First Impressions: Tame Impala, Carly Rae Jepsen, Hot Chip + More

Written By the interns on 04/08/2015

FI_7aprFirst 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 pick apart tracks by Tame Impala, Carly Rae Jepsen, Hot Chip and more. 

Tame Impala
Cause I'm A Man

Sam: I was worried that Lonerism would end of being Tame Impala's greatest achievement but now we've heard two tracks from Currents and it seems that won't be the case. They just continue to explore every pocket of the psychedelic realms moving from rock n' roll stompers to RnB mind-benders. This one reminds me of Feels Like We Only Go Backwards in the way that it plods along slowly and then flowers in the chorus. The bridge of this is sublime and makes way for one of the most quietly epic chorus' of the year. It may not sound it on the first listen but give it time, it's an absolute stunner. Also, Kevin Parker - what a songwriter. 5 Sam's Pick

Zanda: I didn’t think that it was possible to be more excited for Tame Impala’s new album, but now they’ve gone and released this absolute gem. Groovy doesn’t even begin to describe the bass riff that forms the bottom layer for this one. It’s incredibly catchy, full of gloriously rich guitar licks, and gets even more delicious when Cam Avery starts playing on the gorgeous harmonics of his bass guitar. 4.5 Zanda’s Pick


Carly Rae Jepsen
All That

Sam: This is basically the same treatment that Dev Hynes gave to Solange, with a slow RnB groove and smouldering vocal. There's something about this that makes it feel like the poor man's bonus track to Solange's True but given that this is the same girl who just had Tom Hanks dance in her cringeworthy video, it's rather impressive. There's not a chance in hell that this will make it onto radio but maybe that's not what Jepsen wants. Ignoring all context this song is actually great and passes Jepsen as someone who's voice is worth listening to outside the realms of a bubblegum pop song. Mr. Hynes I tip my hat to you once again. 3.5

Zanda: There’s no denying that Carly Rae Jepsen is a talented vocalist, and she sings some pleasing melodies throughout this. It’s been efficiently produced as well, but unfortunately beyond that I find myself losing interest. It feels like it doesn’t quite know if it wants to be a ballad or a pop song, and that twinkling synth effect is incredibly overused and often just sounds out of place. 2


Hot Chip
Need You Now

Sam: Hot Chips' Huaraches Lights hasn't really stayed with me long enough to be overly excited about the new album, but I have a feeling this one will. This is the closest thing too a deep-house dance floor pleaser that Hot Chip have ever done and it's both current and coated in the Hot Chip aesthetic. That aesthetic is Alexis Taylor's oddball vocals coupled with Joe Goddard's organic, almost primal instrumentation. That "I need you now" sample adds so much heat to the track and creates the songs true climax. Let's hope for more stuff like this on the album. 4

Zanda: The first thing I notice about this track is how beautifully layered the production is. The vocals are smooth and pleasing to the ear, but it’s all about the use of texture and instrumental layering. Hot Chip really showcase their mastery of hiding instrumental complexity within the simplicity of enveloping individual rhythms. Definitely getting keen for their new album, out in May. 4


Janelle Monáe

Sam: Given the circles that Janelle Monáe operates in, it's quite amazing that it's taken this long to hear an all-out urban radio hit from the singer. It's actually quite odd at first to hear her voice mould itself around harder hip-hop beats but after a while she sounds as charasmatic and lovely as usual. I'm not so sure about rhyming yoga with areole but maybe that's the clumsy charm if the song. It doesn't take itself too seriously and yet it still manages to smoulder. I'll take or leave Jidenna's verse, but this random drop from Monáe has me very happy. 4

Zanda: This song is probably a little bit too up-tempo to actually do any meaningful yoga whilst listening to it, so I guess on that level the title is a bit deceiving. However, that is literally the only thing I don’t like about it. Janelle’s vocals are super soulful and really suit the echoey style of bass used throughout. The build-up is sufficient enough that you’ll get excited every time it comes it’s time to ‘let your booty do that yoga’. 4


Drop Mechanism
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Sam: I'd really love to understand and get into industrial techno but it always just leaves me cold and a little bored. The repetition often has me skipping so fast through that I can be done with a seven minute song in seven seconds. However, there's something about this track from Bwana that has me so intrigued from start to finish. He carefully layers and adds texture to the track over the course of its six minutes transforming an abrasive, pulsating number into a euphoric, victory lap. When he drops everything out in the middle and the pulls it all back, it's truly the mark of a producer who understands how to make a club goers heart beat. 4.5

Zanda: This track is all about being patient, and I can immediately see that it’s the sort of track that many may skip or switch off as soon as they don’t hear the introduction go through immediate progression. You will be rewarded for your patience people; the second half of the song is a gorgeous build-up that plays with dissonant tonalities as well as resolving melodic aspects. Lovers of proper house music will be pleased with this one. 3.5


What So Not
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Sam: I'm just so enamoured with George Maple's voice that it's impossible for me not to like anything she's involved in. Her voice is beautifully complemented by the thumping, ricocheting beat of What So Not. It's also probably the most nuanced thing to come from What So Not yet too. That synth-line in the break is just a s good as anything by similar international producers by RL Grime and proves their potential on the world stage. I personally would've hoped for a bit more belting from Maple but I'll hold out for that on her solo work. 3

Zanda: Another track from these guys that you could have easily never heard before and your first thought would be ‘Flume has definitely been near this’. It’s a certain note on the synth, a certain mannerism in which the bass pulls out just before the drop, and just the way the vocals and backing vocals are seamlessly inserted into the track that all typify Flume’s production style. Although being part of What So Not has definitely allowed him to explore a different side of his production, tracks like Gemini really make you wonder what on earth What So Not will sound like once he’s gone. 4.5

Now time for your vote:

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If you feel the need to abuse us for our opinions, you can reach some of this week’s writers below:

Content Director: Sam
Contributor: Zanda