Friday 1 June 2018

new (and old) music friday #25: peace, dua lipa, CHVRCHES, the 1975

after publishing my last post, the unthinkable happened. while ~promoting~ it on twitter i tagged lily allen and by some miracle she retweeted it and added her own words of approval. i'm not very good at expressing gratitude at the best of times, but there aren't enough words to explain what this means to me. too often it feels like i'm writing and posting it out into the void, so having someone with millions of followers read my work is something i'll never be able to comprehend. her tweet garnered a plethora of likes, retweets and several people saying how much they enjoyed reading it, of which i'm eternally grateful. what can i say, i'm a scorpio with leo rising; i thrive on validation. 

since then, paramore's hayley williams posted a deeply personal essay on paper magazine's website, detailing her mental health struggles over the last few years, and in her fader interview ariana grande opened up about the aftermath of the manchester bombing and how it continues to affect her daily life.(her time interview is also worth a read.) the end paragraph hit me particularly hard as i've had a difficult year trying to adjust to being back home since graduating and despite a whole host of losses and rejections both professionally and personally, things are finally looking up. i'd recommend reading the whole thing but here's the quote in case you can't be bothered to scroll all the way down (i feel u):

"towards the end of our time together, she tells me the story of a day that summed up what her life has been like lately. it takes place on a foggy, rainy day — her favourite kind. “i was driving home from work and i just felt an overwhelming peace wash over me,” she remembers. “i just started tearing up — tears of gratitude because of perspective, because of growth, opening up and finding the ground again because of music, friends, and love. i was just overwhelmed by how simple it can be if you let it.”

both peace and CHRVCHES, who i'll talk about in more detail below, have both explored personal and political topics in their latest releases, carrying on the legacy lily left when she began talking candidly about her life back in 2006. hopefully this signals the start of more honest song writing in pop/indie music as it becomes clear that some subjects are too serious to ignore.

1. peace

following their support slot at the courteeners gig back in april, i was singing the band's praises, and i haven't stopped since their third album was released in may. kindness is the new rock and roll is one of those rare albums where every track is excellent, and sees the band take a more self-reflective approach to their songwriting. 

from under liquid glass has a certain fragility and sees frontman harry koisser get candid about his mental health. this continues on magnificent, where he tells listeners crying is allowed and reassures everyone in his life that someday i will be magnificent. as someone with stupidly high expectations for myself, the line i wish i was everything i was cracked up to be hit particularly hard and i often feel like i've let people down, but playing this song on repeat has helped me realise i still have time to achieve all my goals. 

this sense of self belief continues on silverlined with lyrics like i'm the scalpel that will shape my destiny and i'm strong inside, i'm silverlined. bringing a more upbeat sound to the album are crowd favourites power and you don't walk away from love, while choose love and shotgun hallelujah hark back to their early delicious EP. my only complaint is the band didn't add a manchester date to their most recent tour but as soon as they're back in town i'll be dragging my mother along to see them and belt out every word. 


i will admit i was rather harsh on CHRVCHES in this post, but to say i was pleasantly surprised with their new album love is dead is a slight understatement. from the moment i pressed play on graffiti, i felt goosebumps creep up my arms and knew they were well and truly back, along with their trademark electropop sound. the production of each track feels bigger and more cinematic than ever, so i needn't have worried about them working with outside influences (pop heavyweight greg kurstin - who also worked with lily allen! - and one direction collaborator steve mac).

nothing makes me more emotional than The Passing Of Time, hence why graffiti hit me right in the gut as singer lauren mayberry reminisces on a past relationship. it made me think about all the people i was close to who have since left my life, so the line when did we move on / i didn't feel it, nobody told me hit particularly hard. the trio also address the state of the world throughout the album, from the overtly religious on deliverance to our collective apathy when it comes to issues that don't affect us personally on graves. you can look away / while they're dancing on our graves / but i will stop at nothing goes its chorus, forcing us back into reality. it's a similar story on album closer wonderland as lauren realises she can't live forever with my head in the clouds. 

my personal favourite is heaven/hellonce again she blurs the line between relationship troubles and our collective consciousness in the chorus: do you ever wonder what we learned? / we can raise our glasses, dancing on the ashes as it burns. it's easier to look away than face our problems - personal or political - head on, but this powerful album brings home the importance of action, bridging the gap between a radio friendly sound and authentic, politically charged lyrics.

3. clean bandit/dua lipa/leland

i've grouped these three artists together as they all fall into a genre once ignored by my pop-loving self. for years i refused to listen to dance music - preferring something i can yell along to after a few drinks - but acts like clean bandit have brought it to the mainstream in a slightly more accessible form with hits like rather be, rockabye and symphony, and their collaboration with major artists like zara larsson and jess glynne has no doubt boosted their popularity. 

enter their latest relase solo, which features vocals from demi lovato. upon first listen i wasn't fussed, but after hearing it on a night out last weekend i've had it on repeat ever since. it might not have the groundbreaking lyrics of CHRVCHES or lily allen, but it's Feel Good Pop at its finest and i can't get enough. 

the other two tracks are both remixes; following my discovery of 3LAU's into you edit, i've taken it upon myself to listen to every remix of my favourite pop artist as that dance influence gives the songs an extra lift. i discovered the initial talk remix of dua lipa's now-iconic new rules, and like their versions of dancing and the cure, it takes what was in my opinion a somewhat underwhelming song and propels it into a new dimension, one where shoulder pads and perms are totally acceptable. another favourite is the hazers remix of IDGAF, which i added to my Getting Ready playlist almost immediately. 

then there's leland. recently he's gained notoriety as a collaborator of troye sivan and was the co-writer of the anthemic my my my, but did you also know that he's a star in his own right? i can't get enough of mattress, with its huge, stomping chorus, and it also had the remix treatment from calyre, who give the track a club-ready beat. 

4. the 1975

as always i saved the best till last - the manchester quartet debuted new single give yourself a try on radio 1 last night and the melody was instantly recognisable, though i couldn't quite put my finger on what it reminded me of. luckily they played the song three times, and by the second listen i was in tears as it hit me that it sounds exactly like disorder, aka my all time favourite joy division song, and i was overwhelmed by how everything has come full circle. in this post last year i outlined my theory that the 1975 are the millennial equivalent of ian curtis and co. - combining disturbingly self aware lyrics and a sound that transcends cities and continents - so if this doesn't prove my point, i don't know what does.

lyrically the song once again discusses matty's issues with substance abuse in his humorously self-depreciating way and sees him reminiscing about The Passing Of Time - as mentioned above, this is my favourite topic to cry about late at night - yet also feels kind of hopeful. as the title instructs, i'm really trying lately to not be so self-critical and give myself a try. sonically it's a world away from the somewhat chaotic love mewhich heralded the arrival of their last album - and as he was keen to emphasise, this new simplistic sound is a conscious decision on the band's part. 

the mysterious countdown on their website gave way to a new music video for the track, which appeared to pay homage to the black and white video for sex and the mirrored set echoing the backdrop of the sound. it's small details like this which make fans feel like part of a community and i take great joy in spotting these self-referential details each time an album cycle comes around.

matty also revealed that there will be two albums, the first of which is called a brief inquiry into online relationships (so much for music for cars) - arriving in october - with the second one released next may. they also plan to embark on a tour in january, disappointing fans who were gearing up to sing their heart out at their local venue later this year. either way, the song will be on repeat until october rolls around and i'll be holding back tears with every listen.

all these songs - and more - can be found here.

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