Anna Bergendahl – Home

“Oh, you’ll see.”

Tim: Starts quiet, but builds. And then builds some more, and keeps building, and…oh, you’ll see.

Tim: Do you see?

Tom: At least partly, after I stopped trying to work out why she didn’t seem to have a left arm in that cover art.

Tim: Do you now, I’d not noticed that – it is a bit odd looking, isn’t it? I’ll confess I wasn’t entirely sold on this throughout the first verse – decent enough, but possibly closer to album track status. The pre-chorus got me interested, though, and then the chorus came in properly with the amazing orchestral backing.

Tom: It’s good! I’m still not sure it’s more than an album track, but I suspect that it’s a grower: after enough radio play it’d be stuck in my head.

Tim: Good. Because after all that, it’s standard good pop song progression, really, because this is very much a good pop song. Very good indeed.

Alle Farben & James Blunt – Walk Away (Martin Jensen Remix)

“It’s the remixed bit that makes it.”

Tim: Alle Farben, the stage name of a German producer called Frans. James Blunt, yes, that one.

Tom: See, overplayed cliché songs aside, James Blunt is a really good songwriter. This has quite a lot of potential.

Tim: Together, they made a song that’s a fairly decent dancey number, but it’s not particularly hefty, and it’s missing a little something. Martin has come along and provided that.

Tim: BANGER.

Tom: The start of this absolutely passed me by — to the point that I switched off completely and started absent-mindedly working on something else. And then that build started, and I realised that you’re right: this is a good combination.

Tim: Exactly: it’s the remixed bit that makes it. We’ve still got the emotion that James provides in his voice, and fairly regular undertones in the verses, but underneath the chorus and following we’ve now got a fabulous dance breakdown that sounds just brilliant. Yes, it vanishes disappointingly after just two goes, but it’s a decent length to start with, so I’ll forgive that this time.

Tom: The verse does suffer from the melody being mostly one note — the same note that’s being played in the background. It’s a style, I guess, although I can’t say it’s one I enjoy.

Tim: To be honest, much as his vocals work slightly okay here, I’m not sure the world needed a new James Blunt track. It did, though, need this track, and if James’s presence is the price we need to pay for that, then that’s fine by me.

Hogland feat. KIDDO – Letting Go

“Sod it, we’ve got no idea what to do, let’s just DANCE and GET SMASHED and DEAL WITH IT TOMORROW. DANCE DANCE DANCE.”

Tim: Hogland is, according to the first link that comes up with a search, “a Swedish music producer and DJ whose melodic songs have captured the ears of several million listeners”. Isn’t that nice?

Tom: Unless you’re one of the millions who want their ears back, sure.

Tim: Yep, fair. I must confess I’m not of of those several million listeners, as I’d never heard of him until this came up on a playlist last night, but see what you think.

Tim: For me, you see, my ear is well and truly captured, because that’s flipping brilliant.

Tom: You’re not wrong.

Tim: Right from that start, that guitar line promises a lot, but even with the piano tinkling, the occasional booming drums and the silence that comes along in the build up, you never really get an idea of the enormity of what’s to come until it hits, and you’re left being whacked round the head with a fantastic breakdown, the likes of which you’ve not heard in a long, long time. It’s just brilliant.

Tom: It seems to takes a very, very long time to get there: objectively, it doesn’t, but I expected the drop to hit much earlier. That’s not really a complaint: it’s decent, and the anticipation’s mostly worth it.

Tim: I’ve not been so excited on hearing an artist for the first time since Alan Walker did Faded, and I am hugely looking forward to checking out the rest of his work. I don’t even mind that the lyrics offer no resolution at all – just a “we can try, but, you know…” – because that’s followed immediately by that enormous dance breakdown.

Tom: Hmm. I’m not quite as convinced as you. There’s some really good stuff in here — but when it gets to the actual breakdown and instrumental chorus, it feels a bit generic and a-few-years-ago to me. There is, I’ll grant you, a huge amount of potential in here: if they can make a song that builds this well and also that sticks the landing, I think it’ll be spectacular. Until then, well, yes, I can see why you’re excited.

Tim: Right? So as the lyrics effectively end up being: sod it, we’ve got no idea what to do, let’s just DANCE and GET SMASHED and DEAL WITH IT TOMORROW. DANCE DANCE DANCE.

Galantis & Yellow Claw – We Can Get High

“True to form, that is entirely not garbage.”

Tim: Just a few days on from their last one, here’s a new collaboration, hurrah!

Tom: They’ve found themselves a pretty good niche: find a good collaborator, work with them on a track, make a good dance tune. I don’t think there are many artists who work like that — DJ Khalid aside. But there’s a chance that this could be by-the-numbers: they’re not all hits, particularly when there’s such a short release schedule between them.

Tim: A fair possibility, but we’ve not had anything that’s complete garbage for quite a long time. Let’s try this one.

Tim: And, true to form, that is entirely not garbage.

Tom: Like the Kygo track yesterday, I wasn’t convinced about this until that build to the chorus.

Tim: Admittedly, the vocal styling might not be fully appreciated by some, as in the wrong place I wouldn’t like them. On the other hand, this is very much the right place for them – stuck just in front of a properly banging post-chorus with a great melody.

Tom: I was surprised by that post-chorus itself, though: on first listen, I thought it seemed a bit spartan and harsh. But by the end of the track: yes, I think this works. I suspect you’ll have the same problem as me, though: no middle eight.

Tim: Well, yes: obviously my usual moan about a lack of middle eight applies here, but I’m increasingly convinced that may be a lost cause, so I’ll just appreciate what I’ve got, simply because it’s very good. Very good indeed.

Kygo, Chelsea Cutler – Not OK

“Standard Kygo. Perhaps, even, above average Kygo.”

Tim: Advance warning for you, Tom: I’m in beautiful sunny Majorca right now, so there’s a strong chance (alright, a certainty) that most of the music this week will be summery dance tunes.

Tom: There’s a chance of rain here, Tim. Every day this week.

Tim: Well, with this you can pretend otherwise.

Tim: Standard Kygo. Perhaps, even, above average Kygo. A good vocal feature, a good chorus, a good theme running through it, and most importantly of all a good breakdown after it.

Tom: I wasn’t convinced until that build towards the chorus — and then, yes, I think “standard Kygo” fits it well. It’s a pretty good standard, though, isn’t it?

Tim: It really is. And who cares if you’re not okay, as long as you can dance all over the place? I had, for some reason, got it into my head that Kygo was in a bit of a funk right now, releasing disappointing tunes. But no – as this shows, that’s not even slightly the case.

Little Mix – Bounce Back

“You’ll be surprised by the sample.”

Tom: This hit the internet on Friday, and I guarantee that — if you haven’t heard it by now — you’ll be surprised by the sample.

Tim: Yep, that did indeed take me by surprise. DOesn’t sound entirely out of p[lace, mind, once I’m expecting it.

Tom: Unfortunately, that sample’s the only good bit of it, as far as I can tell.

Tim: Also true.

Tom: The lyrics sit in a weird uncanny valley between rap and actual singing. The producer’s choice to near-constantly move every sample around in the stereo space is just irritating. This was the lead single off the album? Granted, Tim, we’re not the target audience for this. Presumably the kids will love it.

Tim: Maybe? I don’t know.

Saturday Flashback: DJ Vibes – Hey Jude

“Not because it’s good. Just because it’s memorable.“

Tom: I know that we’re ostensibly doing music reviews here, as opposed to just keeping in touch by sending music to each other. But sometimes I don’t want to do that: I just want to say “Tim, listen to this.”

Tim: Fine by me. What have you got?

Tom: Please enjoy this ridiculous, terrible, awful, happy hardcore track, off the Ravers Choice label. Not because it’s good. Just because it’s memorable.

Tim: That…that is certainly a track that exists, and turns one of the most terrible songs ever into something, well, differently terrible. Thank you Tom.

Ea Kaya – Cruel To Be Kind

“He’s really not all that.”

Tim: More music for you today of a mid-2010s female power pop variety, with this Swedish lady telling a guy that actually, he’s really not all that.

Tom: I wonder if the director thinks they’re saying something with all the mishmash of video filters from different eras, or if they just think it looks pretty? (It is, to be fair, a brilliantly shot and graded video.) Anyway, yes: female power pop.

Tim: And it’s similar in a lot of ways to yesterday’s track; the main way is that it’s really really good. Similarly 1989 style, similarly high quality, similarly aggressive vibe to it, and just a similarly great listen.

Tom: I could hum the chorus after one listen, and it wasn’t grating on me. It is rather like the video: it’s all very pretty, I’m just not sure there’s anything more there. Not that there has to be — it just feels like the sort of song where, somehow, there should be something more.

Tim: Again, there are a few familiar bits here and there, but again, they’re all put together so well that it’s just a sign of great composition more than anything else. It’s a great track.

Peg Parnevik – 27 Sorries

“A great big Screw You to every dickhead who’s ever cheated on you but now wants forgiveness.”

Tim: “27 Sorries is one of my favorite songs I have ever written. I put it on and feel angry, strong, passionate,” says Peg, and continues, “it has been a song that I can scream and cry to and I hope others feel the same.” Sound good?

Tim: Yep, it’s a great big Screw You to every dickhead who’s ever cheated on you but now wants forgiveness, stated about as bluntly as possible, and I think it’s wonderful. Strong, ruthless, powerful, some proper Fight Song and We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together vibes.

Tom: The start of the chorus is so good that it does rather cast a shadow over the rest of the song, but heck: the whole thing’s only two and a half minutes, that’s fine by me.

Tim: It’s musical as well as thematic, though, because there are a lot of bits here that sound familiar.

Tom: Yes: I can’t actually place any of those parts that seem familiar, though, which means that the composers and producers have done their job well.

Tim: Indeed – it’s not a criticism at all, because a lot of female power-pop takes this sound, and it reliably saves up the goods. Very, very good goods, in this case.

Sigrid Bernson – Skulle Dö För Dig

“Dö För Dig” sounds very much like someone pretending to be Swedish and pronouncing “DVD”.

Tim: Sigrid, according to the title of this, Would Die For You, and isn’t that just lovely?

Tim: And that there is a song I almost entirely enjoy. It’s peculiar – it’s not the whole twangy guitar bits I don’t like, because they’re not so bad once I’m hearing them. It’s the sudden cuts to them that annoy me, because they’re taking us out of what’s a really good song and into something that’s not quite as good.

Tom: I agree that they sound a bit out-of-place — but I do rather like them.

Tim: It’s kind of made up for each time, though, because when everything else is brought back in, everything’s happy and lovely again – the production’s fabulous, that ‘dö för dig’ repeating bit is lovely…

Tom: It is, until I realised that “Dö För Dig” sounds very much like someone pretending to be Swedish and pronouncing “DVD”. Sorry.

Tim: I’ll ignore that and conclude my final favourite bit: the background chanting, which is just wonderful. I just, still get that small sense of resentment, every time it goes.