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.
Dawn Richard continues to assert her position as one of the most arresting, distinctive R&B artists in the world with release of Jaccuzi, the second single from her upcoming second album Second Line which will land in April. 2019’s New Breed was one of my favourite albums from that year, and everything about her latest material suggests Second Line will be equally brilliant.
I am a massive sucker for exactly this kind of stripped-back, dreamy r&b/pop. Aimed at the youth, Things is good enough to transport us all back to those intensely conflicted times, when even the most mundane conversations can send you reeling for days. Similar in tone and subject to a lot of Khalid’s earlier music – of which I am also a big fan – Things is a perfect, infectious blend of the throwaway and the profound.
Shura released a new song today, obsession, which comes accompanied by a beautiful video and includes a verse from Rosie Lowe, and everything about this is making me really happy. It’s got a real 80s slow-jam vibe about it, with super-crisp production and both Shu and Lowe on incredible sultry form. Happy fucking Wednesday!
JUNKHEART is – in their own words – “a mixed-race romantic, making gloomy-pop tunes for comic-book nerds and nostalgic rollerbladers”. God I miss rollerblading. Also, Typhoon is apparently for “fans of thinking about stuff too much”, so it’s bascially made for me. It’s just so good: a gloomy pop banger with both hope and heartbreak enough to spare. It’s an incredibly impressive debut, and Typhoon is the first of six track to be released over the coming months, leading up to the EP in summer, so I’m excited to hear where they take us next.
This isn’t the first time I’ve said this, but Quinton Barnes is a truly remarkable artist. Writing, singing, producing, mixing, mastering: he does everything, and at a quite incredible rate. As A Motherfucker is his second album in less than 10 months and it sounds as slick and polished as anything else you’re likely to hear this year. Packed full of big hooks, intricate melodies and propelled by his relentlessly wonderful voice, it’s everything I need from an r&b album. I HEART QUINTON!