One Direction – Fireproof

Tim: Not content with just putting out a new trailer for their second film and launching their new perfume —

Tom: I’m still proud of what I helped do to their first perfume commercial.

Tim: Ha, as well you should be — the boys decided yesterday to round off the beginning of September with plonking a new track online, in full Beyoncé style, with no warning whatsoever, for anyone and everyone to download.

Tim: And I think we can all be entirely relieved that they’ve basically forgotten about that whole ‘rock’ thing – seemingly, their musical journey has done the rebellious teenager bit and is now ready to go back to sensible stuff. Or perhaps they just noticed that Midnight Memories was considerably less successful than either of their previous two offerings – too cynical?

Tom: Perhaps they’ve just got the same Third Album Syndrome as Lady Gaga?

Tim: Could well be, yes. To be honest, I don’t know what I think about this – sure, it’s decent enough, and there are a number of good things to say about it, maybe, I think? I don’t know, really. It doesn’t seem like a lead single.

Tom: Well, I’m going to be a bit more forthright: if this wasn’t a One Direction track, it’d sink without a trace.

Tim: I don’t want to describe it as standard, even though it basically is, because I’ve listened to it nine times now and I’m showing no signs of getting bored of it, so it must be doing something right.

Tom: Really? I can’t see why. It’s nice enough, I suppose, but it’s so middle-of-the-road that it basically belongs on Radio 2’s playlist. And not even their A playlist, either. Maybe their C playlist at best.

Tim: I am at least now more interested than I previously was in their next album (imaginatively titled ‘Four’), so I suppose that’s good. OH, IT’S FINE – not amazing, but certainly not terrible, and definitely very listenable.

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B*Witched – The Stars Are Ours

Tim: Celebrity Big Brother’s on at the moment, and while I typically couldn’t give a toss about that, Edele from B*Witched is in there.

Tom: Crikey, that would have been a slightly dodgy booking back in 1998 when B*Witched were a big thing.

Tim: Yes, and yet she was still one of the more notable names. I believe the standard joke doing the rounds was “you know, they really should do a celebrity version of this show”.

Anyway, it reminded me that this got put up on YouTube a few months back. Originally due for release two weeks from now, turns out it was unceremoniously released about a month earlier. Anywhere, let’s hear it.

Tom: That’s… that’s Wake Me Up.

Tim: Pretty much, yes, albeit rearranged for strings, and then chopped up and interspersed with a fairly low-key typical B*Witched track, and…well, I don’t think it works, really.

Tom: No. Not at all.

Tim: In its individual components, it’d be an interesting but unremarkable remix and a rather dull comeback track. Together, it’s sounds just plain disjointed, really, and while I appreciate that actually most Avicii tracks work exactly the same way, there’s just something about that moment, coming out of the first chorus, where it slips from jump around, strobe lights and smoke machine on the dance floor to extremely gentle strumming without even a drumbeat to keep up the momentum.

Tom: For me, it’s just the constant awareness that it’s not Wake Me Up. The same rhythm, just slightly different notes.

Tim: Yes, although admittedly the singing bit isn’t too bad – there’s a decent middle eight, and the vocal chorus is quite good. Thing is, it could have been great if they’d (a) made it flow a bit better and (b) made something original for it to flow into. Shame.

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Saturday Flashback: MAGIC! – Rude (Zedd Remix)

Tim: Sort of a flashback, this: you may or may not remember the reggae-inspired original from last year, which as far as I’m concerned was a bit take-it-or-leave-it. This here is a little bit different.

Tom: Bloody hell, Zedd knows what he’s doing, doesn’t he?

Tim: He really does. It’s a lot bit different, in fact, because it’s been turned from something people would sing around a campfire once some bellend with a guitar has made his way through all the standard Oasis/Robbie Williams/Bryan Adams necesseties into a proper four to the floor banger, and it doesn’t sound completely and utterly wrong. It does, in fact, sound like it could have been written like this originally.

Tom: Agreed: I couldn’t remember the original, but this is much more likely to stick in my head.

Tim: Right, and if you’re going to judge a remix, I think that would be a decent criteria to start with, so this is basically top notch stuff, and a good example of why Zedd is gradually becoming one of the biggest DJs around. Top work.

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Ella Henderson – Glow

Tom: Our Brazilian reader, CB, sends in this one, and adds: “She set the bar high with her debut, but this is good as hell!”

Tim: Well let’s hear it then.

Tom: And I’ll warn you: through the intro and first verse, I was waiting for a Drop. Because it desperately needed one. It was a full-on build, percussion steadily rising, synths steadily increasing, voice building and building…

Tom: …and I find myself going “mm, not quite enough”.

Tim: Really? Because I’m not sure it could be much bigger – it’s got hefty drumbeats in there, guitars, a heavy vocal – what more do you want?

Tom: I mean, it’s not a bad chorus, it’s just a bit unsatisfying after a build-up like that. Her voice is strong, the production’s great — and I’m always a fan of whatever that pulsing synth is called, hidden in the mix at the back of the chorus — but there’s still something lacking, and I think it’s in the songwriting rather than anything else.

Tim: Oh, I see – hmm, maybe. Might just be that the chorus is slightly unusually structured – almost in three parts, with the leading “glow oh-oh-oh-etc” being mirrored at the end, which possibly gives a sense of anti-climax?

Tom: It just needs something slightly bigger and more bombastic. That last chorus should be astonishing, and it’s just okay.

Tim: Well, there I must absolutely disagree – I think it’s a fantastic final thirty seconds, with the extra vocal on top. I’d normally ask for more of it, but I think here the late middle-eight actually works very well. I have absolutely no problems with this song, and based on this and Ghost, very much looking forward to her album, out next month.

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Bros of Lash feat. Rabih Jaber – Chasing the Lions

Tom: “Bros of Lash”. Bloody hell. I hope that means something different in Swedish, because that sounds like the worst college night out in history.

Tim: Ha, just imagine the bants going on with those lads. But yes, it does – more on that later, along with Rabih Jaber: a Lebanese/Swedish singer. First, though, this track.

Tim: FIRE in the video, which I got so engrossed in watching that the first time I played it the song was pretty much over by the time it had started, which was a shame, because it’s both a brilliant song and a brilliant video, and I’d happily go for another round of the verse/chorus beat.

Tom: I discovered you can sing a lot of other songs over the top of that verse. “Timber”. That 5SOS song from yesterday. That chord progression makes the verse about as generic as it can be, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing when it’s produced this well.

Tim: The lyrics tell of a man who just wants to experience life, which is entirely right, and the music provides the backing for him to do exactly that, with as much fire and excitement as is appropriate; i.e. ALL OF IT. You may be wondering if there’s some sort of symbolism to be had in the burning Eye of Providence; I felt there might be, but was buggered if I could guess what it was, so I e-mailed to ask, and was told that it “doesn’t symbolise anything or does it? ;)” So that clears that up then.

Tom: Hard hitting RESEARCH there, Tim, well done.

Tim: Oh, thank you very much. Further research brought forth details of the name you were wondering about: I’m told that two of the three Swedes that comprise the act are brothers whose surname is Fransson, and Frans is Swedish for eyelash, hence, suggested by a friend, Bros of Lash.

Tom: Oh, that’s a relief. Still, there are some connotations there, for certain.

Tim: As for Rabih, he has quite the TV contest pedigree: finalist of The Voice: Ahla Sawt 2014 (i.e. Arab World), 7th placed in Swedish Idol 2009 and contestant of Sweden’s Let’s Dance 2010. Also, previously featured on these pages, as part of a double act.

Information dump over, THIS TRACK IS LOVELY.

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5 Seconds of Summer – Amnesia

Tim: It’s time for the necessary boyband (yeah, they’re not a boyband, whatever) ballad to proved they’re flexible and can do any sort of music.

Tom: They are totally a boy band, though.

Tim: There’s possibly an interesting discussion on what makes a boyband – their album, for example, contains tracks on a level with Blink-182’s style (who were also late teens when they started), yet you’d never describe them as like that. This track, though: totally boyband ballad.

So it’ll be crap, right?

Tim: Well, actually, not at all. It’s a bloody great track.

Tom: I wasn’t convinced until the chorus kicked in. I think it’s fairer to say that it’s a bloody great chorus — seriously, that’s a fantastic chorus — with a decent track around it.

Tim: The strings on the chorus stand out as being particularly glorious, as does Luke’s vocal – he’s clearly stretching the limits there in the chorus, but that simply comes across as very earnest, which is to be applauded, if only for the health risks.

Tom: It’ll be interesting to see whether that can be done live.

Tim: Two minor nitpicks: the video, while fun, doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the song, and the lyric “the way you tasted” is a little bit icky.

Tom: Fair point on the second, but if you’re talking about a video about a guy who’s lost someone: well, yeah, that seems about right to me.

Tim: Perhaps, and possibly it’s just because all four of them are involved, but there don’t seem to be nearly as many “look at me I’m all alone” shots as there should be.

Tom: And if you’re talking about lyrics: “the pictures that you sent me, they’re still living in my phone”. That is creepy on MANY levels.

Tim: Unless it’s just an iMessage thread that’s just a vast number of brilliant GIFs. Then it’s wonderful.

And finally, purely because they’re throwing them around in the car in the video: I bought some Froot Loops a while ago because I remember them being amazing. They weren’t. I was upset.

Tom: That’s it. From now on, we’re a cereal review blog.

Tim: Coming up tomorrow: Lucky Charms, and how I didn’t get anywhere near as lucky as I’d been promised.

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The Script – Superheroes

Tim: I can never remember if The Script are one of those bands that people are supposed to find annoying; they come along with this, though, and I’m reminded full well that I don’t give a toss about what I’m supposed to do.

Tom: I think that mainly came from Danny Whatshisface appearing on The Voice: he’s good, but he was very clearly The Backup, and the comparison of him next to Proper Big Names was a bit strange. He’s perfect in the role of “lead singer of middle-of-the-road pop band”, though.

Tim: The verse is dull, sure, but man, the rest of it? Massive intro, strong middle eight, and biggest of all, the chorus. Because what a chorus. It’s big, it’s powerful, it’s…well, I don’t really want to say inspirational, but it’s sure as hell one that makes you want to get up and do stuff.

Tom: I have an issue with the video: this ain’t a Comic Relief or similar single, so filming an expensive pop video among poverty seems like a fairly uncomfortable thing to do.

Tim: Yes, especially when you consider that there’s a whole lot more than just a lack of confidence holding those people back. HOWEVER, back to the music, and while I say that about the inspirationalness, I did for a while wonder what the hell was going on with the big music and the “cause only superhumans can fly” negative vibe, until I looked it up and realised it was “that’s how a superhero learns to fly”, which I’m fairly sure is a good few syllables too many, but never mind.

Tom: Hey, at least it’s not REM. “Call me when you try to wake her up“, indeed.

Tim: Well, indeed. The cynic in me want to point out that “every day, every hour, turn the pain into power” is a seriously wanky motto*, but the rest of me knows that when it’s paired with this music, I really don’t care. (I’d like it to be noted, by the way, that while that same cynic wants to write “mate, with the pain that comes of listening to this, I’d be able to beat up Superman after an hour on repeat” just to be a dick, I’ve stopped him. I can control him.)

Summing up: there are way too many good parts – great parts, in fact – that however annoying I’m meant to find Danny, I’ll be playing this a lot. And not caring at all.

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Alesso feat. Tove Lo – Heroes

Tim: New track here off Swedish dance producer Alesso; play it please.

Tom: Well, that’s a near-perfect dance track.

Tim: It is, though I’ve one caveat: I’m sure it’s entirely coincidental, but that backing line is very, very similar to Music to Make The Boys Cry.

Tom: And “we could be heroes” is sort of David Bowie’s shtick.

Tim: And while that’s a great track, this similarity is a tad annoying, because I don’t really want to think about crying when I’m dancing. On the other hand, it really wouldn’t stop me dancing much, and everything else about this track is great, so actually I’m not all that bothered.

Tom: Maybe it’s just my headphones or the YouTube compression, but I could use a bit more bass: there’s a whole load of low frequencies that seem to be mostly ignored. But when the rest of it sounds this good, I can’t complain.

Tim: GOOD TRACK.

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Saturday Flashback: Pitbull feat. Ke$ha – Timber

Tim: Tom’s busy this week, so there’s no-one to stop me bring you this. It’s a terrible, terrible song, so why am I featuring it, you ask? Well, have a listen.

Tim: Basically, because I’ve had that one 3½-second chorus line going round, round, round and round in my head for the best part of the last two weeks, and I’ve decided that enough is enough. If I can’t be happy, I want EVERYBODY to share in my misery. YOU’RE WELCOME.

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Rainmode – 7D

Tim: Here is a synthpop track for you that’s very very lovely indeed, and with a nice swirly picture on the SoundCloud embed as well.

Tom: Oh! That surprised me — when you send synthpop over I assume it’s going to be all slow and dreamy. This isn’t. This is… this is brilliant. You’re right, that’s lovely.

Tim: So lovely in fact, that I’ve had it to repeat for a good half hour now, and I’m showing no signs at all of getting bored of it. Mostly because it reminds me of a certain wonderful band, whose Twitter account has sadly been inactive for over a year now, right down to the aforementioned artwork.

Tom: But this isn’t ethereal like the Sound of Arrows: this is proper, four-on-the-floor synthpop.

Tim: It’s great, although I’m having trouble writing about because for no readily apparent reason I have Israel’s entry for this year’s Eurovision stuck in my head.

Tom: Even after half an hour of this? That’s quite the earworm.

Tim: It was, yes. But anyway, nice ethereal vocals–

Tom: Which is where I interrupt and say that the vocals do annoy me a little: the simple rhyming couplet scheme sounds almost infantile, and I find myself wanting either the rhythm and rhyme to be mixed up a bit, or else just to have an instrumental version.

Tim: Oh. There’s still very much the good melody that really comes into its own–

Tom: Although that “we were young” does remind me of a much less appropriate song.

Tim: Hmmmmmmm…then there’s that repeated chord progression throughout what would be the middle eight if there was a final chorus–

Tom: Mind you, that final drum beat pattern is just the opening of New Order’s Blue Monday.

Tim: –and man, I really love that picture.

Tom: Yep, despite my many minor qualms there, I had no problem just putting the track on repeat. It reminds me a little of one of my favourite bands, VNV Nation. Rainmode aren’t quite on their level yet, but then they haven’t been going nearly as well.

Tim: ALL BRILLIANT.

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    Tim Jeffries was born in the UK a good few years ago now, and regularly dreams of a Busted reunion.

    Along with good music, things he appreciates include the use of correct grammar, well-made banana daiquiris and shampoo for men that smells nice (which he still hasn't found). His favourite colour is what Dulux call 25YY 49/757, and his favourite member of the Felidae family is the snow leopard.

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    Tom Scott is a techie with extremely questionable taste in music. In his spare time, he has too many plans and a worrying tendency to make them happen.

    His greatest achievement was getting five gold runs on Blockbusters, which he still harps on about to this day.

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