MD Electro feat. Maria Marcus – Postcard

“What’s with the timing?”

Tim: I’ve long since given up trying to work out why beach dance music still gets put out well after summer’s over, but I do still find it weird. Here’s one example.

Tom: This is good! I wasn’t expecting this to be good.

Tim: I mean, in MD Electro (off Germany)’s defence, it’s a perfectly decent beach dance number – say, second or third release from an ATB album quality – with a good melody, decent production, vocals that hold up nicely, but damn, what’s with the timing?

Tom: Or that “postcard” echo in the instrumental chorus. Or that “you got me like oo-ooh” lyric. But you’re right: this is a good summer dance track, but it’s mid-September. Were they just procrastinating?

CHVRCHES – Call It Off

“There are some absolutely beautiful parts in here.”

Tim: This got sent in anonymously, and might need a bit of back story: ten years ago, Tegan & Sara released The Con, their first album to go big, and now want to celebrate that. As such, they’re putting it out again, but this time with other artists recording the tracks. Lengthy blog post here, example here:

Tim: It’s very, very different from the original, which was less than half the length and a completely different genre. This is…I want to say interesting, but I’m also aware that there’s an argument to be made for dull as well.

Tom: The two aren’t mutually exclusive. There are some absolutely beautiful parts in here: that steady build out of the middle eight into the final section is genuinely uplifting. It’s somewhat out of our remit, really; there’s an argument that this isn’t pop music at all.

Tim: It sounds like it would go on a typical CHVRCHES album, not as a song that would ever be released as a single, but as a nice closing track to round the album off with. For that, I quite like it (not least because it is the closing track on the album). Really don’t get the abrupt ending, though.

Anna of the North – Someone

Tim: Anna’s off Norway and has just released her debut album; here’s the lead single for you, which comes with an incredibly familiar intro.

Tom: That sounds like a lot of synthpop — both in terms of style and in terms of the exact synth patches used. But if you’re going to be inspired by any genre, this is a pretty good choice.

Tim: And right now I can’t place it exactly, but damn, if it isn’t just so recognisable. Regardless of that, though, and the fact that it’s a (deliberate or otherwise) second hand hook that permeates the vast majority of the song, I like the whole entity a lot – nice vocals, almost soothing and relaxing, really, and I’ll take that. A decent debut.

Tom: I’m not sure what’s going on with that… key change?… into the middle eight, but sure. It’s a good start.

Hurts – Ready To Go

“One of the best bands of the decade”

Tim: In which we are reminded that Hurts are one of the best bands of the decade, and also that extended music videos are rubbish, as you’ll miss precisely nothing if you skip straight to 0:35.

Tim: See, when they started way back when, they had their own sound, a sort of melancholy electro-rockish vibe, and since then they’ve maintained pretty much the exact same level of standing ever so slightly out of phase with whatever’s in vogue at the time (though I’m ignoring the abomination that was their second album).

Tom: I do miss that melancholy electro-rock, if I’m honest, but bands who don’t change end up… well, they either end up dying out, or they end up being KISS.

Tim: Here, you’ve your distorted vocal samples, your steady and repetitive chorus loop and the vague post-tropical vibe. And yet even with all those, it’s still distinctly them. And it’s good. Yes, the repetitive chorus loop is perhaps a bit too repetitive, and maybe I’d prefer a slightly more structured ending…

Tom: Both of which I was going to mention.

Tim: …but otherwise, it’s a positive sign for their next album.

Scooter & Jabroer – My Gabber

Tim: The other week Scooter released their nineteenth (NINETEENTH) studio album; here’s one of the first tracks from it, which comes with a couple of rude words (and Jebroer’s a Dutch producer, by the way).

Tom: Please tell me Scooter have actually gone gabber. Please.

Tom: Oh wow they actually have for the… chorus? One of the choruses? One of the… look, I don’t know what this is, I just know I haven’t heard distorted bass like that in a long while and it’s amazing.

Tim: Yeahhhh…thing is, it’s hard to judge Scooter’s songs by any normal standard, really, because most of them aren’t really comparable in any way at all – not because of quality, more just in the way they exist.

Tom: In the words of HP Baxxter: YES.

Tim: But we can compare them against each other – God knows there are enough. The best ones typically have a decent hook (either original, or standard covers, or theme tunes from a 1960s series of murder mystery films), maybe a guest vocal and plenty of shouting. Here, I think we’ve got all three, and while it loses its way for twenty seconds towards the end, it picks it up again, and finishes nicely. I’m in.

Tom: Let’s be honest: the hook’s really not all that great — and given that it’s an English translation of the original, it also feels a bit low-effort for a first album track. Have Scooter actually supplied anything other than some shouting here? I’m not sure.

Tim: Huh – see, I though it might be a cover but couldn’t see an original. You’re right, there – although the first track off the album was actually Bora! Bora! Bora!, which didn’t seem to be much more than trying for an updated version of the Maria (I Like It Loud) chant.

Tom: And to be fair, there’s a reason that the world never saw many gabber tracks in the Top 40. But I can’t fault them for still going, still trying, and still SHOUTING LOUDLY.

Tim: BELIEVE ME, I LIKE IT LOUD.

Kelly Clarkson – Love So Soft

“The intro! The brass section! The whistle register!”

Tom: I like everything about this…

Tom: …apart from the chorus.

Tim: Yes – I certainly see where you’re coming from. Personally, not much of this does anything for me, and the chorus is a particular nadir.

Tom: Really? But there are so many other good things about this! The intro! The brass section! The whistle register! The steady build in the verse towards… well, towards a really disappointing chorus.

Tim: It is, and I certainly won’t deny that there aren’t enjoyable bits – the closing section is good when everything but the kitchen’s musical sink is in there, but otherwise it leaves me a bit cold.

Tom: It’s a real shame, because the last minute or so shows exactly what this could have been — but instead it goes all stripped-down, for no valid reason that I can see. It doesn’t fit her style, it doesn’t fit the song, it doesn’t fit… anything, really.

Saturday Flashback: Vanessa Mai – Ich Sterb Für Dich

“Do you recognise this?”

Tim: Question, please: do you recognise this?

Tim: Because to the best of my knowledge, I have never heard it before. It’s from 2016, but we didn’t feature it, it wasn’t a potential Eurovision competitor, and a Google search brings up next to nothing about the artist. She’s not on any Wikipedia except for the German one, and she’s only had a couple of tracks out, yet when Apple Music put it on a ‘tracks you’ll probably like’ I pretty much was immediately familiar with it.

Tom: That’s because you’ve heard every component of it before. No, I don’t recognise the song, but I recognise many parts From the Seven Nation Army-esque intro, to the Modern Talking-esque chorus, to the melody line that’s close to Robin Gibb’s Juliet, to… well, everything, basically.

Tim: Yes, that’s true – there’s also the pre-chorus from I Think We’re Alone Now. Though it’s interesting you mention Modern Talking – it was co-written and produced by Dieter Bohlen, half of that duo (whose name I found rather confusing last night when Google Translate told me this song had been “produced by planks”. Anyway, whether or not I have heard it before doesn’t change one thing: I do like it. I like it a lot. It’s a German language cover of the 1997 track “And Then I Die” by the also German band Touché, and is substantially more schlager-y, particularly when you add the dance routine and wind machine in the video. I LOVE it. Dancey, fun, exciting, it’s GLORIOUS.

Galantis & ROZES – Girls on Boys

“Everything’s great about this apart from the chorus.”

Tom: “We been waiting to throw you this curve ball!”, write Galantis excitedly. “It’s a style of song-writing that’s been a part of Galantis from the start but we never really had the chance to show you.”

Tim: It normally gets me nervous when bands I like say that; on the other hand, they’ve not exactly been knocking it out of the park recently, so I’m open minded.

Tom: (A warning for flashing images in the video.)

Tom: Here’s a reversal of the usual status quo around here: I think everything’s great about this apart from the chorus.

Tim: While I think it’s time to realise that Galantis are not the dance music saviours I previously believed them to be 🙁

Tom: The intro, the verses, the build, the vocals, everything about this has so much promise — but then it leads into a bassless, repetitive instrumental chorus hook, complete with that irritating precussion that sounds like someone’s failing to light a gas hob.

Tim: Haha, yes, I hear the one you mean. I’m the same – sounds great, right up through the opening, verse, pre-chorus, but then it’s not really good at all.

Tom: I get that instrumental choruses are a thing these days, but this just doesn’t work for me.

Tim: I can’t help wondering what’s so ‘curve ball’ about it – it doesn’t sound particularly different from their other recent disappointments. OH GALANTIS, WHY MUST YOU ABANDON ME SO?

Ambivalensen – Allt För Mig

“Alas, poor Tom”

Tim: Two Swedes here, Joel and Sandra, presenting a nice chanty chorus surrounding one of Shakespeare’s better known tales.

Tom: Hamlet? Tell me it’s Hamlet.

Tim: Alas, poor Tom, it is not.

Tim: But what a lovely track that is anyway, with a mix of jaunty whistling, gentle electronic beats, bouncy piano and hefty chanting all somehow working well together – doesn’t sound like a recipe that’d work, but for me it really does.

Tom: As ever, I’m more cynical. It is a song where the middle eight is better than the rest of the track — and where the chorus just grates. If your chorus is just a few words endlessly repeating, you’d better have an absolutely incredible melody to go with them — not just five shouted notes. I’m not into this.

Tim: Oh, shame. Perhaps we’re at an Icona Pop-style impasse, here, as I thoroughly enjoy the shoutedness. And as for the lyrics, well, I can’t find them online so I’ve no idea what the actual message of it is, but it doesn’t sound like it’s about suicidally tragic romances so that’s nice. All in all: a good fun track (hopefully).

Martin Garrix – Pizza

“It starts with a brilliant string section.”

Tim: “Pizza”?

Tom: We have a contender for “worst track name of the year”. Good news though: it starts with a brilliant string section.

Tim: Like nicely cooked mozzarella.

Tom: Bloody hell, that’s a good dance track.

Tim: Hell yeah – even better than the Mighty Meaty I got from Domino’s at the weekend.

Tom: Unless Tim’s done a deal behind my back, reader, that was not sponsored content. Anyway, there are plenty of qualms to be had with this track: it doesn’t go anywhere after that first build, just repeats the whole thing over again with a bit of chiptune instead of strings. And the video is just a compilation of tour footage that makes him look a bit of a bellend.

Tim: I can’t really argue with either of those things, though I’m not so bothered about the chip tune bit. Thing is, he can’t drop back to the strings mid-track, as that would kill the vibe completely. It needs stuff around and on top of it to work as a full-on dance track. Axwell did a great job with Heart Is King, Tiësto’s made whole albums of orchestral dance – and now Martin’s joined the party.

Tom: But I’d defy anyone on a dance floor, or at a festival, or basically anywhere, not to start moving when the main bit of this kicks in. Even the cinematic strings seem to work, rather than being A Bit Too Much. Every bit of this is great.

Tim: Except the name. That’s just a nonsense.