First Impressions: Anderson .Paak, Sia, Iggy Azalea And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 03/20/2019

First Impressions is our weekly roundtable review series where our writers dish their takes on the latest music. This week, we zone in on Labrinth, Diplo and Sia's No New Friends, Anderson .Paak's King James and more.

LSD - No New Friends

Liam Austen: This bizarre pairing of Labrinth, Sia and Diplo has actually brought several quite good songs to fruition, and this one isn’t any different. Sure, it doesn’t tread much new ground (if any at all), but Diplo’s production is as reliable as ever and Sia and Labrinth continue prove to be a great pair vocally. I’m intrigued to hear the full-length project - I want to see what they’ve been brewing. 3.5

Nic Kelly: As a major fan of all three characters involved in this project I have been waiting for a ‘wow’ moment and after the atrocity that was ‘Audio’, I lost all hope. You know what? I am glad I lost all hope! Because this is also horrendous. The 2016-ness of the dancehall beat, the ‘lalalala’ chorus and the basic themes in the verses, I’m soooo bored. 1.5

Sam Murphy: Let’s be honest, LSD isn’t really working is it? It should be but for some reason it’s not clicking with many. There’s nothing particularly wrong with it but again it sounds like Labrinth and Sia’s voices are sort of suitable but not enough to justify an entire album. Diplo’s production is pulled straight from a MO album and we’re left with something that’s just very fine. 2.5

Anderson .Paak - King James

Liam: Wanna talk underrated artists? Anderson .Paak should be at the top of your list. Talented beyond comprehension and acclaimed by press and industry friends alike, the general public unfairly let .Paak’s material fly under the radar - which is why this jazzy new affair is perhaps so bold and urgent. Despite a bouncy, sun-soaked sound, you can hear .Paak’s drive and passion for the craft throughout King James. I’m admittedly very excited to hear his next full-length next month. 5

Nic: I’d disagree with Liam’s first two sentences, I don’t think he’s underrated at all, I can’t think of an artist in his genre that’s been more lauded on my end of the world in recent memory. That’s not to say it’s not deserved! This has so many great layers to it - it’s smooth and kind in the verses, the chorus is huge & I love the talkbox harmonies just after the chorus too! I want to clean my house to this song. I generally clean my house to podcasts so this is a prestigious honour. 4.5

Sam: I’m going to agree with both Liam and Nic. Anderson .Paak is definitely underrated on the otherside of the world because he doesn’t specifically fit into any genre. Here in Australia, he’s headlining festivals and I think it’s because triple j doesn’t have strict genre boundaries like they do overseas. Anyway, enough about that - King James is great. Oxnard felt like he was trying too hard to fit into the hip-hop scene and on King James he’s back in the pocket, exuding soul and feeling. It’s unforced, he sounds excellent and the lyrics are poignant. 4.5

Hi Life - In My Head

Liam: This is the first I’m hearing of Hi Life, and I’m considerably impressed - even more so by their Spotify biography which simply states, “we make pop music”. That simple, no-frills approach can be heard in In My Head, a straightforward trop-pop banger with a fresh edge that’ll make it repeat-worthy as summer approaches (in the UK, at least). 3

Nic: HI LIFE’s first single, despite being extremely good, didn’t impact in the way I thought it might. This might pick up the slack. It feels on the surface like trop-pop but there’s an industrial edge to it all and an intricacy to the production that makes it interesting on further listens. The topline is killer. It’s not world-changing but it does what it sets out to do. 3

Sam: I love that we have this kind of pop music coming out of Australia right now. It’s wordclass and interestingly is probably more likely to end up on Radio 1 in the UK than commercial radio here. It feels effortless and slick but the production is interesting enough to set it apart from your run-of-the-mill radio pop. Very good. 4

Nasty Cherry - Win

Liam: This song crept in like a dark horse and has subsequently bowled me over since it dropped. Despite Charli XCX’s constant promotion of mystery new girl band Nasty Cherry, I wasn’t very eager to hear their debut - how wrong I was. It’s an angsty, hazy pop-rock bop with hints of Charli’s very own Sucker-era sound (likely down to producer Justin Raisen), and it deserves high praise for that gorgeous cover art alone. I’m so excited to see where these ladies go from here. 4

Nic: You know how when heaps of people tell you to watch a movie or a TV show you eventually get so overwhelmed by influence that you just refuse to watch it? This is why I have still not seen A Star Is Born. I have taken a similar approach to listening to Nasty Cherry after Charli’s incessant banging-on, but I am very impressed. I can tell why Charli likes it, it reminds me of True Romance gear (YOU’RE WRONG ITS NOT LIKE SUCKER LIAM!) and it’s spacey without feeling like shitty shoegaze. 4

Sam: I never thought I’d say this, and I hate myself for it, but guitars are coming back to pop this year. Usually I’d turn a song like this off at the first sign of a guitar but the melody and attitude of the girls is so strong. There are strong nods to Charli XCX’s True Romance and Sucker but ultimately there’s enough natural charisma coming from this band to stand without Charli. I love the chorus - so understated but effective. 4

Keelan Mak - Warm Blooded

Liam: As an oversaturation of “brooding”, “moody” pop nears, it’s crucial for the sub-genre’s artists - both established and upcoming - to harness their signature sound before they get lost in the noise. Keelan Mak’s warm, rich vocal commands Warm Blooded, crafting that signature sound with ease. The fact he also wrote and produced this gorgeous song is a testament to his talent - dare I say he’s one to watch this year? 4

Nic: I despise the concept of ‘moody’ pop. However, when you’re making it as sharp, slinky & intoxicating as Keelan Mak has in this, I will embrace it with open arms. It’s actually amazing that this has been put forward as a ‘lowkey’ offering, because it feels like his most expansive, anthemic song yet. I think this guy could be a superstar waiting in the wings and this year he will prove that. What a big song. 5

Sam: I loved the synths so much on Flicker I wondered whether I would like a Keelan song without them. Well turns out I do. Warm Blooded is such a rich, haunting piece of pop music that slots into the category of dark popstars like Lorde, Billie Eilish and Halsey. I think Keelan is going to do extremely well both in and out of this country. 4

Iggy Azalea - Sally Walker

Liam: Making a comeback after bearing the brunt of “cancel culture” is never easy - and without the backing of major label support, it presumably becomes even harder. But in comes Iggy Azalea, as determined and as transparent as ever, sharing her sheer ecstasy and pride over new single Sally Walker. She’s as excited as we are, and deservedly so. The song is excellent (despite the song’s producer not straying far from previous efforts, including Cardi’s ‘Money’), and the video even more so. I sincerely hope this is the one that propels Azalea back towards the charts because I’m undeniably obsessed. 4.5

Nic: She’s a low rent Bhad Bhabie. Facts only. 1

Sam: Ah Iggy Igz. There’s a small part of me that wants this, her sixth or seventh comeback, to work out for her. This is definitely the strongest song she’s had since her breakout album but it just doesn’t stand out in the current climate of hip-hop. It sounds like Cardi’s Money which is fine (they share the same producer) but what’s that done is create an immediate comparison to Cardi. Cardi bleeds personality where Iggy feels like a mannequin. 2.5

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