Happy Friday! Though Christmas is just around the corner and the industry is quietening down, that's not stopped us scouring for the week's best new music, and so unsurprisingly this week's a cracker. On today's playlist Charlotte Gainsbourg proves she can do no wrong, whilst new cuts from LEISURE, Jay Som and American Football soothe our tender heads.
As always, find the playlist along some words with our particular standouts below. Next week we'll be rounding up the best of 2018's Christmas singles, so stay tuned, and have a lovely weekend.
Charlotte Gainsbourg – Take 2
Following the release of the sleek 'Such a Remarkable Day' single a few weeks ago, French polymath Charlotte Gainsbourg returns with her reliably cool EP Take 2. As on 2017's acclaimed studio-album Rest, the production flair from electro legend and Frank Ocean collaborator SebastiAn is once again effortlessly indulgent enough to get lost in alone, yet somehow still gives enough room for Gainsbourg to keep the limelight.
Gainsbourg chooses her collaborators carefully, and here the pair prove together their ability for creating a theatric atmosphere, playing with rhythm and rich orchestration to arrest quick opinions or categorisation, instead pulling and luring its listener in. Both the lead single and 'Bombs Away' have an underlying energy that's undeniably French in its nod to the likes of Justice and the rest of the Ed Banger family; and yet these are not quite dance tracks, as 'Lost Lenore' proves with its dreamy pace and dramatic strings, whose role soars past the novelty sweeps of disco.
Acting almost as a b-side, the EP also features Gainsbourg's cover of Kanye West's Runaway, featuring her characteristic spoken word passages, as well as a live rendition of Rest's Deadly Valentine, both of which have become staples on her live tour. JB
American Football – 'Silhouettes'
Illinois legends American Football once seemed confined to the memory books, breaking up shortly after the release of their self-titled debut in 1999 which would, in the years that followed, elevate them to cult-status within the midwest-emo scene and beyond. And then, fifteen years later and all grown up, the band returned to reissue the seminal record and play a handful of shows around the world. The reception surpassed any of their expectations, and urged them back to the studio to record their awaited second album, American Football (LP2).
After finding their feet after all these years, Mike Kinsella et al. are not showing any signs of stopping, and this week dropped the aptly cold and Christmassy 'Silhouttes', announcing LP3's release next March.
The record promises to feature guest vocals from Slowdive's Rachel Goswell, Paramore's Haley Williams, and Land of Talk's Elizabeth Powell, but this first single is all American Football, as trickling glockenspiels and vibraphones dramatically drop into an atmosphere that feels like warm breath condensing in the crisp, cold air. JB
Jay Som - ‘Turn The Other Cheek’
Jay Som is great, and anybody that says otherwise is wrong. Her debut studio album Everybody Works was one of the standouts of 2017, and follow up single ‘Pirouette’ and its B-side ‘O.K., Meet Me Underwater’ confirmed that she had more in the bag.
Now, after some admittedly fairly uninspiring collabs with Justus Proffit, she’s back on her own doing what she does best. ‘Turn The Other Cheek’ is not quite as rich and lush as some of the offerings on her album, but it definitely has that perfectly balanced instrumentation that is typical of her oeuvre. And that guitar sound is just delectable.
I’m aware I’m an absolute sucker for the kind of music Jay Som makes, but she deserves to be firmly on everyone’s radar. Especially after the likes of Soccer Mommy and Snail Mail have just had breakout years doing the sort of stuff she does, but in my opinion not quite as well (no shade on them, they’re both great too). Basically, get her music in your earholes and thank me later. JK
ELIZA - A Real Romantic
Despite having played the brilliant ‘Alone & Unafraid’ an unholy amount across the year, as well as Jesse James Solomon’s EP Strata on repeat – which features ELIZA on two tracks – I must admit it took quite a while to realise that ELIZA is in fact the person we all knew previously as Eliza Doolittle.
Swapping the twee (but admittedly quite charming) indie-pop of a few years back for a new smooth, soulful, and sensual sound, ELIZA is making without doubt the best music of her career. And new album A Real Romantic is testament to her creativity and powers of reinvention. JK