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

This week our intrepid cavalry take on Flying Lotus’ rap alter ego, Cashmere Cat’s steel drums and Daedelus’ epic video game music, with mixed results.

Solange steamrollers the competition by teaming up with a revived Lil Wayne, and middle-aged pop-punk survivors Busted are back with an armful of vocoders and, incredibly, a higher score than FlyLo. All’s fair in love and singles reviews.


Cashmere Cat feat. Selena Gomez & Tory Lanez – ‘Trust Nobody’

Chris Kelly: After releasing a “single” with The Weeknd that had “overwrought album intro” written all over it, Cashmere Cat gets back to what he’s best at: woozy, synth-swaddled pop songs, like his collaborations with Ariana Grande (I’ve had ’Adore’ on repeat for over a year). Unfortunately, Selena Gomez is no Ariana Grande, and despite Tory Lanez doing his best breathing-through-AutoTune routine, there’s not enough personality to keep this one in rotation. (4)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: If you look at co-producer Frank Dukes’ discography you’ll notice his status as a second banana – perhaps one of the most reliable second bananas there is in mainstream hitmaking right now. His presence guarantees a cool four minutes, which is exactly what ‘Trust Nobody’ is in all its glittery glory. (7)

Son Raw: No wonder PC Music aren’t making much noise this year – this is a more horrifying critique of pop than their sharpest barbs, and it’s by accident. The fake Beatles song those robots made last week had more genuine emotion than Tory Lanez’ vocal. (4)

Haley Potiker: ‘Trust Nobody’ makes prominent use of the steel drums that anchor much of the island-born music that crosses over in the States; it’s unclear if the title is a reference to Gomez’s alleged role in the Brangelina breakup. (6)

Tayyab Amin: Pop-electronic continues to roll with its watered-down takes on Caribbean music – these chords wish they were steel pans. Selena Gomez doesn’t disappoint exactly, but her part seems to have Dej Loaf written all over it. The type of track to move people into the bedroom and under the covers – at which point they promptly fall asleep. (6)

5.4


Solange feat. Lil Wayne – ‘Mad’

Haley Potiker: A Seat at the Table is brilliant, a virtuosic update on early-2000s neo-soul colored by confession and narrated by Master P. So the fact that Lil Wayne is able to steal a song outright speaks to how 2016 has quietly turned into a comeback year for the former Best Rapper Alive. Solange’s instincts are such that she holds back when the song doesn’t demand a room-filling performance; that restraint gives ‘Mad’ its power. It’s an elegy for anger, an argument for letting it go, and Wayne is her id, unhinged and contradicting himself. It’s a spiritual. (10)

Tayyab Amin: Oh, this is gorgeous. I love the way the piano and bass slowly unravel and loosen up from such an insistent beginning (shout out to Raphael Saadiq). Solange’s voice climbs and falls with such strength and grace, carrying so many different emotions through its melodies and enunciations. It has the soul to say all of the things lyricism leaves unsaid, for those tired of explaining. Lil Wayne’s flow is breathtaking – his rhyming scheme sits on top of the piano perfectly. There’s a togetherness about the track that makes it so wholesome. (9)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Part of Lil Wayne’s story and his myth is surviving a self-afflicted gunshot to the chest as a 12-year-old, usually presented as an accident but referred to on ‘Mad’ as a suicide attempt. Wayne represents the rock star id, machismo run wild, the drug-taking behemoth (he mentions popping a Xan here) who changed the way music sounds – but he’s still judged unfairly because of racism, the type of racism that still openly sneers at him when he walks into a bank despite being Rich As Fuck. He equates suicide in his verse with the stress, the grief, the anger of it all. It’s an alarming and eye-opening human moment, and thank you to Solange for bringing it out of him. (8)

Chris Kelly: A Seat at the Table was well worth the wait, especially with Solange turning “all lives matter” bullshit into such a gracious sunbeam of a song, as she does on ‘Mad’. And while I get why he’s along for the ride, I don’t think the juxtaposition of the Lil Wayne verse lands. If you need me, I’ll be listening to ‘Don’t Wish Me Well’ instead. (6)

Son Raw: Solange’s previous work always sounded too “alternative” for its own good – I’ll take Lil Wayne rapping at his peak over piano soul over her whole back catalogue. Lyrically, this implies far more than it explains – yet somehow manages to be personal, political and surreal in one go. (8)

8.2


Captain Murphy – ‘Crowned’

Chris Kelly: Someone’s ready for Scaretober! Too bad Flying Lotus is a little too old to be pitching his voice down and doing his best impression of Tyler circa Radical. Maybe he was busy working on his latest, greatest Hillary Clinton joke and readying his tired-ass “oh you’re so PC” rejoinder? (2)

Son Raw: To anyone shocked and upset by Flying Lotus’ very un-woke Hillary comments: this is a grown-ass man whose side project is circa 2012 Odd Future fanfic: the fuck you expect!? Even Tyler wouldn’t be caught dead putting out this stuff today. (5)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Flying Lotus, amped up off reading Kool Keith’s Wikipedia page, has fun with the pitch-shifting on Audacity and crafts perhaps the most r/hiphopheads song ever made. Upvote and forget afterwards. (5)

Tayyab Amin: The Captain really took some atmospheric shots and put them down on the track as if that was that, huh? I appreciate the approach but there’s no emotional investment in these gory, nihilistic hijinks, and instead of building tension it just plods along. (4)

Haley Potiker: Making beats for rap songs hasn’t held Flying Lotus’s attention for more than a decade now; his 2005 beat tape July Heat, indebted to Dilla as it may be, stands as his last and most brilliant foray into that territory. So while the first Captain Murphy record, 2012’s Duality, was a point of conversation – first for the mystery surrounding the artist and later for the novelty of FlyLo rapping – it failed to stick because the production was more washed out, less arresting than his best solo material. ‘Crowned’ is the beat scene pioneer striking out on his own, and the Tyler fan fiction vibe has worn off ever so slightly. The writing is still clunky, and the beat is B-level at best, but it feels more singular than most of his previous efforts under the moniker. (7)

4.6


Daedelus – ‘Labyrinths’

Haley Potiker: L.A.-based beat savant Daedelus is so prodigiously talented at so many facets of production that he fits a half-dozen fully-formed ideas into the aptly titled ‘Labyrinth’. The electronic stabs that crop up halfway through sound like the final level of a video game where you’re tasked with fighting all your neuroses. The idea of a song having different “textures” is probably overused in modern criticism, but it’s the best descriptor for Daedelus’s work: the various instrumental tracks sound as if they exist on different planes, and aren’t fighting for real estate in the mix. (9)

Chris Kelly: The two favored obsessions of music nerds – beat music and video game music – make passionate love while Daedelus looks on, diddling with his Monome. Too much maximalism leaves me nauseous, like a kid who’s over-indulged on neon sugars before getting on a rollercoaster. (3)

Son Raw: The LA beat scene is always good for the musical equivalent of hash oil – not quite DJ music, not quite pop or even anything truly experimental, but great for throwing on after a particularly vicious dab. This is neither better nor worse than anything else in the Daedelus catalog and I reckon that’s fine by him. (6)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: A comfortable melodic squall through a high-pitched mechanical fog, and more endearing with each passing moment. (7)

Tayyab Amin: This sounds like an old school dungeon-based video game and a Ryan Leslie track at the same damn time. The synths are so dazzling they cause your ears to glaze over, and yet they climb up to anthemic territory late on. There’s definitely some impressiveness inherent to persistence. (6)

6.2


Busted – ‘On What You’re On’

Son Raw: Our editor seems really excited about this one but I’m pretty sure North America was spared/denied whatever the hell Busted was in the early aughts so I’ve got no horse in this race. I can’t get mad at a song that has both a vocoder AND a saxophone solo though, that’s just class. (6)

Chris Kelly: In case you were wondering, Busted never made an impact in the US: we had more than enough pop-punk bands to fend off. At least Good Charlotte had the dignity to write and produce for the next generation of pop-punks (like they did for 5SOS) before making an ill-fated comeback attempt. (1)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Charlie Simpson is back in the fold (sorry Fightstar Ultras), and amusingly enough the one member who prominently wore Tool T-shirts to communicate the way his bread was buttered has returned for no pop-punk overlays at all. This is pure cocaine music, albeit filtered through an admiration of the retro-themed movie Drive and a safe appreciation of how 2011 was the Year of the Saxophone. (7)

Tayyab Amin: In my time spent hypothetically wondering how Busted’s sound would have changed over the years, I’ve never seriously considered the possibility that they went through the same Weeknd, Daft Punk and AlunaGeorge-listening, Drive-watching experience as the rest of us. Vocoders! Saxophones! Xanax! Nothing Busted about it (aside from that intriguing, orgiac tension present in all boyband videos) and it works modestly well. (5)

Haley Potiker: In order to find out the backstory on Busted, I found myself on their Wikipedia page where I learned for the first time about their early-2000s rise to success in the UK and subsequent attempt to make it in America, their failure at which was broadcast back home on MTV UK. It’s a shame, because this sounds exactly like what I would have loved to be listening to in the year 2000. Instead, I was deep into S Club 7. (6)

5


Final scores:

Solange feat. Lil Wayne – ‘Mad’ (8.2)
Daedelus – ‘Labyrinths’ (6.2)
Cashmere Cat feat. feat Lil Wayne – ‘Trust Nobody’ (5.4)
Busted – ‘On What You’re On’ (5)
Captain Murphy – ‘Crowned’ (4.6)

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