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"Ahhh Skream, you're an ornery bugger": Skream and The Smiths, Pixies, Willie Burns and more 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. All are treated equally – well, most of the time. On the chopping block this week: Pixies, Skream’s remix of The Smiths, Miss Modular, Common and more.

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Pixies – ‘Blue Eyed Hexe’

Listen here


Chris Kelly:
Black Francis and friends continue to stomp over their legacy with an impression of The Pixies doing an impression of AC/DC. Remember this when you wish for OutKast to reunite on a record. (4)

Sophie Kindreich: Cool dad music, especially if you’re a dad who likes their rock music with a side of women-as-witches imagery. (3)

Tom Lea: If you told me 10 years ago that I’d get a Pixies advance in my inbox and not be psyched I’d call you a pagan, but here we are and this is balls. (3)

Josh Hall: This is basically Aerosmith with In Utero’s drum production. It is perfectly conceivable that this is a very funny joke that I’m not quite getting, but otherwise it sounds rather like a group of middle aged people’s tastes rapidly regressing. (5)

John Twells: It’s not a total embarrassment, but why exactly would I want to listen to this rather than listening to ‘Bone Machine’ or ‘Tame’? Even the iffier tracks the Pixies produced pre-2013 were more interesting, and ‘Blue Eyed Hexe’ doesn’t offer anything new, frankly paling in comparison with belters they were churning out on the regular 25 years ago. Nah. (3)

Brad Rose: At some point the reunited Pixies are going to get so bad they’ll magically cross the line back to being fucking awesome, right? Oh. Right. (2)

Chal Ravens: The maths is all wrong, guys. Your enviable 90-minute greatest hits set has paid the bills nicely for the past decade, and now you’re diluting it with paunchy porridge-rock no one ever asked for and devaluing the only product that anyone wants, i.e. three guys and Kim Deal on a stage banging out ‘Gigantic’ for the 10,000th time this century. Anyway, economics notwithstanding: needs more cowbell. (5)

Joe Muggs: So, so torn over this. On the one hand it’s the absolute business, on the other hand NO KIM. It’s generally impossible for me to be objective anyway – I’ve got “Pixies” tattooed on the inside of my heart chambers – but I guess all I can say is that each time I listen by 1/3 of the way through I generally stop quibbling and just let it wash over me, so yeah, it’s the absolute business. (8)

4.1

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Common – ‘War’


Chal Ravens:
You can’t fault Common’s pacifist intentions, but has an anti-violence track ever sounded anything but finger-wagging and, y’know, lame? Neat work on the instrumental, though, with those Godzilla-like horns and war drums (couldn’t identify the movie sampled but it surely involves aliens/apes/giant lizards). (4)

Josh Hall: Congratulations are due to Common here, who has managed to construct four minutes of lyrics exclusively from cliché. A rare accomplishment. (3)

Joe Muggs: Am I a bad person if I find this boring? Wouldn’t he have spoken to a more interesting audience, and had more musical-emotional impact if he’d done this with brutal drill producers? (6)

John Twells: It’s not cool to say you’ve got a soft spot for Common but I’m not afraid to admit it. He’s had a dodgy run the past few years that’s for sure, but some of us remain hopeful. The first thing that stands out about ‘War’ is No I.D.’s dramatic b-movie production, and it’s an apt backdrop to Common’s chilling Chicago’s commentary. Whether he’s the right person to be speaking about it, I’m not certain, but at least he’s addressing it. (6)

Chris Kelly: Common in rare form over an appropriately-martial beat by No I.D. The Chicago veteran stays on the right side of the conscious / condescending divide thanks to some sharp writing (“Pallbearers, all looking like kids / Some faces show anger, some show tears / No mustaches, no beards,” “We under-21 gun salute them”). Lost me with the “we are at war” squawks. though. (7)

Sophie Kindreich: This sounds like something a bro at a house party would put on when I tell him I like rap music, when what I actually want to hear is Young Thug. I think I’m too millennial for this? (6)

Brad Rose: This is supposed to be a call to action, but it’s a pretty tepid one at that. That is one weak-ass beat. (4)

5.1

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The Smiths – ‘This Charming Man’ (Skream Remix)


Josh Hall:
Well this is shit on toast isn’t it. Its only redeeming quality is that it demonstrates quite how flat fucking Morrissey’s warble was on the original. (1)

Joe Muggs: Ahhh Skream, you’re an ornery bugger. Like most things he does these days, this gets a couple of extra points for how much it winds up bores – and in fact it’s almost really good. But the chords on the chorus just clash so violently it’s hard to imagine anyone could listen to it for pleasure. So near yet so far. (3)

John Twells: Hearing Skream’s utterly artless take on one of The Smiths’ finest 7”s makes me wish I didn’t have a context for it. Our boy has slapped an acapella over a lazy, paint-by-numbers beat like a cowboy builder doing a quick insulation job in a blind old lady’s flat. There’s literally nothing redeeming about this at all, and to add insult to injury it’s even a few cents out of tune, something that could have been fixed in, oh, about a second. This needs to be purged from the internet entirely, immediately. Cannot un-hear. (0)

Chris Kelly: I was totally expecting a disco remix, so this was a pleasant surprise in that — and only that — regard. However, it must be hard to play outside the box with Soundcloud comments like “this isnt a remix is the opposite wht is the point uv jst got the acapella n then played a few chords n added some reverb wtf.” (3)

Brad Rose: Just when it seems as if something couldn’t be more pointless, this comes along. This is just dumb. Why in the world would anyone want to listen to this garbage?  (1)

Chal Ravens: Very inventive. I like that he got Kryten to play the piano. (2)

Sophie Kindreich: Between this and his recent tendency to play things like Smells Like Teen Spirit and Arctic Monkeys in his sets (if I wanted to go to Propaganda, I would), I just can’t with Skream anymore. Corny as hell. (4)

2

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Willie Burns – ‘Woo Right’


John Twells:
Woo, right? (6)

Chris Kelly: Take that, Against The Clock haters! (7)

Brad Rose: Loved this when I heard it last year and the deeper I dig, the better it gets. All the subtle shifts in the synth loops and the “Woooo! Right!” vocal sample push it over the top. Awesome. (7)

Joe Muggs: How do you mark functional club tracks? I’d play it, I’d dance to it, and love it, but it doesn’t stand up outside the mix so much. (6)

Chal Ravens: Bossy and unapologetically basic, because sometimes that’s all you need. There’s a dangerous whiff of the 5AM mind-melt to this one. (7)

Josh Hall: Trust Mr Burns to rescue proceedings. The whole EP is great, but this is the real killer, in no small part because it sounds like a rendition of the Jaws theme. Listen to those hi hats! (8)

Sophie Kindreich: I couldn’t think of anything to say about this and promised I’d come back to it later, but then I had an argument with my boyfriend and haven’t really been capable of listening to anything but Winter’s Diary 2 since (#professional #justbeinghonest). Digging the Ride On Time-esque vocal and the general Legowelt vibe of the whole EP though. (7)

6.9

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Miss Modular – ‘Reflector Pack’


Sophie Kindreich:
This is like Classical Curves meets Jersey Club, the percussion is wild. (10)

Joe Muggs: Now HERE’s a club track that works on its own too. Producer named after a Stereolab track, jacking like Dancemania, but no retro – what’s not to love? (8)

Chal Ravens: Turbo-fuelled, neon-splattered rave fodder with a canny balance of booming low-end and spiky mid-range; imaginative, GSOH, likes to party, call now. (8)

Tom Lea: Love this. The little-bit-ballroomy, little-bit-grimy drum tracks that Her Records and Gang Fatale are pushing really compliments the more spacious sound of yer Logos / Mr. Mitch / Strict Face sorts, and when you combine them in a set – as Logos does very well, actually – it works perfectly. All about the 4×4 mix on this – there’s bits that make you wanna chuck your hands in the air, bits that make you wanna get down low like an idiot, and yes this review’s got very ’90s Mixmag at this point but sometimes you’ve just gotta sink a pinger, chuck on your trance trousers and fucking have it. (9)

Josh Hall: What a belter. The spectre of Club Constructions looms large here, but this is so hooky and so brazen that it completely takes on a life of its own. (8)

John Twells: Absolutely loving this – it doesn’t try to shoehorn too much stuff in and it sounds sort of like being trapped in a crowded club bathroom with a pounding hangover. That doesn’t sound like a recommendation I know, but good dance music should make you feel dirty and slightly uneasy right? (8)

Brad Rose: I love that something this raw and minimal exudes so much energy. Each idea is stripped down to its core, leaving any superfluous tricks on the sidelines, and in the end it’s relentless.  hat beat is a constant exclamation point on every stab and every sample. I’d be happen to be beat over the head with this daily. (8)

Chris Kelly: A club construction that is relentless in the best way possible. Fiercely fun, and that breakdown gives me chills. (8)

8.3

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Que – ‘OG Bobby Johnson’


Tom Lea:
More like Bobby Davro. (5)

Joe Muggs: I do feel like Stewart Lee sometimes. “You know the rappers they have now, on the Top Of The Pops….?” I mean this bangs like a beast, but I’m old. I’d feel like a dick bouncing around to it and doing the shooting gun fingers and saying the words, like the rappers, you know, you’ve seen them, the rappers, on the Top Of The Pops, and in the precinct…  THAT BASS though. (8)

Chal Ravens: Que turns it up to just the right level of aggro over this uncouth little fucker of an instrumental, with a chanted hook that’s so stupid it’s just about sublime. (7)

John Twells: This is massive, and not really thanks to Que, as has become evident from the sheer amount of freestyles we’re seeing over German producer Bobby Johnson’s cone-ripping beat. Trust me if for some reason you haven’t heard this one yet, you’re gonna be hearing it everywhere now. (8)

Chris Kelly: Credit Que for following ‘Young N*gga’ and ‘O’Neal’ with another banger, but the real story is this beat. The year’s ‘U.O.E.N.O’, already; enjoy it before everyone takes it for a ride. (7)

7

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Final scores:

Miss Modular – ‘Reflector Pack’ (8.3)
Que – ‘OG Bobby Johnson’ (7)
Willie Burns – ‘OG Woo Right’ (6.9)
Common – ‘War’ (5.1)
Pixies – ‘Blue Eyed Hexe’ (4.1)
The Smiths – ‘This Charming Man’ (Skream Remix) (2)

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