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"This could be the most divisive recent event in UK music": SOPHIE, Vessel, Rustie 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. Up on the chopping board this week? SOPHIE, Rustie, Azealia Banks, Vessel and more.

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SOPHIE – ‘Lemonade’

Josh Hall:
SOPHIE has managed to build an incredibly vivid world of lurid, hyper-fluoro, nu-kawaii stimulation, and I absolutely hate it. (4)

Aimee Cliff: This is SOPHIE delving more deeply into PC Music’s aesthetic of excess and cheese than ever before, digging a sugar cavity so deep he hit a nerve. It’s a perfect balance between nostalgia and repulsion, as echoes of lowest common denominator pop music and childish vocals are glossed to up to such a sheen that they squeak and grimace. It’s jarring in the most obvious way it can be, and yet I’ve seen it make dancefloors go off (probably not at 4pm at Field Day, but you need to pick your moments). SOPHIE’s ridiculously smart: he’s building something really complete, and still finds way to surprise and divide his audience with each new sound. (10)

Scott Wilson: Naturally, as soon as heard this I went to Twitter to register my outrage, but as I got there I noticed that everyone else had beaten me to it. I’m quite glad they had, because it was as sorry a sight to behold as it was watching 30-something ex-ravers getting outraged about The Vengaboys back in 1998. Much like The Vengaboys, I’m still unsure if the music of SOPHIE is a deadly serious attempt at making dance music or if it’s just some conceptual piss-take, but if it’s a toss up between hearing ‘Lemonade’ and having Gorgon City serving up another grim slice of pop house stodge then I’m not going to fight it any longer. If anyone’s going to give us this generation’s ‘We Like To Party’ then it’s probably SOPHIE. (9)

Angus Finlayson: The cute avant-garde – SOPHIE, Felicita, PC Music could be the most divisive event in UK music of recent times; at least if the tiny ‘industry’ echo chamber I inhabit is anything to go by. Actually, that might be the problem: is this gleefully contrived music basically just journo catnip, a post-ironic sugar-rush primed to catch the ear of a bored critic well into hour three of the inbox promo trawl? Its conceptual starkness may be sufficient to seed a thousand thinkpieces, but does it conceal a core of utter vacuity? I’m a journalist, so I can’t tell. This one sounds a bit like grime. (6)

Joe Moynihan: Chances are you made your mind up about Sophie the second ‘Bipp’ dropped. If not, and if you’ve never caught SOPHIE’s live sets then please remedy that if there’s any chance this tune would put you off. His sets are a fucking wild affair and, like the rest of the extended PC Music family, packed with sounds you’ve never even thought of before let alone heard. ‘Lemonade’ is probably one of the tamer tunes he could have followed up ‘Bipp’ with, but it still uplifts and boggles the mind in equal measure. I’d like to know more about the vocalists on his tunes though: as good as SOPHIE’s sound design is, this tune wouldn’t be all that without the outrageous lyrics ripped straight out of a Japanese dating sim, would it? (8) 


Azealia Banks – ‘Heavy Metal & Reflective’

Josh Hall:
Nah, I’m alright actually. (3)

Aimee Cliff: Generally speaking I like it when Azealia pulls back with tracks like this, with an understated, threatening flow. But it’s too much reflective, nowhere near heavy enough to win back attention from the legions who have given up waiting for her debut album. I’ll hold out a slither of hope until we hear the rest later this summer. (5)

Scott Wilson: We’re one preset away from ‘Put a Donk On It’ here, but at least it’s not another Paul Oakenfold collaboration. What I find most difficult to understand here is how Azaelia Banks manages to sound so obviously like she’s going through the motions when she’s basically rapping over a happy hardcore backing track. (4)

Joe Moynihan: I swear down every time Azealia Banks does anything it’s like the gun being fired at the who is going to be the biggest, loudest, boringest fucko on the internet today race, with Banks herself usually emerging the victor. Catch me at the refreshment tent at said race sipping a soda and thinking that this tune is OK, not bad, whatever, cool. (5) 


Redinho – ‘Playing with Fire’

Josh Hall:
I’m really excited about this album. Redinho’s always on the right side of the homage-pastiche line, and he quite obviously doesn’t take himself particularly seriously. Great fun. (7)

Aimee Cliff: I’ve been practising my karaoke routine on this all week. (9)

Scott Wilson: Is this really meant to be music from 2014? It sounds like some kind of Justice and Phoenix team-up that should have been released on Ed Banger back in 2007, left to languish on The Hype Machine for seven years and given a bit of a polish by Hud Mo. Terrible. (3)

Angus Finlayson: I saw Chromeo supporting Bloc Party in 2004 and they blew my mind. I have subsequently discovered Cameo. Redinho isn’t so baldly indebted to your Zapps & co but there’s something about the talkbox which is just kinda tired. Sorry dude. (5)

Joe Moynihan: Gotta feeling Redinho’s album is gonna be the supercharged Daft Punk cyberfunk album I always hoped they’d make instead of that thing last year which just felt as expensive and boring as the FTSE100. Thankfully, funk beamed in from another galaxy continues to appear to be a language that Redinho is fluent as fuck in. (7)


Midland – ‘Before We Leave’

Joe Moynihan:
A lot looser and fluid than most of the Midland joints I’m familiar with which, as belting as they are, is a pleasant change. Strings and bass interplay gorgeously and the drums sound like a massive cacophony that’s being shoved under a super effective LUSH! filter. Faded in kick drum intros are rarely given the applause emojis they deserve when executed as nicely as this too. (7)

Josh Hall: This makes me want to listen to Galaxy 2 Galaxy, in the best possible way. (7)

Angus Finlayson: As with a lot of Midland, this is well-wrought and full of pretty detail. But while, in the right sunup DJ set, it might slip down OK, it’s basically massively risk averse. I mean, Pepe Bradock did this 15 years ago, didn’t he? I guess not everybody has to rewrite the manual but couldn’t you at least chew up the odd page? (6)

Scott Wilson: One to file under “tracks inspired by ‘Deep Burnt’ that aren’t quite as good”. (5) 


Vessel – ‘Red Sex’

Aimee Cliff:
Filing this in “sad cow” music next to Sd Laika’s ‘Meshes’ (a 2014 movement to rival Yung Lean). Apart from that this sounds like absolutely nothing else, and I love it. (9)

Josh Hall: The very last thing the world needs, in fact one of the least interesting things I can imagine, is another album about ‘what Englishness means’. That said, this is really exciting, especially the point at which it seems to liquefy itself halfway through. (7)

Scott Wilson: Never in my life did I think that anyone would allow me to fulfil my dream of hearing the kind of weird, skewed techno that sounds like it was made by Einstürzende Neubauten and Ennio Morricone. I cannot be grateful enough to Vessel that he has. (9)

Angus Finlayson: I love Vessel and had high hopes for this, but beyond the title it leaves me cold. That squalling MIDI guitar is nowhere near weird enough to justify the five minutes of leaden Italo chug. (5)

Joe Moynihan: This album is going to be brilliant isn’t it? (9) 


Rustie feat. Danny Brown – ‘Attak’

Scott Wilson:
Maybe I’m missing the point of Rustie, but the fact that this one doesn’t sound like a bomb has gone off in a CAD studio really works for me. (7)

Angus Finlayson: Rustie and Hud Mo racing one another into the paddling pool of mediocrity. Danny Brown redeems things a bit though. (5)

Josh Hall: I think I actually prefer Rustie’s productions for Danny Brown to most of Glass Swords, and this continues the trend. Danny Brown is on particularly militant form here too, reminding that he’s always at his best when he’s at his angriest. (7)

Joe Moynihan: This album is going to be a a bit disappointing isn’t it? (4)


Final scores:

Vessel – ‘Red Sex’ (7.8)
SOPHIE – ‘Lemonade’ (7.4)
Midland – ‘Before We Leave’ (6.3)
Redinho – ‘Playing With Fire’ (6.2)
Rustie feat. Danny Brown – ‘Attak’ (5.8)
Azealia Banks – ‘Heavy Metal & Reflective’ (4.3)

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