First Impressions: Peking Duk, MS MR, Sable And More


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 Peking Duk, MS MR, Sable, Majid Jordan, Joni and The Magician.

Peking Duk
Say My Name

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"][/soundcloud]

Michelle: Peking Duk know how to craft a dance track - Say My Name is the kind of song that will lift the dancefloor with its vaulting, anthemic vocals. This song will soundtrack late nights out and inevitably feature on DJ set lists around the continent but the intermittent interludes take away from its high octane rhythms. 3.5

Ben: Say My Name sees Peking Duk doing what they do best. Concocting fun and catchy electronica to get your feet moving. SAFIA’s Benjamin Joseph lends his excellent vocals on this track, alternating between falsetto and some of his trademark crooning. Not as instantly memorable as High or Take Me Over, this one will still have you dancing up a storm. 3.5

Sam: I really don’t know what they’re doing here. It’s like a giant foot came and stomped on the electro-sheen of High. Props for doing something different but I don’t think channeling The Dead Weather is a particularly good idea for two dudes who have their feet firmly planted on the dancefloor. For me this is a bit of an ear-assault but I’ll wait to hear it in a big festival environment before I make my final judgement. 2

Claudia: Since their bootleg remix of Passion Pit’s Take A Walk, Peking Duk have come pretty far in popularity, and once again they’ve taken an original hit (this time it’s Arctic Monkey’s Do I Wanna Know?) and made it something it shouldn’t be. It’s repetitive and formulaic with a heavy bass and is lyrically pretty stupid, so kudos to Peking Duk for making a fantastic, chart-topping house hit, that I would love to hear at 1am when I’m drunk and sweaty enough to dance to an (awkwardly slow) ‘banger’ with some people I don’t know. 3

Majid Jordan
My Love (Feat. Drake)

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"][/soundcloud]

Michelle: This gentle electro rhythm is more upbeat than Majid Jordan’s older tracks but it’s slower than their last collaboration with Drake “Hold On, We’re Going Home” which featured a stronger beat.  The theme is powerful, though, and Drake knows what he’s doing with the lyrics, even if Majid Jordan could have produced a fuller sound. 3

Ben: Majid Jordan’s latest collaboration with Drake comes across as a fairly middle of the road affair. The electronic backdrop meanders as Drake’s repetitive and auto-tuned vocals wear increasingly thin over the course of four minutes. My Love is lacking in every sense of the word. This is a real shame as previous material would suggest Majid Jordan is capable of so much more. 2

Sam: I was a massive fan of Majid Jordan’s A Place Like This EP and I do like this aswell but It doesn’t feel like it has as much life as the EP. It’s a little light - the vocals don’t really pack a punch and the beat throbs but it could dig in a bit harder. The instrumental suits Drake’s voice much better but it’s not even his finest moment. It’s good and doesn’t detract from the fact that Majid Jordan are great but with an Apple Music launch, I would’ve thought they’d come out of the gates with something that has a bit more oomph.

Claudia: Majid Jordan has given us another seductive, ambient and bass-heavy tune that gradually snowballs, but into absolutely nothing. Most things about this song lack substance and mould into the recent trooped culture of male auto-tuned ‘songs to have sex to’. And Majid and Drake could have redeemed themselves with lyrical intellect or purpose, but unfortunately that also lacks, big time. 2

The Magician

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"][/soundcloud]

Michelle: The Magician’s latest track is a solid dance tune and it’ll keep the hordes of TomorrowWorld worshippers on their feet but like most EDM, it’s a song that merely hinges on its ability to keep people dancing. 2

Ben: As far as EDM goes, this track doesn’t cover anything we haven’t heard a). before or b). executed in a more engaging manner. While energetic and full of feel good summery vibes, Together relies heavily on style over substance and falls agonisingly flat as a result. 2

Sam: At the moment in Europe and America it’s all about providing the soundtrack for the summer. The Magician has nabbed it once before with his remix of Lykke Li’s I Follow Rivers and while this probably won’t be as successful it has all the elements for a summer smash. The synth-line is breezy and tropical, the chorus is euphoric and the beat is tailor-made for mediterranean parties. It’s not overly exciting but if his goal was to craft a summer song, he’s done that with ease. 3

Claudia: The synth-lines and rhythm in The Magician’s new song are clean and fall into the death pit of YouTube trap-step-trip-hop tunes that typically come with a summery image of a half naked girl, or a sunset, or a beer, with a white template overlay that will read ‘Majestic Casual’ and ‘TheSoundYouNeed’. Though there’s nothing totally engaging or fulfilling about this song, but I wouldn’t mind hearing it on a 35-degree day boat trip, I guess. 2

One And Only

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"][/soundcloud]

Michelle: In one word? Strange. The high-pitched vocals, featuring the slight edge of an Australian accent, take a while to get used to, but, for Sable, the strange mixture of bubbly synth beats and the helium voice, it’s turned out rather well. 3.5

Ben: Initially thrown by the off kilter vocals layered with distortion, everything really clicked into place at around the 1 minute mark of the track. Far from being terrible, but still not amazing, One And Only is cute and inoffensive electro that I would gladly keep the radio on for. 3

Sam: It may seem like a cop-out to use chipmunk-style vocals but it’s really not easy to use them in the right way. Here Sable actually manages to put some heart into the song with the high-pitched vocal. It genuinely feels like a love song for the generation of the future. There are definite PC Music-nods but there are also plenty of Sable-staples in their aswell in terms of the video-game aesthetic. This has been getting plenty of attention this week and rightfully so. It’s a superhuman lovesong bound for the clubs and that’s no easy to pull-off. Sam's Pick

Claudia: The vocals in this song sounds like my dad after he inhaled helium on my 7th birthday, it’s risky and too musically outspoken in comparison to other dimensions of the song, but it’s kinda cool and has a mellow, dream-like and club-ready musical language. It’s hard to say whether Sable has pulled off the Crazy Frog like vocal but it’s certainly not bad. 2.5


Michelle: MS MR have an uncanny ability to combine rock beats with Florence Welch-style soaring lyrics and electronic vibes. Plapinger’s voice is the centrepiece of most tracks, but this fast-paced song belongs with the MS MR name as much it belongs under the flickering lights of a disco ball. It borrows from retro trends (see the video) but Plapinger’s airy vocals are distinctly modern. MS MR’s new direction is a winner. 4.5 Michelle's Pick 

Ben: MS MR have always been an act to intrigue, and this track has really ramped up the anticipation for their forthcoming sophomore album. Criminals could have easily been plucked out of the heyday of 80’s synth pop. From the commanding drums and subtle guitar work to the layers of synths (which never feel overpowering) and Lizzy Plapinger’s exquisite vocal delivery, Criminals hits all the right spots, and then some. A fantastic listen. 4.5 Ben's Pick

Sam: If any song is going to be a hit of MS MR’s second record, it’s going to be this one. It’s the most melodic thing they’ve churned out yet and while it doesn’t have the huge chorus that Hurricane did, it’s got a far more danceable beat that’s bound to go down well with festival crowds. When the beat drops out at the end and it’s just Lizzy’s vocals with strings, it’s beautiful. However, I still think MS MR haven’t really had their moment as all their songs reach about a 7 or an 8. They’re still looking for their 10. 3.5 

Claudia: MS MR are artists with a myriad of potential and they definitely know what they’re doing, but yet again their song lies somewhere between two genres, two motives and being fantastic and entirely dull and uninventive. The song is incredibly well written and curated, however there’s something about the sound and the vocal that’s half-hearted and tired. MS MR may not have hit their musical mark, but Criminals tells me that at some point in the near future, they definitely will. 3


[soundcloud width="750" height="200"][/soundcloud]

Michelle: There’s a minimalist theme running through the few tracks Joni has released but this one is excessively bare. Joni isn’t immediately captivating - her songs grow on you after a few listens but this track could have been fuller. 2

Ben: Sparse beats, dark atmospherics and great production are the shining light on Joni’s latest track Running. Though despite Joni’s vocal ability, the vocal line itself feels surprisingly empty. There were points where the track should have soared, but unfortunately failed to leave the ground. 2.5

Sam: Just a quick look at Joni’s Soundcloud likes and you can spot her modern influences - Bok Bok, Nao, GoldLink, Tink. That’s a good lane to be operating in at the moment. It’s one of the pockets of future RnB that feels really exciting. The beat on Running really does sound like a Bok Bok production. It’s jolting and demonic yet Joni manages to tie it together and soften it with her interesting but accessible vocal. Based off this song alone Joni is worth keeping an eye on. 4

Claudia: In its rhythm and production Joni’s song Running is quite awkward, it feels a little like a studio test. But there’s greatness in it, and it sounds something like the lovechild-grandchild of early 90s RnB rapper Charizma and the Golden Age hip-hopper MC Shan. However Joni brings in eclectic, creative, Flume-like production and an unruffled female vocal that sits in really well with the tone of the song. What this song lacks in musical substance, it makes up for with a really prepossessing ambience and originality. 3

[poll id="47"]


10 Songs You Need To Hear: Years & Years, Drake, Alessia Cara And More


This week, Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick broke up confirming that real love doesn't exist. In light of that, we've tried to eradicate all love songs from this week's 10 songs. There are a few that are late to the news and have gone ahead and released a love song this week so we've forgiven them but this is the last week. Love is dead. RIP.

Alessia Cara
Bad Blood

When you cover Tay Tay and then Tay Tay tweets that she loves it, you're basically one below God (God being Tay Tay). Alessia Cara who might have caught your ears earlier this year with the excellent Here, took on the track, Kendrick Lamar-verses and all with a soulful, nuanced rendition. The tone in Cara's voice is remarkable and this performance really solidifies her as one of the most important new artists this year.

Peking Duk
Say My Name (Feat. Benjamin Joseph)

Well this is a bit of a curve-ball from the Aussie duo. Say My Name is not the dancefloor winner you were imagining but instead it's a rock-inspired cruncher that's more Black Keys than Calvin Harris. In a weird way the boys manage to make it a banger that will no doubt light up the Splendour stage when they drop it in a fortnight. It may take a little time for everyone to come around but it looks like they have another hit on their hands.

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"][/soundcloud]

Rodney (Feat. Erick Arc Elliot)

We frothed over Espa.'s debut Pray For Me and now she's gone and done it again with the follow-up Rodney. This introduces us to a much more sensual side of the singer complete with sex sounds and steaming vocals. On top of that there's a rap planted firmly in the bedroom. It's daring but it's damn sexy.

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"][/soundcloud]


HANA was introduced to many as Grimes' mate on her debut track Clay, but know she's got two brilliant tracks out there I think she's earned the right to be known for more than just that. Avalanche, the second track, is a twisted pop song that drips with icy beats and a melancholic melody. It's more delicate and personal than Clay and shows she's carving out a nice musical identity.

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"][/soundcloud]

Yung Lean
Crystal Clear Ice

Whatever your opinion on Yung Lean, it's hard not to be swayed by the watery opulence of Crystal Clear Ice. The song is drunk and/or high but it channels that moment when everything is beautiful before it all inevitably goes wrong. It's not going to appeal to the masses but it's actually Yung Lean's most accessible song yet.

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"][/soundcloud]


If you've ever seen a Caribou show you'll know that the song's take on a much bassier, club aesthetic than they do on record. Dan Snaith's side project Daphni captures that feeling on tape. Vikram is pure beat candy. The basis of the track is a throbbing instrumental that barely uses synth-work to create a melody. It sounds like the kind of track that would be used to extend a Caribou song and send it into the stratosphere live but as a standalone it's also intricately interesting.

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"][/soundcloud]

Majid Jordan
My Love (Feat. Drake)

You may best remember Majid Jordan as the Canadian duo that featured on Drake's Hold On, We're Going Home. They have been silent for a little while but they have finally returned with My Love featuring none other than fellow Canadian Drake. It's a down-trodden, muted dance track that sees Drake sing rather than rap alongside Majid Jordan's caramel vocals.

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"][/soundcloud]

Gilligan Moss

Once you get over the brilliant video clip for this you'll start really falling in love with this track. Choreography is by New York newcomer Gilligan Moss and it's a crystalline, happy-go-lucky track that effortlessly sets its self apart from anything electronic around at the moment. It feels frantic and confused like the inner-workings of a teenage mind but somehow it amounts to something captivating and actually really accessible.

One And Only

Perth producer Sable has gone 100 percent with the PC Music vibes on his latest One And Only. it's a sweet, hyperhuman love song full of delicious ear candy. Stylistically, it's probably the biggest risk Sable has taken but it pays of completely. It's hard to use the chipmunk vocal without sounding like a gimmick - here, it actually sounds heartwarming.

[soundcloud width="750" height="200"][/soundcloud]

Years & Years

Years & Years are about to bag their second number one in the UK with Shine and they have just dropped their debut LP Communion which will most likely scale the same heights. Gold is Communion's golden moment, if you like. It's a throbbing, gospel-tinted pop song full of impossibly delicious melodies. Vocalist Olly Alexander is a phenomenal popstar with the goods to make your heart melt every time he completes a vocal run.