First Impressions: Charli XCX, Drake, Run The Jewels And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 11/01/2016


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 Charli XCX, Dave, Run The Jewels, BLESSED, Leo Kalyan and Off Bloom.

Charli XCX
After The Afterparty (Feat. Lil Yachty)

Zanda: Did anyone actually need proof that Charli XCX is one of pop music’s hottest commodities? If you did, you’ve probably been living under a rock - but so be it, and here is just another example of her ability to put together A+ sugary pop production under her silky, sexy vocals. Not really a fan of Lil Yachty but Charli could probably have made any rapper look good on a track like this. 4.5 Zanda's Pick

Harrison: I absolutely love love love the video clip, and again Charli has reinstated herself as one of the hottest acts in pop. It’s fun and just about everything you’d want and expect from Miss XCX. Charli XCX isn’t an artist I follow very closely, I loved both Boom Clap and Break The Rules and After The Afterparty certainly isn’t either of those, but it’s still very much a quality piece pop music. 4

Sam: Following the success of Boom Clap, Charli could’ve linked up with some of the best pop writers in the game and made songs that sound like every number one going around. Instead, she tapped on SOPHIE’s door and started making music that she genuinely loves and it shows. After The Afterparty is the most pop things she’s ever done but it’s also her best single ever. Her personality and vibrancy really shines through and while it’s kitsch and is definitely going to piss some people off, that’s what the best pop moments are made of. So delectable that I could eat it all the time and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing since it came out. Easily one of the best pop songs of the year and another reason why we need Charli.Sam's Pick

Average Score: 4.5

Wanna Know (Feat. Drake)

Zanda: Shaped through that dark, bold and deep bassline - the production is fairly minimalist but in a strange way there’s more than enough to keep my interest. Gotta love verses Drake seamlessly goes between rapping and singing, showing off again how versatile he is as a vocalist. Absolutely love that glitchy outro as well. 4

Harrison: Thank god we have more than one person giving their thoughts on last weeks music because this isn’t doing a lot for me. It’s a genre of music I don’t really dabble in, so I thinks it’s best to leave it to the more advised around here. 2.5

Sam: I feel like every few months Drake chooses a new artist to cosign just to show that he’s down with the kids. Whatever the reasoning is, it’s cool to see that he’s still down to lift-up the underdog and while British rapper Dave is a somewhat unexpected one to choose, the pair really work together on this track. Flow-wise, Dave kills the verses. Every word just rolls into the next so effortlessly and it’s so seamless that he almost makes Drake sound clunky. Just a really low-key, great song, that’s sure to pick up steam as time goes on like Makonnen’s Tuesday. 4

Average Score: 3.5

Run The Jewels
Talk To Me

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Zanda: Run The Jewels’ third album is imminent, and from this first taste it’s going to be an absolute belter. Hard hitting rhymes, banging beats and on-point samples all come together on Talk To Me to create exactly what we’ve come to expect from these guys. 4

Harrison: Zanda summed this up perfectly, “hard hitting rhymes, banging beats and on-point samples all coming together”. It’s Run The Jewels, and I am sure there isn’t a single person involved in music who isn’t amped for this third album. 4

Sam: Run The Jewels are as reliable as a packet of Cheds. You never get a bad one and that often means you have to remind yourself how good they are when you become complacent. This is a beefy, aggressive tune that sounds like they’re waging war. And given their current political stances, maybe they are. Big song. 4.5

Average Score: 4.16

Leo Kalyan

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Zanda: This might be a predictable response from me but i’m pretty bored by this. No doubt Leo Kaylan has some pretty smooth vocals but i get the feeling that he’s just going through the motions on this one. The chord progression and melody is extremely predictable. 2.5

Harrison: A pretty haunting and smooth set of vocals by Leo Kaylan. Although it’s lacking a bit of ‘umph’, it’s a pretty catchy piece of R&B that definitely has it’s sights set on commercial radio. It’s just resting above the middle of the road for me. 3.5

Sam: The first thing that struck me about this jam is how easily it glides. There are so many people trading in that velvety dance sound at the moment but few do it really successfully. This sounds like it’s floating on air. The beats are pulsating yet they’re not heavy and Kaylan’s vocal, particularly his falsetto, flies. I’m a big fan of this just because it’s so airy and easy. 4

Average Score: 3.3


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Zanda: There is just so much to love here. The percussive build from the begging up is smooth and creates anticipation, but it’s after the one minute mark with that drop and vocal sample that really grabs your attention. The distinct verse and chorus structure sees the two primary parts work perfectly together and compliment one another. 4

Harrison: If this drop went any bigger or harder it would bridge further into one of heavier electronic music genres, but it indulges enough so much so that everything works extremely well. It’s the shining light, and it really sells the track for me. 3.5

Sam: Well, I guess I’m gonna like everything this week because I like this song too. I had to get over the fact that his voice makes me think that it’s going to burst into David Guetta and Kid Cudi’s Memories, but I’m somewhat past that now and really enjoying the dark vibes of this. The drop feels like an integral part of the song rather than something shoved in to take up time and that’s very rare in 2016. 3.5

Average Score: 3.6

Off Bloom
Love To Hate It

Zanda: Fun, bobby electro - but another track that i don’t find myself loving too much just because it sounds like so much else that’s going the electronic music scene at the moment. It’ll easily slip into a party playlist without too much fuss. 3

Harrison: This is by far my pick of the week. Although a lot of what is happening in music right now sounds a lot like what Love To Hate It is offering, is just really love the tracks vibe. This is the first I have heard of Off Bloom, but the group’s vocalist, wow. She has a really unique tone that I really really dig. If you’re a sucker for electro-pop then you will really vibe Love To Hate It. S/N With a huge smile, I know it’s only Tuesday but Off Bloom are my weekly discovery. 4.5 Harrison's Pick

Sam: Putting them in my ones to watch for 2017 list right now because this song has all the makings of a future hit. It remind me of early MO but with even more pop sensibilities. I feel like they could occupy that HAIM space of alt-pop and occasionally trip over to Major Lazer for a feature on a banger. The bridge of this is so lovely and it’s all thanks to that ridiculously good vocal. Really cool stuff. 4.5

Average Score: 4