First Impressions: Sam Smith, Rüfüs, Lorde And More

Written By the interns on 09/30/2015


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 Disclosure, Charles Murdoch, Sam Smith, IYES, Wet and Rüfüs.

Magnets (Feat. Lorde)

Meshell: A great collaboration is one where no one artist overshadows another. The final piece needs to balance between the different signature sounds we come to expect from the artists involved. Magnets has absolutely nailed this. It’s the perfect blend of Disclosure and Lorde’s identifiable styles. The track is part dance floor jam, part brooding-sultry-teen ballad. The bar is set high for both artists but both keep delivering the goods. 4

Sam: At first I kept thinking of this as a Disclosure song, which it is, and I was a little thrown off by the tempo and lack of club appeal but then my mind shifted. Now I’m thinking of it as a Lorde song and that makes me feel a lot better actually. Lorde’s vocals in the verse are sick and then in the chorus she borders on crazy which is brilliant. She sounds slicker, grown-up and way more confident which is a good sign of future things to come. Definitely one of the choice cuts from Caracal and would also be a great lead single for a Lorde album. BTW where is said album? 4

Katrina: I think Caracal has its moments but this is one of the duller moments of the record for me. Lorde's voice doesn't match Disclosure's production and the chorus doesn't really hit hard enough to be a pop hit. On paper two big names coming together looked exciting but something about this feels lifeless. 2

Charles Murdoch
Frogs (Feat. Ta-Ku, Wafia, and Hak)

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Meshell: Absolutely stunning…both vocalists sound like honey being dripped directly into my ears, the low end WUBWUBWUB gives the song beautiful forward motion and the overall minimal urban/electronica production is (to steal a phrase from my grandmother) exactly my cup of tea. Turn this on in the car, loud, while you’re driving to the beach for a lazy afternoon. 5 Meshell’s Pick

Sam: Completely agree with Meshell about the WUBWUBWUB - that’s the real grabber sound on this track. It helps it to be dark and sexy while still being a little distorting which is a good feeling. Ta-Ku’s vocals are cool but it’s Wafia who really sticks to the song. Her voice is mellow and smooth effortlessly blending into Murdoch’s soundscape. The shift around the 2 minute 30 mark is where it’s at. It sounds like it comes straight from the production banks of a Tyler The Creator or Vince Staples album - industrial, twisted and scratchy. 4

Katrina: Oooh yes, I’m all about this. Each artist is given their own moment to shine but Wafia is definitely the stand-out here. It has a soft R&B with a delicate, underlying electronica vibe which is a combo that I’m all about at the moment. Side note, would have expected something called Frogs to be a ‘hip-hop’ number purely for its punability but this’ll have to do. ?? 4

Sam Smith
Writing's On The Wall 

Meshell: I am truly a sucker for cinematic pop music. I get goosebumps the second I hear the stupidly well recorded strings and by the time Sam is singing I am hooked. There is nothing ground-breaking about the song-writing here, it’s incredibly predictable in structure and melodic contour but JUST LET ME INDULGE OK? Considering this is written for film we can excuse the cliche nature of the lyrics as Hollywood does seem to wash its shiny artificial lacquer over everything. The  instrumentation though is perfectly Bond and spell bounding. Sam Smith kills the vocal delivery as usual but do you expect anything less at this point? 5

Sam: This is legitimately the first time I’ve heard this and straight off the bat you can tell it’s a Bond song - big tick there. To be honest I’m not a Bond fan at all and although I appreciated Adele’s Skyfall I didn’t really latch onto it because I don’t have that attachment with Bond. I think it’s the same deal here. Smith sounds phenomenal particularly when he reaches his falsetto and I think he’s fulfilled the brief effortlessly but it’s not something I’m going to listen to again. He’ll probably perform at the Oscars with a full orchestra which will be stirring I suppose. 3

Katrina: Yep, this is definitely a Bond song. There’s no denying that. Can I see beyond that? No. Do I care? Not really. Smith’s ticked all the boxes of the brief; orchestral back-up, dramatic peaks & troughs, do-or-die lyrics and a helluva lot of falsettos, so let’s at least give him credit for that. Speaking of credits, this is probably where they’re going to stick this song, isn’t it? 3


Meshell: Guys, I’m having a really hard time right now because every song this week is killer, when am I going to get to talk shit about something? Back to this track however, Wet are so damn good at writing wistful indie pop that I would happily listen to on repeat after a breakup. This track is a little more upbeat for the trio and has a pop radio ready mix which makes me think that perhaps they have the commercial market in their sights for this one. The rhymes are super corny but the sincerity in the vocal delivery will definitely distract you from this. Until now…because I’ve pointed it out…sorry. 4

Sam: The vocals on Weak are everything. Kelly Zutrau’s tone is so intriguing that it’s really impossible not to be enchanted by a Wet song in some kind of way. When she sings “Baby please don’t leave me,” I melt a little bit which is exposing my weakness for ballads like this but that’s fine. Also after just one EP they’re managing to release track after track that sounds distinctly like Wet which is actually not that easy to do so early on in a career. They’ve got their shit together and we’re going to get one hell of a debut album as a result. 4.5 Sam's Pick

Katrina: For a song about weakness, it sure holds a lot of strength. Zutrau’s voice is undeniably stirring and always manages to punch you theeeere right in the gut. Powerful stuff once again from Wet. 4 Katrina's Pick


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Meshell: If i’m being really picky, I’d say this song’s major downfall is how long it takes for a musical variation, from the beginning to just before the 2 minute mark the song stays dynamically and harmonically the same with even the shift from verse to chorus being barely discernible so I find myself a little bored. At the 1:48 mark we get a welcome change with a very pretty vocal section before returning to the song’s main themes. Great production and cute vocals but not really anything to make me go back for another immediate listen. 3

Sam: Mmm, that instrumental is tasty right from the start. It sounds like it was crafted underwater and then it’s complimented nicely by the vocals. I think the verse is really nicely melodic and I like the way the chorus just floats in effortlessly. That piano break at the end is an interesting surprise too. To be honest, I don’t really have any specific criticisms of this song apart from the fact that it kind of washes over me a little too easily. Maybe on repeat listens it will latch on but it kind of went as soon as it came for me first and second listen. 3.5

Katrina: That piano at the end really does the trick for me. It's a quaint, catchy pop songs for the most part but when that kicks in it gives it a point of difference - lights a spark and makes this song way more memorable. My first time listening to IYES but I'm liking. 3.75  

Like An Animal

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Meshell: I am generally very confused by RÜFÜS because every time I listen to one of their songs, I absolutely love it and want to jump around with a whiskey in one hand and a sparkler in the other however the second it’s over I remember nothing about it…it’s like my brain can find no recognisable hooks or interesting sounds to grab a hold of. Not to say I’m not loving the track, I want to dance around as I type this however I can already tell that the second it’s over it will be like I never heard it. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise? Like I’ll get to enjoy it with fresh ears over and over again. Right? 3.5

Sam: I thought it was a remix of You Were Right on first listen - it’s very similar isn’t it? You know what, Rufus have their style down and it’s working for them, so if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Personally, I think it’s bland with very little dynamic to it but it’s definitely going to have people on shoulders this festival season so what do I know? A whole album full of these tropical-cross-deep house beats is going to get a little tiresome though. 2

Katrina: *Yawnnnnn* Are people still talking about these guys? 1

Now time for your vote:
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