This past week saw new releases from folk-pop heroine Lucy Rose, indie-rock legend Liam Gallagher, upcoming electronic producer Mura Masa, and subversive, provocative hip-hop artist Tyler, The Creator.
Lucy Rose – “Moirai”
Genre: Acoustic pop, folk
Notable for her delicate vocal contributions to the work of indie-pop stalwarts Bombay Bicycle Club, in recent years Lucy Rose has carved out a career of solo albums, populated by quiet, peaceful ballads and sorrowful, reflective essays on human observation, emotion, and isolation. Her upcoming third album Something’s Changing has been preceded by a number of songs, branching out from the intimate acoustic guitar style of previous releases in favour of a more piano-based, at-times orchestral nature.
“Moirai”, the latest such offering, is no exception, but features all the hallmarks which have made Rose a folk-pop favourite. What could be seen as morose, unfulfilled lyrics are elevated by Rose’s familiar, gentle vocal delivery, which remains the centre of “Moirai”, as fate’s seeming unfairness is confronted by lines like “Moirai, you let me down, you let me down / You let my love walk away without a fight“.
Mura Masa – “Blu” feat. Damon Albarn
Genre: Pop, electronica
Guernsey-born pop/electronic music producer Mura Masa has released a few choice singles in preparation for his debut album – notable among these was “1 Night”, which perfectly featured the vocal talents of Charli XCX. This time, it’s the turn of Blur frontman Damon Albarn, on a career high from the recent release of Gorillaz’s latest album Humanz (full review here): his collaboration with Mura Masa consists of “Blu”, a slow, low-key affair dominated by handclaps and squelchy, swirling synth chords.
Albarn’s contribution is a series of heavily auto-tuned, robotic laments, “you don’t seem to understand me, when I say I’m feeling blue love“. Albarn’s later work, including his solo album Everyday Robots (2014), took on an introspective, depressive tone, so his inclusion here seems apt, but the culmination of electronically-altered vocals and the woozy chord sequence results in a track which could, and maybe should, have been part of a new Gorillaz project. You truly can teach an old dog new tricks.
Liam Gallagher – “Chinatown”
Genre: Rock, acoustic rock, indie
If the debut solo single by former Oasis provocateur Liam Gallagher, “Wall Of Glass”, was an unapologetic, rambunctious declaration, then his second offering “Chinatown” represents a major departure. Defined by thoughtful acoustic guitar riffs and layered, dreamy reverbs, Liam puts his voice to use for a series of ponderous observations and vague social commentary – “Well the cops are taking over, while everyone’s in yoga / ‘Cause happiness is still a warm gun“.
Those who fail to forgive Oasis’ heavy debt to The Beatles will find little to win them over by this newest track. Liam’s voice may be vastly improved on his recent material, but without the songwriting gift his brother brought to their former band, putting up with a few questionable philosophicals may be the unfortunate sacrifice we have to make. It’s encouraging, however, to think that Liam may, on his upcoming debut solo album, show us a few more sides to his character as a musician.
Tyler, The Creator – “Who Dat Boy”
Genre: Hip-hop, rap, trap
One of hip-hop’s most subversive, divisive artists, Tyler Okonma released his last album Cherry Bomb in 2015, and despite vivid production and quality features from Kali Uchis, Charlie Wilson, and Kanye West, those familiar with Tyler seem to either love him or hate him, his often-controversial lyrics, and his love of lyrical dark humour.
Tyler’s first song in two years, “Who Dat Boy” (and its B-side “911 / Mr. Lonely”), isn’t likely to change people’s impressions of the 26-year-old Californian, as the song’s unsettling, synth-led beat gives flight to Tyler’s typically aggressive, embittered delivery. Horror-movie string sections and the music video’s gory, unflinching style amount to the kind of experience which will please fans, but alienate those of a nervous disposition.
The video itself includes featured artist A$AP Rocky, whose verses are as impressive and braggadocios as anything from his last few albums, but his strongest contribution to the project is as the surgeon, who replaces Tyler’s face with a Caucasian one, before Tyler leads the police on a high-speed chase in his McLaren – “get out of my way-way / boy this McLaren has 0-60 in two-point-nueve / I’m gone“.
Josh Will Eden