First Impressions: Justin Bieber, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Desiigner And More

Written By the interns on 07/27/2016


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 Major Lazer, LOLAWOLF, Feki, Desiigner, PARTYNEXTDOOR and Chairlift.

Major Lazer
Cold Water (Feat. Justin Bieber and MO)

Reece: If I was kidnapped by some Byron surf bros who threatened bad things unless I guessed the next Hottest 100 winner, I’d be banking on this. Maybe additional production by Kevin Parker and Flume would help and a Chet Faker feature surely get it over the line, but this has all the ingredients of a megahit. Bieber and Diplo are a dynamite duo and ‘Cold Water’ starts off incredibly. The vocal work from both Biebs and MØ is phenomenal and even though I’m not the biggest fan of the drop, I already know this one is going to be huge. 3.5

Zanda: Wow, doesn’t Diplo just unlock something in Justin Bieber. By the same token, Justin’s voice goes hand in hand with Diplo’s production like a fish to water - and although this tune is relatively formulaic and pretty predictable, it’s a feel good singalong that most Bieber fans love, and though personally I preferred Major Lazer when the collective was a little more explorative you can’t blame Diplo for churning out tracks like this because he knows they will guarantee him this… 3

Harrison: This sits in the middle of the road for me. I like it a lot more than Lean On, but here’s to knowing that it’s going become a massive commercial success and cop an absolute thrashing on radio. In a sense, this somewhat feels like a re-skin of what we have heard from Diplo/ Major Lazer on their most recent efforts. Do I like it? No. Do I hate it? No. Hence why it sits in the middle of the road for me. I am sure there are better sounding pop dance anthems out there than this. 2.5

Sam: I love that Diplo has taken it on himself two years in a row to deliver the song of summer. This is about three hundred per cent less annoying than Lean On and given how quickly it shot up the charts it’s further proof that Biebs is the biggest popstar in the world right now. As far as a pop song goes, I literally can’t fault it. It’s like the love child of One Dance and Lean On and it’s so perfect for Biebs’ voice. My only slight criticism is the tempo could’ve been a little faster but that’s it. 4

Average Score: 3.25

Teardrop (Feat. Miley Cyrus)

Reece: The immediate comparison I draw from ‘Teardrop’ is to MØ, which does nothing but excite me. Putting aside Miley’s #WhiteGirlPhilosophy refrain at song’s midpoint, ‘Teardrop’ is an affecting and enjoyable listen. The production is delightfully quirky and measured, whilst the hook grows throughout the song into an anthemic catch-cry. This song doesn’t particularly grab me, but it does the job. 3.5

Harrison: I like Miley, but this doesn’t really do much musically for me. It’s quirky in a really dark way. I feel like you will either really really like Teardrop, or its appeal will be next to non-existent for you. 1.5

Sam: This is such a bizarre track it took me about eight listens to get my head around it. Now I think I get it but I still think it’s very disjointed. There are points that are really great - Miley’s bits give it some melodic substance but as a whole it lacks cohesion. It’s like they’re channeling FKA twigs but without her distinct skill to thread together the bizarre. 2.5

Average Score: 2.5

Timmy Turner

Reece: It’s staggering just how far a Kanye co-sign can get you. I really want to like Desiigner, guys. I really, really do. ‘Panda’ is catchy and watching Desiigner play Pokemon Go is the finest piece of visual art since ever. But I can’t do this one. The production behind ‘Timmy Turner’ sounds menacing and intriguing, but Desiigner isn’t doing anything on this song that I enjoy. Give me the instrumental and the score bumps up by another one or two. 2.5

Zanda: I really don’t mind this at all. It sounds like a Future track and I can definitely groove along to the instrumental track and effects. I don’t think it really needs the vocal trills, or at least it doesn’t need as many as it as. I get that’s kindof Desiigner’s trademark but it’s not really necessary here. Also, the three minute mark is where this tune really takes off and Desiigner gets awesomely melodic in his rhymes, mimicking the melody of the synth behind - where has this been the whole song??? 3.5

Harrison: Have I completely missed the boat with Desiigner or…?? I seriously don’t understand the hype surrounding his hit Panda, even after having my brother bounce into my room from time to time chanting “Panda, panda, panda, panda”. Once again, Rap/Hip-Hop isn’t my game and this doesn’t do much, if anything for me. It’s got a semi decent beat, but that’s all I can really vibe about it. It doesn’t hurt my ears, but to say it flows pleasantly through it is another thing. Music makes me feel good, this does something short of the opposite. 1.5

Sam: This is such a step-up for the New English mixtape. It definitely doesn’t have the viral appeal of Panda but it’s a legitimately worthwhile second single and may ensure he bags another hit. The hook is fire, it’s great to hear Desiigner sing and it’s perhaps his main strength because the verses where he raps just don’t really stick. He redeems the lack of substance in the verses with that synth that arrives at the end and dumps a bucket load of melody. That’s the sweet stuff right there and it makes it a triumph rather than a flop. 3.5

Average Score: 2.75

You Got Me (Feat. Dom Vino)

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Reece: Feki is one of the best out there at weaving a distinct atmosphere into his songs and You Got Me may be the most polished example yet. Dom Vino is a subtle but welcome feature on this track, but the beauty of this gem lies in the winding, subdued production. You Got Me builds up to some steely drums on the chorus and the verses manage to stay invigorating on repeat listens. This one will surely be getting arms waving at festivals for the rest of the year and the four minute run time just flies by. 4 Reece’s Pick

Zanda: This is by far Feki’s biggest accomplishment to date. I’m probably biased having seen him perform this live with Dom Vino at Splendour, but it was one of the absolute climaxes of his late afternoon set as the sun went down, and launched the evening off right. It plays with the line between emotive electro and dancey banger - and is a clear signal that we’ve yet to hear what the Brisbane producer is fully capable of. 4.5 Zanda’s Pick

Harrison: Ok, that bassline. Yep. I am sold. How far has this guy come. I agree with Zanda, this is quite possibly his biggest accomplishment to date. It’s little steps, with everything he continues to churn out slightly sounding better than its predecessor. It’s electronic music, it’s not dance music and it’s super super refreshing. Thank you Feki for delivering some Porter Robinson-esque atmospheric electronic music. 4.5 Harrison’s Pick

Sam: I love Feki, I really do but for some reason the start of this is giving me Swedish House Mafia vibes and I’m just not here for it. The instrumental is beautiful and lush, taking cues from the Drive soundtrack but it doesn’t go far enough and the vocals are not to my liking. I feel like Feki’s playing into the hands of the masses here which he does have to do to keep his career burning like it is but he’s capable of far more innovative stuff than this. Remember and his Motley Crue remix bled with fragility and emotional vocal samples but as much as I think You Got Me is nice, it flat lines. 3

Average Score: 4

Not Nice

Reece: The OVO dancehall revolution continues with PARTYNEXTDOOR’s latest offering. In a vacuum, ‘Not Nice’ is plain and enjoyable. It’s a little sparse but PND’s voice excuses many of the sins of his music. That being said, coming right on the heels of his work on Drake’s album, this track is too much of a rehash for me to love it. The initial infusion of dancehall to mainstream hip-hop was cool, but it already feels like oversaturation thanks to ‘One Dance’ being literally everywhere. Tracks like this sound fine, but they’re lazy. 2.5

Zanda: I pretty much have the same gripe with this as I do with a lot of music coming out of Drake’s crew of musicians. It starts off promising enough, but there’s just so little development in the beat, melody or anywhere else that I just switch off and get bored. That’s not so much a criticism of the song itself but the genre. It’s just something that I always have, and always will strive to engage with. 2

Harrison: I need those neutral face emojis for this. To a certain degree I am left bored by this whole dancehall revolution. Perhaps it is due to the whole sound falling stale and really just sounding the damn same all the way throughout. Sharpen your stakes if you wish, as electronic dance music is made of similar sounding material but, damn this boring. I am sure Not Nice isn’t the worst piece of music in the genre, so some of you can now put those stakes away. 2

Sam: Continuing this year’s trend of dancehall meets mainstream, PARTYNEXTDOOR has delivered what could well be the sequel to One Dance. Given that he was the man behind Rihanna’s Work it’s unsurprising that he pulls this off so effortlessly and honestly, I think all of you above are mental. “You’re not nice, you’re rude,” is one of my favourite hooks of the year and I love the way he sits back in the beat and takes his time. It’s so cool to see PND do something a little bit different to his usual after-dark R&B and this proves that he can be a main player like Drake ticking both commercial and underground boxes. 4.5 Sam’s Pick

Average Score: 2.75

Get Real

Reece: Chairlift are still strongly in rotation thanks to their brilliant work on Moth, but a new single is always very welcome. They’re such a well-rounded duo, bringing something new to the table every time out and ‘Get Real’ is one of their best written songs yet. Caroline Polachek is a very diverse vocalist and Patrick Wimberly has an absolute midas touch, whether it’s with Chairlift or his forays into hip-hop. A breeze from start to finish. 4

Zanda: Loving this from the first seconds of it. Caroline Polachek has some pretty incredible and unique voice, and this track features pretty much her full range and awesome talent, as she jumps up and down registers with ease. The production is smooth as silk too, unsurprisingly, as Chairlift are typically very easy listening. 4

Harrison: Everything about Get Real works extremely well. The vocals are hauntingly beautifully, and the sound design is as eclectically electronic as you may hear/find. This feels like that pick of the week that I really delve into after sharing my thoughts. 4

Sam: I’m not really sure where this track comes from but it’s a pretty effortless extension of Moth. If it were on the album it wouldn’t be one of the highlights but Chairlift are always consistent and it’s so nice to hear Polachek’s voice whether or not it’s one of their stronger tunes. I do love the vocal trickery after the chorus and the way it plods along while still maintaining interest. 3.5

Average Score: 3.86

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