First Impressions: Scarlett Johansson, Sufjan Stevens, Demo Taped + More

Written By the interns on 02/25/2015

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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. Today we pick part tracks by A.G. Cook, The Singles, The ex-Sugababes + more.

This week, we gave one of our writers the option to utilise their poetic licence and evaluate the tracks via acrostic poem. Results found below:

A.G. Cook & Hannah Diamond - Drop FM

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/pcmus/drop-fm[/soundcloud]

Sam: Maybe I’ve been off PC Music-induced sugar for a little too long because it’s taken me a little longer than usual to get into this one. Hannah Diamond’s Every Night was the closest she’s got to guilty-pleasure pop yet and this one feels like the least accessible yet.

As it is an A.G. Cook song it makes sense that it’s a little more unconventional. It stops and starts and has this jolting motion to it almost like you’re riding in a car with a nervous driver. When Diamond is allowed to really hit the melody it sounds effortlessly brilliant. I think for full effect it really needs to be turnt up loud so that bass can hit hard with those flurry of dense synths. 3

Bianca:

Dulcet

Repetitive

Obscure

Pretty

Frantic

Messy

3.5 

PURPLE - Extinction

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/purplepurplepurple/01-extinction[/soundcloud]

Sam: I love most things WeDidIt puts out and I feel no differently about this one. That’s not to say that this is exactly the same as everything the label has released in the past. The dark, brooding tones are there but you also get a real sense of the artist’s presence on this one which is something that is often clouded in mystery with WeDidIt.

Extinction has a mournful, late-night reminiscing vibe. The vocals float while the beats way the song back down leaving it caught somewhere between being real and a dream (I borrowed that line from the song, btw). The prospect of more stuff from PURPLE this year is really exciting. 4

Bianca:

Pulsating

Undulating

Rippling

Pensive

Lamenting

Electric

4.5

Sufjan Stevens - No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross

Sam: This is light years away from anything on Age Of Adz. It’s Sufjan Stevens as the singer/songwriter and not the multi-instrumentalist producer which is nice in a ‘back to basics’ type way. I’m feeling like we’re back to the raw beauty of For The Windows In Paradise.

These stylings usually don’t appeal to me in any way but Stevens’ voice is so fragile with every word seemingly dangling in front of you until he utters the next. All it takes is a little vocal layering for him to create slight crescendoes. “Fuck me, I’m falling apart” is just such a perfect moment in time within the song. I am really feeling like we’re getting back to a point in music when artists can afford to be simple again and rely purely on the strength of their songwriting. CC: FourFiveSeconds, Tobias Jesso Jr, Father John Misty. 4.5

Bianca:

Sombre

Unflawed

Fragility

Journey

Aching

Nostrum

4

Mutya/Keisha/Siobhan - Back In The Day

Sam: Dev Hynes working with the original Sugababes has the potential to be so brilliant and I feel like with this and Flatlines they’re just scratching the surface. The being said it’s a crime against humanity that Flatlines didn’t reach the heights on the charts it deserved last year, in the UK particularly.

In Back In The Day we really get to hear their pitch-perfect harmonising which is really what MKS should be all about. Structurally it’s pretty simplistic but Hynes does enough with the melody and backing track to make sure it doesn’t float into boring mid-tempo territory. In fact, everytime I’ve listened to the chorus of this it’s grown on me. No mainstream pop music today is this stylish and crisp. I think it’s something we really need to hear on the charts and Hynes deserves a mainstream break, as do these girls (again). 3.5

Bianca:

Mellifluous

Kaching

SUGA

BABES

Idyllic

Tedious

Dainty

3

Demo Taped - I Luv U

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/demo-taped/i-luv-u[/soundcloud]

Sam: Bedroom RnB at its absolute best. This is definitely taking me right back to Jai Paul’s Jasmine but the vocals are a little more up-front making it more easily digested. It’s got this woozy, off-kilter feel to it created by its ocean-like synths. Demo Tapes says on his Soundcloud that he wanted to emulate “the feeling of love” and it really feels like he’s successfully done that. It sounds like that moment when you know everything is good but you can’t really tell why and everything surrounding you is blurred. In this case Demo Taped’s voice is in focus and everything surrounding is a blur. Super, super smooth. 3.5

Bianca:

Inky

Luuuurve

Unstable

VIP

Urbane

3

The Singles - Candy

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/federalprismrecs/candy/[/soundcloud]

Sam: I’ve always actually had a bit of a soft-spot for Scarlett Johansson’s musical projects. While her Tom Waits’ covers album was a little bit drawly, I thought the way she re-did Falling Down was actually warming. Her stuff with Pete Yorn also showed that she had a melodic side and a voice good enough to make her sound like an actual musician.

I feel like the news surrounding her release as The Singles is surrounded by less negativity. Before I say anything, I’ll say this - this is good, by any standards, whether she is a somebody or nobody. The problem I have with is is it sounds like circa 2010 when alternative girl groups were really in vogue and yet none of them did anything particularly spectacular. This is enjoyable but it’s enjoyable in the way a zooper-dooper tastes good. It’s always going to taste good but it’s never going to blow your mind. Candy. 3

Bianca:

Cute

Agreeable

Non-event

Dulcet

Youthful

2.75