as another hellish week draws to a close, it can mean only one thing; mercury is very much still in retrograde and doing its best to fuck up every aspect of my life.
seeing as my rising sign is leo, it makes sense that i'd be particularly affected by this retrograde, which doesn't end until the 31st of this month.
according to the astro fame website, "things are set to go very wrong" for anyone with a leo placement. it tells me that i can " to characterise the retrograde cycle period" and "you may also be in for some bad financial news during this period" which pretty much sums up this week.
they also helpfully break down the five effects of a mercury retrograde, which are: 1) being less proactive, 2) setbacks, 3) closing other people out, 4) self-doubt and 5) questioning yourself.
while all these things are a regular occurrence in my life, 4 and 5 have felt especially prominent this week as i had yet another Existential Crisis about where my life is heading.
luckily there's an excellent selection of bops that have helped keep me grounded, and following a sudden burst of motivation i felt compelled to share them in a hastily written post this evening.
1. paige cavell
i was blessed enough to receive a PR email about paige cavell's ridiculously good debut single figure it out earlier this week and haven't been able to get it out of my head since. then she went and released an EP of the same name, which includes two tracks she penned herself, the Absolute Banger that is tug of war and the synth-driven vibe (like we used to).
she first caught my attention via popjustice, who covered her first foray into music, the moody club banger predators & monsters. she worked on the track with legendary producer and xenomania boss brian higgins, famous for his work with s club 7, the sugababes and of course, girls aloud (who ran so little mix could walk). it's his magic touch that makes paige's EP one of the most exciting releases this year, and the first on the now totally independent xenomania label. nothing makes me happier than artists who genuinely, unironically love pop music and i'm beyond excited to see what paige does next.
2. tegan and sara
in a total 180, the new single from tegan and sara couldn't be further from paige's love of pop. it pains me to say, but it seems they're moving away from the 80s-inspired synth-pop that came to define their last two albums, heartthrob and love you to death, released in 2013 and 2016 respectively. however, as soon as i heard i'll be back someday, it was on repeat instantly, reminiscent of the ~indie~ music my teenage self devoured.
fans who complained about the lack of guitar when i saw them at koko back in 2016 will no doubt be delighted by this new track, which forms part of their upcoming ninth album, hey, i'm just like you. much like the duo, i've been reminiscing about my teenage years, and the album will include 12 songs they originally wrote as teens; it's like they read my mind. expect to hear it on september 27th, three days after their memoir high school is released; i've pre-ordered it and am certain i'll read the whole thing in one day.
3. peter thomas
as always i have to thank singer and songwriter to the stars jesse saint john - who co-wrote lizzo's inescapable hit truth hurts - for introducing me to this next artist. he had a hand in the creative direction for watching TV with the sound off, the debut single from peter thomas. i'm totally obsessed with this dramatic synth-laden bop about a blossoming relationship which features a piano riff reminiscent of LCD soundsystem's all my friends combined with the pop sensibilities of troye sivan's incredible album bloom.
4. jaden ft. willow
the last time i paid any attention to the musical output of the smith siblings was whip my hair. released in 2010 with vocals by a nine-year-old willow, it was detested by critics and listeners alike, but listening to it now i can confirm it's a Fucking Banger that deserves the respect of anything released by rihanna around that time. then older brother jaden unveiled his first full length album ERYS earlier this month and summertime was an instant standout. a classic Sad Bop that sees jaden lamenting the end of a relationship, willow makes an appearance in the third verse and their vocals perfectly compliment each other. it's a world away from the high energy pop i usually have blasting out of my headphones but still just as infectious.
5. stefflon don
another artist i never thought would feature on this blog, i can't get enough of her current single phone down. once again, i discovered it via popjustice and i'm in total agreement with founder peter robinson that this could well be the Song Of The Summer. her ability to put a pop spin on her usual blend of dancehall and grime will surely attract a whole host of new listeners who (like me) would never usually be drawn to her music. with autotuned vocals and a beat dylan brady and charli xcx would be proud of, she's truly created the best of both worlds with this track and i'll be playing it well into the colder months.
6. ashley o
after an eternity of declaring how overplayed on a roll was and hearing it every! single! time! i went out, i finally saw the light and when it was played yet again last weekend, i was yelling the words at the top of my voice. i suspect this is a classic case of assimilation, in which one hears and sees something so often that their feelings of indifference or objection eventually turn into genuine enjoyment or appreciation of something, but honestly i'm not mad about it.
7. charli xcx
pop's guiding light and saviour has been getting fans hyped up for the release of her third album charli with a string of new singles. first came gone, which featured a guest appearance from christine and the queens (now simply chris) and a video that elicited cries of "queerbaiting!" across twitter (did she learn nothing from the girls debacle?). it's also one of her best songs if i do say so myself, as it perfectly encapsulates that feeling when you're with people in a crowded room but not really with them and the only thing left to do is make a hasty exit from Tha Club and spend the entire uber ride home with your headphones in (just me?). then as if that wasn't enough, she dropped flash pose, a collaboration with brazilian drag sensation pabllo vittar. admittedly it took me a few listens to really get into this one, but once i played it loud with a drink in my hand, i got a sense of how it's going to sound live when i see charli in october (the day before my birthday!!), which is: unbelievably good. i also have to give a shout out to true romance which i found myself revisiting recently, and lock you up in particular as it wouldn't look out of place on a pale waves album.
8. the 1975
of course i couldn't not include the latest offering from my all-time favourite band. the self-titled track that opens each of their albums is reworked every time they release a new album and this has to be the boldest political statement they've ever made. i wrote more about it here, but long story short, they got climate change activist greta thunberg on board for a spoken word essay about the fate of our planet if we don't take action soon.
it's definitely not an easy listen, but an undeniably vital one as temperatures reached a record breaking 38 degrees in parts of the UK this week. their website also received a revamp featuring yet another countdown that's set to end on august 22nd, right in time for their headline slot at reading and leeds festival. posters have been appearing which appear to confirm that the new song will be called people, but given the band's unpredictable nature and fondness of a spontaneous social media blackout, it's safer to assume that nothing's set in stone.