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First Impressions: Beyoncé, Kučka, Honne + More

Written By Bianca Bosso on 11/27/2014

fi_27Nov

First Impressions is an interns roundtable review of songs on their first (or second) listen. Each week we review six new songs from the past week, each giving them a score out of five and awarding our pick of the week. This week we’re picking apart the new Major Lazer track with Ariana Grande, George Maple’s newie, Mark Ronson’s new Bruno Mars-featuring single + more. 

Kučka- Divinity

Hannah M: Despite its quick tempo drumbeats, Divinity is calming. The mystical, layered backing track and Kučka’s breathy voice combine to create a divine quality that’s nice and easy to listen to. Without sounding like a douchebag (hopefully) I actually feel this would make a lovely, if unconventional song to do yoga to. 3.5

Sam: This song has kind of blown up on the internet this week and there’s a reason for it. I actually think this is one of the most interesting tracks to come out of the country this year. She mixes an AlunaGeorge-flavoured RnB with Grimes’ empty-room, dim-lit pop. While her voice has an otherworldly aspect to it, it still really connects. 4

Bianca: The layers of Japanese-inspired percussion and ratchety, syncopated drums create a pleasingly dark and mysterious atmosphere. She doesn’t sound like she’s from this country nor does she even sound like she’s even from this world. 3.75

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/midnightfeature/kucka-divinity[/soundcloud]

Oceaan- Candour

Hannah M: I love Oliver Cean’s straight-talking yet soft-spoken voice in Candour; the Northern English accent is somehow endearing. Trailing percussion and synth beats build to the bursting chorus, though everything stays controlled and refined, restrained even. A really cool, smooth jam. 4

Sam: Usually these atmospheric, minimal productions make the voice sound really devoid from the song but here it sits right up the front and carries the melody effortlessly. The instrumental then creeps up behind it moulding its ebbs and flows. 3.5

Bianca: My interest was only piqued at around the halfway mark and by then it was all a bit too late. Don’t get me wrong, this track has some really lovely production, in particular the multi-layered, maudlin percussive elements, but it failed to keep me awake. 3.5

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/ocea-n/candour[/soundcloud]

Beyoncé- 7/11

Hannah M – Beyonce’s performance skills are unmatched and her video clips are always highly anticipated, but this particular iPhone style mash-up really brings 7/11 to life. It’s basically Beyoncé dancing crazy in a way that only Beyonce could. Just as her movements, the rhythm is staccato and punchy, though again I think it’s the accompanying clip that has garnered this song such viral attention rather than the music itself. 3

Sam: Beyoncé literally couldn’t give two f**ks at the moment and this track is proof of that. After her hugely successful solo album, she follows it up with this hook-less song that goes hard for 3 mins 30. It’s the most bonkers track I’ve ever heard by her by rapping instead of singing shows that she knows she can sing the phonebook but she doesn’t always have to use it. She’s such an intriguing, surprising person to watch right now. 4 

Bianca: This track just straight-up smacks you in the face. Immediately, just like Beyoncé herself, it launches into glitchy movements with a rickety, trap-like backbeat syncopating along. Throughout the entirety of the track I’m never completely sure where she’s heading but I’m okay with that. With no definitive beginning, middle or end, it’s like three and a half minute-long, 7/11 Slurpee brain-freeze. 3

Kero Kero Bonito- Build Up

Hannah M: The only good use I can think of for Build Up is as a soundtrack for a kids cartoon show. Sarah’s high-pitched childlike voice and the Mario Cart-style sound effects are so annoying to listen to. Sorry Kero Kero Bonito – Kawaii just doesn’t do it for me musically. 2

Sam: These guys are so confused. They are a group of English people making J-pop that also sounds like PC Music. May sound like a horrible, horrible combination but if you’re prepared for it, it’s a wonderland of delicious sounds. It may be hard to swallow but it’s probably best to give it a try – this is the kind of sound that could be all over radio in a few years. Probably not, but you never know. 3.5

Bianca: Build Up sounds like an annoying jingle you’d hear on the TV that can’t help but earworm its way into your subconscious. And no matter how hard you try to fight it, you accidentally find yourself singing along to it one day, miraculously knowing every single lyric. And that’s the true magic of this ridiculous song. 3.75 Bianca’s Pick 

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/kerokerobonito/build-it-up[/soundcloud]

Pusha T- Lunch Money

Hannah M: There are some arrogant sentiments behind Lunch Money, like spilling thousands worth of champagne; ‘too bad’ I took your lunch money. I find this entertaining and unsurprising considering Kanye produced the track, though the composition itself didn’t capture me. The under-water effects made a quirky addition to otherwise typical percussive beats, though overall Lunch Money fell flat for me. 2.5

Sam: This has Yeezus stamped all over it. From those industrial synths to the altogether minimal production, it’s easy to imagine Kanye himself rapping over it. Mixing that with a few classic hip-hop beats gives it a point of difference from Yeezus but I’m stuck in two frames of mind. I like it but I feel like it’s just too close to Kanye to give it any identity. 3

Bianca: Is that it? I was expecting something really good to happen but I’ve just been left empty-handed, just like those who were denied of their lunch money. This track is like a Kanye West song without the Kanye, and what’s the point in that? 2.5

Honne- The Night

Hannah M: Rather than the sappy romance typically associated with such croony vocals, Honne’s lyrics are a little more risqué (e.g. ‘If you spend the night I’ll make it worth your while’). This makes the track way more likeable for cynics like me, and works with their cozy synths and modern RnB sound. 4

Sam: It’s definitely pleasant in a Chet Faker kind of way but I don’t know if there’s much to distinguish it from every other after-dark RnB tune out there. The vocals are on-point and the whole mood of the instrumental is perfect but I can’t help myself thinking I would’ve loved something else – a little vocal manipulation at points to spice things up, maybe. Perhaps I’m just being picky, it is a good tune. 3

Bianca: This one’s a little too slinky for my liking. I can definitely appreciate the down-tempo, brooding affair, but will be doing so from afar. 3

[soundcloud width=”750″ height=”200″]https://soundcloud.com/hellohonne/the-night[/soundcloud]