Singles Club: Grizzly Bear enchant and Vince Staples shows his supremacy

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, cloud-rap pioneer Clams Casino returns with ‘Wavey’, the lead track from another instalment in his Instrumentals series. There’s also new Vince Staples, whose ‘Rain Come Down’ is another highlight from his new Big Fish Theory release.

Elsewhere, Haim want a ‘Little Of Your Love’, Ariel Pink longs for ‘Another Weekend’, Grizzly Bear inch closer to the release of their first album in five years with ‘Four Cypresses’, while Danger Mouse enlists Big Boi and Run The Jewels for a high-speed joyride named ‘Chase Me’, from the soundtrack to new movie Baby Driver. Here’s what our FACT reviewers made of each of them…


Clams Casino – ‘Wavey’

Al Horner: I once saw clams casino (the dish) on a Dalston restaurant menu and excitedly asked the waiter if it was named after the producer. Looking back, I like to think this faux pas was a reflection of my obsession with his just-released Instrumentals 2 tape at the time, as if I’d listened to his beat for A$AP’s ‘Bass’ so many times, reality had begun to rewrite itself around him and this century-old delicacy simply MUST be on the menu in his honor. In actual fact, this fuck-up was more likely a reflection of my broke early-2010s diet, consisting mainly of pasta and cereal, and also the fact I know shit all about nice food. But whatever. It’s good to hear Clams still serving up delicacies. (7)

Chal Ravens: I like the whiff of chintzy exotica around here, but we’re in pretty familiar Instrumentals territory – it sounds like Clams, no more, no less. After last year’s ferociously terrible 32 Levels album, though, that classic cloud-rap recipe feels like a comparative return to form. Paging Lil B for the remix. (4)

Carl Anka:  Very nice, presumably expensive ambience, but there’s nothing about this that belongs outside a very obnoxious art gallery. (4)

Tayyab Amin: One for the tranquil Sunday mornings where the world stops and time can’t pass any slower. Very Clams: his melodic touches are at their most deft, and the tune brings to mind Teresa Winter, which is exciting. Anyone who likes this is definitely a drone fan, even if they don’t know it. (7)

5.5


Vince Staples – ‘Rain Come Down’

Al Horner: He couldn’t possibly have planned it, but Vince dropping a track about it pissing down just as the UK hits a wild heatwave feels like exactly the kinda deliberately contrary behaviour the Long Beach rapper would adore to orchestrate. ‘Rain Come Down’ is actually pretty earnest by Staples’ standards, dropping his typical cold gaze into the abyss for a honest, emotional, Ty Dolla $ign-assisted admission of paranoia: whatever good exists in his life, he can’t seem to shake the suspicion that soon, storm clouds will gather and wash away. (8)

Carl Anka: Vince Staples’ Twitter bio reads “coldest homie breathing” (he does not use the word homie) and his new album Big Fish Theory is an amazing bit of angular experimentation. This album closer is an unorthodox, loose-limbed, bassy wonder. The Twitter bio is right – Vince really is the coldest. (7)

Chal Ravens:  And now a word from our sponsor. “I don’t think of Sprite as a soda,” says rapper Vince Staples. “Sprite is like a vitamin, sometimes you’ve got to take it daily.” Real actual words from your boy Vince, there. Anyway, ‘Rain Come Down’ as a standalone has somehow turned into a Sprite ad, but as part of Big Fish Theory it’s much bigger, and much better – I’m cheering for the album here. (6)

Tayyab Amin: Ty Dolla $ign on this is a total dream – he’s got the sort of voice that emphasises the shadows in the dark as well as the highlights, like rain glistening in the streetlights, pure contrast on the beat. In terms of environmental storytelling and scene-setting, no-one is bringing it like Vince Staples right now. (8)

7.25


Grizzly Bear – ‘Four Cypresses’

Chal Ravens: You know what, fuck it, I am definitely up for a new Grizzly Bear album. They’re the kind of band where every member is so genuinely talented that even an “okay” Grizzly Bear song will always have something in it that the average, um, bear could never have come up with. The drums in this are excellent, for a start, and those watery, new age-y guitars? It’s very Radiohead and I like it. Prog for prog-haters. (7)

Al Horner: “It’s chaos, but it works,” sings Daniel Rossen here, a line that pretty neatly summarizes the Warp crew’s gloriously disjointed MO to date. Anxious synth noises bleep over military drum rolls and a bed of cinematic strings on ‘Four Cypresses’, as Rossen and his pals sing in harmony of “a future drawing down” – a patchwork of different ideas that shouldn’t result in such dark beauty, but does. Keep the chaos coming, lads. (9)

Carl Anka: Grizzly Bear make the perfect music to play after a house party when you want to reflect on your decadent soul. (7)

Tayyab Amin: There’s every reason to be excited for a new Grizzly Bear album. This track makes me want Grizzly Bear to drive me into the desert and leave me wilting in the treacherous winds with cacti for company. The creeping, rising intensity towards the instrumental interlude and the deflation that follows will form the blueprint for my emotions as I realise the mirage of them coming back to save me is in fact a swarm of mosquitos. Listen to the lilting guitar and tentative chords in the outro – it will be the sound of my beautifully picturesque demise. (8)

7.75


Danger Mouse featuring Big Boi and Run The Jewels – ‘Chase Me’

Al Horner: Baby Driver is a seriously enthralling piece of cinema, and ‘Chase Me’ speeds to completion with the same breakneck, reckless thrills as the cult classic-in-waiting it accompanies. Mike and El steal the show as expected here, and Big Boi’s brief presence gives a film set in Atlanta, but with no real Atlanta music in the movie, some welcome homegrown flavor. (8)

Chal Ravens: You have to hand it to Danger Mouse as a master of the tricky rap-rock-splice-up, a concept that’s more often headed for disaster. ‘Chase Me’ takes it in a bluesy and busted direction, and even if the hook is pretty missable that trippy interlude is a dream – the fact it’s for a movie soundtrack just adds to that ‘90s throwback mood. Plus, it’s always a joy to hear Killer Mike and Big Boi on the same track. (6)

Carl Anka: Every RTJ song lives or dies by how much space Killer Mike gets to spit. There isn’t enough Mike on this. Him and El-P sound uneasy rapping over a beat El-P didn’t make, and while Big Boi goes hard as always, this tastes like leftovers. (6)

Tayyab Amin: The most unrealistic thing about the millennial, baby-faced heist driver who refuses to unplug his iPod in the Baby Driver is that he’d actually listen to this to motivate his high-speed getaways. (4)

6


Haim – ‘Little Of Your Love’

Al Horner: I’m normally here for Haim’s harmless Cali-pop emoting. But Jesus, this is boring. This song is what paint would watch dry. And their all-red outfits in the photo attached to the video make me think of The Handmaid’s Tale, but an ever more scary version of its gender dystopia in which I need to hear this again more than another two or three times, max. (4)

Carl Anka: Advert music. Advert music. A well-executed, middle-of-the-road pop jingle that will play over yogurt commercials all summer. Advert music. (6)

Chal Ravens: Haim are an enigma to me. It’s hard to talk about them because try as I might, I don’t understand what they are motivated by or what they are reaching for. I get that it’s pop through a classic rock and funk filter but I need clearer instructions. ‘Little Of Your Love’ is very carefully put together. It’s got lots of ideas – albeit familiarly retro ones in po-mo recombinations. It’s a bit The Feeling. It’s a bit The Maccabees. It’s not nearly enough Fleetwood Mac, which is what it thinks it is. Again, kind of an enigma. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF HAIM? I cannot feel it. (4)

Tayyab Amin: Awh this one feels like I’ve hit the function room dancefloor for a waltz with my mum and it’s totally sweet – we’re smiling as if we’ve finally learned to bond, she’s busting out the throwback moves and I’m getting schooled. A twee but beautiful moment that seems to last just a little longer than it should. (6)

5


Ariel Pink – ‘Another Weekend’

Chal Ravens: Ariel Pink is also an enigma, but of a different kind. All the Pink hallmarks are here and the romance is turned up to 11, with wobbly, tape-baked production, lyrical nostalgia, and a skippy waltz for a chorus. So much better than the imitators. (7)

Carl Anka: Coming through like a squeaky Beck cover, this is Ariel’s most grown up single in ages. A lovely breezy summer tune to ride bikes to. (7)

Al Horner: Too many cowboy hats. (5)

Tayyab Amin: I can’t help but feel like this song doesn’t want me to like it, and I can definitely relate to this kind of self-sabotage – all too much in fact. The woozy chorus has the sort of automatic smoothness self-driving cars would hit-and-run for but it seems like every few seconds we end up at junctures that have the confused, lackadaisical circularity of your Friday night Uber driver. (5)

6


Final scores:

Grizzly Bear – ‘Four Cypresses’ (7.75)
Vince Staples – ‘Rain Come Down’ (7.25)
Danger Mouse featuring Big Boi and Run The Jewels – ‘Chase Me’ (6)
Ariel Pink – ‘Another Weekend’ (6)
Clams Casino – ‘Wavey’ (5.5)
Haim – ‘Little Of Your Love’ (5)