Electric Feels: Your Weekly Electronic Music Recap
The best of electronic music in the past week, including Charli XCX, Little Dragon and Chrome Sparks.
ALBUM / EP OF THE WEEK
Charli XCX - Number 1 Angel
Could anyone have predicted that years after her Boom Clap-era break-out, Charli XCX would top an electronic album of the week segment? Probably not, yet here we are. Last week we posted a long-form about the ever-changing sound of pop music, highlighting Charli XCX and her singles with PC maestros A.G. Cook and SOPHIE as one of the front-runners of an exciting, left-field era of dance-pop. Number 1 Angel completely cements this point, with the chart-topping Brit collaborating with underground beat-makers including the previously mentioned A.G. and SOPHIE, as well fellow PC Music signees including Danny L Harle and Life Sim.
Number 1 Angel is an incredibly diverse mixtape, smashing together genres and styles across its ten tracks. The Starrah-featuring opener Dreamer and its immediately-following MØ collaboration 3AM (Pull Up) are both single-capable tracks exploding with an exciting, pop music flavour – a rather safe sound in comparison to the quick-firing, SOPHIE-produced rave Roll With Me and the more house-leaning Babygirl later in the mixtape, which features none other than Uffie in her first recording since 2011. Blame It On You, one of the mixtape’s early highlights, is an auto-tuned highpoint with one of the mixtape’s catchiest hooks and there’s the mixtape-closing Lipgloss, an extremely experimental, pop-rap collaboration with upcoming rapper CupcakKe – who adds a series of fun, sexually-charged verses above the single’s arpeggiated instrumental.
Acting as a quick preview ahead of her forthcoming third album (originally due in May, but now pushed back to September), Number 1 Angel does exactly what it needs to. It affirms that Charli XCX is one of the most care-free and risk-taking artists in the pop music world and that no matter what style she seeks to attempt, she’ll bloody slay it.
SINGLES / REMIXES OF THE WEEK
Jacques Greene - True feat. How To Dress Well
Taken from his LuckyMe-released debut record Feel Infinite (which arrived on Friday, if you’re yet to give it a listen), True is one of my favourite cuts from Canadian artist Jacques Greene, with the long-time beat-maker teaming up with American singer-songwriter How To Dress Well for a delicate and slow-burning piece of sensual R&B. On an album largely composed of deep, garage-inspired instrumentals, True shines bright like a lighthouse overlooking a foggy, late-night sea. The vocals from How To Dress Well, the only vocals on the entire album, give True that slight pop push that makes it such a perfect, listener-friendly opening point for the record for those yet to listen, balancing it with just enough accessibility to make it approachable, yet not too out-of-place from the rest of the album’s sound. Greene’s brooding, percussion-led production on True additionally helps with this, pulling things back to allow the vocals to truly pack their worth, yet still feeling at home with the rest of Feel Infinite’s 2-step-inclined sound.
Little Dragon - Sweet
As if their surprise-released returning single High wasn’t enough of a sign, everyone’s favourite Swedish electronic group Little Dragon are back to business in 2017, officially following up their 2014 album Nabuma Rubberband with a brand new one out this April. Sweet is the second tease of this album (more on this in a moment), with Little Dragon kicking up the notch with an almost retro-like synth-pop feel that blends playful 8-bit sounds with the tasteful vocals from the group’s effortlessly-cool frontwoman Yukimi Nagano. In typical Little Dragon fashion, Sweet is one of those tracks that doesn’t immediately grab you on its first listen. Instead, it slowly burns its bubbly melodies in your brain, worming its way in whether you like it or not. Season High, the group’s fifth album, sees Little Dragon do things a little differently this time. Unlike their previous records, the group has enlisted the help of Simian Mobile Disco member and super-producer James Ford to help with the album’s production – an exciting move considering he’s also co-produced albums with everyone from Foals and Florence The Machine to The Arctic Monkeys and Depeche Mode.
Melvv - Lifeline feat. Dana Williams
We’ve been fairly quiet about US producer and wunderkind Melvv, and for that we’re greatly sorry. The producer is one of the best to arise from the whole ‘Soundcloud future-bass’ phenomenon, with January’s Two Feet-featuring Not Me being a solid contender for one of my favourite tracks of the month – a big call considering some of the big releases that arrived so early in the year. Lifeline continues the A-grade form the producer has been on since his creative flip of Alison Wonderland’s Back It Up last year, combining uplifting guest vocals form LA-based vocalist Dana Williams with an equally championing production, in which the producer returns to his more electronic-themed sound after the curveballing Not Me. Lifeline is another of those elevating, easy-listening singles from Melvv who, if it he keeps up this pitch-perfect form, will easily become one of the biggest electronic break-outs of the year – mark my words.
Chrome Sparks - Wake
Wrapping up his brief Australian tour this weekend before jetting back to the USA to showcase his often pulsing and expansive productions at SXSW; Chrome Sparks’ new single couldn’t have come at a better time. Ahead of the mega-festival opening days comes Wake, the producer’s second single since his rolling, Future Classic-released Moonraker EP in 2015. Ever since 2012’s break-out Marijuana – arguably one of the most well-known songs in the electronic underground – Chrome Sparks has tantalized with rolling house drops and multi-layered build-ups, with Wake being no different. A sparkling synth melody opens things up predominately on its own, joined by a complex percussion line and hits of bass after some teasing vocal samples later in the track. It’s vaguely familiar to Moonraker in the sense that the single’s pedestalling synth is bright and powerful, cutting through the rest of the multitudes of layers with fine precision and control. Here’s hoping Wake leads into something big from the producer in 2017, unlike his stand-alone single All or Nothing last year.
Fatboy Slim - Where U Iz
With 2013’s EDM flop Eat Sleep Rave Repeat signalling a new direction from legendary producer Fatboy Slim, I was honestly expecting never to write about a Fatboy Slim track again. In fact, after reading a feature-length the other week which asked artists who they would pay $1,000,000,000 to never make another single again (to protect their reputation – not because they suck), I eventually settled on Fatboy Slim. That being said, last week he returned out of nowhere with a new single Where U Iz and let’s be honest here, it’s really not that bad. Sure, the vocals are kind of whack and super cheesy, but if that nostalgic, disco-leaning production doesn’t pick you up and drop you right back into the Praise You glory days of Fatboy Slim you’re joking. The throbbing bass lines, ripping piano solos and nostalgic brass sections almost make the single’s tacky vocal sampling alright but look - it’s a shit-tonne better than Eat Sleep Rave Repeat, and for that we are eternally grateful, Sir Cook.
The Kite String Tangle