Chris Gerard: British synth-pop duo is best known for their 2010 single “Wonderful Life”, which became a substantial hit in Europe. Their third album, Surrender, is due in October, and they may have stumbled upon a breakthrough. “Lights” goes from sophisticated mid-tempo pop during the verses to a more upbeat dance vibe for the chorus. The dramatic and visually arresting video directed by Dawn Shadforth serves the song well. If given a chance, “Lights” could be the song to break Hurts to a wider audience. [8/10]
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Evan Sawdey: I had their EP Free Advice Column from 2013, and it was an otherworldly bedroom-dance experience, a mixing of genres and eras to create something familiar and new and the same time. This vein carries through with “Window Shades”, which, although a shade repetitious, remains curiously hypnotic, a slice of cut-and-pasted psychedelic flappercore, not beholden to any specific decade. Meg Remy is a star on the rise, so the fact she’s connected with 4AD Records doesn’t surprise me. Not going down as anyone’s jam of the year, but it leaves me intrigued enough to pursue more. [7/10]
New York R&B singer Jasmine Jordan returns this week with her new single and video “Smile”, her first new music since her debut EP Time Travel. Continuing in the same direction as the EP—putting a contemporary spin on classic, vibrant 1970s urban soul—the track and video focuses more on the ebullience of the music, making for an upbeat, effervescent track.
Steve Horowitz: Justin has got him self a nice little pop song here. If one doesn’t listen too carefully, the carefree spirit takes the listener on a joy ride. The narrator wants to be wanted, but then again, he’s not sure. He likes the game of the relationship, the push and pull of attraction. The Brad Furman video nicely captures the ambiguity well and carefully pulls back before ever getting too serious. The roll of cash, the cigarette lighter, the scary masks set the atmosphere without taking things too far. It may be a little dumb, but that fits the lightness of the material. [8/10]
Adrien Begrand: Well, if there’s one artist with the clout and the cash to try to make a video on par with a David Lean film, it’s Taylor Swift. Instead, sadly, it amounts to nothing more than a preening music video version of Out of Africa. Which, for the kids out there, was arguably the most boring movie to ever win the Best Picture Oscar. But who am I to say how good this is? My eight year-old niece watched this clip five times in a row, agog at the love triangle and Tay-Tay’s black wig. [5/10]