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.
A little chillwave, a little dancehall, and a lot of hooks: “Capsize” straddles the line between Top 40 pop and indie electronica capably. Clever vocal interplay between the two singers mimics the push and pull of an unclear relationship; water metaphors abound in the track with even the wordless hook undulating like waves. The whole thing gives off a tropical coastline vibe that every part of the song works in service of.
It’s the ending, though, that really shows the strength of the songwriting and production. Frenship clearly understand the law of musical dynamics and increase the bass during the last verse, also adding some extra percussion to underscore the fact that, duh, it’s the end of a standard pop song and should be louder/busier than the preceding choruses. Guest singer Emily Warren also gets this and sings her final part with her full register rather than the breathy voice she employs for the majority of the track. It might seem trivial to point out small touches like these, but in this day and age when many pop artists are forgetting what constitutes a solid single, knowledge of pop songwriting should be appreciated.
Pretty Decent Song of the Week
Electric Guest are a strange beast. They’ve got the chops to be a hit on mainstream radio, but are virtually ignored by it. They’ve got cachet to be big with the underground crew, but for some reason aren’t garnering the respect they should be from the hipster elite. It’s like they’re perpetually on the cusp of making it, just barely. This wouldn’t be an issue if they were consistently putting out material, but they’re not exactly prolific. We’ve been waiting five years since their last album, meaning that may be 2022 (!) before we get another record.
In the meantime we’ve got Plural, which holds the incredible “Dear to Me” and follows that classic up with the insistent “Back For Me”. It’s a tight, focused bass-driven rocker that features a subtle trumpet hook and wraps things up with a neat vocoder-like outro over the pounding organ chords.
Meh Song of the Week
Vanity Pail Kids- Broken Social Scene
So what’s the verdict? How do the venerated indie crew fare after a seven year absence? Speaking once again as someone who never understood the immense hype for the group, I’d say pretty well! At the very least they’ve injected some grit into their normally bookish noodling. At times this is a straight up Rock Record, with this song especially cranking up the distortion. It’s all pummeling drums and squelching bass, some sort of industrial mutant variation on Arcade Fire‘s “Reflektor”. The chorus vocals also recalls another song from 2013- Daft Punk‘s “Get Lucky”, which if you remember wasn’t particularly adventurous melodically. Which is why even with a second choral part thrown in later, this song feels flat and not nearly the banger it should have been.
Below Average Song of the Week
The only valid reaction to this song is “LMAO WHAT”. Of all the New York artists Annie Clark could have paid homage to, she decided to go with…Bette Midler? The hammy, overwrought chorus instantly brings to mind the Broadway belter, except Clark doesn’t even have the courtesy to go full cheese and throw in a syrupy string section or any drums at all. It’s just a two-and-a-half minute blip with some piano and cringeworthy lyrics.
Disappointing Song of the Week
Of course hipsters would be fawning over this. Some sad guy wailing in falsetto with an affectation that makes his voice sound like a baby? Wow what a masterpiece. Except it’s not, it’s a glacially paced ambient dirge that has no structure, no melody, and no substance.