First Impressions: Tyler The Creator, Charli XCX, Halsey And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 05/23/2019

First Impressions is our weekly feature where our writers get the chance to lay down their unfiltered opinions on the week’s new tracks. This week, we’re digging into choice cuts from new Carly Rae Jepsen and Tyler The Creator albums plus new bops from Halsey and Charli XCX.

Carly Rae Jepsen - Want You In My Room

Reece Hooker: This is breezy synth-pop at its sharpest. It sounds like Daft Punk soundtracking an episode of Miami Vice. The sunny guitar is brilliant and the drums are tastefully spiced in, whilst Carly Rae Jepsen is as intoxicating a lead as ever. Her verses sizzle, but that lifting chorus is the true centrepiece. Also, a saxophone outro? Bravo. 4.5

Sam: Want You In My Room is Dedicated’s big, bombastic pop moment and it’s so glorious. It’s got Jack Antonoff’s trademark ‘80s-tinges but best of all it has Carly leaving nothing out. Every direct, unfiltered detail is right here and that’s pop music in its purest form. 4.5

Tyler The Creator - Earfquake

Reece: ‘EARFQUAKE’ is disarmingly chipper at its outset, frollicking into the first chorus with some lightness and candour. The second Charlie Wilson blasts into the frame for the track’s instantly iconic refrain “Don’t leave, it’s my fault”, the song feels like a shotgun pelt to the gut. Playboi Carti floats in to shout out Derrick Rose and Woah Vicky (because, sure) in an ethereal cameo that somehow doesn’t steal the show and yeah, wow. It’s been nearly a week and I’m still destroyed by how beautifully simple and brilliant this song is. 5

Sam: From the visuals to the production, IGOR is undoubtedly Tyler’s tightest project to date. In that sense, it’s difficult to cherrypick just one moment but if you have to EARFQUAKE stands up the best. Tyler has never been so soulful and intent with his emotions. You can feel the passion running through his veins during the “don’t leave” hook and it’s rare that he delivers a moment like that without humour or sarcasm. 4.5

DJ Khaled - Just Us (Feat. SZA)

Reece: SZA gliding over ‘Ms Jackson’ like an old-school mixtape freestyle could have been a knockout idea, but this execution is as hard a flop as one could muster. For starters, what has Khaled done to the drums? On the original, it feels tightly woven into the fabric of the instrumental. Here, it sounds cheap and poorly mixed. SZA’s vocals don’t even feel like they fit the beat, which doesn’t change or lift when it hits the chorus. People used to clown DJ Khaled for not rapping or producing on his own albums but if this is his best production, I’d rather he stay an ad-libbing figurehead. 2

Sam: This is almost great and almost terrible. The beat is obviously plucked from Outkast’s Ms. Jackson but unlike what he did with Maria Maria on Wild Thoughts this feels like a freestyle over the beat rather than a new song. SZA’s verses are great but the chorus is forced which is understandable given that you’re essentially pasting right over one of the greatest hooks in hip-hop. 3

Halsey - Nightmare

Reece: I feel bad piling onto this song, because it’s becoming abundantly clear to me that Halsey is just an artist that I don’t get. She’s probably fantastic, but I can count the number of Halsey songs that have connected with me on half a hand. The juxtaposition between the chorus and verses is a fun concept, but neither really comes off. The chorus washes over, the verses feel a little plodding.  2

Sam: I too don’t get Halsey but this is the first song of her's that I have to give props too. Outside of the emo rap wave, no artist has really successfully pulled punk/pop into the mainstream recently. Nightmare could be the one to do it. It really effortlessly blends a chaotic chorus with clean, trap verses and also feels like the single Halsey has been begging to make from the start. It’s a mixture of Badlands and Hopeless Fountain Kingdom but finally she’s figured out what makes her stand out. 4

Charli XCX - Blame It On Your Love (Feat. Lizzo)

Reece: So, to start with the glaring problem: this is the poorer version of ‘Track 10’ and everyone knows it. But the positives! ‘Blame It On Your Love’ is still stunning. Taking out the glitchiness of ‘Track 10’ and making it more anthemic gives the song a much cleaner, more accessible feel and the addition of Lizzo is sublime. Her cameo is brief, but every second feels well used. ‘Blame It On Your Love’ comes off badly when put up against Charli’s earlier take but against the competition? It still comes out a winner more often than not. 3.5

Sam: If I had never heard Track 10 before I would probably really love this. Unfortunately, I’m burdened by the knowledge of Track 10’s holy existence so this is good instead of great. It’s still a bonafide bop with those slick verse able to translate over every beat. I think the sound of Lizzo’s verse works but in terms of content she seems to completely miss the point of the song. 3.5

Chance The Rapper - Groceries

Reece: ‘Groceries’ is a fantastic Tisakorean song! Shame about the Chance feature. This is about as lost as Chance the Rapper has felt as he continues to stray from the transcendent lane of Acid Rap and ‘Ultralight Beam’. ‘Groceries’ is fine, but it doesn’t feel special and it’s difficult hearing Chance sound so limp. TIsakorean on the other hand is magnetic. He bounces over Murda Beatz’s loopy production with understated charisma and comes across as so much more fun than Chance. 2.5

Sam: I’m really not sure how you go from making one of the best records of the year (Colouring Book) to churning out some of the most mediocre rap work of recent years. If you say you’re going to make your first album, don’t serve this up first. I’m being harsh on Chance because he is great but this just makes no impact. It cruises at a 5 when he should be at an 11. Here’s what 11 sounds like incase you were wondering. 2.5

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