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Single Review: The 1975 – Give Yourself a Try

 
By on Monday, 18th June 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Words by Lily Cresswell

After a long wait for patient fans, spurred on only by the occasional cryptic Tweets and Instagram posts, The 1975’s single ‘Give Yourself a Try’ is finally here. The single is the first teaser for their third album ‘A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships’, which is due to be released in October. But was it worth the wait?

At first, the tune has the promise to be the song of the summer. The upbeat distorted guitar, driven by a straightforward beat, is bright and simple, so it’s easy to imagine dancing to this at a festival in the height of summer. The vocals enter and suddenly, a different tone is set. Matt Healy has changed up his usual vocal tone with a harsher edge; and combined with the American twang he has adopted, he’s created a Noughties’ pop-punk vibe. This differs from the softer, over reverbed vocals heard on tracks like ‘Paris’. Little vocal development occurs across the track, with Healy sounding unenthused for the entire 3 minutes and 17 seconds. The instrumental accompaniment is also lacklustre and basic, and it must be relatively boring for the rest of the band play. However, on a more positive note, you can’t help but be drawn in by the catchy guitar hook, which stands out due to the lack of any other interesting accompaniment.

Lyrically, ‘Give Yourself a Try’ seems to throw itself at every issue you could find on a millennial’s twitter feed. From depression to drug addiction and the lack of ‘context in a modern debate’, Healy slips through them all, line after line. This is reiterated in the video where we see Healy lying on a therapist’s chaise longue, speaking vaguely on personal identity issues. On one hand, it is progressive to be tackling such issues in a pop song. But on the other, this seems rather forced. Are the 1975 really bothered about these issues, or are they simply trying desperately to appeal to the millennial audience?

Overall, The 1975 are clearly aiming for a new sound and in this area, they are successful, as ‘Give Yourself a Try’ is undeniably different from previous releases. Despite this, the new single is disappointing, and although driven by its hook that gives the track the promise of excitement, the vocals and surrounding accompaniment falls flat, leaving the track miles away from matching the brightness of Healy’s new hair.

6/10

‘Give Yourself a Try’ is out now on Polydor and Dirty Hit Records. The single is taken from The 1975’s third album, ‘A Brief Enquiry Into Online Relationships’, which is set to be released in October 2018.

 

Single Review: Matt Maltese – Nightclub Love

 
By on Wednesday, 2nd May 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Political, global uncertainty, unrest and suspicion: it’s everywhere. So is it any wonder there’s so much doom and gloom-type songwriting out there right now? Let’s have a listen to an artist specialising in doom and gloom but his method is much more cunning. I’m speaking of Matt Maltese, the South London songwriter whose wry sense of humour previously extended to his penning a tune romantically linking Theresa May with Donald Trump. As mentioned in my Live at Leeds 2017 preview of best bets where I tipped him, he sounds like a wonderful chip off the ol’ block of Stephen Patrick Morrissey.

Two Fridays ago, Maltese released new single ‘Nightclub Love’ taken from his upcoming debut album ‘Bad Contestant’. For those of you who need a break from the political overload, this one is, thankfully, about being in love. But not at all like most envision it. A twinkly piano melody plays under Maltese’s deadpan voice admitting, “I don’t care for nightclubs / but I’ll make an exception for you, dear”. The music is too loud, there’s too many people in the room and “while the creeps circle around you”, he’s hanging in there – dancing for 6 hours (!) – because he has one singular goal and he will not be dissuaded. He watches as the apple of his eye almost overdoses at the bar, and as he’s about to call 999, the person sobers up and they share a joke about how cranberry vodka is good for your bladder. Really. Later, he turns on the self-deprecating humour, wondering aloud if he gets kissed on his little shaved head tonight whether the kisser will regret it tomorrow. Yes. Let’s all say aww.

If anyone else was singing these words, you’d groan. But there is something oddly disarming about Maltese’s voice, the matter-of-fact manner he shares a snapshot of an evening where all he can see and hear is wonderment because he’s in the company of the person he fancies. The steady, gentle rhythm throughout the song feels comforting, as if Maltese himself is his best when he’s around thid person. Most of the time, we’re hearing singers gasping for air or shouting about being in love. In sharp contrast, ‘Nightclub Love’ oozes along for an enjoyable 4 minutes and is a perfect slice of escapism.

8.5/10

‘Nightclub Love’, the current single from Matt Maltese, is out now on Atlantic Records. Stay tuned for Maltese’s debut album ‘Bad Contestant’, which is scheduled to drop on the 8th of June.

 

Single Review: Friendly Fires – Love Like Waves

 
By on Wednesday, 11th April 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

Good things come to those who wait. Or so the saying goes. If you believe those words to be true, then us Friendly Fires fans should have been in for a treat with their latest single. The St. Albans trio completed a trio of gigs last week, culminating in a triumphant sold-out show last Thursday at London Brixton Academy. Naturally, expectations for their return to stage, as well as to our ears, were understandably high. The same day, the band released ‘Love Like Waves’, which has thrown me for a loop. Having followed them through their first two albums – their 2008 Mercury Prize-nominated, self-titled debut and 2011’s ‘Pala’ with a parrot festooned on its front – I’ve heard from truly great things from them, as well as some missteps.

The new single, unfortunately, feels like the latter. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to hear its tropical beats and revel in its lazy hedonism. There’s a beauty to the simplicity, I suppose. Hand over your tenner to me now, there’s going to be a lot of dad-dancing to this tune at a festival near you this summer. The crescendo building towards the end is predictable. The best thing about the track are the vocal delivery: Ed Macfarlane gives his vocal cords a good workout, flitting from falsetto to regular singing voice. In clips of their shows last week that I’ve seen so far, things haven’t changed since the those heady, Mercury nom days: Macfarlane is still the centre of activity onstage, and without his charisma, this song just wouldn’t work. The lyrics are a slick balance of repeated, easy to sing along to phrases and innuendo that most probably have missed.

All taken together, ‘Love Like Waves’ is their best attempt at creating a new summertime guilty pleasure, probably best enjoyed with a fruity cocktail with an umbrella in it. Friendly Fires’ main goal is to get bodies out on the dance floor, and that goal hasn’t changed since they got us to ‘Jump in the Pool’ and dance with the ‘Skeleton Boy’. If you consider ‘Love Like Waves’ in that context, they’ve succeeded. If you think too hard beyond that, you’ll be disappointed.

6.5/10

‘Love Like Waves’, Friendly Fires’ newest material in 7 years, is out now on Polydor Records. We’ve written quite a bit about Friendly Fires over the years, and you can read through the entire archive here on TGTF through here.

 

In the Post #160: Ben Howard announces his new album ‘Noonday Dream’ with first single ‘A Boat to an Island on the Wall’

 
By on Monday, 9th April 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

If you follow Ben Howard‘s social media, you might have noticed a quiet but mysterious breeze blowing around his internet persona recently. That soft breeze became a full blown wind last Wednesday, as Howard announced the impending release of ‘Noonday Dream’, his first solo album in 4 years, which follows his breathtaking 2014 album ‘I Forget Where We Were’. Howard hasn’t been entirely idle in the interim, releasing an EP and a full long player last year with his side project A Blaze of Feather.

Howard has previewed ‘Noonday Dream’ with lead single ‘A Boat to an Island on the Wall’, which received its first radio play last Wednesday on BBC Radio 1 with Annie Mac. In the accompanying interview with the DJ legend, Howard himself described the song as “a bit of a patchwork quilt”. He went on to briefly explain the song’s birth and evolution over time: “It went through a lot of different lives, this one, and I think you can sort of tell.”

Indeed, the song’s soundscape moves through palpable stages over the course of its 7-minute duration, starting with an a harsh, synthetic intro and progressing to a lighter acoustic backdrop under Howard’s softly intoned vocals. The entire recording has a broad, airy quality, in contrast to some of the heavier tones he’s taken in the past, and distant voices in the background suggest a vast sense of open space. About halfway through the track, layers of percussion and keyboards add light and color to the sonic palette, and the texture thickens dramatically with the introduction of a dark guitar melody near the end.

Produced by Howard himself and recorded at various locations in England and France, ‘A Boat to an Island on the Wall’ sounds like not only a continuation of what Howard did on ‘I Forget Where We Were’, but an even further extension of that atmospheric neo-folk sound. Lyrically the new song is as evocative and elusive as Howard has ever been in his writing, but musically he extends well beyond his acoustic folk rock beginnings. Take a listen to ‘A Boat to an Island off the Wall’ via Spotify at the bottom of this post.

8.5/10

‘Noonday Dream’ is due out on the 1st of June on Island Records. Just after the album’s release, Howard will play the below list of live dates in the UK. Listen back to Ben Howard’s interview with Annie Mac on BBC Radio 1 and the song’s first play through here; the stream will be available for the next 24 days. find TGTF’s past coverage of Ben Howard back through here.

Wednesday 13th June 2018 – London Hammersmith Apollo
Thursday 14th June 2018 – London Hammersmith Apollo
Thursday 28th June 2018 – Edinburgh Playhouse
Friday 29th June 2018 – Manchester Albert Hall
Saturday 30th June 2018 – Cornwall Eden Sessions

 

Single Review: Ten Tonnes – Lay It On Me

 
By on Wednesday, 21st February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

It’s this time of year when we here at TGTF start to get nostalgic about our times in Austin and the acts we discovered there. Ethan Barnett, stage name Ten Tonnes, has been busy since I covered him live at SXSW 2017 last year. He performed at the Twix afternoon showcase at Bar 96 on Rainey Street on Wednesday, where I interviewed him. He also appeared at the Radio 2 showcase that evening, hosted by BBC Radio In Concert presenter Jo Whiley. It was a big week for him, as his new single ‘Silver Heat’ was released while we were in Texas. An EP with a rollicking title track single, ‘Born to Lose’, followed in the summer. More music lovers were introduced to his music in a blistering array of festival appearances and UK tour support slots with Stereophonics and RAT BOY. Getting out on the road and gaining confidence is in front of audiences will no doubt come in handy as his career progresses.

Barnett now has a new single out this month, and it’s notably different from his previous bluesy efforts. The first song Barnett says he’s written with someone else, ex-Kaiser Chiefs Nick Hodgson, ‘Lay It On Me’ eschews the frenetic guitar chords of ‘Silver Heat’ and the adorable vocal twangs of 2016’s ‘Lucy’. As if to cash in on the current popularity of lo-fi, an echo effect on Barnett’s vocals makes it sound like he’s singing to us down a tunnel. Is this necessary? Not really. A driving rhythm chugs along as he shows remorse of having left behind someone he truly loves. These verses of regret lead to an instrumental crescendo, oddly just over 30 seconds into the song. The vocal punctuation of “I know it’s been a while but I’m back again / back again to face the symphony” is an elegant way of stating he’s facing the music and owning up to his mistakes.

One step further, he’s offering to be anything his partner needs, as if it’s a modern ‘Lean On Me’. The single ends with a chaotic climax of banging guitars and Barnett’s vocals fighting with the cacophony. It’s an odd way to end a song with such a positive message, like we’ve gone from being totally serious to totally silly. The acoustic version of ‘Lay It On Me’ played solely by Barnett on a guitar feels truer to who he is an artist. Maybe it’s a sign that he should go back to writing alone to stay true to the artist he wants to be?

6/10

‘Lay It On Me’ from Ten Tonnes is out now on Warner Brothers. You can compare the studio single version and an acoustic live version by Barnett alone in the embeds below. To catch all of our past coverage on Ten Tonnes on TGTF, go here.

 

Single Review: We Are Scientists – One In, One Out

 
By on Tuesday, 6th February 2018 at 12:00 pm
 

The last time we heard from American pop rockers We Are Scientists, in 2016, they had released their sixth album ‘Helter Seltzer’. You can read our review of that long player through here. It’s 2 years later, and Keith Murray and Chris Cain are hinting about their next record. As usual, the jokesters want to tease us a little with the first single from the upcoming release. An unexpected high-tech sound and an accompanying video is our first glimpse into ‘Megaplex’. The forthcoming album was produced by Max Hart, their partner in crime for 2008’s most excellent ‘Brain Thrust Mastery’, as well as ‘Helter Seltzer’.

Lyrically, ‘One In, One Out’ seems like a run-of-the-mill pop song, treading the all too common ground of angst of falling in love and feeling unsatisfied. Instead of pairing it with a trite melody, We Are Scientists have gone all futuristic, with icy robotic beats and Murray’s voice feeling faintly autotuned. An anthemic, feel good chorus pulls everything together. Instrumentally, the song bops along with a heavy synth line reminiscent of the New Wave-y ‘80s. Cain acknowledges in the press release that the direction of the new material is less philosophical and more hedonistic. “In the past we’ve used our music to educate, to enlighten, to awaken people to the depth and complexity of moral concerns. This time, we really wanted to drop a fun-bomb. Something to dance or f*** to.” Okay, then!

The video for the song looks like something out of the same era: pulsating dots bounce together for each of the band members’ silhouettes, while the band themselves are projected on a black-lit, magenta computerised checkerboard. I’m not going to spoil it for you but where the video ultimately goes is, in typical WAS style, unpredictable and hilarious. One clue: cheese and crackers are great, aren’t you? ‘One In, One Out’ is an intriguing preview of a much-awaited return from a pair of experienced singer/songwriters whose pop gems have rarely disappointed us.

8/10

‘One In, One Out’, We Are Scientists’ newest single, is out now. ‘Megaplex’, the American duo’s sixth studio album, will be out on the 27th of April on 100% Records. To read more on We Are Scientists here on TGTF, go here.

 
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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