Saturday Flashback: Watermät – Bullit

Tom: I wouldn’t normally send over a deep house song, Tim, but I heard this track from 2014 for the first time, and it stood out to me.

Tim: Any particular reason?

Tom: Because every single individual part of it is irritating, and yet somehow, I like it.

Tom: Who seriously picks synth patches like that? Who decides that a distorted foghorn should try to become the sound of the summer? Who adds a tweeting-bird-car-alarm effect last heard when Dario G remixed Jeff Wayne? Who writes what is basically a two-note melody?

Tim: So, I get your point, and I don’t know how to answer any of your questions with anything other than “well, this guy”, but it was a big song. And it might only be two notes, but it’s a catchy melody nonetheless, and that I still remember five years down the line even though I’ve probably not heard it much since.

Tom: You do? Huh. I missed it somehow. Which rather takes the wind out of my big question — who gets it into the Top 20 in the UK, and to number 2 in Belgium?

Tim: Well, it’s as you said: somehow, you like it. And so did a lot of other people.

September feat. Birgitta Haukdal – Aðeins Nær Þér

“Here’s something pointlessly confusing for you.”

Tim: Here’s something pointlessly confusing for you: a Scandivinavian dance pop act called September that is entirely not the September who did Can’t Get Over and Cry For You and that lot.

Tom: That is a very, very odd choice of name. Did they not Google it?

Tim: This lot are Icelandic rather than Swedish, though, as you can probably guess from the song title, which in English means Only Near You.

Tim: Don’t know much about the context of that title, but hey – it’s primarily a tropical-sounding dance tune with occasional pop nods, so its probably not all that important.

Tom: And some decent string-section synths in there, too. But you’re right: standard tropical dance.

Tim: At least, it should be that. Because this would be so, so much improved if that Galantis-style post-chorus were allowed to take the lead more often. There’d be less of the slightly uninteresting verses, and many more dance beats that everyone can properly enjoy. Because damn, they’re good, and I’d love a whole song of that, although I’d allow the odd vocal here and there to keep the variety.

Tom: For most tracks that come through here, I’d agree with you: but here, I don’t, I think they’ve got the balance about right.

Tim: Basically, I want more of the good stuff and less of the boring stuff. Is that really too much to ask?

Valerie Broussard & Galantis – Roots

“Halfway between a dance-pop song and intro music for a slightly-too-earnest Saturday evening BBC light-entertainment show.”

Tim: For your delectation, a really quite lovely lyric video. And song, now I think about it.

Tim: And that right there is…entirely fine.

Tom: It’s halfway between a dance-pop song and intro music for a slightly-too-earnest Saturday evening BBC light-entertainment show.

Tim: There’s nothing to criticise about it: good melody, decent narrative in the lyrics, nice instrumental work underneath the vocals and a strong beat when we get to the dance post-chorus. It is, in fact, a perfectly serviceable dance tune, with some very good trademark Galantis brass in there. And that’s okay.

Tom: It is! I doubt it’s going to be the song of the summer, but there’s nothing wrong with it.

Tim: Well, yes, though having said that: it’s what I thought the first time I heard it. And then I played it again, and a few other times, as I do when I’m writing these, and now it’s really growing on me – that brass line, for example, with its short repeating notes, sounds lovely. I really like it. So here’s to a grower! It’s great.

Alan Walker, K-391, Tungevaag, Mangoo – PLAY

“ONE HUNDRED PERCENT UNBRIDLED ALAN WALKER”

Tim: Here, a track that, despite being a reworking of one from twenty years back, and having four credited producers, is 100% unbridled Alan Walker. With a VHS filter applied, because we’ve not had enough of those recently.

Tom: You’re not wrong, that is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT UNBRIDLED ALAN WALKER. Not just the synth pads, but the rhythms they’re in, the vocal quality of the singer, and the vocal chop-ups during the middle eight.

Tim: Somehow, I’d never really figured out how a dance track can have multiple names on it – like, it’s one guy at a computer, how does it work? Fortunately, we’ve a video that explains it nicely, and suddenly I’m thinking ‘of course it’s like that, that makes total sense’.

Tom: It involves floaty purple things. Of course it does.

Tim: We’ve three videos so far – this one from Alan and another from each of K and Martin, each telling a slightly separate story about how things started happening – it’s a rather nice thing, not least for, yep, all the floaty purple things.

The tune’s the main part, though, with the main hook coming from Mangoo’s 1999 track Eurodancer, and pretty much everything else being Alan’s trademark beeps and bloops. And, well, you know what I’m going to think about it, because like I said at the top, it’s 100% Alan’s sound. You like Alan, you like the song; you don’t, you don’t. And I do.

Tom: It’s an odd one, isn’t it? He needs to keep his sound fresh and updated, or people will get bored — but if he does that, it doesn’t sound like an Alan Walker Track any more.

Tim: Though actually, one thing from that video: do you reckon Alan ever brings his hood down?

Tom: Never mind that, what kind of a DJ name is “Mangoo”?

Lise Cabble – Tjekker Ind Og Ud

“Stick with it because it gets there.”

Tim: Lise’s Danish. and is quite the prolific songwriter, with multiple Danish Eurovision entries under her belt, and more than a few national finalists over the past couple of decades. Finally, though, she’s chosen to take centre stage with some actual singing! I’m fairly sure it’ll start off in your ‘why can’t this dance tune have a proper beat to it’ zone, but stick with it because it gets there.

Tim: Nice one?

Tom: I’m really, really, not convinced it does. Honestly, my attention wandered while trying to listen to it, and when I realised that I started it again. Only to — sorry, while writing that sentence I drifted off to look at some paint dry.

Tim: Seriously, though?

Tom: I exaggerate, but not overwhelmingly.

Tim: For me it’s in a kind of Alan Walker album track type zone – that starts off based on those few seconds after 0:20 into the chorus, which is very much like one of his tracks that I can’t place right now but then when we get our first proper instrumental breakdown it’s fully on board, and you might not believe this, but actually I quite like that.

Tom: I mean, I believe it, but only because we have disagreed about much more interesting bits of music than this.

Tim: It’s perhaps not a song I’ll listen to a whole lot – but I’ll like it when it comes on, and I’m fairly sure that’s good enough. Maybe don’t quit the writing. though.

Cedric Gervais & Chris Willis – Turn Your Love Around

“It’s exactly the sort of middle-of-the-road not-quite-funky-house track that I quite like.”

Tom: I’ll be honest, I mostly clicked on this because I was intrigued by the name “Cedric Gervais”.

Tim: Yep, entirely fair.

Tom: Turns out he’s a Miami-based French DJ, and this sounds like someone’s combined late Motown and early Daft Punk with the song structure from a track on an early-2000s dance compilation.

Tim: That is…yeah, specific but exactly right. A good sound, I’d say.

Tom: It’s exactly the sort of middle-of-the-road not-quite-funky-house track that I quite like, and that will probably be utterly ignored because that’s just not a genre the world’s interested in right now. Which feels like a shame, really.

Tim: Also true. Mind you, earlier today I was listening to a playlist of Ultrabeat, DJ Sammy, Kelly Llorenna, September and the like, and this fits perfectly.

Topic x Vigiland x Christopher – Let Us Love

“Shall we see what today’s international cooperation brings us?”

Tim: A German producer, a Swedish musical duo, a Danish singer. Shall we see what today’s international cooperation brings us?

Tim: That’s a nice track, right?

Tom: “Nice” seems about right.

Tim: It does everything it needs to, has a nice tune, good vocals, decent beat to it, enjoyable while it’s playing, I wouldn’t stop dancing if it came on in a club, and I can even remember the chorus of it afterwards. So…why don’t I have anything to say about it?

Tom: Oh, Tim, welcome to how I feel about nearly all new pop music. It’s okay.

Tim: It’s nice, it’s good, it’s fine. It’s just…yeah, no problems.

NOTD, Shy Martin – Keep You Mine

“Certainly better than Alan’s new trash.”

Tim: Alan Walker has a new one out with A$AP Rocky right now, and sadly it’s utter garbage.

Tom: Which is an achievement, given you’ve previously said “as long as Alan had full control of everything there’s only so much that could really go wrong”.

Tim: Well, that one’s equal billing, I still stand by it. In any case, this is quite Walker-y.

Tom: That verse is a bit Ellie Goulding, isn’t it? Not massively, but just enough in vocal quality, production and style of synths.

Tim: We’ve featured NOTD previously, though not Shy Martin; she’s also Swedish, and previously has mainly kept herself busy with writing. Together they provide a nice melody, good vocals, top production, and a total and expected lack of middle eight.

Tom: Not sure about the Alan comparison though: guitar wasn’t exactly a common thing for him to include.

Tim: True, but it certainly shares a lot of the same synth sounds and patterns. It’ll do nicely, either way – certainly better than Alan’s new trash.

Alan x Walkers – Unity

“It’s been literally designed by committee!”

Tim: Yep, he’s gone and made a track with his fans, which I guess is both a nice thing to do and a way of getting a load of stuff done for free. Hooray!

Tom: Genuinely disappointed he didn’t go with “Alan and the Walkers”. And, to be fair, co-ordinating this sort of project is at least as big a challenge as trying to make something yourself from scratch.

Tom: It’s been literally designed by committee! That never goes wrong. Or, more correctly, it rarely produces anything exceptional.

Tim: True. Mind you, aside for the fact that the instrumental line directly before the third and fourth “we are unity”s in each chorus is the exact same melody that can be found in Faded (or maybe that’s the point), this sounds like a perfectly decent Alan Walker track.

Tom: It sounds like this was more a way to galvanise the fans than it was to create a big proper release. So while it’s nothing special, I suspect that’s exactly the point.

Tim: Could have been a recipe for disaster, though I guess as long as Alan had full control of everything there’s only so much that could really go wrong. It’s a good track. Hey, at its base it’s an Alan Walker track – of course it’s a good track.

Tungevaag & Raaban feat. Victor Crone – Take Me Away

“Like someone has somehow attached a trombone mute to an angry yet melodic goose”

Tim: The two producers are Norwegian, new to here; Victor’s Swedish, and occasionally Estonian, and we’ve featured him previously, but not for yeeeears. Now, it is, as I’m sure you’re aware, terrifyingly hot in the UK right now, but let’s have a summery whistly song so it doesn’t seem so bad.

Tim: That is lovely, I think. I like this opening a lot, mostly because it comes along like so many Avicii-esque dance tracks and so promises a lot. Not quite so keen on the quiet bit following it, the synths don’t really work for me.

Tom: Yep. That synth sounds like someone has somehow attached a trombone mute to an angry yet melodic goose. It’s a shame.

Tim: The drums hit, though, and I’m in. The string parts, the whistling, yep, all for it.

Tom: Wait, really? It feels like it builds to nothing; the bit that’s meant to be a drop just turns out to be a damp squib.

Tim: The perfect part, of course, is the final part – it’s an unusual thing for a dance track to do in a closing section, just speed up like that, but I think it really works.

Tom: I… disagree strongly. It sounds like they’re on the last lap of Mario Kart. There are some lovely parts in here, but they’re just surrounded by parts that… aren’t.

Tim: Damn nice lyric video, though.