Welcome to the Weekly Fiver, where I’ll pick five recently released songs of varying degrees of quality and thoroughly break them down for you. No two songs will be on the same tier, and they’ll be listed from best to worst. The top song will be an excellent must-hear tune, while the bottom song will be one you ought to stay away from or else you will make your ears sad. It’s all very scientific.
Josh Tillman should be taking notes on his current tour, specifically “the crowd loves my upbeat songs”. His latest album Pure Comedy is pretty light on them, with the eternal cynic channeling his effort into pure piano ballads this time around. This first single is an exception, and a marvelous one at that. It’s vast and orchestral in Tillman’s singular style, filled with horns and piano licks leading to a sublime bridge. It’s also got the balladeer’s trademark insightful lyrics, this time taking on the rising phenomenon of VR headsets.
Pretty Decent Song of the Week
The record’s out and the final verdict is in…and it’s not good: the album is a near-trainwreck, finding the band trying to compete with every genre-hopping popstar out there. “Good Goodbye”, even with its unwieldy title, is the only thing of value you’ll glean from the angst peddlers’ latest effort. Like 2012’s “Lost in the Echo”, it’s a nice snapshot of a band being exactly who they should be at a certain point in time. It doesn’t come anywhere close to that song, but it should fit in neatly on any future greatest hits compilation. Chester’s got a nice chorus melody to sing, Mike’s got a very contemporary rap verse, and the whole thing is in an appropriate minor key. You’ve also got a solid hip hop beat, some pitch shifted vocal samples, and a few guest rappers for credibility. Acceptable.
Meh Song of the Week
There’s a lot to like about this song, but there’s also a lot of untapped potential. It’s a little frustrating really, as what we’ve got here amounts to something that’s ok, but could have been so much better. The verse melody’s fine, but with just a little tweaking could have been more unique. The chorus is straight up math rock (what!!) but it’s way too short, ESPECIALLY during its final run when it starts to blossom outwards. Instead of exploding into something big and bold and triumphant it gives way to another quiet verse- the very definition of anti-climactic.
Below Average Song of the Week
The long wait for the hardcore act’s comeback album results in…a pretty bland collection of second tier songs. It might as well be a B-Sides compilation. There’s some nice guitar work on this lead single, both technically and melodically, but there’s such a lack of urgency pervading the vocals and lyrics that it seems wasted. This is exactly the kind of band we need in today’s environment, but it’s clear now that these esteemed veterans don’t really have the fresh-faced fury to deliver the message they want to effectively.
Disappointing Song of the Week
So as you might have heard, Phoenix frontman Thomas Mars seemed to have had some problems with Google Translate, and the lyrics to the title track from their upcoming record are pretty…contentious. The band’s insisted they meant no harm, but it’s easy to see how some listeners could take the words to be slightly #problematic.
Lyrics aside, there’s something else that sinks this song and it’s downright infuriating because this song has a GREAT beat. Fantastic choice of rhythm and drum track production. Then there’s the bass that pairs with that rhythm wonderfully. So what ruins everything? The dull, plodding, atonal chorus. Not only is it flat and lifeless, but it’s written in what sounds like 3/4 time. Visually it looks like this:
Don’t tell me/ don’t tell me NOdon’t tell me/ don’t tell me/ don’t tell me NO NOdon’t tell me (etc…)
It makes Mars sound like he’s rushing through the lines and throws the whole track off-kilter, ruining the whole groove and giving the band another bomb after the eminently forgettable first single “J-Boy”.