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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » Hannah J Davies

Lykke Li: So Sad So Sexy review – despair you can dance to

Delivered... Hannah J Davies | Scene | Fri 8 Jun 2018 10:00 am


From the post-adolescent ennui of Lorde’s Melodrama to the Weeknd’s My Dear Melancholy EP and Drake naming his latest single I’m Upset, lugubrious pop is all around. Indeed, a recent study found that the genre has become sadder over the past 30 years, a kind of Adele-ification process, if you will. Despite this, it’s also “more danceable” and “party-like”, which may explain why the latest album from Sweden’s sad-pop champion Lykke Li has the power to trigger both shape-cutting and existential crises. So Sad So Sexy marks Li’s return to music after having a baby, losing her mother and experiencing a creative dry spell, and is defined by overt, intoxicating emotion in lieu of her more quaint, contained sadness of old.

From opener Hard Rain, whose polyphonic R&B swagger jars with its message of lovers needing to be put “back together / though we never been apart”, all the way to closing track Utopia – released on Mother’s Day – and its touching, if simple, chorus of “we could be utopia, utopia”, a sense of bittersweet happiness and streamlined sadness flows through its 10 tracks. At times it’s a hard sell; Deep End’s water noises and lines like “bae, you burned me” could feel naff, if not for the rawness in Li’s voice, while Last Piece’s pared-back drum machine and synth haze staggers between vulnerable and understated. But when this juxtaposition works – as on the title track, a worthy entry to the sad pop canon – the effect is sad, sexy and enthralling.

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Jessie Ware: Glasshouse review – smooth soul, ramped up when the diva lets loose

Delivered... Hannah J Davies | Scene | Thu 19 Oct 2017 10:00 pm


Emerging at the tail end of the dubstep movement, south London’s Jessie Ware has long been the musical equivalent of a minimalist Scandi clothes store, all restrained vocals thoughtfully draped over barely there electronica. On Glasshouse, she manages to harness her rarely seen diva mode in among the pared-back hallmarks, but the result is a mixed one. Opener – and lead single – Midnight sees her push her vocals in all directions for striking falsetto-propelled soul, while Selfish Love capitalises on the current Latin pop trend in pleasingly classy fashion with no clunky attempts at Spanish. Elsewhere, Sam – co-written with Ed Sheeran – is a four-chord story of finding The One and having her now one-year-old daughter, lifted by Ware’s raw family confessional. Unfortunately, though, there’s plenty of “pleasant-but-insipid” here, such as Slow Me Down and Stay Awake, Wait for Me – both drowned in radio-friendly sultriness – and Your Domino, which feels like a paunchy, overproduced take on 2012 single If You’re Never Gonna Move. Ware is arguably at her best here when she drops the hyper-stylised veneer and gives the pop star lark her best shot, rather than openly hedging those bets.

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Chase and Status: Tribe review – drum’n’bass duo can’t decide between chart and club

Delivered... Hannah J Davies | Scene | Thu 17 Aug 2017 10:15 pm


London duo Chase and Status have long been a paradox. They thrash out meat-and-two-veg drum’n’bass and brostep for North Face-wearing teens, and have written for the likes of Rihanna, but also have enough cachet on the dance music scene to attract a variety of cross-genre collaborations on this fourth album. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it feels like at least three projects haphazardly packaged as a single unit.

There’s lots of good stuff: the dancehall-flecked Big Man Skank and the contributions from grime heavyweight Kano, rising soul singer Tom Grennan and rap crew Section Boyz, to name but a few. And then there’s the clunky: Craig David’s by-the-numbers garage on Reload, and extremely bland features from the likes of Blossoms and Slaves, offering a poundstore Prodigy impression on Control. Plus, Emeli Sandé-featuring Love Me More, which, minus the breakbeats, is pure Radio 2.

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Moon Diagrams: Lifetime of Love review – undulating soundscapes for an anxious world

Delivered... Hannah J Davies | Scene | Thu 29 Jun 2017 7:30 pm

(Sonic Cathedral)

With stress, anxiety and memes taking up ever more of our valuable mental real estate, it is little wonder that the visualisations, mantras and brain-tickling sounds offered by mindfulness and ASMR videos have gone mainstream in recent years. This debut solo album from Deerhunter drummer and co-founder Moses Archuleta – created in a period of turmoil and rediscovery, following the breakdown of his marriage – has much the same effect as listening to crackling static or laboriously chewing a grape.

In it, he seamlessly moulds techno, samples that float in and out of reach like leaves in a lake, and the odd art-pop flourish into soundscapes that undulate with the sense of powering down. Opener Playground hums with the reverberations of a church choir, while Nightmoves pulls you into its gelatinous minimalism, and Blue Ring offers 11 minutes of gentle yet highly textured experimentation with a Cluster/Eno riff and a swelling, gong bath-like close. Magic Killer boasts dark, Neon Indian-style keys, while closing track End of Heartache provides kitsch yet ambient dance-pop, slowly ushering you out of Archuleta’s meditative zone, blood pressure wonderfully stable.

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Dua Lipa: Dua Lipa review – a pop debut high on summery nonchalance

Delivered... Hannah J Davies | Scene | Thu 1 Jun 2017 11:00 pm


Originally slated for release last September and then again for February, rising British-Albanian singer Dua Lipa delayed her debut album in part to include some “exciting collaborations”. Presumably she was referring not only to the presence of R&B smoothie Miguel but Chris Martin, with whom she duets on Homesick, a tearjerky piano ballad that pleasingly mixes her smoky mid-range vocal with Martin’s crooning. While that isn’t exactly the slick, Capital FM-ready synth-pop she’s best known for, you can see why Lipa held out. Being that she is a young female singer trying to stand out among the glut of artists ploughing similar furrows, Martin’s presence does add clout to proceedings – albeit of the John Lewis ad kind.

Elsewhere, she’s doing what she does best: New Rules and Hotter Than Hell are infused with EDM and tropical house without sounding too consciously trend-chasing, while Blow Your Mind (Mwah) is an unapologetically in-your-face three minutes of pop that is strong and stylish. Despite a few generic offerings (No Goodbyes is mostly just the singer breathily uttering the words “don’t go back” on loop), this is a solid pop debut that is high on summery nonchalance.

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Sylvan Esso: What Now review – peppy, irreverent bleep-pop for coffee lovers

Delivered... Hannah J Davies | Scene | Thu 27 Apr 2017 9:30 pm

(Loma Vista)

US pairing Sylvan Esso released their self-titled debut record in 2014, full of oh-so-quirky electropop seemingly engineered for artisan cafes (unapologetically or inadvertently, it even featured a track called Coffee). Now they’ve followed it up with a second, slightly meatier effort – though you can likely still imagine its riffs melding nicely with the smell of a freshly brewed AeroPress.

Lead single Radio fizzes with Tune-Yards-style energy, as vocalist Amelia Meath – formerly a folk performer – takes a swing at the manufactured music world (“Faking the truth in a new pop song / Don’t you wanna sing along?” she asks). Kick Jump Twist is a slice of irreverent, beepy, minimal pop with a robotic zeal, while Die Young is a more mournful take on the template, underpinned by a brilliant, 80s arcade-game synth line that fades away only to make repeated comebacks. Elsewhere, Sound makes a play for the Japanese House’s ambient soundscapes, but adds little of the duo’s own personality.

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Romare: Love Songs Part Two review – experimental psychedelic love songs

Delivered... Hannah J Davies | Scene | Thu 10 Nov 2016 10:45 pm

(Ninja Tune)

In 2014, Romare – AKA producer Archie Fairhurst – released Love Songs: Part One, pasting Peggy Lee into stuttering, bass-heavy R&B and aping retro funk, jazz and blues. Although the result was timeless in the sense that it borrowed from multiple decades, the sense of curation made it feel fresh. And yet Romare’s presence didn’t feel entirely definite; Fairhurst even cribbed his stage name from an African American artist who died in the 80s. This sense of his being a conduit for larger concepts of race and identity – or maybe just a well-meaning cultural appropriator – carried on into 2015’s sample-heavy debut LP, Projections. But here the Londoner’s mission is less about recycling than creating his own psych-ish oddities: on Je T’aime, a slither of Truffaut or Godardish dialogue gives way to irregular ambience and 8-bit sounds, while Honey is bound together by gelatinous alien synths and a low-key jazz melody, with Fairhurst playing much of the instrumentation himself. Although Who Loves You sounds as if it could be a lost 70s underground disco cut, overall this collection provides more of a window on to Fairhurst’s own motivations, as he experiments around themes of love – from innocence to filth.

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