TRACK REVIEW: CHVRCHES – Warning Call

So Chvrches have released a new song, cool right? Right.

The new track, Warning Call, is being released as the theme for the video game sequel ‘Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst’. Now, I’ve never played the original Mirrors Edge but- a lot of people have. It’s an incredibly well known and well loved game as well as being a unique and inventive one. So kudos to Chvrches for getting involved, they make a great pairing!

The track starts with that old analog synth sound that we’ve grown to love and crave from the Glaswegian synthpop trio and then bursts to life with the contrast of Lauren Mayberry’s smooth, flowing vocals and the powerful, thudding sub kick descendant of House and Techno music. Another love of mine in Chvrches’ music is their amazing, understated vocal samples, being natural yet, otherworldly in a truly impressive oxymoron fashion.

Warning Call is one of Chvrches more relaxed songs, with head bobbing verses and a triumphant and beautiful chorus followed by an even more cascading section followed by a quiet refrain.However at the three minute mark it blows up into a satisfyingly powerful instrumental and chorus. Then the songs winds down repeating the lyrics ‘it’s a memory’ and you are all undoubtedly left feeling some new found love for life, or at least I did.

8/10

– Evan Hamilton (@RumblySkeleguy)

Chvrches are playing Radio 1s Big Weekend on May 28 & Glastonbury on June 25

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TRACK REVIEW: Pema – Something Less

Further contributing to the tapestry she started weaving over on My Intentions Are Good, pop up and comer Pema has become more musically ambitious on an non-aptly named track Something Less. A collaboration with LAZ3NBY, another moniker using artist who happens to be Matt Hines of Eastern Sea fame, Pema has managed to diversify her sound even further, displaying a great amount of versatility at such an early stage at her career.

While My Intentions Are Good was a trumpet infused and rather meh debut track, here on Something Less we get, well, something a lot more appealing. The whole song gives off a neo-noir kind of vibe with looping, reverb heavy vocals, crisp drum beats and booming synths paving the way for a luscious pop landscape. While both of her tracks have covered topics of self doubt, Something Less feels like the track that fully realises Pema’s ambitious goal for her upcoming LP Doublethink. This time around the instrumentals are just as strong, if not stronger,than what she is trying to get across, meaning that both lyrically and sound wise the track is extremely layered.

An easy to digest and tasty piece of synthpop goodness, Pema makes good of her potential and leaves listeners lusting for more.

– Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

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ALBUM REVIEW: Kid North – New Waters

French pop trio deliver an album dripping with synth pop greatness 

In most album reviews, the first couple of paragraphs are spent describing the act, their influences etc. before displaying even a hint of the writer’s opinion on the music in question. Fuck that though because what we have here is an album that exceeded all of my expectations and one that is sure to be on loop for days to come.

Where to begin? Kid North’s New Waters is the culmination of an act driven by their retrospective influences that they wear on their sleeves, most notably their love for all things electro and melancholy. This is all on display here beautifully, each track managing to stand out from the rest regardless of their similar traits.

The eponymously titled track New Waters features a catchy, trendy guitar hook that wouldn’t go astray on a release by Don Bronco which would be sufficient on its own but when paired up with some echoey vocals and an unfiltered groovy sound, it’s a perfect example of the masterful pop craftiness of Kid North.

What we have here is an album that exceeded all of my expectations and one that is sure to be on loop for days to come.

Anyone who listened to Porches latest LP and liked what they heard but wished it was a little more upbeat will be more than happy here. While it’s your typical bread and butter array of instruments on offer here, what Kid North manage to do here considering how long they’ve been about is impressive to say the least. Tracks like Geometrical is pin point music magnificence, full of twangy, poppy synths alongside a funky, rhythmic guitar hook. While bands like CHVRCHES who revived the genre just a few years ago have decided to take a darker route sound and lyrics wise, Kid north act as a sunshine radiating substitute and a very welcome one at that.

The few complaints I have with New Waters comes from a few tracks such as Future Ghosts and Hours standing out as a bit mediocre, being very safe and by the numbers which isn’t a sin considering the variety on show here. It’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised by an album, especially one that wasn’t on your radar to begin with. If you’re looking for some easy to digest, crazily catchy music with a synth heavy sound then you couldn’t do much better than this.

8/10

Crystal Castles – Deicide track review

Best of July #5

Just like a building made out of such a fragile material, Crystal Castles stood strong together for years. Whereas other synth-pop acts like CHVRCHES had a more cheerful take on the genre, this Canadian duo turned the genre on its head by infecting it with apocalyptic tales of despair and sadness. Sadly this might have had something to do with what happened behind closed doors as singer Alice Glass left in late 2014 for personal reasons, recently putting blame on Kath for manipulation.

Whether or not these claims are true is yet to be seen and I wouldn’t want to criticise a track on allegations alone. As sad as I was whenever I heard Glass had left the duo, I knew deep down that what made Crystal Castles what they are was their sound, crafted by the wickedly talented Ethan Kath.

Thankfully the disputes between Kath and his former band mate hasn’t affected his sound. In fact new track Deicide might be one of the best tracks that Kath has ever came out with. The band’s earlier stuff was known for it’s rave influences and these can be felt from the get go. The haunting sounds that come about on this track shouldn’t feel so easy to dance to yet you can’t help but nod your head along and tap your feet.

As lovely as Alice Glass was as a singer, I can’t say I’m outraged that Kath has replaced her with a mysterious female singer. Whoever they might be, they manage to capture that distant, soft spoken delivery Glass had perfected over three albums. The sound and singing both blend into what can only be described as an “absolute tune”.

This latest track isn’t a huge departure from what we’ve heard before but this is an only a glimpse of what is yet to come. Crystal Castles managed to shake it up majorly on III, I have more than enough faith that Kath can do so on his inevitable new album.

Listen to the track here!

Liam Menzies
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