According to the singer herself, Kendra Erika updates the Bond-girl framework to 21st century terms, an embrace of glamour and sexuality as an empowering tool. The video to “The Truth Never Lies” does just this, Erika flirting with the camera in a half-dozen different outfits as an anonymously-driven car makes its way through a glitzy downtown. Musically, the piece is similar: noir Eurotrance pumps through Erika’s breathy vocals, a track headed straight for the clubs. Whether Erika can fully carry her vision of the ideal modern Bond girl has yet to be seen, as her career is as yet still nascent; that said, “The Truth Never Lies” is certainly a good start.
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Need a quick boost for a slow Wednesday morning? Check out the Strike’s “Eye for an Eye”, a block of low-poly funk aimed squarely at the dancefloor. Synth squelches and a bulky bassline prop up lead singer Chris Crabb’s pop-punky belt, horns flourishing in the crevices and steady drums carrying the band through. The bridge drops out everything but simple bass and drums alongside the vocals, as smooth a breakdown as there ever was — and then synth, horns, and guitar add in one by one until the climactic final chorus. If you’ve ever said, “Man, do I wish Maroon 5’s pop was good,” this’ll tickle your fancy.
The Jezabels have rightfully broken through into the pop-rock elite, especially on the strength of this year’s excellent Synthia. “Smile” is proof that their position is warranted, flowing from a deceptive soft rock intro to a chorus that strikes with the force of a gale. It’s latently ferocious, waiting until just the right moment to bite with swirling guitars and crashing percussion operating under lead singer Hayley Mary’s misanthropic howl. The song’s wandering ethos fits in well with the video, featuring Mary’s best “Bittersweet Symphony” impression: she wanders from place to place, not settling down for even a moment, while relishing the music behind her.
Elizabeth Hunter‘s “Coming for You” is impressive in just how much it does right. There’s the instrumental, a Motown-influenced slammer with butter-smooth horns and luscious organ. There’s the vocal, a killer case of blue-eyed soul drawing heavily from Amy Winehouse’s days with Mark Ronson and suave harmonizing up the wazoo. Most importantly, though, Hunter struts forward with blinding energy, loud and dynamic and alive. It’ll truly be a shame if “Coming for You” doesn’t break through, since I haven’t heard a song that’s quite so sure to get people up and dancing in a while.
Pryor Stroud: Taken from Mvula’s latest release The Dreaming Room, “Show Me Love” is an incantatory, gospel-tinged art-pop hymnal that drifts from moments of deep personal introspection to fissions of out-of-body spiritual awareness. The climactic eruption of orchestration is startling in its intensity; over it, Mvula repeats the title phrase over and over and over again, trying to stretch it out, to discover its true contents and phonetic subtleties, and to discern if expressing her love in the exact right way—“You show me love / You show me love / You show me love”—can somehow approximate the true feeling it gives her. [8/10]