To put it simply, what a week! The first week of February has seen a mammoth list of stunning new tracks and albums, which has left us at The Music Radar UK with the wonderful if lengthy task of reviewing a huge number of brilliant releases. Our reviews of this week has set two records. One for the largest amount of track reviews we have carried out in a couple of days with 22 tracks reviewed for you to enjoy and the other for being the first week in which we have decided to award two tracks with the title Track of the Week. Here are our tracks of the week alongside in depth reviews:
Joint Track of the Week: Imagine Dragons – “Believer”
The highly anticipated return of stadium gods Imagine Dragons has finally come, and it’s come in style. Believer is a fierce, self affirming rock giant which looks back to singer Dan Reynolds’ past and recognises the effect it has had on him now. First lines “First things first, Ima say all the words inside my head / I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been” sets the no nonsense approach to how the band live their lives now, in a way that means they can control their destiny and direction. With verses of swaggering vocals dancing over booming drums, the song entices you in before a drop into the chorus that is so powerful it can only be rivalled by that of AWOLNATION’s Sail. The track sounds like a throwback to first hit Radioactive and we are sure it’ll match, if not beat, the success and popularity of that track. It’s the biggest rock track of 2017 so far and has increased the hype ahead of their new album.
Joint Track of the Week: London Grammar – “Big Picture”
The second single from the atmospheric trio, Big Picture is startlingly beautiful in its musicality and its deliverance. The track sees the band take influence from The XX, with the track starting as a simple piano line whilst Hannah Reid’s wonderful vocals shine so clearly in the build up before the trio add in subtle synths and an electronic pulse. Lyrics “Only you could’ve hurt me in this perfect way tonight” highlight the topic of moving on from past mistakes. The track reaches a perfect climax with it’s quiet drum groove and floating vocals. Make no mistake, this track along with previous release Rooting For You, has highlighted the band as one of the one’s to watch this year.
Father John Misty – “Ballad of the Dying Man”
Father John Misty releases his fourth track from upcoming album Pure Comedy, called Ballad of the Dying Man. A chilled out piano and acoustic guitar track, the lyrics tell the tail of a self important man with no thought about anything else but himself. Touching on narcissism, hypocrisy and eventual death, the track calls out at “All of the pretentious, ignorant voices that will go unchecked / The homophobes, hipsters and 1%”. Once again, the former Fleet Foxes drummer has delivered a piece of magic.
Mac DeMarco – “My Old Man”
Indie slacker Mac DeMarco returns with his first new track since 2015. My Old Man is a relaxed indie song with continuous acoustic guitar mixing with electronic beats. As calm as the track is, it touches on some deeply personal issues for DeMarco, more specifically, his relationship with his dad. Opening lines “Look in the mirror / Who do you see?/ Someone familiar / But surely not me” interlink with chorus line “Uh-oh, looks like I’m seeing more of my old man in me”. The track gets to grips with the development DeMarco has had over time and concludes to be one of his most personal songs so far.
Tom Joshua – “Meteor Showers”
Singer Songwriter Tom Joshua is an upcoming artist from Middlesborough with one of the most incredible songwriting abilities in the country. Mixing the innocence of Bear’s Den with creative sparks similar to Bon Iver. Meteor Showers is his first single release, a wonderful building track about a girl he saw walking in the rain. With talent like this, it will be impossible not to see him grow in popularity this year.
Blondie – “Fun”
Legendary New York new wave band Blondie, fronted by the iconic Debbie Harry, return with new track Fun, an intensely funky track which sets the tone for new album Pollinator. Taking an old school disco groove, the track sounds like something you’d expect from alternative dance groups Jungle or Formation. Lyrically simple, the track recalls the simple joy that being in love can bring. It’s a wonderful surprise from the band and it could easily reach out to all music listeners.
Day Wave – “Something Here”
One of our favourite emerging indie artists, Jackson Phillips aka Day Wave is an Oakland, California singer songwriter who creates similar music to the indie bliss of Reading’s own Sundara Karma. Something Here is a mellow yet euphoric rise which will make you reflect on your life in a way you finish leaving quite content with the world. It’s a joyful track and we hope we see much more of Day Wave in the UK.
Depeche Mode – “Where’s The Revolution?”
The iconic British synth rockers return with their first single from upcoming fourteenth album Spirit, the track being their first new material in four years. As the song title may suggest, it’s incredibly political and hammers home the point that people must take care of their own fates and not the government. Its political verses with opening lyrics “You’ve been kept out / You’ve been pushed round / You’ve been lied to / You’ve been fed truths” standout on the mellow electronic groove that plays as more of an undertone for Dave Gahan’s vocals to flow over the top of. Chorus “Where’s the revolution / Come on people you’re letting me down” is boosted by the wonderful CHVRCHES styled electronic drop and beat pattern. With the world’s situation where it is right now, maybe it isn’t too bad that we have a song like this to help us through it.
Ariana & The Rose Feat. RKCB – “Love You Lately”
The indie pop artist Ariana & The Rose has gained a huge amount of hype in London over the past year and this collaboration with RKCB shows everybody why. The electro-pop track is quite simply sensational, a true collaboration, seeing to and fro vocal vulnerability from both artists. The track tackles intimacy and subsequent issues and adds in electronic euphoria to create a wonderful piece of music.
Stormzy – “Big For Your Boots”
Grime’s future star returns with Big For Your Boots, his first single from recently announced upcoming album Gang Signs & Prayer. Based upon a hard beat with offbeat synths, the track sees Stormzy facing up to the world, stamping down on the mighty and speaking of his rise to the top which includes the shoutout to Adele “You’re never too big for Adele” following her declaring herself a fan of the Grime MC. The track rolls at such a blistering pace, it’s impossible not to admire the lyricism and flow that Stromzy has managed to cram into one track. 2016 was the year that Grime made it into mainstream with Skepta and Kano but with tracks like Big For Your Boots, 2017 could be the year the genre dominates the music industry with Stormzy leading the charge.
Jasmine Thompson Feat. Eden Prince – “Mad World”
16 year old singing sensation Jasmine Thompson rose to fame through a variety of YouTube videos in which she was then found by DJ Robin Schulz to collaborate on hit single Ain’t Nobody (Loves Me Better). The singer returns with another big remix, this time Mad World, originally by Gary Jules. Although a video was originally put on YouTube for the track in 2014, the song has finally been recorded professionally and the result is stunning. Thompson ditches the original’s vulnerability and slightly speeds the vocals up alongside adding a tropical house beat on top which creates a wonderful dance anthem.
Barns Courtney – “Hellfire”
One of the best upcoming artists in the world, Barns Courtney returned this week with a new EP featuring the stunning Western film styled track Hellfire. Mixing elements of Hozier with early Mumford & Sons, the singer-songwriter layers big drums and Spanish styled guitars with huge backing vocals which push through the track to create an intense atmospheric track.
Formation – “A Friend”
Our favouritee dance collective in the world, Formation, return with a stunning new track A Friend. With typical funky drums, the indie five piece, layer synths with Will Ritson’s vocals on a track which emphasises loyalty through all times. The song takes elements from LCD Soundsystem but the London group move away from this regular comparison with a lengthy instrumental ending which ends on a euphoric high.
Jeremih Feat. Chris Brown & Big Sean – “I Think Of You”
The first new track from Chicago R&B singer Jeremih since last year sees the artist channeling his inner Frank Ocean and R Kelly. A sultry, R&B slow jam, it sees the artist in full seduction mode. With line “Baby, won’t you give me something? / That I wanna do” the track turns to a pining love song and with guest verses from Chris Brown and Big Sean, the track sounds less old school than your typical R&B love song and more fresh, moving towards the territory of Frank Ocean which is a rather joyous change to see.
Other Noticeable Tracks
Madeline Juno – “No Words”
No Words is a recollection of the emotions following a breakup. The track sees the 21 year old singer mix a euphoric synth chorus with delicate pop verses to create a wonderful electro-pop record.
Skip Marley – “Lions”
The grandson of the legendary Bob Marley, Skip Marley infuses reggae, electronic, soul, dancehall and rap on a wonderful reggae dance track which calls out to this generation to unite as one.
Jidenna Feat. Quavo – “The Let Out”
One of the biggest upcoming names in the rap industry, Jidenna emerged in 2015 with mega hit Classic Man. He returns with new single The Let Put ahead of releasing debut album The Chief later on this month. With a guest appearance from Migos member Quavo, the track with its heavy beat, oozes grit, determination and swag to create, quite simply, a perfect hip hop track.
Mined – “Mistakes”
Mistakes is a glorious, airy electronic track that with its carefree and heavenly synth pattern creates a blissed out experience. It is delightfully beautiful in its production and altogether combines into a dreamlike and intelligent track.
Rag’n’Bone Man – “Grace”
Slowly already becoming the star of 2017, Rag’n’Bone man mixes soul, acoustic and gospel on his most vulnerable release so far. It’s a life affirming track tackling the choices and paths we all make throughout our lives and the inevitability that this life will end. A sheer beauty of a song, it’s no cliche and has increased the hype for his new album which is being released next week.
Cold War Kids – “Love Is Mystical”
Live favourites Cold War Kids return with their first new track since last year. The LA band’s new track Love Is Mystical embraces Maroon 5 styled pop with it’s groovy piano and guitar line. The new piece is funky and a definite future crowd pleaser. It’s hard to withstand the urge to get up and dance to this track and our eyes will be keenly watching ahead of their upcoming album.
Phoebe Ryan – “Dark Side”
The Chainsmokers collaborator and alternative pop singer releases her catchiest song yet. Dark Side takes influences from Major Lazer, The Chainsmokers, Halsey and Tove Lo on this slowed down dance track. With it’s chilled groove, the track embracers the willingness not to change and has all the potential to launch the Texan singer into the limelight in 2017.
Charlie Cunningham – “You Sigh”
Slowly becoming one of our favourite singer songwriters, Charlie Cunningham takes simple Nick Mulvey styled vocal lines and combines them with trumpet and an acoustic guitar twang to create a calm and beautiful track from his new album Lines.