FI_2Jun

First Impressions: Flume, Disclosure, The Weeknd & More

FI_2Jun

First Impressions is an interns roundtable review of songs on their first (or second) listen. Each week we review six new songs from the past week, each giving them a score out of five and awarding our pick of the week. This week we pick apart tracks by Disclosure, Flume, The Weeknd, Baio & more. 

Disclosure
Holding On (Feat. Gregory Porter)

Sam: This is sold, really solid. And that’s my biggest problem. This could’ve slot right into Settle and been one of the better tracks on the album. The extended vocal at the beginning running right into the beat is excellent and the melody is catchy and soulful. But when it’s been two years since your debut and you’ve toured the world and worked with some extraordinary musicians surely there’s gotta be something extra or different that you can add to your sound. If I have to sit through 13 songs of this I’m going to get a little bored. It remains to be seen whether the album will bring anything new but this is same-same. 3

Meshell: I’m with Sam on this...an act as huge as Disclosure kind of have the bar set pretty high. The track is cool, it’s catchy and there’s nothing not to like about it. For me to listen to it however and not want to chuck it on repeat for the rest of the day is maybe not the best sign though. I’m not disappointed...I’m just not blown away. Fingers crossed we get some killer remixes of it soon. 3

Zanda: Anyone that heard Bang That and said ‘shit, where’s the melody’ will find that this will put their mind at ease. This is a return to the tried and tested Disclosure sound, with Gregory Porter’s vocals simply irresistible, backed by some gorgeous synth. House music that uses texture and depth in a way that is both minimal and perfectly balanced, simply awesome. 5 Zanda’s Pick

Dawn
James Dean

Sam: Dawn is so underrated and it’s probably because she came from Diddy’s major girlband Danity Kane and now has entirely different following to the one her solo sound desires. She effortlessly melds together experimental electronica with RnB and consistently kills it with her videos even though the budget, I imagine, is relatively small. James Dean is no different. Her vocals are run through a vocoder but they sound no less sultry and sexy while the beat is icy cold. This is what’s missing from modern RnB at the moment (bar the Jeremih and Shlohmo collabs). It just doesn’t take risks. This track has the melody and beat to make it big on urban radio in the US but it probably won’t because it’s just that bit too experimental. 4

Meshell: The textures in this song are SO interesting. It’s RnB but there's something else going on here-the choices of synth and soundscape don’t really fit the current mold and that is a brave move in a scene that is very, very picky. Dawn’s bold track is all tied together with her alluring vocals. There is subtle power in the sensual delivery and all up it’s a kickass track. 3.5

Zanda: Wow to those vocals. Dawn starts off with some nice R&B style vibes but really takes it up a notch, hitting some incredibly eargasmic pitches. I have no idea what happens half-way through but I’m digging it. 3.5

The Weeknd
The Hills

Sam: I’ve tried so so hard to just block out The Weeknd’s lyrics because they make my skin crawl and I think I’ve finally managed to do it. The Hills is his first track since he delivered radio-gold with Earned It and it’s probably better than anything on his disappointing debut album Kiss Land. The Hills has the same dark, understated feel as his early mixtapes. He sounds tortured and raw once again with The Hills acting as the audible equivalent of a horror movie. He’s really poised himself for major success with this one and it will be interesting to see his status rise throughout this year without Drake by his side. 4 Sam’s Pick

Meshell: Ugh, sorry guys but everything The Weeknd does is hot. Even thinking about listening to The Weeknd gets me flustered. This track is no exception, there is no comparative for Abel’s voice and the production on this song is second to none too but I think we’ve all come to expect nothing less.It’s got the signature bass that throbs through your chest while Abel serenades you over the top. I don’t know whether I’m brainwashed or just thinking with my lady parts but I’m fairly certain if anybody else confessed to “fuck two bitches ‘fore I saw you” I would slap him into next week but when The Weeknd does it I just want to yell “OH STOP FLIRTING WITH ME!”. Help guys. 5 Meshell’s Pick

Zanda: Dank and grimy, topped off by The Weeknd’s shimmering vocals. And who can say no to that hairdo. But in all seriousness, this track has a lot of depth. Layers of midly dissonant synths sit beautifully on top of that super heavy bass, and the sectional play between short melodic interludes and the re-dropping of the bass kept me excited the whole way through. 4

Baio
Brainwash yrrr Face

Sam: At the start I kind of expected Pitbull to come in with something about being worldwide thanks to the instrumentation but luckily it detours into something much more palatable. I like how the instrumental experimentalism is out in full force but then it retracts to allow space for what is quite an accessible vocal verse. The chopped and screwed vocals are also a nice treat for the ears and the way it builds into the odd but satisfying climax is cool. On first listen I’m a fan but it’s very polite and nothing really grabs me and tells me to come back over and over again but we’ll see. It probably hasn’t brainwashed me but my face looks curious at least. 3.5

Meshell: This has a little bit of house music going on and a little bit of Ratatat so I’m confused...but a good confused. The tonality of the vocals doesn’t overly appeal to me, even the sampling hook feels a little bit forced. I could have done without it and perhaps enjoyed this track as an instrumental with minimal vocal sampling intermittently. The change at the 3 minute mark is welcoming and breathes a bit more life and spunk into the song. I’ll be back for a second listen a bit later but as far as first impressions go I’m not blown out of the water with this one. 3

Zanda: Catchy and upbeat without ever really demanding my full attention. The diverse use of samples and effects is apt at times, but in other places I find myself thinking ‘why are you using that here..’ Like it but don’t love it. 2.5

Hannah Lucia
Lights Out (Feat. Giggs) 

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"]https://soundcloud.com/hannahlu/lights-out-feat-giggs/[/soundcloud]

Sam: The original of this without Giggs didn’t really grab my attention when it came out so it’s a good choice to add the grime artist into the mix to add a bit of personality. Giggs and Lucia compliment each other well. Giggs is outgoing and playful while Lucia is refined and airy. Together it’s the perfect mix that actually makes it so much easier to make it through the full song without losing interest. It also has made me really appreciate Lucia a lot more. The way she weaves her vocals around those industrial but windy beats is expert and the vocoder in the chorus is choice. I’ve really got her on my radar now. 4

Meshell: I am really fussy when it comes to Grime artists, Giggs is kind of throwing me off a little which is a shame because the actual track is stunning. The chorus is a washy vocoder dream and totally up my alley. There is a gradual crescendo of layering and all over attitude in the song which keeps me completely entranced. It’s got this cool kind of badass beat that takes the lyrical content from being cheesy to sensual. Literally loving this song more and more as it progresses I just feel that the introduction by Giggs was really ill placed and actually weakened the song as a whole. 4

Zanda: Another track this week with a huge amount of textual and melodic depth. There is a simply gorgeous use of interplay between effect-altered vocals and more natural vocals by Hannah Lucia. The build-up of tension throughout via the introduction and retraction of various synths and bass is really quite captivating, and only halfway through did I really get the feeling that I could dance to this. 4.5

Flume
Some Minds (Feat. Andrew Wyatt)

Sam: This track actually shows a lot of progression for Flume as a producer. It’s nice to see him confident enough to deliver this glitchy but silken instrumental that doesn’t really take off until the final minute. It sounds unmistakably Flume but it also is far more mature than anything that appeared on his debut. Andrew Wyatt’s vocals are a perfect match for the track and this chorus is begging for an all-in singalong. I really hadn’t pegged Flume as being very good working with vocals in a traditional verse-chorus sense but he’s really proved himself here. There’s probably a lot less bass here than the general would’ve wanted and that’s kind of a lol given that Flume has become a god to the festival pinger-head over the past few years. I’m glad he hasn’t let the EDM fandom influence him and he’s tried to give us something a little different. It’s not blowing my mind but it’s made me at least willingly believe the hype once again. 3.5

Meshell: Is it un-Australian to not weep with joy when Flume releases a new track? There’s no denying the talent of the young producer and how much he has single handedly put Australia’s bedroom producers on the map but my reaction to the news of a new single was literally “huh...cool”, then I went back to eating my lunch and forgot to listen to the song for two days. The song itself is lovely, there is finesse in the arrangement and the sound production is undeniably a cleaner, more mature Flume. Andrew Wyatt’s vocal is complementary to the movement of the piece but is perhaps a little too unique a choice (the song is evoking serious Miike Snow nostalgia right now). For me, the absolute best thing about this is the music video. Props to the VFX team behind this because it’s absolutely epic. 3

Zanda: In all honesty I think I miss the raw sound of his older stuff. Sure we get a glimpse after three minutes but the rest of it could realistically be another producer and if you didn’t know it was Flume you wouldn’t necessarily be like, ‘oh yeah that’s definitely him’. I know I’m playing a hugely risky devil’s advocate here but I can’t quite process the amount of hype that has surrounded this track since its release. The first three minutes is pretty much just an Andrew Wyatt feature, who is fantastic by the way (but it could have been a Miike Who track). For me? Overhyped, and also doesn’t work nearly as well if you listen to it without the video. 3.5

Now time for your vote: 

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