Some weeks are busier than others. When it comes to new music, these past 7 days have really kicked this musical year up a notch. While it’d be impossible to cover every great new release, from Arcade Fire’s beautifully-produced disco romp “Everything Now” to Lil Yachty’s highly-anticipated LP Teenage Emotions, it seems prudent to at least discuss a handful of the hottest new offerings that have come out since last Friday.
Foo Fighters – “Run”
The last album by American radio-rock heroes the Foo Fighters, Sonic Highways, was seen by some as a mere addition to the HBO series of the same name, charting the history of US music (mostly blues, punk, and rock) through its great cities. Since that album, and its fairly lukewarm reception, singer-songwriter Dave Grohl and his cohorts have entertained the notion of simply going into a studio and just recording their next album like a regular band. This approach seems to be working, as the first single of their as-yet-untitled LP “Run” has immediately found favour with fans.
All the familiar Foos staples are there; Grohl’s vocal delivery ranges from a gentle, heartfelt croon to a pitchy, screamy wail, and the lyrics offer an invitation to “wake up, run for your life with me”, platitudes of Springsteenian quality. “Run” starts soft and progresses to a hard, garagey riff (not dissimilar to “Stacked Actors” from 1999’s There Is Nothing Left To Lose), before a classic Foo Fighters chorus, charged with emotion and intent, harks back to the band’s biggest hits, like 1997’s “Everlong” or 2011’s “Rope”. The video, slapstick and farcical, is yet another Foos classic, featuring the band as elderly and white-haired, inciting a riot in an old folks’ home, with references to Coachella, vaping, and general hipster culture, the same way Coldplay got the satirical Foos’ treatment in the video for 2011’s “Walk”.
For a band who released their Greatest Hits in 2009, usually the harbinger of a long, slow decline in a band’s quality, the Foos appear to have come through with something more than reminiscent of their classic hits, the ones that anybody of a certain age seems to know off by heart. Despite being little more than a showcase for the band’s favourite party tricks, “Run” approaches their tried-and-true sound with fresh energy, and dismisses concerns held by any critic of Sonic Highways, that Grohl and co have their focus truly where it needs to be – on the music.
Liam Gallagher – “Wall Of Glass”
It’s been a long 8 years since the break-up of Oasis, the band of anthem-slinging provocateurs which shot brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher to perpetual tabloid notoriety. Since then, primary songwriter Noel has found favour as a solo artist, and while Liam made a go of his new band, Beady Eye, that outfit folded in 2014 after only two albums. It seemed that the only thing left for braggadocios frontman Liam was to go solo, and the younger Gallagher’s name is the only one on his debut single “Wall of Glass”.
Straight away, it’s business as usual – while Liam’s mid-‘90s Lennon-esque vocal power is a distant memory, his Beady Eye-era snarl is remarkably capable, and delivers a series of bitter right hooks, notable among which is “I don’t mean to be unkind, but I’ve seen what’s in your mind”. Whether Liam’s deliberately going after his older brother remains unclear, but the sound, of guitars, choral backing vocals, radio static, thumping drums and Maine Road-era harmonica flourishes, while thick and intense, offers nothing challenging to the disciples of Liam’s previous efforts. It’s also very f*cking loud, but that’s just about what you’d expect.
Of course, with Liam, it’s never just about the song – the video is mostly just “our kid” posing, looking mean, and singing into a series of broken mirrors and glass windows, hammering the point home. And while “Wall Of Glass” is hardly likely to shatter any concepts of what music can do, it does what it does extremely well – it’s at #1 on Trending on YouTube, and it’s gotten Liam back in the limelight, right where he belongs.
Lorde – “Perfect Places”
Whether you’re on board with Lorde and the latest phase of her creative career, depends entirely on whether you’re prepared to join the 20-year-old New Zealander in her new, poppier musical direction. Her new album is shaping up to be a far cry from the unusual, minimalist dream pop found on Pure Heroine, the 2013 debut which endeared her to millions, and the radio-friendly uptempo nature of “Green Light” (released 2 March) has proved divisive among existing fans. If that, promo single “Liability”, and the wealth of new material debuted at Coachella has shown us anything, it’s that Lorde is embracing a bright, celebratory, even melodramatic tone with her new songs, and this trend continues with latest single “Perfect Places”.
Straight from the opening lines, “Every night, I live and die / Live the party to my bones”, it’s apparent that Lorde’s endeavour to detail the heady, overemotional moods of an adolescent after dark, is the song’s driving force. “It’s just another graceless night” Lorde continues, with bold vocal delivery over rich, synthesised accompaniment, before asking “What the f*ck are perfect places anyway?” It’s definitely worlds away from what, by 2017, seems like a distant previous album, but amidst the self-aware lyrics and the delicate piano touches, there’s something gorgeous in the unburdened simplicity of “Perfect Places”. It achieves its aim of using pop to make a free and youthful culture of partying and alcohol seem beautiful, and far more relatable than many other artists of her ilk. We can hope that, in situ as the final song in the tracklist of her upcoming album, it’ll pack an even weightier emotional punch.
Pop music in 2017 is just about as diverse as it’s ever been, and the work of Lorde, described by the late David Bowie as “the future of music”, seems keen both to embrace the genre, and drive it in a different direction. If the initial material we’ve heard from Lorde’s new album is anything to go on, it appears to suit her.
Josh Will Eden