First Impressions: Peking Duk, MS MR, Sable And More

Written By the interns on 07/14/2015

FI_14July

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 pick apart tracks by Peking Duk, MS MR, Sable, Majid Jordan, Joni and The Magician.

Peking Duk
Say My Name

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/pekingduk/saymyname[/soundcloud]

Michelle: Peking Duk know how to craft a dance track - Say My Name is the kind of song that will lift the dancefloor with its vaulting, anthemic vocals. This song will soundtrack late nights out and inevitably feature on DJ set lists around the continent but the intermittent interludes take away from its high octane rhythms. 3.5

Ben: Say My Name sees Peking Duk doing what they do best. Concocting fun and catchy electronica to get your feet moving. SAFIA’s Benjamin Joseph lends his excellent vocals on this track, alternating between falsetto and some of his trademark crooning. Not as instantly memorable as High or Take Me Over, this one will still have you dancing up a storm. 3.5

Sam: I really don’t know what they’re doing here. It’s like a giant foot came and stomped on the electro-sheen of High. Props for doing something different but I don’t think channeling The Dead Weather is a particularly good idea for two dudes who have their feet firmly planted on the dancefloor. For me this is a bit of an ear-assault but I’ll wait to hear it in a big festival environment before I make my final judgement. 2

Claudia: Since their bootleg remix of Passion Pit’s Take A Walk, Peking Duk have come pretty far in popularity, and once again they’ve taken an original hit (this time it’s Arctic Monkey’s Do I Wanna Know?) and made it something it shouldn’t be. It’s repetitive and formulaic with a heavy bass and is lyrically pretty stupid, so kudos to Peking Duk for making a fantastic, chart-topping house hit, that I would love to hear at 1am when I’m drunk and sweaty enough to dance to an (awkwardly slow) ‘banger’ with some people I don’t know. 3

Majid Jordan
My Love (Feat. Drake)

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/majidjordan/mylove[/soundcloud]

Michelle: This gentle electro rhythm is more upbeat than Majid Jordan’s older tracks but it’s slower than their last collaboration with Drake “Hold On, We’re Going Home” which featured a stronger beat.  The theme is powerful, though, and Drake knows what he’s doing with the lyrics, even if Majid Jordan could have produced a fuller sound. 3

Ben: Majid Jordan’s latest collaboration with Drake comes across as a fairly middle of the road affair. The electronic backdrop meanders as Drake’s repetitive and auto-tuned vocals wear increasingly thin over the course of four minutes. My Love is lacking in every sense of the word. This is a real shame as previous material would suggest Majid Jordan is capable of so much more. 2

Sam: I was a massive fan of Majid Jordan’s A Place Like This EP and I do like this aswell but It doesn’t feel like it has as much life as the EP. It’s a little light - the vocals don’t really pack a punch and the beat throbs but it could dig in a bit harder. The instrumental suits Drake’s voice much better but it’s not even his finest moment. It’s good and doesn’t detract from the fact that Majid Jordan are great but with an Apple Music launch, I would’ve thought they’d come out of the gates with something that has a bit more oomph.

Claudia: Majid Jordan has given us another seductive, ambient and bass-heavy tune that gradually snowballs, but into absolutely nothing. Most things about this song lack substance and mould into the recent trooped culture of male auto-tuned ‘songs to have sex to’. And Majid and Drake could have redeemed themselves with lyrical intellect or purpose, but unfortunately that also lacks, big time. 2

The Magician
Together

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/potionrecords/the-magician-together[/soundcloud]

Michelle: The Magician’s latest track is a solid dance tune and it’ll keep the hordes of TomorrowWorld worshippers on their feet but like most EDM, it’s a song that merely hinges on its ability to keep people dancing. 2

Ben: As far as EDM goes, this track doesn’t cover anything we haven’t heard a). before or b). executed in a more engaging manner. While energetic and full of feel good summery vibes, Together relies heavily on style over substance and falls agonisingly flat as a result. 2

Sam: At the moment in Europe and America it’s all about providing the soundtrack for the summer. The Magician has nabbed it once before with his remix of Lykke Li’s I Follow Rivers and while this probably won’t be as successful it has all the elements for a summer smash. The synth-line is breezy and tropical, the chorus is euphoric and the beat is tailor-made for mediterranean parties. It’s not overly exciting but if his goal was to craft a summer song, he’s done that with ease. 3

Claudia: The synth-lines and rhythm in The Magician’s new song are clean and fall into the death pit of YouTube trap-step-trip-hop tunes that typically come with a summery image of a half naked girl, or a sunset, or a beer, with a white template overlay that will read ‘Majestic Casual’ and ‘TheSoundYouNeed’. Though there’s nothing totally engaging or fulfilling about this song, but I wouldn’t mind hearing it on a 35-degree day boat trip, I guess. 2

Sable
One And Only

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/sablemusic/one-and-only[/soundcloud]

Michelle: In one word? Strange. The high-pitched vocals, featuring the slight edge of an Australian accent, take a while to get used to, but, for Sable, the strange mixture of bubbly synth beats and the helium voice, it’s turned out rather well. 3.5

Ben: Initially thrown by the off kilter vocals layered with distortion, everything really clicked into place at around the 1 minute mark of the track. Far from being terrible, but still not amazing, One And Only is cute and inoffensive electro that I would gladly keep the radio on for. 3

Sam: It may seem like a cop-out to use chipmunk-style vocals but it’s really not easy to use them in the right way. Here Sable actually manages to put some heart into the song with the high-pitched vocal. It genuinely feels like a love song for the generation of the future. There are definite PC Music-nods but there are also plenty of Sable-staples in their aswell in terms of the video-game aesthetic. This has been getting plenty of attention this week and rightfully so. It’s a superhuman lovesong bound for the clubs and that’s no easy to pull-off. Sam's Pick

Claudia: The vocals in this song sounds like my dad after he inhaled helium on my 7th birthday, it’s risky and too musically outspoken in comparison to other dimensions of the song, but it’s kinda cool and has a mellow, dream-like and club-ready musical language. It’s hard to say whether Sable has pulled off the Crazy Frog like vocal but it’s certainly not bad. 2.5

MS MR
Criminals

Michelle: MS MR have an uncanny ability to combine rock beats with Florence Welch-style soaring lyrics and electronic vibes. Plapinger’s voice is the centrepiece of most tracks, but this fast-paced song belongs with the MS MR name as much it belongs under the flickering lights of a disco ball. It borrows from retro trends (see the video) but Plapinger’s airy vocals are distinctly modern. MS MR’s new direction is a winner. 4.5 Michelle's Pick 

Ben: MS MR have always been an act to intrigue, and this track has really ramped up the anticipation for their forthcoming sophomore album. Criminals could have easily been plucked out of the heyday of 80’s synth pop. From the commanding drums and subtle guitar work to the layers of synths (which never feel overpowering) and Lizzy Plapinger’s exquisite vocal delivery, Criminals hits all the right spots, and then some. A fantastic listen. 4.5 Ben's Pick

Sam: If any song is going to be a hit of MS MR’s second record, it’s going to be this one. It’s the most melodic thing they’ve churned out yet and while it doesn’t have the huge chorus that Hurricane did, it’s got a far more danceable beat that’s bound to go down well with festival crowds. When the beat drops out at the end and it’s just Lizzy’s vocals with strings, it’s beautiful. However, I still think MS MR haven’t really had their moment as all their songs reach about a 7 or an 8. They’re still looking for their 10. 3.5 

Claudia: MS MR are artists with a myriad of potential and they definitely know what they’re doing, but yet again their song lies somewhere between two genres, two motives and being fantastic and entirely dull and uninventive. The song is incredibly well written and curated, however there’s something about the sound and the vocal that’s half-hearted and tired. MS MR may not have hit their musical mark, but Criminals tells me that at some point in the near future, they definitely will. 3

Joni
Running

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/jonistring/running[/soundcloud]

Michelle: There’s a minimalist theme running through the few tracks Joni has released but this one is excessively bare. Joni isn’t immediately captivating - her songs grow on you after a few listens but this track could have been fuller. 2

Ben: Sparse beats, dark atmospherics and great production are the shining light on Joni’s latest track Running. Though despite Joni’s vocal ability, the vocal line itself feels surprisingly empty. There were points where the track should have soared, but unfortunately failed to leave the ground. 2.5

Sam: Just a quick look at Joni’s Soundcloud likes and you can spot her modern influences - Bok Bok, Nao, GoldLink, Tink. That’s a good lane to be operating in at the moment. It’s one of the pockets of future RnB that feels really exciting. The beat on Running really does sound like a Bok Bok production. It’s jolting and demonic yet Joni manages to tie it together and soften it with her interesting but accessible vocal. Based off this song alone Joni is worth keeping an eye on. 4

Claudia: In its rhythm and production Joni’s song Running is quite awkward, it feels a little like a studio test. But there’s greatness in it, and it sounds something like the lovechild-grandchild of early 90s RnB rapper Charizma and the Golden Age hip-hopper MC Shan. However Joni brings in eclectic, creative, Flume-like production and an unruffled female vocal that sits in really well with the tone of the song. What this song lacks in musical substance, it makes up for with a really prepossessing ambience and originality. 3

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