First Impressions: The Weeknd, Childish Gambino, Noah Cyrus And More

Written By the interns on 11/22/2016


First Impressions is an interns roundtable review of songs on their first (or second) listen. Each week we listen to 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 The Weeknd, Childish Gambino, easyFun, Noah Cyrus, Jess Kent and Kingdom.

The Weeknd
I Feel It Coming (Feat. Daft Punk)

Michelle: Maybe I’ve been listening to too much of LEISURE, but is it just me or is every artist getting behind the jazz, funk and soul influences? This has classic Daft Punk production behind it and a sweeter set of vocals from The Weeknd, so it’s quite distinct from the Weeknd’s debut, but it still has the earworm ability of Can’t Feel My Face and The Hills. It’s probably best described as the lovechild of The Weeknd’s debut and Get Lucky. Maybe. Anyway, it panders to fans of both halves of the production team and I can’t wait to hear it over the speakers this summer. 4

Zanda: I honestly wasn’t a huge fan of Starboy. Yes there are certain aspects of that are undeniably catchy, but overall it wasn’t massively impressive. For me, this one was going in the same direction, catchy but not really catching my full attention - and then those quintessentially Daft Punk talk box vocals come in and get me right in the feels. I don’t think there’ll ever be a time when Daft Punk’s curve-ball of feels won’t smack me right in the face. I’ll be taking my base now thanks. 4

Sam: There's such an easygoing nature to this song that really makes it impossible not to like in some way. Everything about it from the subtle melodic twist and turns to Daft Punk's classic vocal manipulation feels very natural. It didn't light me up with excitement the first time I heard it and it still doesn't know but I don't think that's the purpose. Every time I listen to it I just feel very at ease. It's a beautiful closer to an album that sounds like it's going to be a very glossy, electronic affair. Sam's Pick

Average Score: 4

Monopoly (Feat. Noonie Bao)

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Michelle: Noonie Bao is one of the most underrated songwriters around and she doesn’t get nearly as much hype as she should even though she’s been credited on hits by Avicii, Charli XCX, MO and Alesso. Anyway, PC Music’s EASYFUN pairs Bao’s candy-coated soprano with bouncy synthpop and it’s so magnificently easy to listen to. There are moments where they may have gone a bit too far with the SFX but overall, it’s quality glitchy pop magic. 3

Zanda: Prominent PC Music producers just keep pulling unexpected collaborators out of nowhere - and now following vocal features by Charli XCX, Caroline Polachek and Carly Rae Jepsen, Noonie Bao features on this essential happy, glitchy track. The beauty of bringing on this singers is it bridges the gap between the core aesthetic of PC Music and pop music - making it infinitely more accessible. 4.5 Zanda's Pick

Sam: Noonie Bao is such a great pop writer but until now I haven't heard her sing on a track that really excited me. Like Charli XCX, the PC Music world fits Bao like a glove and specifically, easyFun's melody-heavy production is perfect. Of all the songs on PC Music's most recent compilation, this is the one most destined for success. It has all the makings of a pop hit with enough oddities to keep it interesting and fresh. 4

Average Score: 3.83

Childish Gambino

Michelle: Apart from the fact that the intro sounds like circus or elevator jazz, this is one smooth piece of falsetto. It feels like he’s stretching his vocals and you can hear it but the jazz vibes from the brass instrumentals more than hold up the raspy vocals. Though it has no rap verse (just vocals!) and is heavy on the funk/soul comparisons, it’s still distinctly Gambino. I think I prefer the old Gambino, but maybe I can get behind this new sound in time. Reminds me of Anderson .Paak, LEISURE and Andre 3000. 3.5

Zanda: The wait for Childish Gambino’s new album is unfuckingbearable at the moment, and i’m actually so excited for the album to be largely devoid of his (admittedly amazin) rapping skills. It just feels like the two tracks he’s released so far are coming from a deeper place inside him - there’s more emotion and genuine soul present throughout it and i’m loving it. 4

Sam: I really, really wanna like this album but everything is sitting at the midway point for me at the moment. This is good but it's not amazing, in fact artists like Thundercat have pulled off this funk aesthetic better in the last few years, and it's also not really worthy of its near-six minute run time. That said, it's not bad at all. The woozy falsetto is intoxicating and the chorus has an undeniably likeable melody. I just can't help but want more. 3

Average Score: 3.5

Noah Cyrus
Make Me (Cry) (Feat. Labrinth)

Michelle: Apart from a very old copy of Teen Vogue featuring her horses, Noah Cyrus has mostly stayed out of music - until now. She follows in a long tradition of younger sisters (Danni Minogue anyone?) but unlike many on this well-trodden path, this track is completely her own sound – no trace of Dead Petz or Hannah Montana – save for the slightly husky, raw but beautiful vocals. The airhorn circa 0:40 was somewhat (definitely) unnecessary, but the production is flawless, down to every last raindrop. Heavily reliant on percussion, low on synths and guitars, Noah’s first tune is actually remarkable. I know critics will be all over the fact that she’s Miley’s sister but it’s a solid track, lyrically ambitious but minimalist, if you can forget who she is, just for a moment. 4 Michelle’s Pick

Zanda: The lyrics are so fucking stupid and distracting. “Cause all you ever do is make me *raindrop*”. “Loving you could make jesus cry.” 1.5


Sam: For a 16 year-old this is such a clever entry into the music world. It's not too adult or too young and corny, it just sits in a really clever pocket and that's thanks to a few things. Firstly, the production is excellent. It's simple but it's full of delectable textures that surprise and delight at many points. Secondly, Cyrus has such a rich, textured vocal, she makes the whole thing pretty hypnotising. I don't think it detracts from the song but I also don't think having Labrinth on board adds much. Maybe she would've been better off firing out of the gates by herself for the first single. Nonetheless, this is one of the best pop debuts of the year. 4

Average Score: 3.16

Jess Kent

Michelle: Easily one of the best recent triple j Unearthed finds, Jess Kent’s half-rapping, half-singing danceable vibes on Sweet Spot and Get Down cover too many genres for me to list. Mostly pop with hints of RnB, hip hop and reggae, she’s traversed a lot of territory in two singles. However, Trolls reminds me mostly of Lily Allen’s 2014 URL Badman, covering the same theme in the same kind of electronic pop. It’s still good, but I wish she’d push harder with experiments in sounds like her last two singles than stick to overused pop themes. 2.5

Zanda: This feels very synthetic for Jess Kent, based on the stuff she’s already released this year. I don’t actually mind the verse at all - that 8-bit synth actually works really well with her style of vocals, but then we get that chorus production that suddenly goes very DJ Snake for some reason. This could’ve been really, really awesome. 3.5

Sam: I saw Jess Kent's EP pop up all over the internet over the weekend, with international sites picking it up too. Her appeal is not confined to Australia despite her triple j roots and that's a testament to her interesting but accessible sound. This one kind of reminds me of Lily Allen's URL Badman* and I love the cheek of it. "This one's for all you little shits," might be one of the best hooks to come out of this country this year and there's no way I'm going to be trolling Kent for this one. It's a total jam and only makes me more excited about her. 4

*Didn't realise Michelle had already made the connection. Great minds.

Average Score: 3.3

Nothing (Feat. Syd from The Internet)

Michelle: I’ve never heard of Kingdom until today but I’m open to anything Syd (The Internet) does, because I love Odd Future and the Internet. This, however, is a half-step slower than Syd’s other work. It’s a quality piece of electronica, almost a ballad, but it’s not particularly remarkable. The club mix adds some flavour, but it too seems to go through the motions of melody and dance percussion. 2

Zanda: I like the darkness that emanates through this, and the experimental percussion is also quite captivating. Although on some level I find it hard to really get into because of its unpredictability, that’s also one of the reasons it’s such an enjoyable listen. I’m always crowing about artists all sounding the same and this is massively refreshing both in its melody and production. 3.5

Sam: Kingdom's work with Kelela and DAWN has been so impressive that I was instantly intrigued to hear what he was going to do with Syd. Interestingly she's slipped into his world and as a result sounds a little like Kelela. That's not a bad thing at all though. Her voice is suave, slinky and enticing in a way I've never heard before. I'm used to her operating with a groovy backdrop but to hear her over something more electronic and industrial is really cool. 4

Average Score: 3.16

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