The 1975 break into the stratosphere on ‘A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships’

The 1975 are provocative and genius (if a bit pretentious) or overrated, maddening and straight-up wanky, depending on who you ask. One thing that everyone should admit, even those who can’t stand the sight of Matty Healy before he even opens his mouth, is that there’s no band quite like The 1975 in music today.

They released their underwhelming self-titled debut in 2013 and were essentially written off critically – yet this didn’t stop them amassing a huge fanbase. However, rather than giving the critics the middle finger and continuing down the same path, they released their sprawling, near 75-minute sophomore record i like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful, yet so unaware of it in 2016, a record where bubble-gum pop anthems rubbed shoulders with 6-minute instrumentals.

i like it when you sleep… remarkably won over some of the critics who had so vehemently trashed their debut, and by the end of that record’s touring cycle – The 1975, still one of the most divisive bands in music, had sold out the O2 Arena, Madison Square Garden and headlined Latitude Festival.

This meant that, in a weird way, the pressure was off when it came to making A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships. If they were to look at it cynically, as long as there are radio hits (which The 1975 churn out for fun – just look at highlight It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You) ), this album will send them into the stratosphere – as they proved on their first record, they don’t need critical acclaim, and already have a huge legion of fans who worship the ground they walk on.

But, rather than playing it safe, Healy and his bandmates (drummer/producer George Daniel, bassist Ross MacDonald and lead guitarist Adam Hann) revel in this, and make A Brief Inquiry…their boldest (and best) album yet. How To Draw / Petrichor is the best possible evidence – a reworked B-side from i like it…, the track’s first half is lullaby-esque – with gorgeously glittery piano and xylophone floating in and out of the mix, before Matty’svocals come in, absolutely buried in vocoder. However, then you have the second half – a production masterclass from Healy and George Daniel, an industrial dance beat with skittish beats that genuinely sound like an Aphex Twin track. Seriously, who would have predicted after The 1975’s debut that they would be drawing Aphex Twin comparisons on just their third album?

This Aphex comparison is a segue into a main point of discussion for this record. Matty is a huge LCD Soundsystem fan and in a manner similar to James Murphy’s LCD records, A Brief Inquiry…wears its influences very prominently on its sleeve – the intro track The 1975 – which has appeared in a different iteration on all 3 records – is a perfect example of this. A Brief Inquiry’s version hears Matty singing through a vocoder which sounds like a swarm of Matty robots, in a way that more than pays homage to Bon Iver’s 715 – CR∑∑KS.

Elsewhere on the record, the infectious single TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME sounds exactly like a dancehall Drake track, with breezy surface-level lyrics about infidelity. It’s undoubtedly generic and is the kind of track that those who love to hate The 1975 will latch onto, but somehow it’s irresistibly catchy and infectious.

There’s more Bon Iver influence on I Like America & America Likes Me (more like I Like Bon Iver and Bon Iver likes me, eh lads? Eh? Anyone?) where Healy’s voice is once again drenched in vocoder akin to 22, A Million. However, Matty is clever here – he knows he doesn’t have Vernon’s subtlety so substitutes this for his trademark brashness – America is carried by a massive trap beat and Healy’s lyricism is scatterbrain and manic, addressing the gun crisis in the USA (“kids don’t want rifles / they want Supreme”), but the unhinged and rapid-fire delivery and lyricism seems to suggest that Healy is using this rant as a way to deflect from his heroin addiction which saw him go to rehab during the making of this record – particularly as he howls “I’m scared of dying / its fiiiiiiine!” America is unhinged, wild and deranged – but it’s one of the best tracks this band has ever made.

While the rest of The 1975 are perfectly capable musicians, and George Daniel is a production wizard behind many of this record’s best moments. A Brief Inquiry…is dominated by the ever-fascinating Healy. This is especially evident on massive closer I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes), which sounds at some points like a Nickelback track and at other points like an Oasis track – Matty himself even called it “a gritty, English ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing’” – it teeters right on the edge of being unbearably cheesy, but Healy’s earnestness manages to pull it off and then some – the bridge’s mantra of “if you can’t survive; just try”is genuinely tear-jerking and inspiring.

However, when discussing Matty, even the most loyal fans of his work will admit that he is prone to talking absolute shite from time to time, and if A Brief Inquiry…is a reflection of his personality, then it reflects this too. Lead single Give Yourself a Try is good but not great, and the idol worship elsewhere on the album is taken too far here as the guitar riff is a rip-off of Joy Division’s Disorder. Elsewhere, Surrounded By Heads and Bodies is entertainingly titled after the first sentence of David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest (“Because nobody reads it all the way!”) but that is unfortunately the most interesting thing about the track, as it is a forgettable acoustic track.

These are only small missteps in the album’s near-impeccable 59-minute runtime, and these are more than overshadowed by the band’s best song yet – the monumental Love If If We Made It. Released as a single before the album, the lyrics were released in advance of the track, and with lines as brash as “fucking in a car / shooting heroin” and “poison me, daddy”, even the most devout fans found themselves cringing. However, when the track was properly released it dumbfounded almost everyone who heard it.

It’s been called a millennial ‘We Didn’t Start The Fire’, as it simply lists the biggest news headlines and social events of the tumultuous past few years (“a beach of drowning 3 year olds / rest in peace Lil Peep”), Matty doesn’t give an opinion on any of these events and simply states the headlines, but his passion is evident. Particularly on the track’s incredibly moving bridge, where he quotes Trump twice, including the strangest pop lyric of the year “thank you Kanye, very cool!”

What brings this cultural melting point of a track together is the powerfully simple chorus when Matty declares “modernity has failed us, but I’d love it if we made it”; it’s an admission that our world is a mess, but what comes through in Matty’s impassioned delivery is a true desire and a plea for humanity and kindness. It’s a protest song of sorts, but as only The 1975, and only Matty Healy could pull off. As unlikely as it may have seemed in 2013, A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships makes a very strong case for The 1975 as the band that the world needs in 2018. – andrew barr (@weeandreww)

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Top 6 Acts of TRNSMT

By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr

Now that the dust has settled, the rain soaked clothes dried and the hangovers somewhat cured, it’s time to have a look at TRNSMT. A festival that seemingly came out of nowhere with the feat of filling in the shoes of T In The Park, the odds seemed against the Glasgow based event yet it managed to leave everyone in attendance more than pleased. Glasgow Green was the perfect location for a festival like this, not too out of the way and full of beautiful scenery – unlike it’s predecessor, stages weren’t miles apart yet the sound was never compromised by the distance.

Were there mistakes? Of course – sound at certain stages seemed to flicker in quality repeatedly, the Saturday was weak with some misplaced acts and things like food and drink were ridiculously priced. Despite that though, the atmosphere was incredible and was worth every penny. Then there’s the acts who made it all worth the sore feet and being hit by multiple cups of questionable fluids: some are big and some may not have been on your radar prior but regardless, these are the artists that don’t so much need your attention but demand it.

6. The Vistas

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A band that we’ve covered extensively since they first came onto the scene with their hot indie rock single Sign LanguageVistas were oddly low on the King Tuts bill considering the success and crowd they have accumulated. Starting off with the aforementioned breakout track, the Edinburgh pop-rock outfit had the crowd chanting and moshing along to their catchy infusion of noughties indie and their own wee touches. Teasing a new track due to drop in August, Vistas made sure not to waste a single second when it came to their set, playing some classic tunes (yes, a band this new have somehow managed to make a classic tune) at breakneck speed.

With the sun shining down, the band were the perfect way to start the day and with the reaction they got from the audience, I won’t be surprised to see this band become a regular sight at festivals all over the UK.

5. The 1975

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If you had asked me a few years back if I would seriously enjoy a 1975 gig then I would have laughed in your face (then swiftly apologised ofc). Now that the actual scenario has occurred, and now that you’ve seen its placement on this list, I have to admit how shocked I was by the sheer quality of this set. A lot of fans, mainly Twin die hards, complained that they were on before Biffy instead of Twin Atlantic though when you put down the facts (The 1975 are a bigger act, more critically acclaimed and put on a real visual spectacle in their shows) then you can’t really complain.

The 1975 for sure justified their position on the line-up, frontman Matty Healy, love him or hate him, showing why so many people tend to call him one of the best showmen around at the moment. From the clunky, oddly nice dancing to how well his vocals translate from LP to the stage, it was an easy to love gig – even if half the crowd in front of you had their phones up. This in addition to the visuals going on stage as well as the chat between the band and the audience, even a wee cringe line about a ‘ballroom dancing pit’, made the whole performance feel so wrong yet so right. The music itself may range from bland to amazing and back again all too frequently but with the show the boys put on, their place on this list is undeniable.

4. Stormzy

If we’re being transparent, we tried our best not to go anywhere near the main stage today: a bunch of samey, indie rock bands that seem to do more harm than good to the genre they claim to care about so much. Stormzy was on our must see list though and boy, he somehow still blew our expectations out of the park.

The energy of a cheetah and with the same instinct, he put on the show of a lifetime and managed to convert the sceptics in the crowd. There was no moment to catch your breath bar Cigarettes and Cush and even then, most of the crowd were singing along in typical festival fashion. Even when he covered Ed Sheeran, something that on paper should have made us wince in pain, the lord of the mic still made a positive mark – it almost begs the question of whether or not Stormzy can do any wrong. As he closes the set with the classic Shut Up, the flood of charisma and gratitude radiating from the man is undeniable. Now that Grime has solidified itself in the public sphere, it’s safe to say that Stormzy will be at the top of his game for the foreseeable future.

3. The Vegan Leather

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Who would have honestly thought that one of the most exciting sets of the entire day would have came from a wee glitzy group from Paisley? Well, those who were aware of The Vegan Leather before today certainly did and even their expectations were blown out of the water. With frontman Gian-Luca walking out in a wee, glimmering disco jacket wielding his guitar and a silver looking (fake) peacock, the feeling of the band’s performance was firmly set.

Tracks like Shake It, while still in their infancy, still got a reaction from the crowd with a lot of people near the front dancing and chanting along: when you have Talking Heads meets Yeah Yeah Yeahs meet LCD-Soundsystem as the closest to a description of your band’s sound, who can really blame them? Out of the lot though, This House gathered the biggest reaction out of the band’s setlist, even literally bringing the audience to their knees just for that eruptious climax of both the song and the band’s set. If The Vegan Leather weren’t on anyone’s radar before this gig, then they for sure as hell are firmly placed at the top now.

2. Biffy Clyro

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Did you really not expect to see this band land highly on this list? We could talk all day about the quality of the band’s music, recent LPs compared to the original trilogy and what not, but when it comes to the live shows there’s one thing that everyone can admit – Biffy Clyro try to make every gig their best.

Sunday night was no different and you really couldn’t pick a better band to end your festival with – from the pyros to confetti to fucking fireworks, the band didn’t hold back when it came to the miscellaneous splendour that they have a knack for. Of course,the real attraction is the band themselves and it’s hard to think of a time that Simon Neil acted more giddy: “Thanks for not kicking me out of Scotland for wearing sequinned trousers” the front-man quips at one point, managing to keep that down to earth appeal that you wouldn’t expect from a band who have “achieved so much more than you possibly thought they could”. The setlist was exactly what you expect from a festival but there was some gems here and there: All The Way Down has only been played once since 2014 so it was a total shock to see it played last night and There’s No Such Thing As A Jaggy Snake has a similar track record, unsurprisingly making them the highlights of the night.

“This might sound like I’m blowing smoke on your balls, but tonight has been our favourite ever show in Scotland” says Neil towards the end of the set. He may very well be doing so but from last night’s performance, the smiles on their faces and the sweat dripping down, if they’re lying they deserve a bloody Oscar for it.

1. Radiohead

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Here it was, the main event of Friday night. Radiohead‘s reputation precedes them though that changes from person to person: some will naively tell you that they’re a bunch of moaners, others will tell you they’re the best band of all time – funnily enough, both statements aren’t exclusive from the either. As the band began things with a curveball, Let Down starting off the night’s proceedings instead of the tour’s old faithful DayDreaming intro, the way tonight’s performance was gonna go was set.

There were too many highlights to count: Thom Yorke’s infectious da dancing to Myxomatosis had mulitple folk in the audience trying to replicate it, there was the sing-song loveliness of the band’s not so deep cuts like No Surprises and Paranoid Android, beautiful moments where the two infused like during Bodysnatchers that probably had the biggest reaction from the audience even though it’s not one of the best known tracks from the group. Repeatedly thanking the audience throughout the set, Yorke and co’s appreciation for both everyone in attendance and the fans who have got them there was honest and heartwarming.

It seems a bit obvious to have a headliner as one of the top acts of the weekend but if you were there, or caught coverage of TRNSMT, then you know that there really wasn’t anything like this all weekend. “This is what you get, when you mess with us” Yorke sings gracefully on closing track Karma Police: if this is the result then everyone should fuck with Radiohead more often.


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PARKLIFE 2017 REVIEW

Written by Andrew Barr (@weeandreww)

Still on a high after Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester benefit concert, Manchester hosted its next big music event on the 10th and 11th of June when Parklife Festival took over the city’s Heaton Park. The weekend luckily went ahead without any incidents and everywhere inside the festival grounds seemed to radiate a party atmosphere. Further to this, Parklife boasted an incredible lineup, including Frank Ocean himself as the Sunday night headliner (and he actually turned up!)

I travelled to Manchester from Glasgow for Parklife and, if I’m honest, probably spent more time at a huge pyramid in the middle of the festival than at any stage, and drank far too much spiced rum than it takes to be anywhere near objective, but I’ll scramble together a few mini-reviews of acts at the festival.

Chaka Khan

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One of the stranger names to appear on the lineup actually proved to be a personal highlight of the festival. Appearing on the main stage in mid-afternoon on Saturday, Khan was joined by a huge live band including backing singers, and ended her set with one of the biggest singalongs of the weekend: the double-header of undisputed anthems I’m Every Woman and Ain’t Nobody.

 

Two Door Cinema Club

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Appearing on Saturday’s main stage before headliners The 1975, the Irish indie trio’s set was aided by the day’s nicest weather, as the rain cleared up and some early evening sun descended on Heaton Park during the band’s slot.

The setlist further warmed the crowd up, with Two Door Cinema Club almost shunning their newest album Gameshow completely, with a set mainly comprised of acclaimed debut Tourist History. It’s easy to see why as their debut is a perfect festival album, with tracks like I Can Talk and What You Know which feel as if they were written with this atmosphere in mind.

The 1975

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Parklife saw one of the last shows on The 1975’s seemingly never-ending tour in support of their second album, I Like It Whenyou know the title, as well as their first ever festival headlining slot. How would the Manchester 4-piece rise to the occasion? By doing exactly what they’ve done the entire tour. The set opened as the second album campaign did with the sugary Love Me, and the tempo barely dropped throughout, as the band’s short discography boasts an incredible amount of brilliant pop songs.

The headline billing never seemed to affect the band, and definitely not lead singer Matt Healy, who took his top off after 3 songs and quipped “is he a rockstar? Does he just think he’s a rockstar? Is he too fucking hot? Who the fuck knows?”. The 1975 remain polarising, largely due to Healy’s persona, but with tracks as good as The Sound, soon it’ll be near impossible to deny them.

Stormzy

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Sunday at Parklife was absolutely full of clashes, which left us with some heart-wrenching decisions to make. One of the day’s toughest decisions meant we could only see the first half of Stormzy’s set, so missed out on some of his biggest hitters. However, the Sounds of the Near Future tent was completely packed for the entirety of the London MCs set, with even the back of the tent bouncing to every beat. Stormzy rallied the crowd with ease, repeatedly asking for his “energy crew” as he played tracks from his debut Gang Signs and Prayers as well as older tracks. Before we left, we got to see the roof almost blow off the tent for new single Cold and tracks like Shut Up and Big For Your Boots undoubtedly had the place on its knees.

Frank Ocean
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While leaving Stormzy was heartbreaking, I never even contemplated watching the end of his set, as we left to see Frank Ocean on the main stage. Actually, as it transpired, we could have seen the end of Stormzy as Ocean didn’t appear until 40 mins later than his scheduled slot for only his second performance since 2014.

When he appeared, Ocean walked to the end of a walkway emblazoned with scribbles of his song titles and lyrics in a Brad Pitt t-shirt, no doubt in reference to a GQ article where Pitt lavished praise on the R&B enigma. After Pretty Sweet was played over the intercom, Ocean properly opened his set with Solo from 2016’s Blonde. However, he restarted this track 3 times, mumbling “uh, sorry” in between attempts, and appeared visibly nervous in this rare live performance.

After Ocean finally finished Solo, he launched into Chanel, which he played twice as he “liked that one” and from that point, visibly grew in confidence and grew into his performance. It was a set-list clearly curated for diehards rather than casual fans, as Thinkin Bout You was the only track from 2012’s Channel Orange that Ocean played, with the set-list dominated by Blonde and Endless, as well as the Blonded Radiosingles.

Unsurprisingly with this set-list, the reaction to the set was mixed, with many blasting Ocean for being over-indulgent and pretentious for a festival headline slot. However, you cannot blame him, as Blonde tracks like Nikes and Nights rank among Ocean’s very best tracks, and when a small band join him on stage for the ethereal Self Control, there is no doubt that Ocean is among this generation’s finest musical talents.


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Top 50 Songs of 2016

 

 

 

 

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

It’s here! Chuck those negative opinions aside as for the next week we’ll be counting down my musical highlights of the year. While 2016 was full of many negative events (US election, multiple celebrity death, suicide squad, damn daniel etc.), on the other side of the coin music was as entertaining and fascinating as ever. Hip-hop continued to demonstrate its creative power while rock and other genres revitalised themselves to provide us with some of the best singles of their respective artist’s careers.

As always we have the staple “this is my opinion” placeholder to insert before we get cracking on so if there are any songs you think are missing or should be placed higher/lower then keep in mind that this is my list. Since there are 50 tracks to go through, I’ll speed through the first 25 or so and go into a bit more detail as we reach the top 20 picks. With that being said, let’s get the ball rolling…

50. Glue 70 – Casin

49. Crywank – Love

48. Vistas – Sign Language

47. Brand New – I Am A Nightmare

46. Boston Manor -Lead Feet

45. Kevin Devine – Instigator

44. SBTRKT – Let Them In

43. Run The Jewels – Talk To Me

42. Fake Boyfriend – Bumtown

41. Parquet Courts – Dust

40. Pale Kids – Not Listening

39. Blink-182 – Cynical

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38. Weezer – Jacked Up

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37. Frightened Rabbit – Die Like A Rich Boy

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36. Jamie T- Tescoland

35. Hovvdy – Try Hard

34. Honeyblood – Love Is A Disease

33. Skepta – Man

32. Metallica – Spit Out The Bone

31. Young Thug – RiRi

30. Enter Shikari – Hoodwinker

29. Touche Amore – Displacement

28. Kendrick Lamar – untitled 03

27. Biffy Clyro – In The Name Of The Wee Man

26. Sweet White – Genine

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25. Joyce Manor – Eighteen

24. Death Grips – 3 Bedrooms In A Good Neighborhood 

23. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Dark Necessities 

22. Twin Atlantic – Gold Elephant, Cherry Alligator

21. Mean Jeans – Michael Jackson Was Tight

20. The 1975 – Somebody Else

Trust me, I’m just as surprised as you that The 1975 are making an appearance on this list. Whilst their latest album was a double-edged sword, only just managing to provide more killer than filler, when the band delivered something good it was really fucking good. See Somebody Else for example, a song that dabbles into the topic of modern day romance that frontman, with the hand of some vocal manipulation, executes brilliantly.

19. Charli XCX – Trophy

The ultimate pump up song of 2016, Charli XCX continues her reign as one of the most likeable female vocalists in music right now with a fantastic combination of 00’s club music and peculiar beats.

18. Radiohead – Daydreaming

Beautifully minimalistic and driven solely by piano alongside some glitzy chimes with a Jamie XX flare to them, Daydreaming was the standout track on Radiohead’s triumphant return A Moon Shaped Pool: a calm, borderline lullaby that dips its toes in fearsome waters before diving head first into them during the climax.

17. Bon Iver – 33 “GOD”

Showing off the majority of 22, A Million’s religious subtext, 33 “GOD” is a showcase of Bon Iver’s experimental take on their latest record packaged alongside the delicate rock they’ve mastered since their debut For Emma, Forever Ago.

16. Blood Orange – Best To You

Providing some of the best R&B in recent memory, Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound hit its peak four tracks in with Best To You. Featuring a stunning vocal performance from Empress Of, Dev Hynes showed off just how good he is at mixing production and songwriting together.

15. Real Friends – Mess

A pop punk song that has lyrics that manage to be fresh for the act due to being about something other than a break up?! Revolutionary! All jokes aside, the crisp production value along with a catchy as all hell chorus makes the track feel like Real Friends have been working hard on their songwriting capabilities since their debut record and, despite what they’re saying in the public eye, are making efforts to progress as a band.

14. Codist – Puddle

Glasgow band Codist came out with their debut record all the way back in January and continued to be one of my favourites throughout 2016. My personal favourite track off of Nuclear Family had to be Puddle that harks back to Blackened Sky era Biffy with some equally beautiful lyrics about “why you can feel your insides glow”.

13. Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – Stranger Things

The shortest track by far on this list, Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein’s titular theme tune to Netflix’s surprise hit series Stranger Things is, much like the show itself, a total love letter to 80’s electronica with ominous synths lulling you into a sense of dread.

12. American Football – My Instincts Are The Enemy

Showing that the band still had what it takes to retain relevance in a genre that has long since evolved since their one and only record, American Football showed they deserve all the praise they get with their second LP. My Instincts Are The Enemy is a testament to the intricacy this band can provide with just three instruments, pulling off smooth and satisfying tempo changes and delivering beautiful lyrics as if they had never been away.

11. Schoolboy Q – Groovy Tony 

Schoolboy Q may have given us a pretty lacklustre LP in 2016 but he made sure we weren’t left empty handed with Groovy Tony, drenched in eerie production and driven by one of the most aggressive sounding flows in hip-hop.

10. Frank Ocean – Nikes

WE IN THE TOP 10 NOW BABY! The musical Where’s Waldo Mr Frank Ocean returned this year with his long awaited Blonde that kicks off with one of the strongest tracks of his career. Nikes modifies Ocean’s vocals into unrecognisable territory, delivering lines about lost ones and consumerism with a minimalistic background which needs to be listened to for it to be fully experienced.

9. Danny Brown – When It Rain

Not only did Detroit’s prodigal son Danny Brown deliver the best record of his career, arguably one of the greatest hip-hop albums in the past decade, but he managed to shake up his tried and tested sound on top of that. Much like Groovy Tony, When It Rain cranks up that ominous notch up to 11 and packs the visceral imagery to back it up.

8. Moose Blood – Knuckles

Arguably the best track Mooseblood have delivered thus far, Knuckles embodies everything the band have been great at since their debut: providing a killer hook with beautiful lyrics and vocals. While the majority of the band’s sophomore effort is far more grounded in pessimism, Knuckles seems to hit a major realist chord and wonderfully so.

7. PUP – DVP

Unlike other acts of the genre who do a lot of rocking but very little growing up, PUP manage to nail the topic of maturity on DVP which flows seamlessly on from the aforementioned If This Tour… into an even more anthemic style on record The Dream Is Over. Addressing how they handle issues, in this case getting “so drunk that I can’t speak”, as well as others telling them to grow up, the track manages to keep a positive vibe going in its instrumentals whilst juggling some of the darker lyrics on here.

6. James Blake ft Bon Iver – I Need A Forest Fire

While James Blake’s latest record was sub par at best, there was a diamond in the rough in the form of I Need A Forest Fire. Combining Bon Iver’s beautiful vocals alongside Blake’s versatile singing is a genius concept and is wonderfully executed, managing to explore the .topic of new beginnings with total ease.

5. Chance The Rapper – Blessings

It’s hard to argue that 2016 belonged to anyone but if I had to place a bet on it, my money would be on Chance The Rapper. Colouring Book was one of the most enjoyable listens of the year with bucketloads of optimism and hope in a year that very much needed it. Blessings pretty much embodies the album’s core message better than any other track does. A gospel influence is felt not only in its sound but its lyrical content: lines about redemption, fatherhood and faith are subtle with the main hook from Jamila Woods being infectiously catchy.

4. Childish Gambino – Redbone

No artist this year transformed quite like Childish Gambino. Swapping out hip-hop for funk/soul/R&B music is an impossible risk but Gambino somehow survived the transition, quality intact. Redbone shows this perfectly, displaying a wonderful use of vocoder and the aforementioned funk element that made Awaken My Love one of the most refreshing listens of 2016.

3. David Bowie – Lazarus

The loss of David Bowie was one of many celebrity deaths to occur in 2016 but was the one that no doubt hit the hardest. Lazarus pretty much acts as a foreshadowing to it all with lyrics such as “look up here, I’m in heaven” managing to evoke a tear or two out of even the most casual Bowie fan. While it may be a difficult listen considering the context, Lazarus stood out well before the passing of Bowie, providing the perfect balance of instrumentals and Bowie’s unique vocals.

2. The Weeknd – Starboy

Before we get into the top pick of this list, we have but one more track to praise, that being The Weeknd’s Starboy which features on the RnB superstar’s eponymously titled record. Featuring a backing beat that sounds like a less feisty but equally enjoyable Yeezus feature, the partnership with Daft Punk means it’s no real surprise that Starboy finds itself so high up on a best tracks of 2016 list.

1. Kanye West – Real Friends

While The Life of Pablo was an enjoyable albeit messy release, it undoubtedly features the best song Kanye West has released since Runaway. Real Friends puts Mr West in his most vulnerable position since My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy as he voices his guilt regarding friends and family over a beautifully tragic sounding beat. Think Aphex Twin entwined with heartbreak. The song ends with a poignant howl that evokes the same sadness and, in a way, isolation that we have become accustomed to with Kanye’s more personal tracks. Sources say that when the track was first released, the title was missing the word “friends”. In a twisted way, it’s both a relief to hear Kanye sounding the most real he has in years whilst it’s also uncomfortable to witness the inner turmoil he’s experiencing that has only since got worse with his recent inauguration into a psychiatric ward.

 

 

 

 

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