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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 this week: Ginuwine, Janet Jackson, Helena Hauff and more.

Ginuwine – ‘Leave it In’

Brad Stabler: That banshee wail at the jump is enticing, but this fast becomes a snoozer, and not in the sexy way Ginuwine intended. My disappointment is doubled by the fact that this is the same guy who did ‘Pony’, a track that sounded like it was from the future. Now it’s half past the future, and dude sounds like he’s stuck in reverse, putting on his own poor man impersonation of himself. (4)

Mikey IQ Jones: Ginuwine returns with the biggest up yours to abstinence and the pulling-out method that anyone can write in 2015 and still garner afternoon airplay. If Plan B One-Step doesn’t start making new commercials for emergency contraception using this as the theme music, their ad agency is doing it wrong, pun fully intended. Welcome back, G. We missed you. (7)

Tayyab Amin: Put simply, I think I have to repent, because this track was so potent that it broke my fast. Everything about this is on point; let’s start with that track description – “Same ol G”. The strange, oscillating squelchy sample at the beginning cleanses the palette and brings you into Ginuwine’s world and then it’s straight into the vivid blow-by-blow accounts that make r’n’b songwriting so magical. The ambling bassline, piano and guitar licks, that wonderful balance between the verses and the chorus – Ginuwine going off on one at the end is the cherry on top. So many kids are gonna be proud to have been conceived to this song. (10)

Son Raw: This is straight out of ’98 but it’s also exactly what a Ginuwine record is supposed to sound like. It takes guts to stick to your guns, from the crying baby sample to that lazy rhythm, but the result has personality by the ton. That hook is remarkably poor advice for today’s youth though: Pull out, kids. (8)

Claire Lobenfeld: ‘Pony’ is about to get its fifth life via Magic Mike XXL and G is out here releasing the most archaic-sounding song of his career. And you know what? Who cares! Sometimes the world needs a dick-too-bomb ballad, even if it’s completely devoid of the Swing Mob/Super Friends futurism we love to hear him sing over. But in the year of the Jodeci comeback, I need a little bit more innovation in a just-get-me-pregnant cut. I love it, tho. (7)

7.2

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Selena Gomez – ‘Good For You’ (feat. A$AP Rocky)

Claire Lobenfeld: I’ve been pretty underwhelmed by Selena Gomez’s post-Stars Dance run, but this is so much better than ‘The Heart Wants What It Wants’. Still, when you have lyrics like, “And syncopate my skin to how you’re breathing”, which is just undeniably sexy, I need a little bit more command in the vocal performance. Selena works best for me when she’s doing songs like the absurdly fun waste-face anthem ‘Birthday’ and it doesn’t require much of her pipes. Still, this has some redeeming value, mostly the imagery conjured up by the lyrics and the production. I could do with a much filthier verse from Rocky, though, who is too much of a babe to be so tepid here. We know he can do softy pop cuts, as evidenced by Tinashe’s ‘Pretend’, so it’s just a matter that everyone could have come a little harder here. I want Selena to succeed! Spring Breakers still rules! We’re just not there yet. (6)

Brad Stabler: Two fading stars coasting into mediocrity, and yet this is still catchy as all hell. A very conflicted (6)

Son Raw: Want to feel terrible? Listen to this immediately after any track from Live.Love.A$AP. When exactly did Rocky become Fabolous for the Spring Breakers generation? The beat and Selena Gomez sound lush and I guess if I end up on moon rocks partying with rich Californians, this would do as background music. (5)

Mikey IQ Jones: I somewhat enjoyed the single mix of this track, sans Rocky, but I’m not really sure that the addition of a kick drum and his weak verse really brings anything noteworthy to the table. Gomez’s Lana Del Rey karaoke vibes are on point, but the potentially vague message anchoring the song leaves me cringing somewhat given the context clues – is this a sex-positive feminist anthem, or an over-reaching attempt at a former Disney starlet still trying to trade her old Jansport filled with soda pop and Mickey Mouse comics for an Hermès bag stashing some kinbaku rope and a Kindle loaded up with the Fifty Shades books? I’m just not buying this. A$AP’s weak attempt at providing some kind of conscious male perspective doesn’t really help the cause either, and overall, it reeks too pungent an odor of trying too hard. As it stands, the effect is like seeing my younger sister out at the club – I can accept that it’s going on, and it’ll take a bit of getting used to, but I don’t really want or need to be thinking about it. (6)

Tayyab Amin: This has all the aesthetic elements to be well up my street but something just doesn’t seem to connect for me on this one. I feel like the beat is slightly overcrowded, and I’m not vibing with Selena Gomez’s voice so much. It plays a little too safe, as well – it’s pretty inoffensive and doesn’t do much other than show Gomez can ride a trend without slipping. Her verses come pretty correct, though. (5)

5.6

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Peaches – ‘Light In Places’

Claire Lobenfeld: They said 2014 was the year of ass, between Kevin Gates’ eating habits and the ‘Anaconda’-ing of pop — but, let’s be real, guys: Booties are awesome and are on trend forever. And now here comes Peaches like, “Hey, you guys didn’t come hard enough” and made a super fun, club-thumping ode to her butthole. She is the GOAT of filth and I hope she never changes. (7.5)

Tayyab Amin: This is like electronica’s own conscious rap, speaking things that generally sound good but lacking the self-awareness to not sound corny. I dig the steam-powered sweepers over the driving beat but there’s not enough going on to keep me interested. Not really for me. (4)

Mikey IQ Jones: Coming down from a bonkers weekend of friends, family, and loved ones riding a euphoric wave of celebration after America’s landmark Supreme Court ruling on marriage, the addition of new music from Peaches made quite a few of said loved ones even more ecstatic. The video for this song is absolutely beautiful and mesmerizing, and the tune itself is pretty tight. It’s a solid update of the formula that made Peaches a cult favorite in the first place: A throbbing club beat infused with sweat and pheromones, dry spoken raps loaded with unsubtle entendres and laugh-out-loud one liners that give no fucks whether you find Peaches a one-note joke or a wholly empowering icon. No one really comes close to nailing the aesthetic that she’s cultivated – bonus points for giving power bottoms a new anthem. (8)

Son Raw: Peaches was a shitty rapper who got by on the fact that she was popular among people who wore leather and wanted to act like they lived through the 80s. Sadly, nothing’s changed except this time, we can collectively ignore this sort of trite irony and poor drum machine programming in favor of music that has more to offer than a veneer of cool. (3)

Brad Stabler: Maybe it’s been too long since we gathered ’round the dorm room campfire and blasted out Peaches, or maybe Peaches herself thought her last tunes were a bit too mired in subtlety, but here we are: A clip featuring acrobatics and ass lasers, a beat that would slay as an instrumental, a rap that raps, and a career summary of why Peaches thinks she’s awesome. That’s all good as a blueprint, but in practice? Ehhhh… (6)

5.8

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Low – ‘No Comprende’

Mikey IQ Jones: Low were always a band I respected more than I enjoyed; while they’ve carried the “slowcore” tag around their necks for damn near the entirety of their career, this sounds like the first time the tag truly seems appropriate. Compared to the bulk of their discography, ‘No Comprende’ actually fuses an anxious tension with a chugging, molten molasses tempo to a powerful effect. The more mechanical flourishes of this tune remind me of 2007’s Drums And Guns album, but with a darker shadow cast overtop. That’s very much a good thing. I haven’t held much interest toward investigating the band’s albums for years, but I actually want to hear more from this new one. (7)

Brad Stabler: Kudos to Low for realizing they’re never going to touch The Great Destroyer ever again, and for opting to just embrace the blunt ‘You Don’t Know How It Feels’ part of their career. Even the video, with its candle flickering in the dark, states up front “Hey look, it’s a slow burn!” But credit’s due where credit’s due – Low still know how to slowly piece together a bottomless pit of texture and suburban despair. The result’s something that could’ve lost about a minute, but still leaves a sullen mark anyway. (7)

Tayyab Amin: That switch two-thirds in is staggering! I’m into this, it sort of trundles along with the inevitability and weighty baggage of a rugged train. Hearing the two voices encircle and sometimes intertwine in and out of each other hypnotises, and you’re left hungry and thirsting when it’s over. (7)

Claire Lobenfeld: Brad and I recently had a conversation about how all the bands that meant something to us in high school have since lost their luster. And while I’ve long stopped genuflecting at the altar of Steve Albini — although, he was rad as hell on Lil’ Bub’s web series a couple of years ago — he has such a vice grip on some of the most formative music of my life, especially with Low. It’s been a minute since they’ve worked together, but ‘No Comprende’ has his influence all over it and I love it. These sludgy riffs are reminding me why you would even give a shit about indie rock in the first place and Alan and Mimi still both sound great. I can’t wait for this album. (8)

Son Raw: Is this rock music now? Are they even trying? It’s like the band is tacitly admitting that this kind of stuff has been run into the ground but that there’s always going to be guys in flannel shirts and lumberjack beards who’ll buy whatever Rough Trade recommends. (2)

6.2

Helena Hauff – ‘Sworn To Secrecy Part II’

Son Raw: Oof. That snare drum bangs and that melody isn’t just filthy – the synth sounds like it’s encrusted in dirt. More than anything, this sounds supremely confident: sexy, dirty, mysterious and tough as nails. (8)

Brad Stabler: Boring synth exercise is boring. (5)

Mikey IQ Jones: I’m sorry, squad, but this is pleasantly forgettable. I’ve always found Hauff’s records to be little more than contemporary coldwave throwbacks, and while there are certainly plenty of people who’ll get wet at the thought of anything tapping that dry vein, this just isn’t cutting it for my taste – I want it to be weirder, more sensual (sorry, multitracked murmurs don’t do the job), and either more fluid or more rigidly mechanical. I’m curious to hear this in the context of the album, but as a standalone single this is pretty DOA for me. (3)

Claire Lobenfeld: Listen guys, I’m quitting music writing to start crafting psycho feminist horror flick spec scripts just so Helena Hauff can do the score. Her sound is increasingly more terrifying but restrained. There’s a real refinement here from what we go on A Tape and I am certain that the more I hear from Discreet Desires, the more I will continue to be mesmerized. And that little flourish just past the two minute mark? Hoo boy. What a jarring detail to bring us to the subtly orchestral conclusion. A beautiful nightmare. (9)

Tayyab Amin: Helena Hauff is relentless, isn’t she? I don’t think I’ve seen her stay still since 2013’s Actio Reactio, but this is a far cry from that EP’s wildcard techno. I’m into this, tempered, very easy to ride along with. When the keys come in and dance over the top a couple of minutes in, it brings to mind the sounds of a harpischord, leading me to believe that that Hauff’s essentially made some medieval techno. (7)

6.4

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Janet Jackson – ‘No Sleeep’

Son Raw: A bit of a vamp, but no one does breathy vocals quite Janet, and when she goes all in at the two-and-a-half minute mark, it’s stunning. Can we get a Q-Tip verse on the remix? (7)

Tayyab Amin: I love how sleek and refined this is – not only is it refreshing to hear just generally, but it’s really cool that Janet Jackson’s marked her return with something for the late night crowd as opposed to something obnoxious. She doesn’t sound meek, either, singing as if she’s reserved and in control. ‘No Sleeep’ was a slow-burner for me, with a chorus that appeared dormant before randomly manifesting itself in thoughts and hums. Once that urge to go back to it hit me, I couldn’t shake it. (8)

Mikey IQ Jones: Anytime Miss Jackson (because I’m nasty) wants to serve up some Velvet Rope/janet.-style flavored realness, I am fully onboard; thankfully, this single somehow manages to evoke the subtle, sensual magic of those albums beautifully and perfectly. This deliberate move away from contemporary r’n’b’s frazzled electrolysis and viscous truffle butter is making big promises upon which I’m seriously hoping the album will deliver. Subtle and sexy, yearning and ravenous, stormy and slowly kinetic – this is magic. Flogging this on repeat for days. I already want more. (9)

Claire Lobenfeld: I learned so much about being a woman from janet. and she is such a flawless icon, there is almost nothing bad that can ever be said about her, in my eyes. In my dream world, her comeback single would have leaned toward something more kinetic, but really all that matters is that she’s back. I wait with bated breath with what comes next. (7)

Brad Stabler: Full disclosure: The only thing that keeps me from embracing this thing with open arms is the fact that it could be dropped into any Dilla Day and no one would catch the difference. But Jackson still knows when to step up and when to pull back, and she spends most of this track’s time whispering and leering in equal measure, only heightening her vocals when it comes time to pay off. And you know what? It’s great. It doesn’t attempt to do anything new – it’s vintage, but it plays to every strength she’s still got left. And that chorus is amazing. (8)

7.8

Final scores:

Janet Jackson – ‘No Sleeep’ (7.8)
Ginuwine – ‘Leave it In’ (7.2)
Helena Hauff – ‘Sworn To Secrecy Part II’ (6.4)
Low – ‘No Comprende’ (6.2)
Peaches – ‘Light In Places’ (5.8)
Selena Gomez – ‘Good For You’ (feat. A$AP Rocky) (5.6)

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