First Impressions: Adele, RÜFÜS, Childish Gambino And More

Written By the interns on 11/23/2015


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 Adele, Tkay Maidza, TOKiMonsta, Childish Gambino and more. 

When We Were Young

Zanda Wilson: I’ve never been a huge fan of Adele, but this song is moody and captivating. The vocals in particular give the song all its strength and backbone. Apart from Adele’s vocals though, there isn’t much here that no session instrumentalist couldn’t do. I appreciate that she’s a fantastic artist and vocalist but I can’t see anything special here. 2.5

Sam Murphy: Adele and Tobias Jesso Jr. are just such a great pairing because they both write really honestly and also tap into nostalgia with ease. This is my personal favourite of 25 because it’s a ballad, like much of the album, but it’s so natural in the way it unfurls. There’s no obvious, stadium-ready chorus but there’s so much emotion and power behind what she’s singing. I love at the end when she sings, “I’m so mad about getting old it makes me reckless.” Getting old is bloody scary even in your mid-20s, I can’t imagine what it’s like when you’re doing it in front of the whole world and titling your albums accordingly. 4.5

Annie Cooper: Adele’s not someone I listen to on the regular, but with that said it’s undeniable that she’s one of the most powerful musicians right now. It’s kind of hard to review any song she makes, because even if she sung over the backing tracks to Watch Me Whip, her vocals would still overpower that bullshit. This track is a good example of that, her voice sets the mood and is 100% the focal point here, while the backing instrumentals are just okay for me. 3

Jack Cain: Recently I talked about a song that had in it what sounded like to me the choir of 10 prepubescent boys singing all at once. I forget what the song was called mostly because I didn't care about it and hated it. In this wonderful Adele epic there is also a choir (it comes in at the 3.40 minute mark). And that people is how it's fucking done. This is a hit, this is a song that when you're a music producer standing in the mixing room, putting on the final touches, you know you've got yourself a ballad to rival some of the best (eg: Total Eclipse Of The Heart). It's everything all Adele fans want and expect from their cherished international treasure. She is the biggest thing in music, with one of the best voices of all time. All of what I just said are the first things you think listening to this. If you look any deeper, you're expecting too much. 4

Average Score: 3.5


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Zanda: A nine minute epic from these guys was definitely not what I was expecting, but dayum I’m glad they made this one. The start almost sounds like the introduction to something by Deadmau5, but once the rhythm comes in it's RUFUS all over. The bass just oozes funk and as usual the vocals are echoey and mysterious. There is so much going on in the synth layer as well, and the percussive layers are also used in such a multitude of ways. Just fantastic stuff. 4

Sam: This one’s a difficult one for me. On one hand I applaud RUFUS for doing something ambitious and nutting it out for nine minutes but on the other hand it sounds like an extended version of everything else we’ve heard from them over the past few months. It’s definitely beautiful and sprawling but I can’t help but feel myself nodding off after about four minutes purely because of the fact they’re not giving us anything new. It’s a deep house beat with wistful vocals which has been done over and over. There are some really great parts in this but maybe I was just deterred by the run time. Almost like when you think you’re going to be in the RTA for 20 mins and you end up there for two hours for seemingly no reason other than they didn’t hurry the f**k up. 2.5

Annie: My first reaction after realising this song runs for 9 minutes was "I don’t have time for this shit", but it wasn’t as terrible as I had anticipated. It’s typical RUFUS with its mysterious vocals and superb bass lines, and I definitely enjoyed this more than anything else they’ve released lately. Full disclosure though, I did find myself skipping forward a few times. It’s a good track, the length just feels unnecessary. 2.5

Jack: I was sent this tune on promo the other day, I'm a huge fan of Sweat It Out (the record label) and I usually open everything I get and listen to it right there and then. This song's been out for two or three days and I still haven't listened to it. But here it is in this thread, so here goes.. lol brb.

Okay, so my fears have been confirmed. The intro kind of reminds me of the theme music to a really shit '80s sci-fi movie. then da beat drops and the vocals come in. Honestly, I can't even say anything else. Just holla at me when y'all write a different vocal melody for one of your songs. As for the rest of the song, it's a musical yawn and it's lazy. Can we please bring back The Presets and the Pnau’s (there is so a new album coming) of the world? 2

Average Score: 2.75

Tkay Maidza

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Zanda: Tkay Maidza has played pretty much every festival in Australia this year, but that obviously hasn’t kept her out of the studio completely. This might be her best track to date, in no short part due to some incredible guest producers. I can hear quite a strong Baauer influence with the dark vibes and darker beats. Tkay’s rhymes are flawless and rhythmic, and the bass is absolutely banging.
4.5 Zanda’s Pick

Sam: I’ve loved watching Tkay’s trajectory this year. From a massive Splendour In The Grass set to a sold-out national tour she’s just continued to grow her fanbase purely based on the fact she’s got a great stage presence and excellent songs to boot. Ghost is her first real big name collaboration but she still manages to come out as the main event atop George Maple, What So Not and Baauer. It’s one of the darkest things she’s ever done and perhaps also the heaviest. It forces her to annunciate more and bring a tougher flow which is great to hear. The hook is so strong and Maple’s coos in the background only add to that. 4

Annie: Tkay is one of my favourite artists of this year, and this could well be my favourite release from her thus far. Everything about this is just flawless, from the obvious Bauuer and What So Not influences, to her flawless vocals- I love this. Just envisioning this live gives me chills. If her next releases follow in this vein, I will be one happy girl. 4.5 Annie’s Pick 

Jack: It's very well-produced and features a bunch of artists that are easy to love. Tkay has a killer flow, and it really just leaves me wondering how long until she takes over the world and is rapping on tracks with Dr Dre. I'm gonna give this a 5, because each person featured gets a 1 for their part, which is an automatic 4 and its easily the best song of the week. 5 Jack's Pick 

Average Score: 4.5

Put It Down (Feat. Anderson .Paak and KRNE)

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Zanda: A well-produced track here, in that the production is seamless and smooth. However, that chord progression is interesting for about the first thirty seconds and after that it’s just annoying and repetitive. I definitely expected more from the drop as well. The rapping is monotonous and again, repetitive. The piano at the back-end redeems it somewhat but overall I’m not a huge fan. 2.5

Sam: TOKiMONSTA is probably one of my favourite producers of the last few years and Paak is a voice I’ve been raving about for the better part of this year so I’m suitably hyped to see them teaming up again. Paak’s vocal on this is perfect and that’s aided by TOKi and KRNE’s well-crafted chords but it’s the drop that I think steals the show on this. I love the melody injected into those really dense horn sounds. But then there are also the horns under Paak’s voice in the verse sounding excellent so maybe I’m going to retract my initial statement. Basically, I haven’t decided what I like most about it because I think the whole thing is next level. It’s one of the most accessible things TOKi has put out and I hope she gets her dues for it. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Jack: The drop really disappoints me and kind of makes me hate the song, I don't know why songs with a bunch of vocalists need to be turned into some trap anthem. Other than that, this beat is pretty sick, and it is very nicely produced. Pakk kills it and I do agree with Sam, it's the most wholesome and accessible thing TOKiMONSTA has done. I think it's safe to say we will be hearing this song well into 2016. 3.5

Average Score: 3.5

Childish Gambino, Vince Staples
Waiting For My Moment

Zanda: An interesting use of horns and strings here, giving the whole thing a kind of orchestral feel to it. The sections with raps and vocals definitely provide more interest, and unfortunately for me there is just too much build up with these orchestral periods lasting minutes at a time. It’s also quite random in its structure, and although various elements fit together I feel like it’s a track that doesn’t know quite what it wants to be. 3

Sam: On paper, this sounds really good. Jhene Aiko, Vince Staples and Childish Gambino is a winning trio but it sounds lame and limp to be honest. “Fighting hard and stronger,” over horns and a choir is really predictable for a boxing movie. It sounds like it’s something Muse have had a hand in which is never a good thing if you’re not looking for something to soundtrack Cathy Freeman lighting the 2000 Olympic flame. Structurally the song is a dog’s breakfast too. Really disappointing. 2

Annie: I’m really confused about my feelings towards this song. Structurally, it’s quite random- I found myself loving some parts, and then feeling bewildered at it’s quick change into something else entirely. It’s orchestral feel (at some points) was a nice touch, but it doesn’t quite fit. It kind of just sounds like a mess, but I guess I didn’t mind it? 2

Jack: I feel like I've just watched The Lord Of The Rings simultaneously with The Sound Of Music whilst also watching 50 Cent's Candy Shop intro on repeat, which leads to a Diamonds Are Forever-esque segue which leads to chants from Blood Diamond. Um yeah, I don't know what this is. I kinda of like it in some parts. It's clearly a hybrid score to the movie Creed (which is meant to be good). Hey, Gambino: if you wanna know how to rap in a movie watch Django Unchained. Now that's a rap score. 1.5

Average Score: 2.125


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Zanda: Very brooding and mysterious, and I’m loving the delay effect on the percussion. KLOE spends a lot of time on this track playing around with texture and melodic space, with various aspects EQ’d very deliberately in ways that make you listen really hard for the effect. It’s captivating, the vocals are gorgeous, and theres a lot in the accompanying layer to sink your teeth into. 4

Annie: This is one of those songs that grow on you as they progress, leaving you obsessed. KLOE’s vocals are gorgeous, and when layered with the percussion of this track- make for something really impeccable. I’ve never listened to KLOE before and after this song, I’m hooked. There’s so many aspects to this song that make it as delightful as this in, I’d recommend it to anyone. 4.5

Jack: I like this. Her voice reminds me of the '90s. Gwen Stefani, is that you? 2015's answer to 2005 Gwen Stefani is a good title. So Kloe, I give you that. Take it or leave it. Although, I'll make a comparison to Hilary Duff. Don't care what anyone says, Come Clean is a tune.

Average Score: 4.16 

Now time for your vote: 

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