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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: Tinashe, Oneohtrix Point Never, Kelela and more.

Tinashe – ‘Party Favors’ (ft. Young Thug)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: The few missteps present on Tinashe Kachingwe’s major label debut Aquarius came from her choice in cameoing rappers, from Schoolboy Q’s needless luridness to A$AP Rocky’s fashion editorial blankness. ‘Party Favours’ – the first offering from her sophomore LP Joyride – fixes that problem with an on-point Thugger, drowning in a sea of AutoTune modulation and playing the reckless male counterpart to his host’s sleek, distanced seductions. Thug and his host don’t just understand how on-record chemistry works; they understand how the classic singer/rapper combo works and set to set straight previous mistakes. (7)

Son Raw: I cringed when I heard that Tinashe was working with Max Martin and Dr. Luke – Aquarius’ wooziness acted as an antidote to their middle America-minded pablum. Thankfully, ‘Party Favors’ still sounds like a drug-addled bad decision in song form, that moment at four in the morning when anything goes. Better yet, instead, of Swedish hitmakers, you’ve got Boi-1da sneaking off to make a real Aaliyah ballad when Drake’s not looking, and Young Thug sounding nearly comprehensible on his highest profile guest spot yet. If this is her commercial turn, safe. (7)

April Clare Welsh: You could say Tinashe’s come a long way since the sugary days of ‘Bubblegum’ couldn’t you? Although she appeared to be making a tentative statement-of-self with Aquarius, it felt more like a stopgap rather than an epochal moment in her trajectory. However with this new track – which offers a glimpse into her second album – it’s almost like Tinashe’s come of age and is now a fierce woman in charge of her sexuality. This is a fresh, seductive jam. (8)

Tayyab Amin: On paper, Tinashe and Thugger sounds like an anthem but they’ve delivered something else, and I’m here for it. Favourite vocal moments are Tinashe’s, “You know / I’m gone,” and Thug’s brief descent into sorrow at the end of the vengeful, “Lots of bullets for them boys that misleaded us.” There’s not a huge amount going on in his guest verse but mainly I just wish the track had a much better hook, ‘cause then they’d have properly smashed it with this one. (7)

Claire Lobenfeld: This is exactly what it should be, although not particularly mind-blowing considering the collaborators at hand. It also got completely buried for me when T.I. released his what-will-probably-be-unfairly-overlooked EP Da Nic. You know what’s on that? A track featuring Young Thug and Young Dro that webs all three of their styles flawlessly over London On Da Track production and features Dro rapping, “My whip, that’s strawberry Yoplait.” That’s the Thugger feature we should be focused on this week. But ‘Party Favors’ is still pretty good. (6.5)

7.2

Oneohtrix Point Never – ‘I Bite Through It’

April Clare Welsh: Was Trent Reznor hunched over Daniel Lopatin during the making of this metal-infused slab of ambient glitchcore? I say “ambient glitchcore” like it’s even a thing, but of course it’s not. This is meaty and symphonic; but at the same time strangely mollifying. (7)

Son Raw: Is this the track or did my web browser freeze? I’ve got a healthy respect for noise and repetition in the service of a good idea, but without a hooky, internet culture-sampling video, this stuff is more fun to make than to listen to. (4)

Claire Lobenfeld: I was really into the waves of this — its glitchiness, its pluckiness — and how, as per usual, all of the mutations didn’t get muddled into something obnoxious. And then it just ended! It made me feel physically fucked up! Like, when you’re at a noise show and the power cuts out and they haven’t gotten to the turn down yet, so your body just goes completely numb. Harrumph! (6)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Philip Sherbune at Pitchfork has drawn connections between ‘I Bite Through It’ and alternative rock, from the song’s chugging elements to Daniel Lopatin’s take on the classic Korn logo. At 2:58, metallic influences pop through, reminiscent of Autechre dropping a Necrophagist track into a FACT mix: coded electronic signals momentarily bursting open into bloody hellscapes. Beyond these blasts of cross-referencing lie fascinating extra-curricular layers, from the press release crediting “a humanoid alien stuck in an infinite loop of molting puberty” to a YouTube page assembling the MIDI recordings of a possibly fictional inspiration called Kaoss Edge. Lopatin is incredible at world-building, which actually makes music like ‘Bite’ seem more impressive than it actually is. (5)

Tayyab Amin: The tears in the rain rave vibe is strong, and the way it sounds stunted reminds me of Lorenzo Senni, Evian Christ and TCF. Lopatin’s movements are harder for me to follow though, and the period of softer string plucks sounds like a different track altogether. My premise for this is Lopatin’s exploration into rock music which is tangible in multiple ways. The heavier riffs that come through are sometimes flat, sometimes corny, and their recontextualisation means they don’t carry the significance they once did in the structure of their heritage styles. For me, they’re distractions in here, and the marriage between these fields was explored better on Prurient’s Frozen Niagara Falls, even if that didn’t deal in club or acrylic-like aesthetics. (7)

5.8

Kelela – ‘Rewind’

Son Raw: Daaaayyyyyyuuuuuuummmm. I liked Cut 4 Me well enough but it was still too obtuse and atmospheric to cut through the “alt” part of its alt-R&B tag. This is leaner, cleaner and meaner, with nary a sound out of place – that vocal line when the beat cuts out at 36 seconds gave me goose bumps. When talented people get the budgets they need to make amazing work, beautiful things happen. (9)

April Clare Welsh: This is an ice-cold banger and I won’t hear one word against it. (10)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: After March’s gobsmacking disintegration ballad ‘A Message’, it felt as though we were due another collection of dry-ice sex jams from Kelela Mizanekristos with the delayed Hallucinogen EP. And then, wow, okay: ‘Rewind’ is the rug getting pulled out from under our legs, showing the artist in full control of her musical universe, alleviating any doubts that she wouldn’t push herself the way she did on Cut 4 Me. It’s a sugar rush of a song, yet as smart as any austere Night Slugs collabo, and a fun way to toy with expectations: what other R&B artists make jumping on a track above 161BPM exhilarating? (8)

Tayyab Amin: The production on this is so glossy with the neon glow on some Fade To Mind bowling alley tip. It’s not quite a strike but she glides cleanly into most of the pins for the spare. I feel like this team’s sound is always evolving and gradually mutating into new forms, slow enough to retain familiarity and fast enough to feel fresh. It’s got that dancefloor sway to it but those whispers bring it to bedroom listening to, and it might just be one of the most accessible Kelela tracks too. (8)

Claire Lobenfeld: For as antsy as I’ve been for this upcoming Kelela EP, I am certain that it’s going to be optimal Autumnal listening. ‘Rewind’ is a perfect follow-up to ‘A Message’, increasingly more hopeful and delivering on the promise that the record will track the different emotional states of a romantic relationship. Kingdom totally blacked out on this, too. Murky Miami bass? More please. (9)

8.8

Jam City – ‘Dream 15’

April Claire Welsh: I like how this lurches forward and how the sub-aqua thing reminds me of a particular canon of shoegaze bands – Ultra Vivid Scene maybe? – but I just can’t get down to it, and I don’t really know why. (5)

Son Raw: This isn’t anywhere close to changing the game like Classical Curves but it bangs and the singing doesn’t get in the way of things. Honestly, I’m just relieved that this isn’t the portentous snoozefest that was Dream a Garden and its accompanying interviews. (6)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: I am absolutely certain that Jack Latham wants to make protest music, and that he wants to merge post-punk protest with club-ready sonics on ‘Dream 15’, but I’m absolutely certain I hear a SoundCloud producer cutely clattering about on an MPC to all the joy in his heart and little more. (5)

Claire Lobenfeld: Night Slugs evangelism never say die! While this isn’t the most innovative thing to come from the camp — and, in general, I think Jam City is doing the least to advance the narrative — the combination of the cooled vocal samples and the especially crunchy synth lines is really nice. (7)

Tayyab Amin: Yes! I really like this. These drums are perfect, the way they stumble and find their feet, the way they marry the haziness so well – they remind me of Forest Swords a little bit. If we’re gonna shoegaze we might as well be able to nod our heads to a thick beat whilst doing it. His latest album wasn’t something that resonated with me too much and it feels good to really ride for him again. It’s gonna cause me a lot of unnecessary despair though ‘cause now I’m moving to Dream A Jai Paul Collab. Jai City ‘16 please. (9)

6.4

Chromatics – ‘Shadow’

Son Raw: I wonder what type of self-important person drives around to this. I bet they still shop at Urban Outfitters or American Apparel. (3)

Claire Lobenfeld: This just makes me upset that we don’t have a new Ryan Gosling vehicle on the horizon, tbh, but it’s lovely nonetheless, even if the vox are kind of weak. (6)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: MUSIC WRITER CLICHÉS THAT ARE REALLY HARD TO AVOID BUT ARE REALLY TRUE: This luscious piece of confectionery sounds like [INSERT google search – “chromatics” and “eighties movie”] for a new generation (6)

Tayyab Amin: This is a little too flat for me, especially in the first half where it doesn’t seem like there’s much going on. Maybe if the drums were more forceful. It’s nice, it ascends to a nice place and I like its cinematic element, it just feels too harmless and ineffectual and I don’t think I’ll go back to it much. (6)

April Clare Welsh: Chromatics’ songs always exude a kind of glistening wintery sadness that can only be absorbed during grey skies and late nights; I would never pick them to soundtrack a sunny day on the beach, for example, but maybe that’s just me. Basically, I’m on a massive comedown right now and this track is feeding my bleakness. Although it’s not all black holes and pits of despair, the waves of synths are at times very uplifting so maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel after all? (9)

6

Bleaker – ‘Hype (Funk)’

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Absolutely fixated on damaging eardrums and dancefloors at the same time, ‘Hype (Funk)’ is the type of unsubtle, audio-war EQ’d dance music that feels like punk rock and has about as much trust in organised societal tools like chords and notes as the punks did. Put this on a special 12″ with fellow Gang Fatale producer Neana’s similarly crunching remix of P.O.L. Style’s ‘Saw’ and watch buildings crumble for the desired effect. (7)

Son Raw: Step 1: Get DJ Gig
Step 2: Play this.
Step 3: Make people Dance.
Step 4: Repeat until Disclosure and Diplo go the way of the dodo. (10)

Tayyab Amin: This’ll keep the dance moving to say the least. There’s something about it feels more functional than fun, but I’m very much into the pops and breaks. Doesn’t take too long to get a grin out of me. (7)

Claire Lobenfeld: Can we just be really, really real about how well Gang Fatale knows how to do a party track? Whenever we have tracks on Singles Club that would be ~better at the club~, they can be hard to rate because there is that one little element missing that would be so necessary to making it just that much better. Instead, I am ready to start a one-woman warehouse thing in my living room. Sure, I beg for innovation all the time, but you know what? Sometimes the best meals are the ones with the simplest ingredients. Bleaker is proving that works with dance music, too, right here. (7.5)

April Clare Welsh: This is what my inner voice sounds like when I’ve had too much instant coffee. It may not float everyone’s boat but I think this track helps to prove the theory that a repetitious idea can be very meditative, only if you’re in the right mood for it of course. (7)

7.8

Final scores:

Kelela – ‘Rewind’ (8.8)
Bleaker – ‘Hype (Funk)’ (7.8)
Tinashe – ‘Party Favors’ (ft. Young Thug) (7.2)
Jam City – ‘Dream 15’ (6.4)
Chromatics – ‘Shadow’ (6)
Oneohtrix Point Never – ‘I Bite Through It’ (5.8)

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