First Impressions: Taylor Swift, Lil Uzi Vert, PNAU And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 08/31/2017

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 Taylor Swift, Fergie, PNAU, Basenji, Lil Uzi Vert and Miguel face the jury.

Taylor Swift - Look What You Made Me Do

Zanda: I became a fan of Taylor Swift around about when Shake It Off was released. A lot of her music is just so fun and infectious. I'm not interested in the politics of it, so taking that aside this song is boring and lifeless for me. No interest in listening again. 2.5

Nic: I feel differently about the song every time I’ve listened to it but right now - and after 107 listens because it's been on the radio every hour for the last week - I think it's amazing pop song. When you remove its context and the pettiness within, it's one of the most greatly written bits of mainstream pop music in a long time. A lot of credit with that goes to Jack Antonoff - but also I don't want to underestimate Taylor’s ability to write brilliant, self-driven pop music and the way that she's been empowered by working with some of these great producers over the past years - I'm really excited to see the direction this album is gonna take if this is the starting point what can actually do in terms of moving the needle. 4.5 Nic's Pick

Sam: Honestly, this whole experience of new Tay Tay has been ruined for me by all the bullshit that's surrounded it. This constant back-and-forth about feuds and beefs is fun to some extent but eventually the think pieces just become exhausting. If you're writing a think piece just know that the only people that read them are people who strongly agree or strongly disagree and you're not going to change their mind. Politics aside, Swift is one of the only popstars still making straight-up, commercial pop without trying to be left-centred. I like this. I'm not crazy on it like I was with Shake It Off but the girl knows how to write a damn good hook and this one's swirled in my head for days. The good popstar goes bad story line is always an interesting one too and Reputation will be pretty captivating. 3.5

Lil Uzi Vert - The Way Life Goes

Zanda: I am always that guy comparing that hip hop tracks don't use enough melodic elements, so this is a breath of fresh air. The lovely understated piano is a nice touch, and Uzi’s rhymes are smooth as silk. Loving it. 4

Nic: I love it when hip-hop is this intoxicating - that buzzing bass throughout the whole song with the gorgeous piano melody over the top and Uzi giving his vocals just enough power to sit on this beat nicely - definitely going to be listening to this a lot. He’s like, the best part of Migos without even being in Migos. 4

Sam: This is definitely my favourite off Luv Is Rage 2. I love how it's a run-of-the-mill Uzi song until the 25 second mark and then he just finds this sentimental melody and takes it into a totally different sphere. Uzi's feel for melody always amazes me and I think it proves that he can appease both the underground and the mainstream which is why XO Tour Llif3 found so much success. This is a hit, simple as that. 4.5 Sam's Pick

PNAU - In The Sky

Zanda: Oh shit, this is exactly what I wanted from PNAU, something that was decisively not a Chameleon 2.0. It's hard to imagine the dance music landscape without Nick Littlemore and co, and the stuff they are writing now it's just as impactful as their breakthrough stuff last decade. A banger for this summer for sure. 5 Zanda's Pick

Nic: The first four bars of this will make a great backing for the “coming up tonight!” bits on Channel Ten but apart from that, this half-baked garage pop song that doesn’t know whether it wants to sound like Tame Impala or M83 needs to not - particularly when included in a tringle? Tringles are reserved for JoJo! 2.5

Sam:
I'm in a weird headspace with this one. I like it but I'm just a bit confused that this is a PNAU song. It takes them in a totally different direction that I didn't expect from them after Chameleon and I really can't align it with any of their past work either. It just feels like a little bit of a left step when they were on a really good course. That said, the other two songs they released make sense so maybe they're just testing out a few things. 3

Basenji - Don’t Let Go

Zanda: the immediate impression I get from this track is that it shows that this is a Basenji that knows exactly the sort of music he wants to be making. For a while I think he was caught between a few worlds, but he's emerged after a break a more mature artist, and ‘Don't Let Go’ is a beautifully crafted, understated indiepop cut. Mereki is just perfect for this one too. 4.5

Nic: I've always enjoyed Basenji’s more glittery numbers but this feels like a foray into making ‘safe’ electronically driven pop. This has a lovely melody and I can see what he’s trying to achieve, but it feels like it’s airy for the sake of being so, and there’s yet another whispy vocal on top, which got boring in 2015. I hope this stuff heads down a more confident, pop-friendly route or goes back into glitchy electronica - this halfway point doesn’t herald a great moment. Sounds like half baked Japanese Wallpaper. 2.5

Sam: Like everything Basenji does, this is super nice. This is definitely a different vibe for him though. It feels more like a pop song than an electronic track which is really nice to hear him stepping out and creating something more accessible. The melody is super tight and the production does enough innovative stuff to make it interesting without overcrowding. 3.5

Fergie - You Already Know (Feat. Nicki Minaj)

Zanda: the only thing I can hear in this intro is a slightly faster production of DJ Snakes ‘You Know You Like It’ and Fergies vocals are even pretty similar in melodic pattern to AlumnaGeorge. Should make an easy mashup for the club. I kinda forgot what we’re doing here… oh yeah decent song I guess. 3.5

Nic: Oh look this is a bit of fun isn’t it? The vocals feel like they’re accidentally the demo version - like when Sia wrote Diamonds and just sang “nnnnya-na-da, ba-doom-da-di-da-di.” Nicki saves what would otherwise be a great idea, executed poorly by an icon of our time who should move on or put out an album consisting of 13 iterations of Life Goes On. 3

Sam: Nope, absolutely not. Cancel the Fergie return. Stylistically, she's darting all over the place like a racoon and none of it is sticking. She was doing dance, then a ballad, now she's channelling throwback hip-hop that uses some really odd vocal samples. Even Nicki, who has notoriously saved terrible songs this year, can't really bring anything to the table here that makes me want to stick around. If anything, the hook is redeeming but by then I've already clicked on to Glamorous. 2

Miguel - Sky Walker (Feat. Travis Scott)

Nic: I’ve never found Miguel’s voice particularly fascinating - and I sound like a broken record but this is so HALF BAKED AND UNREMARKABLE. He can sing - Travis can rap - why are they not showing that and putting out something they clearly spent 90 minutes on? So lame. 1.5

Sam: I agree with Nic that this is quite lacklustre but that's the thing I like about it actually. It's got this really cruisey vibe to it and no sense of immediacy which is nice to hear Miguel's voice over. It's certainly not his most captivating work but there are enough sweet spots in here to keep me returning. And Miguel and Travis are a pairing that I never would've thought of but actually work really, really well together. 4

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