First Impressions: Meghan Trainor, Kendrick Lamar, M83 And More

Written By the interns on 03/08/2016


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 Azealia Banks, M83, SAFIA, Kendrick Lamar, Meghan Trainor and MSTRKRFT.

Azealia Banks
Used To Being Alone

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Zanda: ??? 4

Sam: I haven’t really read much into the Iggy Azalea sample or anything like that and I’m not sure I really care. This track is a banger in every sense of the word and that’s all I really care about. It’s pairs ‘90s house influences with EDM synths and showcases Banks’ vocals in their best environment to date. It takes a few listens to get your head around but maybe that’s the best thing about it - it’s weird. Banks is on the comeback trail once again. 4.5 

Meshell: I’m surprised I didn’t hear this during Saturday night’s Mardi Gras celebrations. It’s perfect for club dancefloors & pride parades but not my packet of crisps if you know what I mean. I’m missing old Azealia already.

Average score: 3.5 

Do It, Try It

Zanda: ??? 3.5

Sam: I like that M83 is back and I’m a fan of this songs. Those keys are something we haven’t heard from his before and as a result it’s probably the most colourful thing he’s ever produced. I don’t have a problem with it and there’s actually not one element I dislike. I just find myself finish each listen with, “that was nice”. It doesn’t smack me in the face but then again no M83 releases have and I still keep coming back for more. What am I trying to say? I have no idea either. 3.5 

Meshell: Another track that I’m ambivalent to. I’m a die-hard M83 fan (I’m talking an everyday listener) but I was hoping to hear less Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming and more Saturdays=Youth from the new album. I’m not sure if the whole clunky piano vamp works for me. Still, it IS infectiously catchy and has that typical romantic/nostalgic chorus that we all know and love Anthony Gonzalez for. 4 Meshell’s Pick

Average score: 3.6 

Make Them Wheels Roll

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Zanda: ??❤️ 5 Zanda's pick

Sam: It’s pretty impressive for a band to carve out a signature aesthetic when they haven’t even released a debut album but that’s what SAFIA have done. Within seconds of listening to this you’ll know it’s a SAFIA release - it’s dark, richly melodic and buoyed by soulful vocals. That said, the chorus of this just doesn’t go anywhere for me. I actually felt like the chorus was a bridge and I was waiting for something more.

Meshell: I’m with Sam on this. There’s this little thing called the 3 second test, you know you’ve got a signature sound and a shot at longevity if anybody can recognise your track from a 3 second grab. SAFIA have earned themselves a spot at the 3 second table. I hear you asking, “...but is it a banger?” Not this time kiddies but it’s still good enough for your Sunday roadtrip. 

Average score: 3.6 

Kendrick Lamar
Untitled 2

Zanda: ??? 3.5

Sam: untitled unmastered is actually set to debut at number one in the US this week which is ridiculous given that it’s literally a collection of off-cuts from To Pimp A Butterfly. That’s not me saying it’s unworthy - it completely is. I’m just saying not one other artist could do that because no other artist’s off-cuts are as good as Lamar’s. A great artist is one that sticks to his guns and doesn’t deviate on any of their messages or sounds because the public may not like them. Everybody is on board with Kendrick now and are now bearing witness to some of the most powerful messages in music. untitled 2 is another Lamar masterclass in narrative, flow and production. It’s a jazz-infused masterpiece that finds hooks in the most unlikely of places. 4.5 Sam's Pick 

Meshell: I’m going to have the unpopular opinion here...I LOVE Kendrick but this honestly does sound like a B-side to me. If this were anybody else I’d sing it’s praises but Kendrick has set his own bar so high that something of this calibre just doesn’t make the cut. Sorry bout it.

Average score: 3.3 

Little Red Hen

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Zanda: ??? 2

Sam: For some reason before I’d even listened to this I decided I wasn’t going to like it. I had visions of it being some watered-down attempt to regain relevancy with a little bit of funk and disco thrown in for good message. But I was wrong. This is a sonic massacre in the best way possible. It’s abrasive, aggressive and totally bonkers but at least it’s something different and really interesting. It hurts my ears but for some reason I’m a fan. 3.5 

Meshell:This makes me imagine a warehouse full of health-goths spitting acidic comments at one another for having last seasons Y-3’s whilst subtly shrugging along to the beat. Still kinda love it though. 

Average score: 2.8 

Meghan Trainor

Zanda: ???

Sam: Putting aside all preconceived feelings I have about Meghan Trainor, I still hate this. I don’t understand why Iggy Azalea receives so much shtick for appropriating hip-hop and then Trainor is allowed to kind-of half-rap her way through these nonsensical verses, referencing hip-hop and yet get away with it. Everything she supposedly stands up for in her songs she basically waters-down in interviews as if she’s only using it as a selling-point in music but doesn’t actually care enough to really put her voice out there. Oops, I just brought up my preconceived feelings about Meghan Trainor again. As far as the song goes, we’re all past the ‘90s nostalgia thing aren’t we? Give me Destiny’s Child No No No over this pls.

Meshell: BAHAHAHAHA....No. Meghan Trainor is LUCKY it’s International Women’s Day and that I feel I cannot bad mouth a fellow vagina owner...consider this a 24-hour pass.

Average score: 0.6 

Now time for your vote: 
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