The first new solo material since his sublime So Sweet So Nice album from last year, Same As You sees the Berlin based-musician commit himself fully to 80s soft-rock balladry, with intoxicating results. It’s possibly a coincidence that the gently plucked guitar melody (very) strongly resembles Every Breath You Take – arguably the very epitome of melodramatic musical yearning – but whether it’s a direct lift or knowing nod to his inspirations, Moods carries it off with aplomb.
Read our One Track Mind feature with John Moods here.
Dark, Joji-adjacent r&b vibes on the latest single from US artist bloodcat, with geloガザ on production duties blending a plaintive piano line with crisp, trappy beats and bloodcat’s warped vocal, with satisfyingly nihilistic results.
For 30 minutes – ie 90% of its running time – Charli XCX’s new album CRASH is a crushing disappointment. Yes, there are good tracks on it: New Shapes, alongside alt-pop royalty Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek, and Baby are towering, bullet-proof pop records, but both of these were singles, so their inclusion isn’t exactly a cause celebre. The UK garage bounce of (also previously released) Beg For You leaves me completely cold, as does Good Ones, which comes across – to me at least – as uninspiringly one-note.
So what are we left with? A few meticulously produced, immediately forgettable tracks, and one complete abomination in the shape of Used To Know Me, which serves only to remind us why most people stopped ripping off Robyn S over a decade ago. And then, when all hope seems to be lost, we have album closer Twice, which is vintage Charli: introspective, yet effervescent pop which bangs hard and makes you cry at the same time. The hype train has clearly addled the critical faculties of morethanone reviewer, but Twice demonstrates than when she’s on form, no-one does this kind of stuff better.
I tried pretty hard to like Mitski’s 2018 album Be The Cowboy, returning to it several times especially after Pitchfork lost their shit about it so spectacularly. It always felt like hard work though and ultimately never clicked, but given how everyone else loved it it’s probably my problem, all of which makes me especially pleased to report that I absolutely love her latest Laurel Hell which came out last week. An effortless joy from start to finish, Stay Soft is an early highlight with bright, brisk drums and soaring, sun-drenched chords.
Year Of Love is the second single to be released from Jenny Hval’s forthcoming album Classic Objects – her first studio album for 4AD. The song explores a “very troubling” experience she had of witnessing a marriage proposal at one of her performances. Plenty of artists, I’m sure, would have experienced this as a purely romantic act, and thought very little about it afterwards, but for Hval it elicited questions about how her art impacts others, and her own marriage; themes she explores and attempts to resolve over the course of the song.
Of course, you could just ignore all that and enjoy what is – lyrics aside – one of the most upbeat songs in her catalogue to date.
Shout out to BRLY DRSSD for leaving it late in the year to drop one of the most unashamedly positive tracks of 2021. Teaming up with Sri Lankan artist Chanty Thushara and reminiscent of Crazy P at their bubbliest, Diamonds is “for all the ladies who sometimes don’t think they are strong or worth listening to.” A warm, breezy dance/pop cut, it’s hard not to be won over by its open-hearted optimism.
This week I have been obsessively listening to every album I enjoyed in 2021 with no small amount of misguided self-importance in preparation for TPW’s hallowed end-of-year list, so I haven’t really been on the case in terms of new music. I did however find time to go and see Self Esteem, and I haven’t been able to get this song out of my head since. She was fucking great, and there are lots of dates on the tour still to come. So go!
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.