Metallica – ‘Moth Into Flame’
It’s been eight years now since the last genuine Metallica album – a period that spawned an intriguing although laughably misguided collaboration with Lou Reed and a thriller/concert film hybrid that managed to lose around $24 million at the box office. They may have been only one ego project away from shaking off even some of their more diehard fans – but right on cue, the biggest metal band of all time have returned to what they do best: mediocre dad-metal that sounds like a throwback to their last throwback record.
Like Death Magnetic, it’s got all the classic Metallica hallmarks: plenty of fairly typical radio-metal riffs with some faster, thrashier sections and a memorable chorus, and refuses outright to include anything even slightly unpredictable. It’s by no means a bad track musically, but the modern production renders it flat and quite un-abrasive and the lyrical dissection of fame and drug addiction amounts to little more than an inaccurate cliche. Late-career innovation may be a bit much to expect from Metallica, but if they’re prepared to release Lulu, a little bit more experimentation on their ‘proper’ (read: commercially viable) projects shouldn’t be too much to ask for.
Words by Joe Gilbertson
Bon Iver – ‘00000 Million’ (Best New Track!)
Bon Iver have come a long way since the release of their indie folk masterpiece For Emma, Forever Ago in 2008. Drifting from their origins in creating modestly skeletal ballads with occasional flourishes of percussion, the eight-piece have significantly experimented with electronic glitches, a heavy use of sampling and broader songwriting dynamics on their new album 22, A Million. Despite this experimentation, however, it’s the closing track ‘00000 Million’ that turns out to be the record’s obvious highlight, as well as the best audial representation of Bon Iver’s discography from their inception until present day. The austere instrumental setup, personal lyrical content and delicate textures that were the crux of the Wisconsin outfit’s early material is perfectly accompanied by the sampling and rich multi-layered vocals that are heavily featured in the half-hour preceding this song. Sampling Irish folk singer Fionn Regan ‘Abacus’, the haunting refrain of “the days have no numbers” resonates an air of wistful nostalgia, providing a beautifully sentimental closer to an impressive album.
Words by Lewis Edwards
Green Day – Still Breathing
American rock trio Green Day are back with their third song from their upcoming twelfth studio album Revolution Radio, but does the world really need a new Green Day album?
This song is a typical still kicking, still alive comeback track reflecting on personal demons. ‘Still Breathing’ is laced with cheesy metaphors and lyrical cliché after cliché. There are massive style changes in comparison to earlier records, this generation of Green Day is heavily produced and has more pop sensibilities. This track leaves you wondering are you actually listening to Green Day or pop punk band All Time Low who have been riding Green Days coat tails for around a decade. It’s really hard to differentiate the two.
Overall this song lacks the aggressive tone and punk rock style they have captured in previous records, and plays it safe with an overproduced and tepid pop punk song.
Words by Eimer Harper
Aston Merrygold – ‘I Ain’t Missing You’
Known for its methodical and often amusingly predictable annual parade of instantly forgettable names, The X Factor has churned out endless streams of questionable “stars” over the years. This is no discredit to the artists who make it big through such channels, with a small minority of the show’s output gaining a worthy place in the hearts of pop fans and the heights of the top 40 charts.
One of such acts came in the form of 2008 runners up JLS, an R&B inspired dance-pop boyband from London. Releasing 4 full-length albums before a last-ditch money-grab attempt in the form of a ‘goodbye’ greatest hits album, the quartet finally called it quits in 2013.
With the other three members going their separate ways following the break-up, Aston Merrygold signed to Warner Bros Records in 2014. Last July saw the premiere of ‘Get Stupid’, a mundane Bruno Mars-influenced, funk infused track dropping hopes to a remarkable low for his solo career.
However, self-admittedly focused on creating “tracks that sit in different lanes to one another” at this point in his career, Merrygold’s latest track ‘I Ain’t Missing You’ is an instant contrast to the repetitive and often monotonous funk vibes of his previous offering. Produced by LDN Noise (Nick Jonas, Chris Brown), the track is a 3-minute slice of dance cheese plastered over the top of an overused garage beat. Vocally it’s a step up from any of Merrygold’s previous ventures, his falsettos taking the track to new levels and at times providing clear evidence of his Michael Jackson influence.
It’s no masterpiece, and will ultimately become one of those songs you get stuck in your head and have to resort to Googling the lyrics to remember what it is, but it’s way too fun to ignore. If the rest of the album is cut from the same cloth, Aston Merrygold has no cause to doubt his success as a solo artist.
Words by Maddy Howell
Peter Doherty – ‘I Don’t Love Anyone (But You’re Not Just Anyone)’
Although differing quite a bit in style and quality, the one thing that Libertines side-projects historically have in common is showing exactly how integral the chemistry between Peter Doherty and Carl Barat has always been to eithers’ success as songwriters. Despite having written enough anthems to near-enough define an era of British rock music in only two albums together, the constant trickle of Babyshambles, Dirty Pretty Things and other projects the two have released without each other in the messy aftermath has generally failed to make such an impact.
Following a stint in rehab, a surprisingly great Libertines reunion record and a first single that hinted at a more indie-folk inspired sound, expectations could’ve been raised a little for the new solo LP from Doherty. Unfortunately, new track ‘I Don’t Love Anyone (But You’re Not Just Anyone)’ doesn’t seem to do much, feeling for the most part like a demo-level jam with a pretty acoustic introduction added to finish it off. The acoustic instrumentation fits nicely with Doherty’s vocals, and Hamburg Demonstrations does promise to be an interesting record, but without Barat (and Hassle & Powell), this track just proves again that Doherty has never been a great songwriter on his own.
Words by Joe Gilbertson
As It Is – ‘Okay’
The best way to describe Brighton’s As It Is is pop punk being sung by an overly excited Labrador and their latest single ‘Okay’ is the epitome of that. As It Is haven’t really mixed it up, staying firmly within their box of familiar guitar melodies, slower verses and eruptive choruses with a stripped back third verse for good measure. Lyrically the band have juxtaposed the happy-go-lucky pop punk backing track with lyrics focused on suffering from depression, almost like putting a pretty veil over suffering from depression, very much like a lot of their previous releases. All negativity aside, this track is one of this bands better releases throughout their career as somehow it is neater around the edges and better put together and somehow never fails to produce a smile, much like looking at an overly excited Labrador.
Words by Sam Taylor
Drawstring – ‘School’
Following on from the success of their latest EP Three in December 2015, Kent emo-pop duo Drawstring are set to return with double A-side single ‘School’/’Chicago Town’.
Having released their first demo in Summer 2014 and since signing to Beth Shalom Records, the duo have grown from strength to strength, releasing 3 EPs independently and even landing a support slot with Moose Blood at the launch show for latest album Blush.
‘School’ is a track with a lyrical focus concerning adolescence and the problems faced when growing up. Rattling through the conflicted thoughts of striving to be perceived as cool in your teenage years whilst also being aware that none of this will matter a few years down the line, it’s a perfect representation of Drawstring and their work to date.
Citing influences from Algernon Cadwallader to Bon Iver, the fun emo-pop elements of the band’s style are blended seamlessly with the more mature sides of their sound, ultimately creating what is arguably their best output thus far.
‘School’ is a perfect reminder that emo music doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, setting Drawstring apart from their peers and further cementing their worthy place in the UK emo scene.
Words by Maddy Howell