First Impressions: Chance The Rapper, CHVRCHES, MNEK And More

Written By the interns on 05/17/2016


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 CHVRCHES, Chance The Rapper, MNEK, Ngaiire, and DAWN.

Warning Call

Zanda Wilson: I definitely didn’t see this coming – CHVRCHES writing part of the soundtrack for a game. Warning Call is a pretty typical CHVRCHES; glittering production and breathtaking vocals from everyone’s favourite Scottish babe of a singer Lauren Mayberry. Taking it as a stand-alone song it’s far from my favourite that’s come from them, but at the same time it suits its purpose perfectly. 4

Meshell Webb: I’ve never gotten the hype behind CHVRCHES though I’ve tried incredibly hard to, seeing the band live on multiple occasions and sitting with their music, giving it a real fighting chance...yet to me it just falls into the background. This track unfortunately is no different, nothing grabs me and although I can’t fault it...I’m bored. 2

Harrison Kefford: Not enough emphasis has been put into the vocal improvement of Lauren Mayberry. This girl has such a unique voice and it makes my love for CHVRCHES increase tenfold. Warning Call yet again, helps to stretch out the brilliance that was their 2015 album - Every Open Eye. 4 Harrison’s Pick

Sam Murphy: I mean at this point CHVRCHES is CHVRCHES isn’t it? You always know exactly what to expect but it’s always solid. I’m not shocked by this at all but I also really like it. It’s simplistic and richly melodic and that’s enough. 3.5

Average Score: 3.38

Chance The Rapper
No Problem (Feat. 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne)

Zanda: Everything Chance The Rapper touches seems to turn to gold at the moment, if you’ll excuse the cliché. The US MC has announced that he’ll be touring Australia later this year and wow – if he plays a whole bunch of stuff off his new mixtape Coloring Book then it’ll be one of the most unmissable shows of 2016. No Problem has a sound that literally no one else is exploring at the moment. 4

Meshell: I guess in an attempt to keep his vocals sitting atop the mix, Chance has chosen to emit certain frequencies of his gospel arrangement, turning it into a bit of a washy/muddy mess that kind of clutters up the background. I get it’s not meant to be the focus of the song but honestly I’d prefer if it were. Catchy song but the mix is really annoying me. 3.5

Harrison: I am not a huge Chance The Rapper fan, but I have a lot of respect and understand the hype that surrounds him. I have sussed out Coloring Book and it has some freaking amazing tracks, with No Problem being one of its best. 3

Sam: This is like all of Chance’s best elements coming together. It’s joyous, cocky and uplifting all at the same time effortlessly blending gospel elements with hip-hop. This song could’ve only come from Chance because it’s coloured by his personality in a way no one else good. It just feels damn good to listen to and for the first time in years it even makes Lil Wayne sound relevant. 4

Average Score: 3.63

At Night (I Think About You)

Zanda: A bouncing, pulsating effort by MNEK here. His intensely soulful vocals are the centrepiece of this one, but I can’t help but bemoan the fact that they’ve been digitally altered in a bunch of phrases. He’s got such a naturally penetrating voice, and although this is a great track – I think that less is more when it comes to a talent like MNEK 3.5

Meshell: I’ve been championing MNEK’s flawless and powerful vocals for a couple of years now, I’m a huge fan but after the success of his duet with Zara Larsson I feel that there is this pressure to deliver a certain type of sound, one that doesn’t feel quite like MNEK is in the driving seat when it comes to creative control and that makes me really, really sad. 3

Harrison: Talk about having a gift for writing, MNEK is one of the best. With credits including Beyonce, Rudimental, Duke Dumont, Madonna and Diplo - This guy clearly knows a thing or two about music. After vibing his collaboration with Zara Larsson (Never Forget You), At Night (I Think About You), is more proof this guy knows how to produce solid music. 3

Sam: This is a masterclass in writing a pop song. The way it builds towards the chorus may be somewhat generic but MNEK is such a masterful pop writer and so it’s just a class above anybody else trying out this sound at the moment. I sort of agree with Meshell that there would’ve been a pressure to deliver this sound again after the Zara Larsson track, but he was crafting it before many were doing it, right from his Small Talk EP so I’m not mad by him doing it again. Easily one of my favourite pop songs of the year because it’s a melodic wonderland. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Average Score: 3.5

Final Song

Zanda: Another one that I’m liking but not loving. Final Song has some bite in those delayed drops, but the rest of it is super predictable and especially those choral vocal parts sound like they could be pretty much anyone. MØ generally has a pretty distinctive sound but I feel like she’s lost it a bit here. 3

Meshell: This song was written to a really specific brief of “cool song for American summertime” and that really pisses me off. There is nothing new on offer here. We’ve heard this song a thousand times over in a thousand variations...someone call Diplo and tell him to stop being lazy. 2

Harrison: Because this was a MØ track (for whom i had absolutely zero time for) I judged this track even before listening. But, boy am I wrong - I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think this prejudgement comes from the fact Lean On was for me, one of the worst songs of 2015, with people legitimately thinking it merited a spot in the Hottest 100. 2.5

Sam: I like this because I love MØ’s voice but I have to agree with everyone else. It feels like she’s going for Lean On part two and she’s so much better when her songs a filled with a little anarchy. I hope this isn’t the start of her refining her image to break into the pop world because her raw edge is what makes her so exciting. That said though, it’s hardly a bad song. 3.5

Average Score: 2.75

I Can’t Hear God Anymore

Zanda: Ngaiire is surely about to blow up, and this new track shows she’s got a lot more to her than just singing on catchy, poppy tracks like Diggin. I Can’t Hear God Anymore is super different, and explores her soulful vocal style in great depth. In saying that, I personally am not quite as much a fan of this side of her – but it’s promising that she’s exploring diverse and different styles. 3.5

Meshell: There is a nice brutality to some of the lyrics on this which are kind of concerning if you listen closely enough. There’s a bit of a James Blake vibe going on too in the instrumentation and arrangement which I like. To me this doesn’t feel quite like a finished version however. I’m going to have to disagree with Zanda and the notion that Ngaiire is about to blow up. I think we’re at a point where if she were to, it would have already happened. This is music for a niche and that’s just fine with me. 3.75 Meshell’s Pick

Harrison: There is a message inside the lyrics of this song, and yet again it enables us to fall in love with Ngaiire. This girls star is truly on the rise and it’s super exciting for Australian music. At first listen, there isn’t more too the song in terms of sound design, but perhaps the lyrics are all that are needed to do the talking. 3

Sam: I’m so glad that people responded to Ngaiire’s Once because it pointed her in the right direction sonically and given her an excellent base to build her record around. This trades in that same sort of sound with minimal beats and effortless vocals. It feels melancholic but there are really warm undertones to it which makes it far easier to swallow. Beautiful stuff. 4

Average Score: 3.56

Wake Up

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Zanda: “Oh Dayum” is my first reaction to this one from D∆WN. There’s so much going on but that’s definitely to this track’s benefit. Wake Me Up threatens to turn into a mindless EDM banger time and time again but then throws a curveball after each section of build-up – resulting in a tune that is unpredictable, yet up-beat and catchy. *Adds to Spotify playlist “Party Tracks”*
4.5 Zanda’s Pick

Meshell: This vocalist has a killer set of pipes on her so If nothing else that sells me on the track. There’s enough movement throughout the sections to keep it interesting but I’m not quite dancing on the tables. I can already hear about ten remixes of this brewing in the corner and that’s exciting. 3.5

Harrison: This sounds and feels like tacky dance music. The only real positive are the vocals, with Dawn having a great voice. 1.5

Sam: I can’t really rave about DAWN anymore than I already have. In my opinion she’s melding pop and electronica together better than anyone around right now and this is an example of it. Like Zanda said, it heads straight in the direction of a banger but then takes a swift turn into something far more sonically intelligent and interesting. Not Above That is one of my favourite songs of the year so far and this is not far behind it. 4.5

Average Score: 3.5

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