Oh, well look at that; it's Friday once again. With impending performances at Reading Festival, Zurich Openair, and Pitchfork Music Festival this very weekend, Charli XCX returns with a real sauce-pot of a single with raunchy bedfellow Christine and the Queens to arouse your earlobes.
Additionally, there are acid-dripping larks from veteran space cadets The Flaming Lips, an odyssey from our favourite homegrown electronic artisan Four Tet, and even a Disney OST to boot. Tuck into our picks from the best new music this week.
Charli XCX & Christine and the Queens – 'Gone'
Yes, you read correctly. Today two of the most powerful queens of pop meet in the form of 'Gone', a wistful and existential banger with all the deep, metallic warbles and glistening arpeggios you would expect from such a collaboration.
Indeed, the bass-heavy production from A. G. Cook and Ö is not only hard-hitting in a way that seems to punch the song’s sense of anxiety into relief, but quite ingeniously blends the aesthetics of Chris and Charli seamlessly, reflecting their natural chemistry and partnership?
“Why do we keep when the water runs?”, Charli proposes, “Why do we love when we’re so mistaken? / Why do we leave when the chase is done? / Don’t search me in here, I’m already gone”. It sounds apathetic and at odds to the confident, hard-skinned and partying Charli we know, but once Chris joins and repeats the words back at her, it’s a moment of relief. We’re in this together, she seems to nod, a sentiment visually echoed in the track’s dramatic video. JB
The Flaming Lips – King’s Mouth
After 36 years of surfing the cosmos, The Flaming Lips’ colourful trip continues; their penchant for weirdness can often leave you frustrated, but King’s Mouth hits the spot with a perfect amalgam of synths, samples, and spaced-out effects.
Glitchy, jagged inflexions circumvent frontman Wayne Coyne’s shrill oddity of a voice, enabling his emotive qualities, that they seldom tend to embrace, to flourish.
Coyne’s fragmented ideas and experiences mash together like a multi-coloured play-doh; ‘Giant Baby’ references the birth of his new baby and the humdrum of fatherhood, but with their trademark kaleidoscopic irreverence, and with track names like ‘Feedaloodum Beetle Dot’ you know they’re still having a laugh and riding the wave of infectious fun nearly forty years on. TC
Four Tet – 'Dreamer'
One of the things I really like about Four Tet is that he can imbue even the most glitchy, synthetic sounds with an organic feel. Dreamer is the third single he’s released this year and it showcases this ability with aplomb. Another great thing about Four Tet (there are many) is just the sheer amount of ground he can cover in his music. The trio of singles in 2019 attest to this versatility.
The first one, ‘Only Human’, was released under his KH moniker and is an absolute banger. It uses a prominent Nelly Furtado sample and pounding kick drum to elicit a visceral reaction. The second, ‘Teenage Birdsong’, is a lo-fi cut, using a minimal layering and a simplistic synth lead to take the listener on a journey.
‘Dreamer’ is yet another left turn. Using sounds and beats we’ve become more accustomed to hearing from him, the track plods along inauspiciously in a light and airy manner. It’s something to listen to in the summer sun, with blue skies overhead and a cool breeze passing by. It’s not going to change your world but it should help you let go of that thing you can’t stop thinking about and embrace the moment. AW
Beyonce – The Lion King: The Gift
The parallels between The Lion King: The Gift and Kendrick Lamar’s Black Panther album from last year are obvious and unavoidable; each record ‘inspired’ by the big-budget Disney film in question, incorporating parts of the story and dialogue while capturing the feel of the movie. Similarly, both albums draw on the talents of numerous African artists to evoke the spirit of the film’s setting (be it Wakanda or the Pride Lands).
As such, Afrobeats and Afropop pervade The Gift – with appearances from the likes of Burna Boy, Wizkid, Mr Eazi, Tiwa Savage and Yemi Alade, as well as South African gqom producer DJ Lag (they join the likes of Pharell Williams, Jay-Z, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, Tierra Whack, Jessie Reyez and 070 Shake on the predictably star-studded feature list).
It’s easy to be cynical about the Disney-ification of African music – ultimately these hugely popular artists and performers don’t really need validation from America to be deemed a success. But given that the alternative could easily have been popstars re-hashing Tim Rice and Elton John’s songs, the fact that we now have an authentic, joyous, and genuinely great record that celebrates a wealth of exciting talent from across Africa is something that should be respected, if not applauded. Particularly when you take into account the positive messages – on tracks like ‘Brown Skin Girl’ – and the fact that this record will, in many cases, appeal to people with little-to-no interest in seeing the film itself (guilty as charged). JK
Check out which festivals Charli XCX is playing here.