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, James Murphy charges back into view after six years away on one of two new LCD Soundsystem singles, ‘Call The Police’, while Grizzly Bear also return, giving fans a glimpse at their next album with ‘Three Rings’.

There’s also new J Hus, Halsey, Skrillex, plus an Avalon Emerson spin on a Slowdive track and the return of Happy Mondays spin-off Black Grape to contend with. Let’s dig in, shall we?


LCD Soundsystem – ‘Call The Police’

Haley Potiker: This is a straight-up B+ LCD Soundsystem song: it’s fun, it’s wistful, it’s a little rebellious. It builds to a driving, cacophonous end, and you can practically hear James Murphy drinking the blood of a Clear Channel executive to stay 39 years old forever. (8)

Tayyab Amin: Six whole years of unprecedented global upheaval to take inspiration from, and all you conjure up for your passive protest comeback song is an off-brand take on the freewheeling wah-wahs and road trip melodies of Stereophonics’ ‘Dakota’? (6)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Interesting to hear James Murphy evolve from scared of getting old to scared of being older. Thankfully his band sound as frenetic-yet-focused as ever, even if their return shows little deviation from their driven formula. (6)

Carl Anka: LCD are the band your dad thinks his band sounds like, but the indie world is better when they’re around and ‘Call The Police’ is the proof. (7)

6.75


Grizzly Bear – ‘Three Rings’

Tayyab Amin: This is one of those ones I was really excited to listen to, stuck on and thought “yeah, this is nice I guess” before proceeding to rinse for the following half hour without interruption. It builds towards rip-roaring riffs at the finish rather than opening with them, dazzles with its well pronounced drums and comes packed full of well-realised atmospherics. Genuinely wonderful to have these guys back. (8)

Carl Anka: Grizzly Bear is that cool kid you meet in the garden at a end of year university house party who’s shit hot on the high brow academic side of things, but is also bang into psychedelics and getting faded. After a five year break, ‘Three Rings’ cosies up in a lovely space between TV on the Radio and early Radiohead, with warm, jazzy drums and an air of melancholy that’s rarely sounded so good on the Warp crew. (8)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Continuing our tour of 2006: holy cow, I never liked Grizzly Bear as a P4K-obsessed teen librarian (despite being blatantly the right demographic for them), but this glistening piece of bass-heavy studio prettiness makes me want to reconsider the band on a grand scale. (7)

Haley Potiker: I love the drums here so much. What might otherwise be a staid sort of comeback song instead feels trippy and off-kilter, even paranoid. It’s like a beautiful blur. (8)

7.75


J Hus – ‘Common Sense’

Tayyab Amin: “J Hus” might as well be shorthand for “genius” ‘cos I really don’t think this guy could make bad music if he tried. ‘Common Sense’ sees him move from the clean banger of a beat on ‘Did You See’ to a truly lavish instrumental, which has all the sparkle and sheen of a Maybach track. You can picture him performing this at the private function rocking his fisherman hat with a tux. Melody, flows, bars and quotables – they’re all here. (9)

Carl Anka: There’s a YouTube comment for this track that reads “J hus the type of guy to come in a black Benz and leave in a white one.” ‘Common Sense’ just has that lavishness: the beat is glorious, seemingly taking cues from classic ‘90s hip hop and French rap. Tailor-made for your next BBQ. (7)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Okay, so this isn’t the pop slam dunk of ‘Did You See’, but it’s a lot lusher and emblematic of a non-mixtape Hus, stepping out on a grander stage. Ideally this is one of those good turning points in his career – you’re happy for him, but hope he doesn’t lose himself in the glitter and gleam. (7)

Haley Potiker: There’s an alternate universe where J Hus is born 15 years earlier and signs with Blueprint 2 era Roc-A-Fella. Here’s hoping Beans is on the remix. (9)

8


Halsey – ‘Eyes Closed’

Tayyab Amin: The Weeknd has a credit on this one which should explain why it sounds like Skoda version of the absolute beamer of a track that is ‘High for This’. House of Balloons is old enough to walk, talk and attend primary school at this point (how the hell is that tape six years old already) and with Tesfaye putting all his efforts into sunset funk these days, it’s nice to see him return to that vibe, albeit in a producer capacity. Sadly though, Halsey spends the track singing away with all the personality of a ready salted crisp. (5)

Carl Anka: The Weeknd’s influence is all over this and it’s nice enough but ultimately lightweight. The sort of song that would take pride of place on a YA movie adaptation, rather than the comeback track of one of a promising pop star on the rise. (6)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: The depressive romantic pangs of an almost-Banks, lacking her intense almost-star power but somehow more famous. (5)

Haley Potiker: This has a perfectly rote build-drop structure and is probably going to be unimaginably huge. It’s fine. (6)

5.5


Skrillex – ‘Chicken Soup’

Tayyab Amin: How can something so lacking in textural depth sound so in need of a deep clean in the bathtub? Almost as if it picked its spot between two sounds on the spectrum a few years back and refused to ever grow up, the beat drops from Annie Mac Presents 2012 into UKF brostep/proto-EDM real quick. At the behest of the most vacuously “cool” vocal sample in a hot minute, too – anything to convince you your part-performative, part-uncontrollable gurn is a good look. (4)

Carl Anka: Sounds like a parody. Bring back Jared Leto and Rick Ross, Sonny. (4)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Big Skrillz has an attempt at blog-house bassline and I’m not mad at a much-maligned artist spreading himself in different directions. It’s inspiring to see him still messing about with his craft. (7)

Haley Potiker: Chicken soup for the pretending-to-have-no-idea-where-your-high-school-letter-jacket-is soul. (6)

5.25


Slowdive – ‘Sugar For The Pill’ (Avalon Emerson’s Gilded Escalation)

Haley Potiker: It’s sort of insane that, after so long away, Slowdive came back with an album so clear, so cogent, and so untethered from the cultural markers of the band’s heyday. Maybe it’s the overwhelmingly surprise at the self-titled album’s urgency, but this remix, while technically impressive and a pleasant enough listen, doesn’t fully wrest attention away from the original, which was already a clear emotional crescendo. (6)

Tayyab Amin: I’ve not quite delved into Slowdive as of yet, though it’s going to be extremely disappointing when I do and probably discover that don’t sound like this by default. Each element of the song is wonderfully stretched out and emphasised through continuous sustenance, reminiscent of classic Four Tet. Avalon Emerson takes us on a proper journey and every stage culminates with a stunning payoff, be it a drums breakout, isolated vocals or those loopy synths dancing and dotting the skyline like seasoning for the heavens. (7)

Carl Anka: Nine minutes of excellent “getting shit done” music. A smarter music reviewer than I might describe this as “ethereal”. (6)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: More dynamic than the original, albeit in a very Sexy 1990s Wine Bar way, but actually exquisitely so. (7)

6.5


Black Grape – ‘Everything You Know Is Wrong’

Tayyab Amin: You wot? This entire tune is just a contrived character anecdote from a Guy Ritchie crime flick – the only situation where it’s truly necessary to have someone translate American affairs to the British. It’s too little, too late from Shaun Ryder and co, and perhaps unfortunately timed when you consider that we actually have a snap election this side of the Atlantic next month. (4)

Haley Potiker: Speaking of comebacks: holy shit. When people talk about art made under oppressive regimes, they usually cite angry, earnest protest music. This is the other kind – the happily defiant, a dance party on the steps of the Capitol. I would write more, but the top comment on Black Grape’s YouTube is the definitive review: “Donald trump proper cunt.” (8)

Carl Anka: Remember when the Beastie Boys released The Mix Up and it was full of corny rhymes about George W Bush and 9/11 and you wondered if hip-hop had moved past them? Yeah, that. This is a casserole of dated ideas. (5)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Yer da’s out wi’ nae shirt yelling aboot politics by the fruit machines again. (2)

4.75


Final scores:

J Hus – ‘Common Sense’ (8)
Grizzly Bear – ‘Three Rings’ (7.75)
LCD Soundsystem – ‘Call The Police’ (6.75)
Slowdive – ‘Sugar For The Pill’ (Avalon Emerson’s Gilded Escalation) (6.5)
Halsey – ‘Eyes Closed’ (5.5)
Skrillex – ‘Chicken Soup’ (5.25)
Black Grape – ‘Everything You Know Is Wrong’ (4.75)

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