Singles Club: Fever Ray is back and more electrifying than ever

Each week on the FACT Singles Club, our writers rate and slate the biggest new tracks of the last seven days.

This week, Fever Ray returns to take you ‘To The Moon And Back’ with her first new music since 2009 and SOPHIE strips back her usual PC Music hyperactivity on piano ballad ‘It’s Okay To Cry’.

Elsewhere, Taylor Swift is still exasperating, Krept & Konan’s not-so-secret weapon is Stormzy and Nabihah Iqbal, FKA Throwing Shade, goes dream-pop. There’s also a new one from Memphis rapper Young Dolph. Dig in!


Fever Ray – ‘To The Moon And Back’

Al Horner: YES KARIN YOU ABSOLUTE LEGEND. ‘To The Moon and Back’ is a propulsive delight that finds the former Knife artist in majestical electro-pop world-building form: the video is a neon fantasy that plays out like Pris from Blade Runner’s most vivid ever sex dream, the lyrics are defiant and wild (“I want to run my fingers up your pussy”) and the video’s cliff-hanger ending suggests more might be on the way. A new album, her first since 2009, would do quite nicely any day now thank you please, Karin. (9)

Claire Lobenfeld: Sometimes you just have to let YouTube commenters speak for you:

(9)

Scott Wilson: It’s probably been 12 years since I heard ‘Heartbeats’ and I still cannot believe that we are blessed enough to have a musician as good as Karin Dreijer. My only reservation is that this track’s euphoric sound is a little too much like The Knife – I’d love to dive into the darker sound Dreijer cultivated as Fever Ray once again – but who am I kidding: this is brilliant. (9)

April Clare Welsh: Karin Dreijer’s return makes everything a little bit better. (9)

9


SOPHIE – ‘It’s Okay To Cry’

Scott Wilson: For all the joy and euphoria to be found in the PC Music axis, there’s often too many layers of irony to peel back and quite often nothing of substance underneath. As Lotic wrote in 2015: “There’s nothing brave about not showing your face and nothing exciting about having nothing real to say.” Well, it turns it out that SOPHIE at least did have something real to say, and she’s said it in a genuinely heartfelt way through a song that’s actually pretty good as well. ‘It’s Okay To Cry’ is clearly a deeply personal statement for SOPHIE, but I think it’s a song that others will gain strength from too. (8)

Al Horner: PC Music (with whom SOPHIE has always been closely affiliated) have always been about the intellectual at the expense of the emotional: that much has been clear ever since SOPHIE’s 2015 singles collection, PRODUCT, which was so busy making a ‘clever’ comment on pop music consumerism, it failed to deliver as actual pop music. ‘It’s Okay To Cry’ makes a valiant attempt to peel back some of that irony, letting a little air out of her (SOPHIE is using female pronouns now) usual helium balloon hyperactivity in favour of something more restrained and upfront. I’m here for that, but remain something of a SOPHIE cynic. Soz! (6)

April Clare Welsh: It’s seriously hard to sing on-camera for the first time and it must be harder when your presence has been shrouded in layers of irony and glossy hyper-pop gimmicks for the past four years. But SOPHIE has dug deep here to show us a personal side of the PC Music clan rarely glimpsed, and it just feels so genuine. I like how this song kind of bobs along going nowhere, which is such a change from the chaotic peaks and troughs of LEMONADE. However, despite its placidity, ‘It’s Okay To Cry’ radiates empowerment like nothing else and, by default, offers a helping hand. (8)

Claire Lobenfeld: This is the kind of song that I think will grow and change for me the more time I spend with it. While I love how big it gets in the end, I wish it would have gotten a bigger chorus earlier and then exploded even more toward the end. There is so much triumph here and I just want to celebrate with SOPHIE, who we are seeing for the very first time, even more than we get to here. (8)

7.5


Taylor Swift – ‘Gorgeous’

Claire Lobenfeld: Only thing this track does for me is make me wonder what ever happened to the ‘Dur dur d’être bébé’ kid. (2)

Al Horner: You know those TV ads for like, Center Parcs or whatever, where Sigur Ros have clearly refused to let them use ‘Hoppipola’, so you end up with some exceptionally blatant specially-commissioned clone scoring footage of kids rock climbing and your aunt Carol orienteering? This is like that, but with The Knife’s ‘Heartbeats’. No wonder Fever Ray came back this week – Karin has a sound to reclaim from Taylor’s bore-pop clutches. I would literally rather be orienteering than listening to this. Also, not to add fuel to this particular internet forum fire or whatever, but Kanye already wrote the greatest song called ‘Gorgeous’! Step down, Taylor! (2)

April Clare Welsh: Is Taylor Swift channelling Babybird here? Even fronted by a poor man’s Jarvis Cocker with a Bono complex, at least that song had nice guitars and a lasting chorus. This track, which I believe is hip-hop-inspired, has few redeeming features. The lyrics are godawful, the production is basic and it’s just so obvious that there is a marketing ploy at the centre of it all. Yet more silly, contrived, pseudo-empowering nonsense from a Blank Space. (1)

Scott Wilson: I liked the bridge. (2)

1.75


Krept & Konan feat. Stormzy – ‘Ask Flipz’

Scott Wilson: This is the first time I’ve knowingly listened to a Krept & Konan track and… it’s fine? I’m suppose I’m glad the kids these days are listening to this and not some landfill indie band or whatever. To be honest though the inclusion of Stormzy just highlights for me how much more adventurous his stuff is. (6.5)

Claire Lobenfeld: I really feel like Stormzy was graciously holding back at the beginning of his verse so as not to eat Krept & Konan on their own track before snapping and giving us just a little bit more. All that is to say, not enough Stormzy, IMO. Yes, he was on the hook, but his adroit delivery tends to make things that are average (this track) become superlative. I could have used more. (5.5)

Al Horner: GUYS! Krept & Konan are a UK rap *institution*. Or at least they deserve to be, especially after 7 Days and 7 Nights, two mixtapes released last Friday that showcase their hard and soft sides respectively. This Stormzy collab isn’t even the finest moment from the intense, menacing 7 Days (the Phantom of the Opera-ish ‘On My Life’ featuring Skepta gets my vote there) but it fucking bangs anyways. And while I don’t agree that Stormzy threatens to overshadow Krept and Konan here, it’s cool to hear him going in on the Met Police morons who smashed his door in, believing him to be breaking into his own house earlier this year. (8)

April Clare Welsh: Krept & Konan are heading for two top 10 albums this week, which is of course a brilliant thing for UK music, but perhaps more brilliant is this tweet from Krept:

(7)

6.75


Nabihah Iqbal – ‘Something More’

April Clare Welsh: Nabihah Iqbal is doing her best Bilinda Butcher impression and I am 100% down with it. Smells like Christmas. (9)

Al Horner: Very 4AD, huh? I loved House of Silk but this is cut from a different cloth (oh shit, didn’t even mean to make that terrible pun but I’ve typed it now, oh well, fuck it). This is really airy and marries FKA Throwing Shade’s production talents and songwriting abilities with more clarity and charm than anything I’ve heard from her before. Bring on the album. (8)

Claire Lobenfeld: What a dream! I loved last year’s House of Silk, particularly the track ‘Underneath My Eyelids’, which sounded like a choir of futuristic bells. ‘Something More’ is a complete left turn from what we knew from Throwing Shade, but it is so welcome. It is a clear indicator that Nabihah isn’t just dedicated to exploring a variety of worlds as a DJ, but as a composer, too. This is lovely meld of New Wave and dream-pop that I cannot get enough of. I can’t believe we have to wait until December for the album. (9)

Scott Wilson: I haven’t been a fan of anything Nabihah Iqbal’s done as Throwing Shade but I am fully here for this 4AD-style dream pop version. It also reminds me of New Young Pony Club (the ‘00s band that should have by rights been totally massive) by way of the Cocteau Twins so there are all kinds of nostalgic feelings coming out of this one for me. Wonderful. (8)

8.5


Young Dolph – ‘Drippy’

Claire Lobenfeld: I am old. When I hear stuff like this, all I can think about are the lines in ‘Moonlight’ when Jay-Z raps, “I’m in the skrt with ya — yeah, right/I’m in the skrt with ya — cool story” because it is so boring to hear people mumble the same things about themselves. I had planned to rate this higher than Taylor Swift on general principle, but you know what? People shit on Cardi B so hard for “ripping off” Kodak Black – hmm, wonder why the song’s called ‘Bodak Yellow’? Could she have been consciously making a reference??? – when so much rap sounds like a copy of a copy of a copy. I can’t sit back and just be like, “Well, it’s what the kids like! I just don’t get it!” when I hear things like ‘Bodak Yellow’ and know that flexing can still sound fun. This is not fun. (1)

Scott Wilson: I feel about this track the same way Young Dolph evidently did when he summoned that lethargic, half-assed “eyyyyyyyy” at the start: bored. (2)

April Clare Welsh:  I actually really like how languid and lazy this is, but then I am dosed up on cold medicine so am probably biased. (5)

Al Horner: General consensus here seems to be Young Dolph is sounding Old Hat. And I hear you, sort of, but  but without wanting to be *that* music journo wanker, ‘Drippy’ really does sound better in the context of his really quite good new album, on which Dolph’s cabal of producers (Mike WiLL included) are the true MVPs. (8)

4


Final scores:
Fever Ray – ‘To The Moon And Back’ (9)
Nabihah Iqbal – ‘Something More’ (8.5)
SOPHIE – ‘It’s Okay To Cry’ (7.5)
Krept & Konan feat. Stormzy – ‘Ask Flipz’ (6.75)
Young Dolph – ‘Drippy’ (4)
Taylor Swift – ‘Gorgeous’ (1.75)