First Impressions: The Weeknd, Flume, Golden Features And More

Written By the interns on 11/29/2016


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 Flume, Lully, Golden Features, Young Franco, The Weeknd and Theophilus London.

Trust (Feat. Isabella Manfredi)

Matt: I wasn’t hugely into this at first, but by the end of the track I was a fan. It unfolds in a really unexpected and satisfying way. This feels less like a B-side or a ‘leftover’, and more like the taste of what Skin might have been in its earliest stages. In fact, Trust sounds like it almost bridges the gap between Flume’s debut album and this year’s effort. Maybe I’m reaching, but I could have sworn I heard a touch of an 80s vibe underpinning this one too. Or maybe I’m just drawing imaginary comparisons between this and Side B (another ‘companion’ EP from the Queen of Canada, Carly Rae Jepsen) for no reason? Either way, very good stuff. 4

Zanda: For me, Quirk is the best track from the new Skin Companion EP - but this isn’t far behind. It’s really full-bodied for Flume, and I can absolutely understand why it didn’t make it on the full album. There are glitchy aspects too, as can be expected from Flume, but it’s awesomely chill and yeah - can’t overstate how much i love the intensity and full-bodied texture. 4

Sam: I’m as sick of hearing Flume’s name as I am of hearing people awkwardly say “fam” but I do like this. Flume is at his best when he’s twisting and distorting vocals , taking them into another world. He did it with AlunaGeorge on Skin highlight Innocence and he’s done it again here. Isabella Manfredi has been plucked and taken into another world and her voice has never sounded so sweet. It’s surrounded by bubbly, richly textured beats that twist and contort, making it one of the most left-centred things Flume has ever done but also one of the most accessible. Really did not expect to like this as much as I do. 4.5

Average Score: 4.16

Sans Chapeau

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MATT: Look I’m not hugely into the vocal on this, but how can you not lose your mind to this beat?! Absolutely massive. This is the sort of thing that deserves to be absolutely blasted from your best and biggest speakers. Honestly though, this washed-out vocal style has been done to death. But realistically, who even cares about that? It’s all about the beat and I think Lully knows it. 3

Zanda: A super funky effort by an artist that I haven’t heard a whole lot from. I like the cool little interplay between vocals and little vocal licks throughout, and definitely find myself getting into the groove all the way through.3.5

Sam: This is a display of really innovative production paired with excellent pop melodies. It’s totally bonkers, from another planet, and yet it manages to connect somehow. It’s in a different sonic world but it kind of reminds me a little of alt j in the way that it takes really malleable, delectable melodies and combines it with weirdo, otherworldly production. 3.5

Average Score: 3.3

Golden Features
Wolfie (Feat. Julia Stone)

Matt: I think I’m suffering from producer fatigue? This really just sounds like a lot of what’s already happening and has been happening for years now. There’s nothing wrong with it by any means, and I quite like the bassline and subtleties happening here, but it doesn’t really go anywhere particularly interesting at any point. It’s your typical brooding, EDM-bro track, too scared to step out of the shadow of literally any of the other artists doing this kinda stuff to try something new. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to hear this from someone whose original schtick was a mask. It’s extremely fine. 3

Zanda: I’d better just preface this review with the fact that I’m really, really not a fan of Golden Features. I don’t mind listening to a track or two here and there, but for me his live shows are just mind-numbing bass for people on six-too-many caps. That all being said, I really, really like this song - which surprised me almost as much as seeing and hearing Julia Stone feature on it. It opens up a more melodic side to Golden, and if this is the sort of direction he’s moving in I could find myself onboard. 3.5

Sam: Take a deep house beat, insert a whispy female vocal and you’ve got a Golden Features song. I’d love to be proved wrong and I’m glad he’s having so much success as a local guy but nothing he’s done has excited me. I feel like even Peking Duk, for all their downfalls, they came back with Stranger this year which really bursted with personality. This needed to do the same for me and it just doesn’t. I also think Julia Stone’s voice drowns amongst an electronic backdrop, so that doesn’t really help it either. That said, I really do enjoy the toddler at the end. 2.5

Average Score: 3

Young Franco
Miss You

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Matt: See now this is what I’m all about. This is poppy, groovy and catchy as fuck heck. I’m all about artists who aren’t afraid to put out upbeat, fun music with no pretence. I also love how much this reminds me of LDN Noise, my current favourite producers. I’m a sucker for a meaty, catwalk-ready house beat. This is definitely my favourite release this month. 5 Matt’s Pick

Zanda: Holy mother of an elephant this is brilliant. The wait after Drop Your Love was long and hard, but jeepers was it ever worth it. Young Franco brings funk into his production like noone else at the moment - and boy howdy his show next year is going to be an absolute belter. 5 Zanda’s Pick

Sam: I really challenge anyone to hate a Young Franco song, like REALLY hate it. His tunes just brim with sunshine and good intentions that you’d genuinely have to be a bad-hearted person to turn your nose up. Please tell me it’s Maribelle singing on this one? If so they are such a good match. The velvety vocals effortlessly weave into Franco’s perky soundscape and the grunt in the final bridge helps to give it some much needed roughness. Quality not quantity for Franco this year and it’s really working in his favour. 4

Average Score: 4.6

The Weeknd
Sidewalks (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)

Matt: This might be a tad hypocritical from a Britney stan, but when are we gonna retire the autotune-as-a-vocal-effect thing? As much as I’m really enjoying The Weeknd’s new direction, this is the weakest thing I’ve heard from it so far. Lamar’s bit is excellent at least. 3

Zanda: Absolutely agree with Matt on this one. This could have been one of the best tracks on this whole record but he’s really gone and over-cooked the autotune on this one. I haven’t had a good listen to the whole album but nothing I’ve heard has as heavily affected vocals as on this track. I don’t get why, especially because The Weeknd’s natural vocals are so good. Kendrick is v good. 3

Sam: I do not condone the above autotune comments. To me that’s the cherry on top of this excellent song which is probably the centrepiece and highlight of Starboy. For me, the autotune is what gives the verses their fluidity and I would even say that it’s pretty subtle. It’s also easy to write off the verse as another great Kendrick Lamar verse but my gosh it’s out-of-this-world good. After The Weeknd’s cruisy verse he breaks into the song with a crowbar and delivers some of the most furious 30 seconds of music this year. Bloody excellent stuff. 4.5

Average Score: 3.5

Theophilus London & Ariel Pink

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Matt: I’ve heard it said many times that the 80s were the golden age of music. With the amount of artists borrowing and recycling ideas, instrumentation and aesthetics from the era. I think it’s safe to say the sentiment is widely shared. I get a real Lenny Kravitz-meets-Bloc Party-meets-Duran Duran vibe from this track. A really good example of how it’s done. 4

Zanda: The groove is really easy to lock into here but the whole track is way oversaturated with reverb and echo. Like, don’t get me wrong - i understand that’s kind of the entire point. I’m not missing the point, it’s just not for me. 3

Sam: Theophilus London really starves us of new material sometimes but when he delivers, he really delivers. This is a totally new vibe for him and while Ariel Pink might be an odd one to team-up with, they actually are a match made in heaven. Their oddities and stylistic influences are actually pretty closely aligned and it all comes together beautifully. It’s definitely heavily leaning towards the late ‘70s and ‘80s but London always has his head in the future and that’s what keeps this relevant. It’s not a carbon-copy, throwback. It’s better than that. 4

Average Score: 3.6

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