First Impressions: Rihanna, Lorde, Young Thug And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 06/20/2017

First Impressions are our weekly roundtable reviews sifting through all the fresh new music. Our writers take a listen, slap a score on it and then justify said score. This week DJ Khaled, Woodes, Calvin Harris, ODESZA, Young Thug and Lorde face the jury.

DJ Khaled - Wild Thoughts (Feat. Rihanna & Bryson Tiller)

Zanda: DJ Khaled’s appeal has always kind of bewildered me to be honest, but he’s just weirdly likeable. Rihanna is absolutely on fire in this one - I’m absolutely loving her sultry, understated verses and her voice is so unmistakable. The production is actually pretty catchy, but I’m definitely not sold on that extended electric guitar riff that goes between verses. It actually clashes between the nice background phrases played on a very latin-sounding acoustic guitar. Don’t think that Bryson Tiller added a lot with his verse though, would have preferred another one from Riri (see what I did there?) 4

Meshell: Be still my beating heart praise you DJ Khaled for blessing us with another one from the ultimate Badgal. Rhi’s verses on this are WITHOUT fault and although Tiller kind of pales in comparison to the queen, he still brings enough extra spice to keep things interesting. So, now we know that I LOVE this song, I’ve just got to mention that bloody Santana-esque guitar, once was okay but I did not need to hear that solo twice. Also is anyone else just prone to cracking up every time DJ Khaled says, “DJ Khaled!” or is it just me? 4.5 Meshell’s Pick

Sam: The fact that Rihanna has DJ Khaled fumbling around in the background both audibly and visually and still manages to make this the sexiest thing this year is worth a 5 alone. She weaves her vocals through those verses so effortlessly that it’s almost like she was born with this song inside her. The Partynextdoor verses alongside the Santana sample is pure perfection and tailor-made to RiRi. Bryson does a good job but honestly, he’s quite hard to focus on given what RiRi’s serving up and I think he’d be ok with that. 4.5

Average Score: 4.3

ODESZA - Meridian

Zanda: ODESZA have always crafted pretty ethereal music, and I’m normally the first to froth over a good instrumental track - but this one isn’t doing it for me.What I mean by that is it's undoubtedly a great track to muzz out to but I loved ODESZA’s tracks that played with the line between an intense drug trip in your mind and an actual song with structure. Musically there’s not much to criticise, but it’s less of a ‘song’ than what I’ve loved from ODESZA in the past. 3.5

Meshell: Immediately the percussive work in this track has me hooked. It’s so refreshing to hear production that isn’t just a subby kick and some crackling high hats. Unfortunately I think we hit the song’s climax a little too early (just after the minute mark) and after that it’s just a nice wash of sound. Still loving it but more of a playlist filler than a frontrunner. 3.5

Sam: ODESZA have one of the most phenomenal live shows going around and I’m sure this will translate beautifully in the context of the show but none of their new songs are grabbing me for repeat listens. This is atmospheric, edging towards epic but it never quite reaches the peak of the mountain even if that pulsating finale is beautiful. 3

Average Score: 3.3

Young Thug - Family Don’t Matter

Zanda: Is this what the kids are listening to these days? I’ve never really listened to Young Thug and I definitely don’t “get” whatever this is, at least from a purely musical perspective. Millie Go Lightly’s vocals are insanely pure and just beautiful, but the rest, I wouldn’t even know where to start. I’ll leave it for everyone else. 3.. I guess

Meshell: What is Young Thug trying to achieve with this? It doesn’t work, I don’t want to hear country-esque’s not a thing I need in my life. I came here for Wyclef Jean 2.0 and all I got was fucking Malibu a la Miley Cyrus. Tragic. 1

Sam: Confused, intrigued, disgusted, confused, elated. That’s exactly the order of emotions I went through on my journey to loving this song. Thug going country just should not work on any planet but goddamn, the guy says, “yeehaw” and suddenly I wanna pick up a guitar and sing about my dogs. There’s a melodic fluidity to everything that Thug does that really makes it impossible not to let it sink under your skin. I love this. Please don’t ask me why. 4

Average Score: 2.6

Woodes - Run For It

Zanda: Woodes is absolutely killing it at the moment. She is one of Australia’s hottest young talents and is creating electronic music very much in her own, new image. Her feature on Kilter’s new album was fantastic but this is even better in my mind. Just when I thought I couldn’t get any more wrapped up in the track that piano comes in and my mind is blown once more. What an absolute choon.  4.5 Zanda’s Pick

Meshell: I’ve actually been out of the loop with Woodes for a little while (though her Tumblr game is still fire) and now I’m TOTALLY regretting not keeping tabs on her progression because I’m both perplexed and delighted at this new track, completely not what I anticipated. Run For It carries the production chops of a blockbuster theme song (are there any more Hunger Games left to do?) but it also has the sweetness synonymous with her name. I’d wager that Woodes won’t much longer be our little Australian secret. 4

Sam: There’s always a song that confirms whether or not an artist is going to make it and this is it for Woodes. It feels like a massive step up for her, matching meaty, dense production with the best vocals we’ve heard from her. She brings Florence + The Machine scale grandiose and mixes it with warm electronica, providing us with something intoxicating. I’m sure she’s got even better songs to unleash to us but this notches her much higher on my ‘To Watch’ list. 4

Average Score: 4.16

Calvin Harris - Feels (Feat. Pharrell, Katy Perry & Big Sean)

Zanda: Far out this is boring. It sounds like a default Casio keyboard track. For a track like this to work, being a track with almost zero melodic development in the production/instrumental, the vocals have to stand alone and be simply outstanding. Katy Perry sings two or three interchangeable lines that could literally be anyone else, and Big Sean is alright I guess, and Pharrell disappoints. Let’s just say I was thankful when Spotify decided to play Bounce featuring Kelis straight after. 2

Meshell: I had high hopes seeing Pharrell and Big Sean on this track but I was left largely underwhelmed. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s upbeat, catchy and harmless but those three descriptors are also the reason this is the most boring thing I’ve been asked to listen to today. All four artists involved in this are capable of SO much more (yes, even Perry) and it’s just a little sad that between them they couldn’t muster up something better. 2.5

Sam: I don’t know if it’s the macaw which I have fallen deeply in love with over the course of the week or the daggy nature of the whole thing but I’m smitten by this. I’m really bored of hearing Pharrell over funk instrumentals but I’ll forgive him for this one because it’s endearing and natural. I’m even willing to forgive Katy Perry’s soulless contribution here because it all leads us to the Big Sean breakdown which brings it home strong. It’s not the best of the four Funk Wav songs he’s released but hey, it’s better than this. 3.5

Average Score: 2.6

Lorde - The Louvre

Zanda: Fairly sure i’m going to be playing the devil’s advocate here when I say this is actually not one of my favourite tracks from the album. Out of all the unreleased stuff Homemade Dynamite is definitely my jam, but I digress. This one is another amazing example of the ability of Lorde’s voice to carry a track pretty much on its own, with quite minimalist production, and the layering of her own harmonies over each other is just brilliant. I do wonder if this song wouldn’t have been as hyped had old m8 Flume not posted about his involvement in it ? 4

Meshell: I look at Lorde and think to myself, “God you’re a delightful thing to have happened to pop…So why don’t I like you?” Every time a new Lorde track debuts, I hold my breath and hope it’s the one...because I feel so guilty about my apathy but once again, I listen to this track and all I hear is an empty nothing song. The closest I ever got to hopping on the Lorde train is still her cover of Everybody Wants to Rule the World and it still wasn’t as good as Andy Bull’s version. Sue me. 2.5

Sam: This is not the best song off Melodrama but for me it’s the most interesting. She could’ve done many things with that emo guitar-led verse that leads us into a pulsating bridge. She could’ve delivered a Flume-sized drop that turned this into one of Melodrama’s easy single choices but instead she didn’t. She chose to pull back that beat. It sounds like she’s attempting to mute the beat, pushing it further and further into her chest. Instead of placing focus on the drop, she places it on the lyrics and the way the “broadcast the boom boom boom” translates into an instrumental heartbeat is genius. Almost as genius as the line, “they’ll hang us in The Louvre, down the back but who cares - still The Louvre”. What a phenomenal, intricate songwriter. 4.5 Sam's Pick

Average Score: 3.6

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