Birgir – Glorious

“Tubular bells! I think they actually used tubular bells there!”

Tim: Bit of pressure laid on the song from the title here; see what you think.

Tim: Let’s be honest, it’s never going to beat Andreas Johnson.

Tim: It’ll probably beat Cascada, though.

Tim: And the main word I would use there is ‘pleasant’.

Tom: Tubular bells! I think they actually used tubular bells there! That’s basically going all-in, these days.

Tim: Aren’t they lovely? It’s nice to hear, the unambiguity of the message is quite sweet, and the chord progression on the titular ‘glorious’ is pleasing to my ears at least – however many times it’s repeated I’m fine with it.

Tom: I’m… not, really. Sure, it gets into your head, and at least a repeated word is less irritating than a repeated line, but I’m not sold.

Tim: Really? Because as I see it, the post-chorus melody is good, the middle eight works well (again, whoever came up with those tubular bells in is a genius), and the big shouting towards the end just reinforces everything. The only extra thing I’d ask this for is a big climactic final note, rather than the sudden drop-off we get. Other than that: lovely.

HAMMENFORS – Thinking About

“Twee? Smug? Self-satisfied? Probably yes to all of those, but I don’t care.”

Tim: Appeared on Sweden’s single series of The X Factor in 2012; didn’t get anywhere with that so went into producing and writing. Now, dropping his first name of Johan, he’s out with a solo track. And boy, I hope you’re feeling chirpy.

Tom: A whistling introduction is a move that’s either extremely confident or extremely foolhardy. But it somehow seems to have paid off here? This is really quite charming.

Tim: And that reminds me a LOT of some good Mika tracks from a decade ago – the happy ones, that is, rather than the depressing but utterly fantastic Happy Endings. It’s most obvious in the “I can be, I can be, I can be” rising line, straight out of Grace Kelly.

Tom: Yes! Mika’s what this reminds me of: it’s got that almost aggressively chipper tone to it. A full album would be too much, but a song? Yes, this is lovely, and it’s right back to… [checks Google] … eleven years ago.

Eleven years, Tim.

Tim: Eleven indeed, blimey. There’s a reason Mika was so successful back then – it was a happier time, the country was good, everybody was cheerful, and look at me romanticising the past. This song fits right with that – thinking about all the good stuff: sunshine, friends, rooftops (really?), sex, moonlight, us, Paris, love. Mostly positive things, and a damn cheerful song to match.

Tom: A special shoutout to that rising sample in the background that could be synth or distorted vocal. I thought I’d get tired of it, but I didn’t, despite it being so…

Tim: Twee? Smug? Self-satisfied? Probably yes to all of those, but I don’t care. Because I’m thinking about sunshine, friends, love and I’m whistling and ALL HAPPY.

Saturday Flashback: Alan Walker feat. Gavin James – Tired

“The white guys are magicians or something, showing how mystical things can happen, and presumably improve lives by making everything look fancy, with the power of Alan’s logo?”

Tim: OKAY THEN so let’s have a look at this, following up from Wednesday’s post. I thought we’d covered all of Alan’s tracks, so it surprised me when I discovered this existed; it made me happy, partly because it’s a good song and partly because it goes some way towards explaining exactly what’s happening in the other videos.

Tim: At least, a tiny bit of the way. We’ve what is definitely a scientifically plausible extinction level event happening, and also a building’s exploded, and there are a lot of people working underground to survive, or at least preserve whatever’s in those boxes, and she seems to have changed sides at point or another because is there another group of people also trying to survive? To be honest I kind of wish the pair of them had just stayed in bed together while it all happened and accepted it, because then I could make a brilliant joke about at least one of them going out on top HERE ALL WEEK, TRY THE VEAL.

Next we’re up to All Falls Down, the official first part, and let’s watch the video because we didn’t actually mention it when we reviewed the track.

Tim: Society is on the way up again, and I think they’re digging up one of those boxes, and opening it up with a circular saw even though there doesn’t seem to be any electricity anywhere else on the planet, but never mind that, because we’ve got some nice merchandise and cult material in there, but then people get bored because there’s nothing to actually do with them, until is that now the other group coming along to educate them? Anyway, now at least we know why they were trying to save what was in those boxes, slightly, because they do look proper fancy.

Part two, now, and let’s put the video here again for simplicity’s sake.

Tim: And…and no. I give up, I really have no idea. The white guys are magicians or something, showing how mystical things can happen, and presumably improve lives by making everything look fancy, with the power of Alan’s logo? God, I hope part three explains stuff.

Tom: Reader, I’m going to be honest with you: I got about two minutes into the first video and just gave up, so I handed this post over to Tim.

Tim: No one blames you. Starting to wish I’d never got involved, to be frank.

Brother Leo – Strangers On An Island

“A fearless free spirit with superpowers.”

Tim: Remember Ola?

Tom: Only the name, none of the music.

Tim: Fair, as that’s about the same as me. Not much of a problem, though, as he’s taken the past four years as a time to reinvent himself – “my inspiration came from a dream I used to have as a kid. In the dream I had a twin, a fearless free spirit with superpowers. His name was Leo.” Makes as much sense as anything else we deal with here, I guess. Anyway here’s the debut as Brother Leo, and it’s produced by, erm, Fatboy Slim. Really, it is.

Tim: And we’ve a lot of Fatboy Slim indicators (Slimdicators?) here.

Tom: Nice. You’re not wrong, though.

Tim: Most clearly the stuttering that’s straight out of Praise You. There’s that vocal bit that comes out of nowhere around the three minute mark, with the record slips following it. Obviously I don’t know the ins and outs of who brought what here, but to be honest I’m quite surprised there’s not double billing here, or even just a “feat”.

Tom: He’s slipped into the background plenty of times before: if you search out Cornership’s Brimful of Asha, you’ll find it’s very different to the Norman Cook remix that the radio always plays.

Tim: Do you know, I knew that, but I’d forgotten how weirdly different the original sounded. Regardless of who did what, though, it’s an interesting track, and one I’m really rather keen on.

Tom: Agreed: it’s got a decent chorus to it, and there’s nothing wrong here. All the Norman Cook in the world couldn’t fix a track with poor composition, after all.

Tim: It’s a decent reinvention, and I’ll be happy to hear more in due course.

Robyn – Missing U

“Eight years, Tom, it has been EIGHT YEARS.”

Tim: Eight years, Tom, it has been EIGHT YEARS since we’ve had any solo music from Robyn.

Tom: Blimey, how time flies. I mean, that makes sense given what I remember doing around the time Call Your Girlfriend was out, but it doesn’t feel like it should be that long.

But now she’s back with THIS, and good lord I do hope it’s good because otherwise I might burst into tears.

Tom: That’s a pretty good chorus, isn’t it?

Tim: It’s no Call Your Girlfriend, but it is very good and serves as a nice reminder of why Robyn was, until she relinquished her throne to CHVRCHES, rightly seen as Queen of Synthpop. It has all your standard Robyn tropes – upbeat and heavy layered music, counterbalanced by somewhat morose lyrics – and it’s entirely listenable, multiple times with no sign of getting dull.

Tom: My main complaint is that the chorus feels like it’s building somewhere, but that’s never resolved. It’s like there’s a pre-chorus but no actual chorus. On a second listen, I figured out that’s the whole point.

Tim: There is, we’re promised, a full album coming out later in the year, and if the rest of it’s on a par with this, I’ll be very very happy indeed.

Alan Walker feat. Au/Ra and Tomine Harket – Darkside

“Alan’s taken a leaf from Basshunter’s book and is doing a story with his videos.”

Tim: Quick note before we get started: Alan’s taken a leaf from Basshunter’s book and is doing a story with his videos.

Tom: I mean, sure, we could go with Fall Out Boy or Janelle Monáe for that reference, but, yeah, fine, Basshunter.

Tim: Got to stay on brand, Tom. This one’s episode 2 in what will, in due course, be a trilogy. Previously we’ve have a prologue, Tired, and part 1, All Falls Down. Let’s skip over that for today, though, and do the music.

Tom: Bit weird to include a war memorial as part of your sci-fi dystopia music video, even if it does look as strange as that. I wonder if anyone knew what they were working with?

Tim: Had to imagine they wouldn’t – not like you walk out of Zagreb International and find that right in front of you. If I had the time and necessary skills, I would absolutely make a video to fit this chorus over Emperor Palpatine trying to tempt Luke, to try to highlight to weirdness of this being an incredibly upbeat sounding chorus for what the lyrics claim it to be.

Tom: Alan Walker’s style doesn’t exactly lend itself to “dark and brooding” easily.

Tim: True, and it’s absolutely not a complaint: I absolutely love it, and to be honest I almost have the same problem with Alan as I mentioned on Monday with Galantis, although perhaps even more so – this is the twelfth time we’ve featured him and he’s yet to put a foot wrong (hell, I even liked his remix of This Is Me).

Tom: Yep, I’ve got to admit: it’s a style that works.

So I like this. I like it a lot, and to be honest, I was probably always going to. But I’m very happy with that.

Galantis feat. MAX – Satisfied

“I think this is where Galantis really shine“

Tim: Track 2, and I’m not really sure who MAX is or why he deserves the capital letters – he had a track out last year featuring a guy with no capital letters, though, so maybe that explains it.

Tim: It starts out different, more of a funky style…and I’m not sure where I stand. Compared to yesterday, it is both better and worse. Yesterday was, like I said then, very much a trademark Galantis track. There wasn’t much new or entirely interesting there, but it would happily sit on a Galantis Essentials playlist and not sound even slightly out of place.

Tom: Oh, this is so much better than yesterday’s track. I think this is where Galantis really shine — as producers and collaborators, able to elevate someone else’s track and, in turn, to be elevated.

Tim: Well, you’re not wrong in that that chorus elevates it, because I really couldn’t take a song just like the verses. This one takes a few risks, in the sense that it’s different, but also the same – the chorus is your standard stuff, the weird vocal and the decent beats. But as for that verse, hmm.

Tom: It’s great! As is the pre-chorus, but the verse really shined for me. You know why? I was already so far into it by the end of the first verse that I instinctively did a double-clap — at exactly the point where the song puts a double-clap sample in. I was sold. This, to sort-of-quote the KLF, has a Groove.

Tim: Maaaaybe, but now that a large part of the world has moved on from Uptown Funk, the songs that most come to mind for me are Sweden’s dire Eurovision entries of the past couple of years, and this year only three countries came below them in the televote. With it also heading toward the current trend of no middle eight or final chorus to cut away from those…I’m really not all that keen.

Tom: To be fair, you’re right there. For the first time in a very long while, I actually think the track should be longer. It needs a middle eight, it needs a Big Final Chorus. And, despite my initial enthusiasm, I can’t remember the chorus after one listen. That’s not a great sign.

Tim: It’s a disappointing song, and I’m sad about that.

Tom: It’s only disappointing at the end for me. Give me a remix with a Big Chorus and I will be 100% behind this.

Galantis – Mama Look At Me Now

“It’s a good song.”

Tim: Tonight, Tom, is the final of Love Island, and recently the winner of last year’s Swedish version of that brought out a single, so it’d kind of make sense to feature it. However, it is entirely shit, so I won’t force it on you.

Tom: I can’t work out if I’ve just had my expectations raised and then let down, or literally the exact opposite.

Tim: Instead, let’s hear the new track from Galantis – well, one of them, as apparently even in the streaming video age the double A-side is still a thing, or at least EPs of two songs are. Here’s the first.

Tim: I’ll be honest, it’s tricky for me to review Galantis tracks, because, aside from a short period around the latter half of 2016, as far as I’m concerned they’ve barely put a foot wrong since the launch of Runaway (You & I) back in 2014, they do a phenomenal live show and basically they’re brilliant.

Tom: I mean, you’ve been pretty clear about that over the years. I’ve been less enthusiastic, but then I usually am.

Tim: Right here, we have a track that is very much a trademark Galantis track. It has a decent vocal, it has steel drums, it has the painting on the video with backstage tour footage. It’s a song about success, about making it, about being in a good place despite previous assumptions. It’s a good song, and I’m happy about that.

Tom: “It’s a good song.” “A trademark Galantis track.” I agree: but from you, that’s a genuine endorsement, whereas with me, it’s damning with faint praise.

Saturday Flashback: Lady Gaga – The Edge of Glory (Cahill Remix)

“Ten years since the release of Just Dance”

Tim: I realised the other day that April marked ten years since the release of Just Dance, the debut single that catapulted Ms Gaga right to the top of music and everything, which seems worth celebrating and I’m surprised there wasn’t more of a thing about it tbh. Coincidentally, I also heard this remix.

Tim: And oh my days, it’s good.

Tom: It is: but let’s not forget that’s partly because it’s building on the original track and, despite adding instrumentation, it’s still letting those spectacular vocals shine through.

Tim: For all we talk about her frequently re-inventing herself, as far as I’m concerned she never really bettered what she began with the re-issue of The Fame, as The Fame Monster, which added tracks like Bad Romance and Alejandro, and was then followed up by Born This Way, one of the finest albums of the century. On it were fabulous tracks like Born This Way, Judas, Marry The Night, and, of course, this. One of her best tracks, and easily the best remix of a Gaga track. LOVE. THIS.

Tom: The Manhattan Clique remix of Boys would like a word.

Bad Geckos – This Time

“No spoilers for this song out of Norway; just press play.”

Tim: No spoilers for this song out of Norway; just press play.

Tom: I’d already written the words “I’ve heard that introduction before” (as a later part of Primadonna Girl by Marina and the Diamonds, incidentally) but then I heard the first line of the first verse and burst out laughing.

Tim: Fun, isn’t it? Question is, of course, whether or not this has anything about it to rely on beyond the immediate shock value of that line, and happily I’ll say yes.

Sure, it’s still the most memorable part of the song, but we’ve also got a really good dance tune underneath it, with a nicely banging post-chorus, and to cap it all off we’ve the message that, let’s face it, is a pretty easy to approve of. Nice.

Tom: I am all in favour of unconventional, sex-positive, honest messages in songs. Sure, I’m not going to actually add this to a playlist, but I’m glad it exists.