On Repeat: the place where we round up the most exciting new music releases. Five tracks, all recently released, featuring artists we can’t get enough of right now – so, almost certainly, you’ll find at least one song in this bunch to add to your playlists.
IMBIBE – “REFLECTIONS”
A band of brothers, Imbibe return with a new single after launching the musical project last year and touring with fellow Australian-Berliners Parcels. Carrying the sophistication of yacht rock and the soul of Lionel Richie in his Commodores years, ‘Reflections’ is another scintillating piece of artistry. Written on an Italian Farfisa synthesizer, the track maintains the breeziness of previous singles while expanding the sonic palette and lyrical discourse. The narration looks inward reflecting on the beauty of hindsight, the choices we make in the moment and the appreciation of the journey it takes to arrive there. ‘Reflections’ is a gentle number, one that requires a little attention – although, it could be just as easy to zone out to and drift off in blissful abandon by proxy of its sunkissed sensitivities. So far each track from Imbibe has offered something new but keeps a strain of the familiar, we look forward to hearing more.
ARTIFICIAL PLEASURE – “BOYS GROW UP” (FEAT. JYLDA)
Set to a mechanised beat, ‘Boys Grow Up’ uses contrast, volume and an erratic arrangement to unstabilize preconceptions whilst tackling topics of toxic masculinity and social conditioning. The necessity to challenge unhealthy social norms is drilled home in the track, and purposefully so. The vocals act as a counterpart to the message, sometimes distorted, sometimes lean and sprite, sometimes backed in solidarity with a chorus of blended voice, sometimes call-and-response evoking a sports cheer – no matter what form, the visceral impact is 1000%. Boosted by the addition of featured guest JYLDA, ‘Boys Grow Up’ is easily one of Artificial Pleasure’s most exacting songs as well as being their most topical. A startling, unpredictable track from start to finish, if we thought Artificial Pleasure’s earlier work was defining then we’ve sure been proven wrong. Listen closely.
LIU BEI – “LOST NERVES”
Richard Walters has one of those regonisable lo-fi voices (potently emotive, despairing, dutifully languid), and it has served him well. Making a name for himself in music, we’ve come to recognize his signature blend of sentimental alt-pop stroke reverb-threaded intimacy as a solid companion. It’s been a minute since he focused his efforts away from solo music and released under the ‘band’ project of Liu Bei, but to our (and maybe everyone’s) surprise this September marks the return of Liu Bei. Walking arm in arm with dejection, this downcast ballad calls into question a low spirited, sunken outlook, the very thought of perseverance is debated while examining ideas of self-belief and pride in one’s own accomplishments, in the end it comes down to Walters pleading, “Should I just walk away? Or keep trying?,” delivered with a knowing alertness of mind. It’s a fresh take on the familiar format with injections of an experimental nature, unmistakably informed by Walters’ recent solo dabblings.
SHADOWLARK – “BLEED MY HEART”
Arriving back-to-back with two standalone tracks featured on a recent Leeds United docu-series airing on Amazon Prime (of which, both songs are worthy a listen and more), the Leeds trio’s official current single is ‘Bleed My Heart’ – a misty, introspective confessional running headlong into a shiny pop chorus. Ellen Smith’s vocal is again aromatic and sultry, with the added pertinence and convincing steel of her husky tonal inflections upping the credibility of every line she sings. It’s a beautiful song, Shadowlark transfer the sadness of endings into unrecognisable form, recalibrating the feeling into a rousing sing-along. Eloquently crafted out of personal intuition and emotional insight, the lyrics reflect a kind of wisdom that can only be developed through the conscious acceptance of unfavourable situations, and ultimately one’s own involvement in the fallout. The narrative is linear, to a point, and depicts the mutual slow decay of a relationship’s essential lifelines, ending on a distraught, ‘don’t go’ last ditch attempt to save the connection and avoid devastation, it seems to be a telling account of the transient, non-committal nature of today’s dating culture.
FUZZY SUN – “I AIN’T RIGHT”
Another song about complicated romantic relations, but Fuzzy Sun’s approach isn’t average. The Stockport five continue to raise the stakes with each new release, keeping the good times going while underlining each move in bittersweet tones. Beckoning hazy disco ball love under rays of unanimous revelry, ‘I Ain’t Right’ is described by the band as “the soundtrack to a Richard Curtis movie set in Studio 54 in the late 1970’s, starring John Travolta as he seeks to repair ties with an unrequited love.” If Fuzzy Sun’s first single of the year isn’t enough to satisfy those shimmying hips, then catch them touring with Two Door Cinema Club this October and be prepared to launch into full dance-mode. Performing in rooms suitably expansive enough to capture the atmosphere-defining zhoosh their music breeds, it’s a no-brainer.