First Impressions: The Weeknd, Kacey Musgraves, Grimes And More

Written By Sam Murphy on 12/06/2019

First Impressions is our weekly chance to go head-to-head on the new tunes of the week. Each of the contributing writers reviews the track and then slaps a score out of 5 on it. This week The Weeknd's return Blinding Lights is under the spotlight with fresh Grimes and a Kacey Musgraves holiday track.

The Weekend - Blinding Lights

Reece: It feels like The Weeknd has been chasing a marriage between his abrupt pop pivot and the moody R&B that him an internet sensation for a while now. ‘Blinding Lights’ might the best take on that yet. It’s a snappy, neon-drenched throwback with a racing pulse that feels laced with the ominous dread that’s inseparably entangled in Abel Tesfaye’s vocals. In the hands of some, this song could feel pastiche – a clear reach for the inevitable GTA Vice City reboot soundtrack – but with The Weeknd, it feels electric and alive. 4.5

Keeden: If you told me that The Weeknd would be releasing a nostalgic fuelled, synthwave track to round out the year, I would not have believed you. For his next project I was almost certain that it would be headed in more of a jazzy, R&B direction. With the release of ‘Blinding Lights’, i could not be anymore wrong and i am so happy for it. It’s that perfect blend of heavenly synths, nostalgic 808’s and smooth R&B vocals that will be a surefire radio hit this summer. I can’t wait to see what The Weeknd has instore for us! 4.5

Sam: Everytime I think The Weeknd has reached the peak of his popstar confidence he takes it one step further. This one puts a foot on the gas immediately and just keeps it up the whole time. I love the “hey, hey, hey” in the chorus, particularly. It gives the song an extra dynamic that he lacked a lot on the Starboy record. I’m really excited by this new record. He sounds reinvigorated. 4

Grimes - My Name Is Dark

Reece: Technically, this is a really well-crafted song. Grimes is one of the decade’s best artists and the sonic diversity of ‘My Name Is Dark’ leaps out, even on the first listen: it feels futuristic and there’s a brilliant steady spiral from a straight-laced pop song into a frenzied, ominous freakout. That being said, the song falls short on the simple test of holding my interest. Maybe it’s a grower or maybe it’s the sheer difficulty of actually making out the lyrics, but this one isn’t cracking my top ten favourite Grimes songs. 3

Keeden: As Miss_Anthrop0cene draws closer, we are given another taste of what’s to come. Like her past releases, the production quality of ‘My Name is Dark’ is out of this world. However, the only other redeeming quality about this track is that the alternative dance/electronic influences used hark back to the sound in her previous albums, which I am so happy about, as I was a bit cautious of the Nu Metal direction that ‘Pretty Dark {Demo}’ went in. The 21st of February can’t come soon enough! 4

Sam: I definitely like this one the most out of the songs she’s been releasing this era. There are hints of Art Angels melodic fragility in there but I just don’t like how she seems to be attempting to wash out any sort of emotion that it could hold. This one almost gets there but the merkiness of the production detracts for me. 3.5

Nayana Iz - How We Do

Reece: I love how much this song wears its influences without ever feeling overly derivative. Karma Kid’s skittish production feels like a love letter to Timabaland – think the ‘Big Pimpin’’ beat thrown into blender – while Nayana Iz’s bars move like Missy Elliott and read like MF DOOM. Neither are at the level of the GOAT-level artists they’re reminiscent of, which is absolutely fair enough, but the sum of the parts are enough to make this an incredibly enjoyable listen. 4

Keeden: ‘How We Do’ is a brilliant brilliant debut track from NiNE8’s Nayana Iz. It’s fun and entertaining listen which is slightly reminiscent of M.I.A.’s early tracks. Look forward to hearing what else she has under her sleeve. 4

Sam: I was instantly excited when I heard this one. I have to agree with Reece on the production notes. There’s a lot thrown in there but it all sounds cohesive and ultimately reflects Iz’s individuality more than anything else. I love the simplicity of the hook and the cocky delivery. It’s just so instantly likeable over that wonky Karma Kid production.

Kacey Musgraves - Glittery (Feat. Troye Sivan)

Reece: It’s hard to rate this without acknowledging the very not good month or so that Kacey Musgraves has had, between a wildly offensive outfit and her embrace of Amazon at a time where thousands of artists are boycotting the company. But trying to put that aside, this is a pleasant, simple-by-design Christmas song. Troye Sivan’s an excellent dance partner for Musgraves and their voices blend together gorgeously. It’s refreshing hearing Troye Sivan’s voice outside of a bombastic production, a gentle reminder that he’s just as good acoustically as he is making stadium pop. 3.5

Sam: It’s bloody hard to make a good Christmas original but I think this one gets there. It’s simple, vivid and heartwarming which is really all it should be. The delicacy of Troye Sivan’s voice actually melds really well with Kacey’s softer tones. It’s not going to change the world but then it surely wasn’t trying to either. 3.5

No Rome - Trust3000 (Feat. Dijon)

Reece: I’ve yet to really get the No Rome hype. He feels flagrantly inoffensive, someone you’d swear you’ve never heard before discovering you’d actually added ten No Rome songs to your ‘chill out’ Spotify playlist. ‘Trust3000’ does little to shake that read, but it does highlight just how good a talent Dijon is. Though the Abhi // Dijon split was tragic, Dijon has taken flight on every release since and on ‘Trust3000’, his magnetic voice cuts through the malaise to seize the spotlight. 3

Sam: I have to agree. Nothing No Rome has done has really captivated me before. That being said, I enjoy this track. This definitely sounds a little like some of The 1975’s softer moments which makes sense given No Rome is on their label. It’s just an enjoyable song that is also at risk of being unmemorable. 3

Kota Banks - Feel Again

Reece: Give Kota Banks an ARIA, you cowards! ‘Feel Again’ side-steps the queen-making rattling bangers we’re used to from the NLV Records dynamo, offering something a more yearning and nostalgic. And it works. Think the sonic prowess of Charli XCX, a pinch of The 1975’s quieter moments and a very generous serve of Kota’s unreplicatable groundbreaking pop music. ‘Feel Again’ is a beautifully written track that floats off the synergy between Kota and frequent collaborator Swick to create a heart-fluttering anthem for this season’s summertime sadness. 4.5

Sam: I do like Kota flexing but I think she’s really in her sweet spot here with this gentler moment. Her voice sounds beautiful over that luscious, dreamscape that Swick has crafted and I love the little vocal samples. When left completely exposed, it really shows how good a pop songwriter she is. 4

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