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QT, Skream and Marquis Hawkes reviewed in the FACT Singles Club

Each week on the FACT Singles Club, a selection of our writers work their way through the new music of the week gone by.

With the way individual tracks are now consumed, the idea of what constitutes a single has shifted dramatically in the last half a decade, and its for this reason that the songs reviewed across the next pages are a combination of 12″ vinyl releases, mixtape cuts, Soundcloud uploads and more.

Rated and slated this week? Redlight, Skream, Marquis Hawkes and, inevitably, QT.

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QT – ‘Hey QT’


Alex Macpherson:
Oh God, it’s that time again. Pop reinterpreted by people with a deep disdain for pop is by its own admission a worthless enterprise, and this is a particularly egregious example of the genre.

Let’s not get it twisted, there is about as much appreciation of pop here as there was appreciation of black women in that Lily Allen video. It’s pure, contemptuous parody, exaggerating the most “mockable” aspects of its target: high-pitched vocals (those teenage girls, so ridiculous and unworthy of being taken seriously!) and faux-vacuous lyrics. It’s also completely redundant. For formulaic pop songwriting gone slightly wrong we have Rebecca Black; for current mainstream pop sounds gone completely fucking bizarre we have Farrah Abraham; and lord knows there’s enough incredible actual pop around in 2014, though I’m guessing the kind of person faking giddiness over QT is also the kind of person who’d react to the idea of listening to the latest albums by Cher Lloyd (affecting emo-balladry punctuated by chanting at boys to fuck off) or Neon Jungle (hallelujah for a girl group unconcerned with “likeability” in this age) with horror, ie part of the whole fucking problem to start with. PS: SOPHIE made a banger in ‘Nothing More To Say’ but everything since then, especially ‘Bipp’, has been total trash. (0)

Aimee Cliff: Redlight take note, this is how ’90s musical nostalgia should be done in 2014 – it’s all the super slick dance-pop tropes and anthemic choruses of that era accelerated by the digital age and filtered through SOPHIE’s sculpting of bizarre textures. It’s the most accessible thing SOPHIE and A. G. Cook have lent themselves to, and in the same stroke the weirdest, right down to the fact of its coming out on XL. Hopefully it takes Cook one step closer to his dream of producing for Bey. (10)

William Skar: I’m a total sucker for PC Music’s thumb-biting schizopop, but they’ve put out more than a few crummy facsimi-LuckyMes in their time, and ‘Hey QT’ is a particularly anaemic example. It’s classic split-the-difference stuff, sorely missing SOPHIE’s trademark elasticity and Cook’s inspired queasiness. Fun enough, but both parties can do better than this wodge of stodge. (4)

Josh Hall: I hope we never work out whether PC Music is a straight-up, single entendre celebration of the form, or a hilariously well-judged parody. I also hope Diplo never has anything to do with it ever again. (7)

Joe Muggs: One of the better things in this vein so far, but it’s a bit more “oh that’s very well done” than “oh that’s amazing”, right?  I can’t think of any context when I’d actually choose to put something like this on, but if by hook or crook they manage to attain radio ubiquity without losing the deranged edge to it, which I hope is the aim, then I’ll be really impressed. (5)

 

5.2

Skream – ‘Let It Go’


Aimee Cliff:
Kept forgetting I was listening to this while listening to it, that’s a bad sign. Someone check its pulse? (3)

Alex Macpherson: Skream’s evolution over the years is so very satisfying – and his ability to master whichever style he turns his hand to is severely underrated, perhaps because he submits himself to the forms rather than imposing any obvious auteurship on them. This just makes the music better, though: there’s nothing at all wrong with this, from the looming chords to the swooning strings to the deep, rich textures reminiscent of Dixon or Henrik Schwarz. (8)

William Skar: Skream continues to forge a gleaming path into an impossible future by making a mid-’00s Trentemøller record. Not necessarily a bad thing. (6)

Josh Hall: It was all going reasonably well until Hans Zimmer’s intern’s strings popped up at the end. (5)

Joe Muggs: That’s really good. He still hasn’t found his own musical personality in four-to-the-floor stuff, but this suggests he’s definitely found his feet. If he starts banging out the tunes even a tenth as fast as he used to so we start to get a sense of what he’s really about now, then Act II (or whatever) of Skream’s production career could look really promising. Only big problem is: while listening, my mind is constantly occupied with what a Carl Craig remix of this might sound like. (7.5)

5.9

Gangsta Boo feat. BeatKing – ‘Mashing’

William Skar: Praying the wind doesn’t change, because I don’t want to be stuck with this screwface for the rest of my life. (9)

Josh Hall: This is much more interesting to me than a lot of the Da Mafia 6ix bits (there’s no inexplicable Yelawolf verses, for a start), and Boo seems to be more at ease here. Enjoyably louche. (7)

Alex Macpherson: Sometimes I fantasise about the time when veteran female rappers rise up and take over the world: from Shawnna to Remy Ma to Gangsta Boo, they’re still going harder, over harder beats, than pretty much everyone else. Here, Gangsta Boo sounds hungrier and more vicious than any of her still-fêted, over-the-hill male contemporaries or any given hyped up-and-comer, matching the buzzsaw beat effortlessly. Shame BeatKing doesn’t give it nearly as much welly on the hook, though. (8)

Joe Muggs: This was really good, then that bass tone at 2’24” game in and it became properly amazing. Haven’t heard a hip hop record this sonically brain-rinsing in a long time. A glorious racket. (8.5)

8.1

Marquis Hawkes – ‘Can’t Find a Reason’


Aimee Cliff:
This is nothing totally revolutionary but I also can’t find a reason to stop listening to it. That bubbling vocal loop is pure elation. (8)

William Skar: Much as I loved the groggy roller-disco feel on Feed The Beast, this is even better – super tight, souped-up jack with more bounce than a nugget of Flubber. (8)

Alex Macpherson: This would get my fist pumping even if it was just that obsessive loop – vocal cut-ups in rounds! – but again and again Marquis Hawkes slams it up another level just when you’re sinking into it: percussion that pounds and knocks before settling into a groove again. (9)

Joe Muggs: This is quite hilarious knowing the “real” Marquis Hawkes that we’re not allowed to talk about yet and his original musical roots, but on its own merits, it’s an absolutely tremendous track. It’s basic, functional house music – and basic, functional house music is, as any fool knows, the bread of life. (8)

8.3

Redlight – ‘9Ts’


Aimee Cliff:
So this is the dancefloor version of a Buzzfeed list called “You know you’re a ’90s baby if…”? Those joyless lyrics slotting “Biggie Smalls” next to “Versace shades” as if both were Tumblr gifs are disgusting. As a self-appointed spokesperson for ’90s babies, I’m gonna say no thanks. (2)

Alex Macpherson: Full-body cringe. Astonishing to think that this man went from making one of the best singles of the year in ’36’ to flailing around to pander to… who, exactly? Aging ’90s ex-clubbers? Surely none of the kids facilitating the ’90s house revival need or want it spelled out like this for them, and with such ineffective beats to boot. (1)

William Skar: Well, that’s freshers week sorted. $$$-eyed census house of the lowest order. (2) 

Josh Hall: You can’t talk about being a ‘90s baby when you’re clearly about 108. (2)

Joe Muggs: Love Redlight, love that beat, really really love that bass, totally up for the Armand Van Helden revival – but ouch that vocal.  It’ll probably make the track a smash, but it just makes me feel very very old and very very grumpy. (4)

2.2

Final scores:

Marquis Hawkes – ‘Can’t Find a Reason’ (8.3)
Gangsta Boo feat. BeatKing – ‘Mashing’ (8.1)
Skream – ‘Let It Go’ (5.9)
QT – ‘Hey QT’ (5.2)
Redlight – ‘9Ts’ (2.2)

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