The 20 year old UK artist PinkPantheress broke through on TikTok, which goes some way to explaining why I’ve never heard of her despite many of her songs having hundreds of millions of plays across various streaming platforms. Her MO seems to be: take a small part of a song that was probably released in the 90s, loop a section of it, then sing, sweetly and earnestly over the top. The result should be cheap and gimmicky, and, well, maybe you think it is, but I don’t ok! Take the 90 second Break it off (included on the new album as a bonus track) that loops Adam F’s seminal Circles under a naively bouncy vocal: obviously it reminds you how fucking brilliant Circles is, but it also works in its own right. Nineteen is as close as she gets to a ballad on to hell with it, and very lovely it is too.
Those Kisses is Wildhart’s fourth single of 2021, continuing the recent rejuvenation of the Gothenburg-based duo that will culminate with their sophomore album due out this Autumn. Tender, ethereal and – like most of their output – drenched in nostalgia, it’s yet another welcome addition to their canon.
I remember a time when the mere mention of PC Music could illicit conflicting moans – of either rapturous pleasure or abject despair – from people I had previously thought were fairly aligned on what they considered Good Music. What feels like decades later but what in reality is probably only a few years, a quite brilliant album from caro♡ (the lead singer of Planet 1999 which was PC Music’s first full band signee), has flown relatively under the radar, which is a shame as it’s a really joyful thing, with enough glossy cartoonish bounce to satisfy the PC purists, and enough genuinely thoughtful and subtle moments to stop anyone getting too angry about it. drop in the ocean is definitely one of the calmer moments, evoking Selected Ambient Works Volume II-era Aphex, albeit backed up with some dappled, shoegazey beats.
Blending pop, R&B, soul and at times some fairly experimental electronica on her latest album 3, Sydney-based artist Ngaiire certainly can’t be accused of playing it safe, and the album is a constantly shifting joy that seems to delight in playing with your expectations of how a polished ‘pop’ album should sound, then gleefully doing something else entirely. Unapologetically sincere and packed full of infectious rhythms, highlights are many – the awesome Shiver also deserves a mention – but Glitter gets the nod from me for being an absolute banger.
Angel Olsen has taken a break from making radio-friendly indie-pop janglers to cover five AAA 80s anthems on new EP Aisles. Like a lot of covers, the less committed you are to the original the more you’re likely to enjoy these: I’m least familiar with Billy Idol’s Eyes Without A Face than anything else on here, and for me her reworking is the clear stand out, with just the right amount of breathy dirge. On the other hand, the mere fact that she’s had a crack at Alphaville’s heartbreaking masterpiece Forever Young is utterly despicable.
BLACK METAL 2 arrived pretty much out of nowhere today, and I’m already completely obsessed. The follow up to 2014’s BLACK METAL, it immediately transports you back into that heady, dreamlike world, pulling you into its thick, fuggy atmosphere and sounding like nothing else out there. People will write far longer, vastly more eloquent reviews of this over the coming days and weeks: all I can say for now is that it’s in a class of its own and deserves all the plaudits its inevitably going to get.
Erika De Casier has now released two albums that sound like nothing else out there. Despite wearing their 90s r&b influences proudly on their sleeves, both 2019’s Essentials and the newly released Sensational (how’s that for a pair of chest-beating titles?) manage to forge new paths for the kind of introspective, moody but ultimately easily accessible pop that I am bang into. Make My Day is an early highlight – that haunting little synthy wail at the start of every bar, I mean come ON! – but it’s all ultimately brilliant.
Absolutely nothing I write here is going to do justice to how overwhelmingly brilliant this song is, so I’m not going to try, just go and listen to it. Track of the year contender for sure, taken from her new album Second Line. On my fourth straight listen and it just made me cry. Fucking hell, it’s amazing.
Bit late on this one as it came out about a month ago, but… it’s so fun! The British indie pop band’s latest starts life in a vaguely Aphex-ish way – all squidgy bass and sharp breakbeats – before morphing into a hyper-pop bubblegum banger like it was suddenly hit with a massive dose of steroids, but the kind that mean you’re still smiling and having a nice time, rather than sweaty and twitchy paranoid mess. Taken from their album (although it’s only three tracks, so, maybe EP?) Civilisation II, which is out now.
I’m probably biased as I’m a big fan of one of these artists and not really that interested in the other, but I would say that Becky and the Birds’ cover of Bon Iver’s The Wolves (Act I and Act II) is far superior to the original. Not that we’re supposed to judge music in such a binary fashion (it’s not better just… different), but whatever: I think in this instance – given they’re both treading a similar musical path – standing each version toe to toe with one another and seeing who comes out on top is fair enough. And in my humble opinion, this is richer, more engaging, more spine-tinglingly wonderful. You know, just… well, better.