Singles Club: Metronomy, ragged industrial EBM and Shenmue sonics

Each week on the FACT Singles Club, a selection of our writers work their way through the new music of the week gone by.

This week, we rate and slate the return of ultra-poppers Metronomy, Chance The Rapper brings the soul, Diagonal’s Elon Katz gets freaky, plus new tracks from Teenear, John Roberts and Chino Amobi & Rabit.

Chance The Rapper – ‘No Problem’ feat 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne

Chris Kelly: I wrote about the whole mixtape already and this track is almost a false flag for the rest of it: one of the rare guest spots that feels extraneous (2 Chainz), and a song where Chance is more focused on label drama than “real life” drama. Even though he and Wayne are simpatico on the former, it’s crazy to hear Chance promising “dreadhead niggas in ya lobby” while Wayne only has “some crazy Weezy fans waitin'” for ya. (7)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: This is a spirited enough collaboration between three artists that most likely didn’t share the room, but the energy in Brasstracks’ hall-of-mirrors soul beat is plenty addictive. Wayne just doesn’t get enough chances these days to drawl around the major-key vocal loops that made Carter 2 a special moment. For that alone, thank you Chance. (7)

Son Raw: Tity Boi’s the highlight, so curb your enthusiasm. Chance’s ‘Ultralight Beam’ verse reminded the world that he can rap when he wants to, but here he substitutes energy for effort, shout-mumbling (it’s a thing) his way through by-the-numbers sunniness. As for Wayne, he’s hit late period Jay Z level mediocrity – the guy’s exhibit A for the perils of long-term drug abuse at this point. (5)

Tayyab Amin: It’s so hard to say anything about this song without springing up, bouncing round and boasting along with it! This beat is ridiculous – is that a backmasked and chopped choir, harmonies, solos and all? I’m a sucker for mirrored verses in hip-hop songwriting so the Chance/Lil Wayne parallels are an arrow shot to the heart. And there’s 2 Chainz, reliably cameoing bars to one-up you: “School of hard knocks / I took night classes.” (9)

Tom Fenwick: That looping choral sample comes on like an explosion in a rainbow factory, and its infectious joy carries the track even when too many cooks threaten to fuck up the broth when Weezy and 2 Chainz turn up. It’s not the strongest track on Coloring Book, but as Midwest x Southern rap mash-ups go you’re not going to hear it done much better than this. And frankly it’s just nice to see Chance doing what he’s best at: yelping, squawking and making everything he throws at the the wall stick. (8)


Teenear – ‘Streetlights’

Son Raw: This is giving me the best kind of 106 & Park flashbacks – everything from Sage the Gemini’s chords to the subtle scratching on the drums recalls peak era Murder Inc, and Teenear’s cooing is a perfect fit for R&B that isn’t poisoned by self-consciousness and a cool factor. Let’s build a time machine to get a young Bow Wow verse on the remix. (8)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Needs Trick Daddy turning a floaty concoction into a foul, foul thing. Otherwise, this is mid-rate early Ciara without the conviction. (4)

Chris Kelly: A charming melody and cute, teen-love lyrics are the highlights here. I like the ‘Tipsy’ drums but wish they weren’t so hot in the mix – a lighter touch would serve Teenear well. (6)

Aaron Drain: ‘Streetlights’ actually has a killer hook and gleaming production values, but no real depth. Teenear deals in generically relatable scenarios that have been given better outings by bigger names to bigger audiences over the past few months. The competition right now is too stiff for her to be messing around with a track this weak. (2)

Tayyab Amin: This track’s an unbearable sort of cute, hitting Teen Disney/Step Up levels of innocent romance, but I can get down with that. What I’m not here for is these Fisher Price kicks and claps – please, just let the woman shine like she’s striving to. I’m thinking a little bit of JoJo crossed with T-Pain’s ‘Can’t Believe It’. Maybe it’s a bit too corny to press play on in front of my crushes but yeah, y’know I’m playing it about them! (6)

Tom Fenwick: It could have been salvaged by the lyrics, but they’re a saccharine snoozefest: “Baby, if you need anything you can just text me / I won’t say no”. It could have been salvaged by the beat, but it drops off after the first 10 seconds and plods along like a lame dog for a further three minutes. It could lived up to Teenear’s clear vocal ability, but the whole package just lets her down. (3)


Elon Katz – ‘The Human Pet’

Chris Kelly: As someone weaned on Ministry and Nine Inch Nails, I have a cold, dark, soft spot for ragged industrial-EBM meltdowns with damaged vocals. (6)

Tom Fenwick: I was dubious when I heard Elon Katz was going to throw vocals into the mix alongside Diagonal’s aching industrial EBM, but his non-sequitur angst slots in surprisingly well alongside shuddering jackhammer beats. Katz calls it ‘citric pop’ and I won’t pretend to know what he means, but if it’s anything like Matthew Dear’s brain sliding into the gutter of Berghain’s basement then he’s nailed it.

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: I mean, I feel like I’m in an indie-fied version of Blade and I am excited for Elon Katz to soundtrack the club showdown. (6)

Tayyab Amin: My favourite thing about this is how the vocals writhe and wrap themselves around the whole escalating throb situation. It’s great to hear noise used in such a sensual way, and those broken melodies that come in towards the end are icing on the cake. I just want to stand in front of a soundsystem and let this song batter my body in only a slightly freaky way. (8)

Aaron Drain: Katz distils the fleeting excesses and dirty faux-glamour of downtown LA into three and a half minutes of putrid, angular filth. It’s beautiful, and I can’t help but picture that fire-extinguisher execution scene in Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible, its insidious malevolence pushing me away, only to linger on and demand a repeat. Pray for me. (8)

Son Raw: The interplay of Katz’s heavily affected vocals with the machine music is the star attraction here, with both enhancing the other’s intense physicality. You can smell the sweat on this thing, but you’re never sure if it’s from the dancefloor or bedroom. (6)


John Roberts – ‘Six’

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. (9)

Tayyab Amin: This is lush. Brings me back to the first time I listened to Gold Panda, and I guess the common link there is their channelling of Japanese melodies. Just listen to that percussion – it’s an adventure without any of the grim realities, make man feel like Klonoa. (7)

Son Raw: See, if you’re going to grab from the 80s, may as well make it a sound that hasn’t been completely rinsed. The Yellow Magic Orchestra influence is a bit obvious at first glance, but look past the pentatonic scale and synths and the composition breathes with a life of its own. (7)

Aaron Drain: This reminds me of a sweet Casio keyboard I had when I was a kid, but instead of it being woefully neglected, it’s being masterfully played by someone who actually knows how to get those ace, wobbly analog sounds out of it. ‘Six’ is endearing in its simplicity, if a little irritating with those robotic kitten-mew samples, but less is most definitely more in this instance. (6)

Chris Kelly: Pleasant to a fault until that first pneumatic breakdown halfway through, which reveals a surprisingly club-ready beat and then builds to a whole-greater-than-parts climax. (5)

Tom Fenwick: If they ever make Shenmue 3, this is what I’d like to think the soundtrack will be like. Everything about ‘Six’ is a delight, whether it’s the fizzy slow-burn build-up or the intricate bubbling crescendo. If you’ve been looking for the perfect music to accompany a virtual tea ceremony, then you’ve come to the right place. (7)


Metronomy – ‘Old School’

Chris Kelly: I’m profoundly tired of retro bullshit so I wrote a haiku:

Disco long ago
My parents at 54
It was a good time


Aaron Drain: As far as comebacks go, Metronomy’s wasn’t exactly at the forefront this week, but by god was it the strongest. Deliciously funky, off-kilter and surprisingly accomplished given its retro aesthetic, ‘Old Skool’ whets the appetite in the most tantalising way for the forthcoming full-length. That said, James Murphy is probably sharpening his knife, waiting to strike at the band who made an LCD Soundsystem track in 2016 before LCD Soundsystem. (7)

Tayyab Amin: I guess sometimes you just gotta go back to the days of Hot Chip and Calvin Harris’ ‘Merrymaking’, and that stuff has a certain kind of grace as opposed to other skeletons in the closet from that era (such as nu rave). I wish this tune took less time to evolve from that delightful skulk of a bassline. Not quite music to dance to; music to awkwardly shake a leg to. (6)

Tom Fenwick: How the hell is Joe Mount still peddling this stuff and getting away with it? Maybe he just leaves enough of a gap between albums that all the indie kids who bought ‘Nights Out’ forget he’s released pretty much the same record every few years for the last decade. The vocal grates, the lyrics annoy, and the sense of creeping dread beneath the surface has been done better (on other Metronomy albums) before. The arrival of Mix Master Mike is a nice leftfield touch, but take away his super-disco-breaking contribution and this is a case of ‘same falsetto pop-motorik, different day’. (4)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Some cool-kid weird boogie, perfect for you to loop up after you’ve played the recent Black Peaches material at a barbecue. Pretty generic in real time, but it exudes enough rays of sunlight that it really doesn’t matter. (6)

Son Raw: In case you weren’t already fully despondent about Prince’s passing, this off-brand funk is all we’ve got left. May as well try another ska revival while we’re recycling. (2)


Chino Amobi & Rabit – ‘Izlamic Europe’

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: That was noisy! (6)

Son Raw: Latches onto current political and musical signifiers as a hook, but ultimately doesn’t do or say very much with either, and I’m left wondering if there’s a point to the whole exercise beyond updating the electro-punk template for audiences that missed Atari Teenage Riot the first time around. (4)

Chris Kelly: A vicious, maximalist collage with a gnarly bassline. I couldn’t suss out the politics but there’s enough to like here with or without understanding The Message. (7)

Aaron Drain: Fiery topic, but translated very well by Chino Amobi and Rabit. The rabid sense of paranoia running through it is as heavy-handed and anxiety-laden as the explosions punctuating the jackhammer rhythm. That cutting, high frequency lead and snarling sawtooth bass are wrought with emotion, and all a bit terrifying, truth be told. More, please. (6)

Tom Fenwick: This is a really promising opening, let me know when they finish the track. (5)

Tayyab Amin: I’m definitely feeling an inclination to relate this to a few things surrounding the crisis that refugees to Islamophobic Europe are facing: the constant state of alertness needed to survive, the awareness of being targeted, threatened, and attacked, the urgency of their struggles. I share some of the sentiment as a UK-living, Europe-traversing Muslim. Things like the fetishisation of religious, cultural, and social imagery, combined with the vulnerabilities that come with being visible, lay more directly in my lane. The track is perhaps intentionally ambiguous, and the perhaps intended result is that I don’t know how many of the aforementioned elements really do come through here, and how much is me projecting onto the canvas. The punk aspect is interesting to me, because growing up I’d initially relate punk aesthetics to neo-Nazi movements, and not every outsider chooses to continue exploring beyond that (though it’s a different time now). I also played a shitload of Halo. Games are so much simpler than growing up, but too many go on to choose simpler, convenient narratives over truths and realities. (No score)


Final scores

Chance The Rapper – ‘No Problem’ feat 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne (7.2)
John Roberts – ‘Six’ (6.8)
Elon Katz – ‘The Human Pet’ (6.7)
Chino Amobi & Rabit – ‘Izlamic Europe’ (5.6)
Metronomy – ‘Old School’ (4.9)
Teenear – ‘Streetlights’ (4.9)



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