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First Impressions: P!NK, Kimbra, Kendrick Lamar And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 10/04/2017

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 Kimbra, E^ST, Rich The Kid, P!NK, PARTYNEXTDOOR and Banks face the jury.

Kimbra – Everybody Knows

Zanda: She’s one of those artists that people regularly mistake for being Aussie, and she’s just that good that you don’t correct them. Strap yourself in for this one because it’s a grower not a shower, with Kimbra just expanding the texture of the track subtly and slowly until suddenly it’s this huge, anthemic tune. Kimbra is back and holy cow am I ever keen for her new album next year. 4

Sam: Kimbra’s voice over a very minimal beat is so stunning. I love how she’s pulled everything back and she rebuilds it bit-by-bit on Everybody Knows, slowly but surely working us towards a spectacular finale. I actually think her voice has never sounded better than it does right now and I think she’s armed with a pretty brilliant record ready to drop on us. Very ready. 4

E^ST – Life Goes On

Zanda: E^st is someone who seems to fly under the radar sometimes but every time you hear her you’re reminded of how amazing she is. This track is such a gorgeous pop tune; with this kind of whimsical melody but the star, as with all of her tracks, is that truly captivating voice. She’s also an example of someone that sings with an Aussie twang (but not annoyingly so) and I bloody love it. 4

Sam: This is E^ST’s Robyn moment and I am here for it. She’s got this beautiful, authentic energy to her that translates through everything, including the vocals as Zanda said. I love that she has the guts to wrap it up in a big, heartbreaking pop song that’s just as moveable as it is feelable. Bit-by-bit she’s discovering the best direction for her as an artist and this is the first time I’ve really believed that she can be something really great. 4 Sam’s Pick

Rich The Kid – New Freezer (Feat. Kendrick Lamar)

Zanda: Putting aside the fact that Kendrick is at the peak of his powers and can do no wrong at the moment, this is a killer track that stands alone and doesn’t rely on him. Rich The Kid kills the first verse, and the production feels really fresh and well-balanced. 4

Sam: Kendrick’s no longer handing out features like they’re candy and he’s selectively picking great songs to guest on. This is a sparse, icy banger that very subtly works in one of the most effortless hooks of the year. Kendrick’s flow is unbelievable but you’ve gotta hand it to RIch for holding his own. 4

P!NK – Beautiful Trauma

Zanda: Ageless and just as relevant as ever, P!nk just keeps crafting powerful pop melody after powerful pop melody. You’d think that after so long at the top she’d start to repeat herself, but she just has this knack of making melodies that, to be fair, do recycle some ideas – but she makes them sound fresh again. Whether it’s establishing a track with a simple piano line and her own voice, or cutting out the instrumental entirely for some layered vocal harmonies. I struggle to imagine a world of pop without her and hope I won’t ever have to. 4.5

Sam: Whether you like her or not, you’ve got to hand it to P!NK. She’s up to her seventh album and close to entering the third decade of her career and yet she’s constantly reinventing and staying relevant. I wasn’t a huge fan of What About Us but I’m all on board with this one. Jack Antonoff is at the peak of his pop output now and he’s totally nailed where P!NK should be in 2017 here. It’s punchy, aggressive, soft, emotional and surprising. It’s my favourite P!NK single in a very long time and you can call me a 42 year-old from the ‘burbs for saying it but so what (I’m still a rockstar). Sorry for that line. 4

PARTYNEXTDOOR – Damage (Feat. Halsey)

Zanda: With the quality of new songs this week, I guess I was just expecting more from this.  It feels like this track is threatening to really take off throughout but never really breaks through. That bass drum honestly just annoys me by the end, because a part from that the track is largely devoid of any percussion and just feels like it’s missing something. Halsey’s vocals are great, predictably, but this one just isn’t keeping me interested. 2.5

Sam: 2017 is the year of mediocrity for Halsey, I’ve decided, but she actually captivates me on this one. I don’t know if it was her or PND that wrote the melody but it’s pretty hypnotising and while the beat of the song doesn’t really do anything special, the pair of them make it good. The production on her vocal makes her sound a bit like an alien but that’s a small criticsm for an otherwise good song. 3.5

BANKS – Underdog

Zanda: Another fantastic indie-pop track from a week that keeps on giving. This track is just an exhibition in everything Banks can do with her massively versatile vocals. From deeper, brooding lines to hitting insanely high pitches, she can do it all. Layering her vocals an octave away from each other gives that refrain a whole new dimension and it takes a good tune and makes it bloody brilliant. 4.5 Zanda’s Pick

Sam: More dark, overbearing pop from Banks and once again I’m just not interested. To be fair, this is better than anything that was on the last album but that’s saying very little at all. I just feel like she says everything without saying anything at all with ambiguous metaphors. I still don’t know if we actually know who Banks is because her music is all about style with no substance. 2

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