melody and mix of instruments – that last minute is just fantastic. I wouldn’t go as a far as “I LOVE IT!”, but I’d certainly play it again, quite a good few times.
Tim: Certainly a strong attempt a pun from this new Norwegian act; it just about works…
Tim: Off Super Duper, surely, otherwise it means nothing, surely? But even if the pun doesn’t work, does the music?
Tom: Well, that takes a turn for the strange at the pre-chorus, doesn’t it? Sounds almost like a video game, gets really excited, and then drops down again. I think you’re right when you say it “just about works”.
Tim: Sort of, but I’d rather it had a bit more melody in places. In particular, coming out of the middle eight feels like it’s really missing a trick, as there could be something memorable with a decent tune there, rather than a few sentences said at us fairly quickly.
Tom: I think it’ll take a few listens — or, rather, a few tracks like this — before I can actually get the hang of this. Right now, it sounds like a rather more experimental genre than it should.
Tim: To me it feels like a natural progression of the Alan Walker sound – the same squeaks and squeals, but faster and a bit heavier, and that I quite like. Seven a half out of ten, then, or possibly an eight if I’m feeling generous.