First Impressions: Drake, Mura Masa, Allday And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 03/30/2017

Drake - Passionfruit

Michelle: Does Drake never sleep? I’m enjoying the easy beats until it stops and I briefly thought Spotify went offline, until Drake starts drawlin’. Like its namesake, it’s wonderfully tropical and leans heavily on jazz vibes. It tastes like coconut and pineapple, and I want to listen to this whole record on one of those big blowup flamingos. As always, Drake knocks it out of the park, but it doesn’t have the cultural phenomenon makings of Hotline Bling or One Dance. 4

Reece: This is one of my favourite tracks from More LIfe. Drake is squeezing more juice from the strangled fruit of trop-house and it’s fantastic. So much of my issue with Drake comes from a repugnant musical personality - he can be arrogant, condescending, possessive and unauthentic - so Passionfruit is a breath of fresh air, stripping back all of that. This one’s a summertime keeper. 4 Reece’s Pick

Zanda: I seriously am still doing a double take at the fact that More Life has 22 bloody tracks on it. This type of song is when I love Drake the most, with a locked in groove accompanying the smooth, almost lazy vocals. I also feel that having just a hint of melody in the production really brings out the colour in his voice. 4

Sam: I’m actually surprised that this is the More Life song that’s charting all around the world. It’s definitely one of the more delectable songs but I don’t think it has the immediacy of Blem or Get It Together. That said, there is a certain underlying charm about it that grows stronger with every listen. The hook, “Passionate from miles away, passive with the things you say,” coupled with the fact it’s called Passionfruit is genius and maybe that’s what’s making it blow-up. That beat is sweet as a passionfruit as well. 4 Sam's Pick

Mura Masa - 1 Night (Feat. Charli XCX)

Michelle: I used to be really good at the xylophone (true fact) so I had a special affinity for this intro, but I liked this song best once it dove into the drop with Charli XCX’s almost-spoken lyrics and the height of candy pop vibes. This is much, well, sweeter, than the rest of Mura Masa’s oeuvre and it’s obvious where he begins and Charli XCX ends. Objectively, the vocals fall neatly into place and it has earworm potential and I wouldn’t add it to my library (although Mura Masa is all-time) - it’s a little too sweet for me - but I’d get excited if this came over the speakers somewhere. 4

Reece: I’m so partial to anything both these artists put out, so their collaboration is instantly a hit with me. Charli XCX manages to take everything I love about PC Music and turn into mature, well-crafted pop that won’t get me shamed for loving. Mura Masa is incredibly consistent and I’m still not sick of this song after a few dozen listens. 4

Zanda: What a week for unexpected collabs. If this track is anything to go by, Mura Masa is going to have an unbelievably massive 2017 - while Charli XCX keeps churning out choon after choon, following her mixtape release last week. While she’s been working with PC Music producers more often recently, I’m so happy she challenged herself to do something different on this one and the result is a track with production and vocals that fit together surprisingly well. 4.5

Sam: This is such a simple song by Mura Masa and Charli standards but it’s a testament to both their songwriting and delivery that this is not bland. It’s literally the verse, chorus, drop structure that’s been haunting commercial radio for the better part of two years and yet this sounds colourful and personable. Mura’s steel drums are out in full force and Charli’s shouty vocals make me want to get drunk right now. 4

Allday - In Motion (Feat. Japanese Wallpaper)

Michelle: Good lord, who knew Allday had such a magical electropop song in him? Allday and Japanese Wallpaper are both individually super talented artists but I prefer slightly lower-pitched electronica songs unlike, say, Japanese Wallpaper’s Cocoon. So this is RIGHT UP MY ALLEY because it’s Allday singing (pipes? Who knew???) and Japanese Wallpaper’s amazing electronic melodies. I feel like they should do more songs together, because this is beautiful and when I heard it debut on triple J, I almost couldn’t believe it was Allday, just because it was so distinctly delicate.  4.5 Michelle’s Pick

Reece: I really respect and appreciate Allday branching out of the past twelve months. After a decent debut album, he’s tried his hand at frat-rap, trap, woozy R&B and now, electropop. I didn’t rate this at first as I listened on speaker, but once it’s in the headphones I feel it a lot more. Like many popular Aussie rappers, Allday sounds great when he’s only half-rapping, half-singing. Not bad for a stand-up comic, huh? 3.5

Zanda: Great Odin’s raven, this is an out-of-this-world collaboration that I reaaaly didn’t see coming. The production is Japanese Wallpaper at his best, with his glittering melodic ideas conveying just the right amount of hope with just a pinch of longing and sadness. The most unexpected part of this is Allday’s truly immense vocals. Sure, we’ve heard him sing before, but nothing that goes anywhere close to this. In an interview last year Allday said that he scrapped an entire album because when Justin Bieber released Purpose it sounded too much like what he was producing, but I didn’t expect him to go back to the drawing board and craft something as monumental as this. 5 out of bloody 5 Zanda’s Pick

Sam: This is Allday’s strongest single to date. His last three releases have all recognised where he fits best vocally and this one brings the production to match as well. It’s a neon-lit, warm jam that packs an unexpectedly melodic punch. I really hope that radio in this country jumps on board with this because Allday is the type of artist who could do some really cool and potent shit with an even bigger audience. 4

ZHU - Nightcrawler

Michelle: Wonderfully unexpected, with a well-executed orchestral intro and glitchy vocals. It almost dips into monotony in the first minute or so, but comes into its own with breathy vocals, if only for a moment. Although it comes on strong, ZHU’s track doesn’t really build into something - the brief organ interlude is nice, but breaks up the pace a little too well. It’ll do fine as a dance track, but it’s nothing mind blowing. 2.5

Reece: Nightcrawler has a really nice aesthetic to it - the cover art is swell, ZHU’s mystique is alluring and the skittery vocals favourably compares to Kavinsky’s Nightcall. As Michelle said, it all just ends up coming back to earth pretty quickly. ZHU has been around a while now, yet I can’t really separate his first track from his latest. 2.5

Zanda: While I’m not ZHU’s biggest fan, I love a boogie to most of his tracks. After a break I expected him to come back with something that was as good, if not better than what he was making a few years ago, but this was honestly pretty disappointing. 2

Sam: I usually try to sugar coat things but truth be told I hate this. I’ve hated everything ZHU’s ever done and maybe I don’t get it but it literally feels like he opens up the same Ableton file every time he makes music and peppers it with a few different synths and samples. This time he’s decided he wants to be a faster Kavinsky and he’s done a good job in the sort of way I do a good job at karaoke. I’ve seen beige couches at Ikea more interesting than this. 1

Amy Shark - Weekends

Michelle: Amy Shark has carved out a niche for herself in soulful folk pop with a hint of electronica, and I loved her hottest 100 hit, Adore, but I just couldn’t get into this one as much. It’s more repetitive and fuller with more percussion and synths, but it feels less catchy than the rest of her small but wonderful catalog (so far). I’m still keen to see what else she has up her sleeve for the EP, but Weekends is struggling to measure up to Adore (although that is an admittedly very tall order). 3

Reece: Weekends doesn’t match the heights of Adore, but that was the kind of sensation that can’t be replicated. For a follow-up, it’s not bad. Playing to Shark’s strengths, her voice quivers in the nicest way as Weekends swells with emotion. With her augmented background vocals coming through just as strongly as Adore, there’s also the trace of a signature sound being carved out. Whether or not Amy Shark can recapture acclaim Adore brought her is unknown at this stage, but Weekends is assurance that she’s got staying power. 3.5

Zanda: I wasn’t particularly drawn in by Adore, and I agree with the others that this isn’t even as good as that. Weekends again feels a little bit too crafted for triple j listeners, and I find myself wondering what Amy Shark would sound like if she wasn’t trying too hard to follow up the success of Adore. Simply not for me. 2.5

Sam: I think this is an excellent follow-up to Adore. It expands on the honest, raw aesthetic of that song while still adding something new and it’s really sweet. It is going to take a little while for this one to sink in just as Adore did. It’s my fault for putting this up for review but I don’t think first impression reviews do Shark any justice. That’s why it took Adore months and months to crack the charts. 3.5

Clean Bandit - Symphony (Feat. Zara Larsson)

Michelle: After hearing Rockabye ALL SUMMER LONG, I am ready for a new Clean Bandit banger with pop queen Zara Larsson in tow. They put her pipes to good use with some soaring lyrics and like vintage Clean Bandit, proper orchestral influences. There’s still a decent dose of dance-ability, and it’s slightly more Zara (she of pop and love songs) than Clean Bandit (of glitchy mashups). Where it lacks house music tropes, it easily makes up for with more soulful vocals, courtesy of Larsson. This feels more like a Zara Larsson ft Clean Bandit than the other way round, but hey, I’m not complaining. 3.5

Reece: Clean Bandit and Zara Larsson are two of my favourite pop artists in the game, successfully riding the commercial wave whilst remaining creatively engaging. Larsson’s voice is addictive and tireless, whilst Clean Bandit manage to replicate their warm, familiar sound with some fresh quirks. Symphony is easily digestible, charming and will be heard everywhere. Much like Rockabye, I’m ready. 3.5

Zanda: Declined to comment.

Sam: Everyone is rejoicing that this is a return to Clean Bandit’s Rather Be sound but I bloody loved Rockabye so I’m mourning the return. This is a huge song, however, and it’s the redeeming factor of Zara’s album, which wasn’t bad but was somewhat lacklustre in parts. This is big and anthemic and yet it explores the softer complexities of Larsson’s voice which is so nice to finally here. I appreciate the song and think it will deservedly do well but the whole orchestral pop thing is not up my alley at all. 3