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First Impressions: Camila Cabello, Charli XCX, Lily Allen And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 12/13/2017

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 Charli XCX, Camila Cabello, Big Sean, Lily Allen, SOPHIE and Maya Hirasedo face the jury.

Charli XCX – Out Of My Head (Feat. Alma & Tove Lo)

Nathan Jake: This song sounds like the kind of thing that gets left off an album and leaks a year later. It doesn’t sound fully realised, like there’s something missing. I think it had the potential to be great but the sparse production doesn’t work for it. It’s still perfectly listenable, though. 3

Ti Butler: The other week I saw Charli XCX supporting Sia in Melbourne, and after Charli finished I went to the bathroom, and on the way out of the floor there was this security guard talking to a patron who’d just arrived, and this bloke goes “what’ve I missed?” and then the security guard, clearly feeling the most confident he’d ever felt in his hi-vis vest, replied “oh, that was EX-OH-EX, she was awesome!” I guess what I’m saying is maybe Charli needs some more brand awareness in Australia. Anyway, here’s the thing: is this Charli’s best song? No. Will it be the best song on her album? Probably not. But a decidedly average Charli song, in the hands of almost any other artist, would result in a seven week run at number one in at least five countries. As a first sample of her new album mixtape, Pop2, this is exactly what we needed. 4.25

Jackson Langford: There’s something magical about how these three voices come together – they compliment each other beautifully. While the song is quite subdued for all three, these three alpha women join forces and prove that not everything has to be a rambunctious, hypersexual party. 4

Sam Murphy: Charli steps away from being the centre of attention on this one and becomes more of a curator on this one which is kinda amazing. Both Tove and Alma sound incredible on this one and while the minimal production makes the song sound lacklustre at first, it’s really grabbed me throughout the week. It’s sad and lonely but also has this really infectious celebratory spirit. 4

Camila Cabello – Never Be The Same

Nathan: I find the choice of this as the single that follows up Havana to be truly baffling. It’s a really good album track but that’s basically all it is. 3

Ti: I think I get it. It’s not Havana, but it’s entirely fine, and if it does bomb it’ll be retconned into a hype track ahead of the album, and it’s not the real single because HERE’S THE REAL SINGLE!!! OH YOU THOUGHT NEVER BE THE SAME WAS THE SINGLE LOL NOPE THAT WAS JUST A GIGGLE! But then I didn’t really like Havana when that came out and I’ve grown to love it, so who knows? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 2.75

Jackson: Honestly I talked so much shit about Camila during both 5H and Crying In The Club, and I would like to sincerely and deeply apologise. Everything since ‘Havana’ has been gorgeous, forward-thinking pop. I never expected to become a Camila stan but here we are. 4

Sam: I mean, it’s no Havana but it’s an insanely strong ballad. The subtle production touches like the beat just before the verse and the chorus are so effective in plucking this out of beige ballad land and popping it into something more Camila. Camila’s voice sounds incredible on it and I reckon this one is going to really grow on people. That said, I’ve been going back to Real Friends instead of this. 4

Big Sean & Metro Boomin – Go Legend (Feat. Travis Scott)

Nathan: With that intro I thought we were in for a lovely little time. Little did I know I was about to hear four minutes of men failing to enunciate under a thick layer of autotune with a side of Big Sean rapping. Idk, I zoned out. 1

Ti: Big Sean has lost any sense of what made him him. This is so samey. Like, we get it, you’re in a Maybach, you’re a badass, you’re the coolest, you’re friends with John Legend, you’re the most hardcore, blah blah blah. The only reason Big Sean sounds like this is because everyone else sounds like this and so now he has to change who he is to be cool again. This song could be performed by one of approximately fifty other hip hop / alt-R&B artists out now and it’d be no better or no worse. Utterly forgettable. 0.5

Jackson: There’s something refreshing about Go Legend and its approach to braggadocio. It’s not brutal, relentless and in your face – Big Sean’s already done that (and low key continues to do that throughout the remainder of Double or Nothing). His laissez-faire clarity contrasted with Travis Scott’s slurry mumbles makes for a really interesting listening experience, even though it’s certainly not going to be for everyone. 4

Sam: There’s always a risk that Big Sean is going to sound samey and I don’t think this has some of his strongest verses but this Metro Boomin production is wild. Like, sampling a Diana Ross song and turning it into this dark, distorted rap song is genius-level stuff. I also think Travis Scott’s hook is extremely strong. I’ve been playing this non-stop since it was released so I gotta disagree with the forgettable claims. 4

Lily Allen – Trigger Bang (Feat. Giggs)

Nathan: What a breath of fresh air. I’m so happy to have Lily back. I could do without Giggs but he’s not terrible on it. 4

Ti: Lily is back on form. It’s not as immediate as her early work, but it does feel like she’s got her groove back. I’d look forward to hearing more from her. 3

Jackson:
I recently said I’m never going to talk about Lily Allen again, but I’ll break my promise with five words before returning to fearful silence…this is very, very good. 4.5

Sam: I wouldn’t have paired Giggs and Lily Allen together in a million years but he delivers one of his most nuanced, controlled verses ever here and makes a contribution to the song musically rather than just being there for cool cred. Lily is back on Alright, Still form on this one I think. She’s confident, self-deprecating and sharp while also delivering a genius hook. After Sheezus, I thought we’d never hear Lily like this ever again. 4.5

SOPHIE – Ponyboy

Nathan: This is just all too much. I have a headache. 1

Ti: Hi, Sophie. First of all, I’m so glad you’re reading this. You’re super cool, your work is always reliably unpredictable and fun and interesting and different, and I adored Just Like We Never Said Goodbye, that was all-time. Anyway can you please re-release this as Ponygirl? Asking for a friend. Who is me. Don’t make me start a Change.org petition. ?

Jackson: Sober me gives this a 1. Drunk me gives this a 10. 3

Sam: Being a SOPHIE fan is no easy job. He seems to throw you from one extreme to another with every release and after It’s Okay To Cry we’re straight back to aggressive, industrial SOPHIE. This is a speaker-shattering, demonic cut that sounds like it was carved from steel beams. When you see SOPHIE live, songs like these sound like they’re literally going to shut down the entire sound system and it’s so electrifying. 4.5

Maya Hirasedo – See Me

Nathan: I mean, it’s nice, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. 2.5

Ti: Melbourne represent! I’m not big on R&B, but damn, this song is just… hot. I’m blaming Melbourne’s next heatwave on this song, and also on Maya. “Can’t stand me, sit down / can’t face me, turn around / translate your money to my world” might be one of the lyrics of the year. 3.75

Jackson: Have you ever heard a song so sexy that all the clothes you were wearing just suddenly fall off your body? 3.5

Sam: Very good organic R&B coming out of Australia that sets itself apart from the rest of the very middle-of-the-road, trap-like R&B coming out on the internet at the moment. Maya has a feel for melody that makes something that could potentially be beige very exciting. It sounds like late nights and that’s actually hard to do genuinely. 3.5

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