Axwell – Heart Is King

What we have here is a trailer for his new song

Tim: Interesting concept: what we have here is a trailer for his new song. It’s a full three minutes long, though, so let’s review it. When I first watched this video, I was utterly enthralled by it.

Tom: How very strange. I was all ready to be sarcastic about it, but that is bloody amazing.

Tim: Well, quite. It is, I think, utterly incredible. I don’t know how long it will be before the full thing’s available. It reminds me of a lot of Tiësto’s stuff, like Forever Today and Elements of Life – very much a dance tune but with a properly written piece of music behind it, and sounding so much better for it.

I’ll be honest – I don’t really know what else to say about this. I love it, and I want to hear more of it, because it finishes too soon. That’s it, really.

Tom: I couldn’t agree more.

Katy B – Broken Record

Has she changed?

Tom: We got very annoyed at Katy B last time for an incredibly dull song. Has she changed?

Tom: Ooh. Well, apparently yes. Once you get used to the drum and bass backing, this track seems to work rather well.

Tim: Hmm. ‘Broken Record’ seems a tad appropriate, though, as it never really goes anywhere. Jumping from moment to moment on the YouTube slider thingy, I really can’t tell when any particular part of the song should be.

Tom: This isn’t a melody-driven track, despite the fact that she can actually sing – this is a good bit of accessible drum and bass with a decent vocal over the top of it. It’s designed to get remixed, to get played in clubs, and to fill the dancefloor when paired with a heavier beat. I think it’ll do very well at that.

Tim: Yes – on that I can agree.

Tom: I’ve got to be honest, though: putting the stress on the wrong syllable in the final part, so it sounds like she’s talking about a broken record button, does really wind me up.

Tim: Also agree.

The Human League – Never Let Me Go

Fans of eldritch horrors from beyond time and space may enjoy the video.

Tom: Fans of eldritch horrors from beyond time and space may enjoy the video. The rest of us will find it deeply unsettling.

Tim: Deeply, deeply unsettling.

Tom: The Human League have been going for nearly 35 years now. Despite their ten albums, they’re mainly known as “that group who did Don’t You Want Me”, and maybe – if they’re lucky – “didn’t they do Tell Me When as well”. This song shows no sign of changing that.

It’s the first song I’ve heard in a long time where the repeat-until-fadeout seems wrong, entirely wrong. And I don’t know why: it’s the natural point in the song for it, but most pop songs don’t use it any more – they end on a long vocal while the instrumentation reaches a natural end.

Tim: That’s pretty much what I thought – it seemed to be far too long. When it ended after I first heard it, I was struggling to remember anything other than the chorus, as if it was one long repeat to fade. It probably wouldn’t be so bad if there was a bit more to it; as it is, it’s only a few seconds long, so it goes round dozens of times,

Tom: It just seems so out of place in a song that, otherwise, is a modern electronic track. Albeit a rather dull modern electronic track.

Tim: And very, very electronic – the auto tune seems even worse than yesterday’s track. I know it’s fashionable, but can’t you just sing?

I wonder when the music industry will start thinking, ‘Do you remember autotune? Man, what the he’ll were we thinking.’ Hopefully not too long.

Cassius – I Love You So

It won’t suit everyone.

Tom: This has been bubbling under in Europe for months, and is finally getting a proper single release over here. That’s great – because it’s one hell of a track.

Tom: It’s one of those slow dance tracks that’s based around a single sample and a load of produced beats, but that doesn’t matter to me a bit. There’s some combination of the slow wobbling bass, orchestral samples, and layers of percussion that just means that this track works for me.

Tim: Hmm. I want a vocal. There are so many occasions in there when someone could start singing (properly, rather than just the one or two lines), and I would prefer it. I don’t so much mind the fact that it seems to be all over the place – in fact I quite like the way the underlying beat holds it all together despite the moving around.

Tom: I can understand how it won’t suit everyone, though; there’s a lot of unexpected cutting-and-changing of samples in here, and even some vaguely discordant noises in the bridge. I don’t care about any of that: it just bloody sounds good and I have no idea why.

Tim: It does, doesn’t it? I wasn’t so keen the first time I heard it, because I didn’t really have any idea what was going on at all. Second time though, I can recognise the main themes, what passes for a chorus and a bridge, and then it all falls into place.

September – Me & My Microphone

Were they planning to add a tune in there at any point?

Tim: Interesting story, this one – the original Swedish Mikrofonkåt was destined to be an album track, until it got performed on a TV show last October and people went wild for it, and it spent a good couple of months at number one. It got an English translation back in December, and it’s now being released over here to coincide with her album, the abominably titled Love CPR (which also features as a lyric).

Tom: Were they planning to add a tune in there at any point?

Tim: …is pretty much exactly what I wondered.

Tom: She’s sing-talking, like Kesha, and there’s some chords in there somewhere, but mostly all I can hear is BZTHWUMP BZTHWUMP BZTHUMP. It ain’t dubstep, but it’s close.

Tim: Right – this track is almost entirely devoid of any decent melody, substituting for a fairly heavy beat instead, but for me the tune is what makes September good.

Tom: Damn right. I’m all in favour of unemotional songs, electronic songs, songs without melody – they have a place. But that place doesn’t seem to be here: it just seems like a bit of a dirge.

Tim: I get that too, and I prefer the UK edit of Can’t Get Over to the original for a reason – there’s more to it, more to get involved with that wasn’t there to start with.

Tom: I think I understood that.

Tim: Leave me alone, I’m tired. Anyway, I’m finding the same here – maybe it is great for everyone else, but I want something else.

Tom: I’m just going to listen to “Can’t Get Over” again.

Cascada – Night Nurse

It’s pretty typical.

Tom: Europlop reader Chris writes in with this suggestion. “Pretty typical,” he says, “but I actually quite like the autotune in this.”

Tom: This is off her soon-to-be-released new album, and Chris is right – it’s pretty typical. Metaphor for love – this time a medical one – along with her usual produced beats and her usual voice treated in the usual way.

Tim: I was hoping to be able to think, ‘Ooh, they’ve mended it’ after the falling apart that was Evacuate the Dancefloor.

Tom: Whoa, whoa, hold on. Side track. Evacuate the Dancefloor was great. It’s one of the main songs on Dance Central for a reason. It’s got the strange pre-chorus bit, yes, but it’s one of the catchiest choruses she’s ever done. What have you got against it?

Tim: It was just so different – it came out before I’d had time to get used to all the autotuney nonsense that was just starting to appear, and it was entirely not Truly Madly Deeply. It didn’t help that she completely ditched pretty much a whole (quite good) album after only one single, just to release a song that was more commercially viable. Twelve months later I’d probably have been quite happy with it, but then it just didn’t seem right.

Anyway, you know what? I pretty much can think that, once I’ve accepted that five years have passed and that autotuney nonsense is in fact here to stay. This is good Cascada, the verses especially – the Cascada that brought us Every Time We Touch and Bad Boy.

Tom: The usual vaguely-abstract video with dancers and glamour shots, too – although the producer’s doing the ‘stop people listening on YouTube’ thing by interrupting the song with a video scene half way through. We’re going to see that a lot more, I reckon.

It’s still a very good track though.

Tim: Indeed, I think it’s great – the auto-tune actually does seem good here, as though it’s being used for a proper reason rather than just because you’ve got to have autotune these days.

Tom: It’ll be interesting to see if one man – or, rather, his estate – gets any royalties from it, though. Very few Cascada fans will recognise Gregory Isaac’s reggae classic ‘Night Nurse’, but I reckon that one line in the chorus might be close enough to count for a writing credit.

Tim: What, two words? Seriously?

Tom: Two very famous words.

Tim: Well, yes.

The Sound of Arrows – Nova

It’s like honey.

Tim: Sit back, close your eyes, listen.

Tim: I really really like this – pretty much Sunrise Avenue one-track repeat all day levels of like, in fact. This tune, from two Swedish chaps, seems to me like a tune it’s impossible to dislike, and not because it’s just a fairly boring one that doesn’t do anything special or interesting at all, because it does.

Tom: It’s got a long build before it kicks in, but it’s worth it. It’s like the musical equivalent of honey: notes seem to slide slowly over each other. I think I just beat our record for “worst simile”.

Tim: Strangest, perhaps, but not worst – I know exactly what you mean and it does describe it quite well. It’s sort of mystical in parts, which I think is lovely – the video as well is great, it’s a bit woo-oo-oh.

Tom: In the wide, fuzzy shots, I can’t help but think that the lead singer does look a bit like Abed from the NBC sitcom Community – it’s the lankiness and the hair – which means I can’t really take it seriously. Can’t deny it’s a good song, though; very listenable.

Tim: It’s a song that sort of carries you along, almost bouncing gently on a cloud of…um…cloudy stuff. You know, it seems hard to describe this song without coming across as though I’m on drugs. Just…oh, I don’t know. It’s great. I can’t describe exactly why it’s great, but it is.

Tom: And in that, I agree with you.

D:Ream – Gods In The Making

No, I couldn’t believe it myself.

Tom: No, I couldn’t believe it myself.

Tom: So, the important things first. Yes, this is the real D:Ream, of “Things Can Only Get Better” fame. Yes, this really is the official video. They’re releasing it themselves. And yes – Professor Brian Cox himself is on keyboards.

Tim: That’s quite a few things to take in.

Tom: Okay, let’s set the low-budget video aside for a while – because it seems bizarre that a track that sounds this well-produced has a video that looks like it’s put together by a YouTube fan in a fever dream. Is it a good track? Well, actually, yes. It’s not a classic, that’s for sure – but it’s listenable enough.

Tim: I wasn’t so sure about it for the most part, but then when the video, um, camera, I suppose, pulled back to show the words ‘gods’ I suddenly got it, and it became alright.

Tom: The lyrics about how “they said we were the next big thing” do seem a bit self-indulgent. But, hell, they’ve got a member who’s discussing the Wonders of the Universe: the least we can give them is a listen to their song.

PULS – Lad Det Slå

I liked it from the start.

Tim: This one took me a while, so give it a couple of listens before you dismiss it.

Related pointless thought in the meantime, though: people say ‘it grows on you’ as though that’s good, but another way of saying that is surely just ‘it’ll wear you down eventually’.

Tom: Actually, if I remember right that’s pretty much what happens. The more you listen to a genre of music or an individual track, the more your brain recognises the patterns and gets used to it. But for me, that didn’t happen here: I liked it from the start.

Tim: Good. Stylistically, it goes pretty much all over the place. Google wants me to think the title translates to ‘Let it Beat’, so I’m guessing it’s basically about how dance music is amazing.

Tom: Wrong. I translated the lyrics, and they’re talking about a heartbeat – it’s pretty much your standard dance-track love song.

Tim: Fair enough. It’s the Danish duo’s second single after the similarly messy Superstar a year ago, and I have decided that I think I like it.

Tom: The trouble is, I can’t tell whether I like the track because of the music or because of the video with the woman dancing in front of fire.

Tim: There are also three separate songs this slightly reminds me of, none of which I can think of, irritatingly – the first half-second, the tinkly piano bit, and the high electro bit that first appears about twenty seconds in.

Tom: Also, that “ding ding ding” sound a little after two minutes in? It’ll make loads of people think their iPhone’s just received a text. That’s deliberate – he says ‘iPhone’ in the line slightly after that.

Tim: Finally, two non-musical observations: I’ve not seen many music videos in 1080p, so they get bonus points for effort there as a minor Danish boyband, and also that girl is totally wasting her time with the dark-haired one. What with that ear stud and the wink and everything, you can stroke him all you want, dearie, but he’s not interested.

Tom: Tim, I’m offended at your stereotyping. He might not be gay – he might just have stepped straight out of the 1990s.

Alex Saidac – We Shine

There is a moment in this song at which you will raise your eyebrows and think ‘huh’.

Tim: There is a moment in this song at which you will raise your eyebrows and think ‘huh’.

Tim: Now, this is very, very odd. Verses that, for me, are almost unlistenable, and chorus that, for me, is almost ‘repeat until death’. I don’t really know what market is being aimed at, here – she’s a professional DJ, so I suppose she must know her audience, but there are people I know who will like the verse, and there are people I know who will like the chorus. Those groups do not intersect – they barely mingle, in fact.

Tom: A bit of techie geekery here: in the waveform that shows up in Soundcloud’s player, you can actually see the difference between verses and chorus. That doesn’t normally happen on modern dance records: they’re all normally compressed into one glutinous mass.

I’m in the chorus-liking group, by the way – and you’re right, I did raise my eyebrows.

Tim: Overall, I have to give it a thumbs-down – much as I love the chorus, the verses cancel that out, and there’s no real big hands in the air moment to get excited about.

Tom: It’s a shame, because it is a lovely chorus, at least to begin with. Shame about the rest of it.