California’s Art Feynman sports an impressive sound that blends elements of motorik and Afrobeat into a thrilling mix that comes across as something akin to chilled-out funk. On “The Shape You’re In” Feynman’s instrumentation and muted tones are economical but decidedly funky with slinky beats and hushed vocals. “The Shape You’re In” refers to our present political calamities as well as the dehumanizing effects of technology invading every aspect of our lives.
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Paul Carr: At first it’s a little jarring to hear a relatively straightforward rock song from Radiohead after years of ceaseless experimentation. Years that have seen the band morph into something almost unrecognisable to the one that changed modern guitar rock music in the late 1990s. The acoustic guitar, the marching, straight drum beat all seem like forgotten keepsakes from past relationships. However, in the context of OK Computer, it retains that visionary beauty of a band attempting to deconstruct the notion of a rock band and replace it with something subtle and more textual. Thom Yorke manages to capture the alienation and existential dread of the end of the millennium but does so through the simplest of ideas—a deceptively straightforward vow to stick around and never leave. A gorgeous and welcome trip down memory lane. [9/10]
Said the Whale prove that love songs can be sincere without being cloying or desperately earnest with “I Will Follow You”, the new single from the band’s most recent effort, As Long As Your Eyes Are Wide. With verses built on declarations that find the intersection of hope and fear (while siding firmly with the former) and choruses meant to be sung with loud voices and deep enthusiasm, the song demonstrates the trio’s knack for writing pop songs that surprise even while expressing the familiar. Familiarity, the Vancouver-based trio reminds us, doesn’t have to be cliché.
Adriane Pontecorvo: Producer Kingdom and singer Shacar make for a potent duo on “Breathless”. For all its electronics and Auto-Tuning, the track feels naked and stronger for it. Shacar brings heartfelt expression to his performance, both visually and vocally, and Kingdom wisely keeps beats and instrumentation to a minimum, letting Shacar’s lithe voice rise, fall, and wind around the music as the star of the song. The result is a dream, but it’s not a sweet one all the way through—it’s a little surreal, a little tormented, and layered. A powerful low-key single. [9/10]
Mike Schiller: Lapalux does the smart thing here and gets out of the way for the vaguely Björk-esque vocals of JFDR, for whom this song is a lovely showcase. Backed by scattered pops and hisses over the simplest of beats and a slowly-layering tapestry of synths, JFDR doesn’t give us melodies so much as thoughts, a few words at a time, keeping us interested but never quite bothering with a proper hook. It’s lovely, the way a moderately populated sidewalk in the art district is lovely. [7/10]