Features I by I 15.08.17

Singles Club: Alice Glass gets darkwavey and defiant on triumphant comeback ‘Without Love’

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

This week, former Crystal Castles frontwoman Alice Glass returns with a hypnotic new solo song, while the elusive MF DOOM kickstarts a weekly series of Adult Swim singles with a posthumous collaboration with the late Sean Price.

Elsewhere, the power of Stefflon Don is less sizzling in the presence of French Montana, Lil Wayne struggles to be his best self and Fifth Harmony add Skrillex and Poo Bear to their squad. Sink your teeth into this week’s hot five below.

Alice Glass – ‘Without Love’

Al Horner: OH HELLO. Alice Glass endured a “deeply miserable” time in Crystal Castles before quitting in October 2014 before a bitter online dispute with “manipulative” songwriting partner Ethan Kath over her contributions to the band. ‘Without Love’ obliterates Kath’s suggestion that Glass was a face for the band and little more – an emotional, smeared-makeup darkwave destroyer that shows a pop star talent of Grimes-level aesthetic smarts, ‘Without Love’ wonders over choppy production “how are you gonna lie about me now?” How indeed. (9)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: As someone who grew very tired with Crystal Castles’ messy aesthetic and messier approach to songcraft, it’s a welcome surprise to hear the anarchic core of the duo’s live shows making uncomfortable catwalk-gloss darkwave pop. Recommended. (7)

Carl Anka: Alice has freed herself from Crystal Castles and is now doing her best baby Björk impression. I’m into it. Back in February, Glass likened the sound of her upcoming LP as being “consumed by a snake” – this song is the part of the album where Kaa hypnotises you with her eyes. Mesmeric vocals on show and former HEALTH member Jupiter Keyes on production? We have a winner. (8)

MF DOOM feat. Sean Price – ‘Notebook 00 – Negus’

Al Horner: The only thing better than getting a new DOOM track is hearing there’s another 14 to come on a weekly basis. Daniel Dumile doesn’t come out of hiding often, so I can only guess at his reasons for dropping 15 tracks from now till November with Adult Swim – maybe he’s angling for a Rick and Morty cameo? Anyway, this isn’t vintage DOOM, but it doesn’t need to be: Sean P, Eyez and Dumile line up to take turns on a beat that grinds to completion in a dizzy hail of siren-sounding synth wails, with super villain vibes in abundance. (7)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Best money boast of 2017 came from Roc Marciano’s ‘Already’: “my shoes cost an MF Doom verse”. Money or nah, you can still imagine how much he valued Sean P here with an appreciative sneak out of his dungeon. I still don’t quite get Sean P records as much as I wish I did, bar the eternal ‘Figure Four’, but he was a true talent when it came to bars. (6)

Carl Anka: With its laconic delivery and dark drums, this is perfect for Adult Swim nerds who want get high and watch anime at 2am. We are not worthy. (9)

Tayyab Amin: Shout out to this guy Crummie Beats for bringing the razor-sharp instrumental and rest in peace Sean P, whose flow rides the plod and stumble to perfection. It’s always a pleasure to hear DOOM spit verses too – even when they’re not his most memorable, they still pack more humor and lore than everyone else’s. My choice pick of character trivia this time has to be DOOM’s henchmen, who “all eat quite well, vacations, pensions!” (5)

Stefflon Don feat. French Montana – ‘Hurtin’ Me’

Tayyab Amin: Stefflon Don’s talent is completely watered down by a boneless Rihanna reject of a major label tune featuring French Montana, whose venture into pop began with yes-men and will end as a curious footnote of chart history. I feel like neither of them wants to be on this song and are doing the best they can with what they have, which actually isn’t bad. (6)

Al Horner: I really liked Stefflon’s Real Ting tape. Seeing her menace and mastery reduced to this, a sensible Montana collab on which she sings about breakfast in bed… well, that’s hurtin’ me. (6)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Stefflon Don’s singing now! Good on her for adding variety to the Lego bricks flow she’s been exercising, but there simply aren’t enough interesting things about her music to make me want to come on board, especially when she turns particularly pitchy in her vocal performances. French adds nothing here but helps with the SEO. (4)

Carl Anka: Stefflon Don came out of Birmingham, linked up with a who’s-who of grime artists and is now trying to crack America by collaborating with… French Montana?! This feel like Stefflon’s in the first month of a work internship, playing nice and holding back while she learns everyone’s names in the office. Lines like “breakfast in bed darling / I got your bed falling” offer us a glimpse of her true talents, but this is nothing more than club fodder. (6)

Lil Wayne – ‘Like A Man’

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy:  Onhel, aka Angel Aponte, is Lil Wayne’s long-time engineer so one can only imagine the gems he’s sitting on from the mixtape monster period. At least Wayne sounds energized enough these days, but I’m not looking to get my hopes up with him again. (5)

Al Horner: “Rari all pink fuck breast cancer” is quite a lyric, and that’s all I have to really say about a Wayne loosie courtesy of trusted collaborator Onhel that hints at gold in the vaults better than the tired material he’s putting out now. (5)

Carl Anka: Lil Wayne’s mixtapes were always better than his albums because Wayne has a *terrible* ear for beats. What the hell is Weezy F Baby doing rapping over Diplo-sounding EDM-lite music? It takes a good minute for Wayne to catch up to the beat and while he does take the bull by the horns by the midpart, this isn’t his finest. (6)

Tayyab Amin: Four verses of Weezy quotables rolling over the top of a driving, house-hop beat? My surprise turned to a smile just a few bars in. In the back you’ve got sampled vocals that echo from stone and earth like it was Forest Swords and in the front you’ve got “‘Rari all pink like fuck breast cancer!” (6)

Fifth Harmony – ‘Angel’

Al Horner: Fifth Harmony deserter Camila Cabello’s ‘Havana’ last month at least piggy-backed on a recent pop trend, cribbing from the same tequila-stained Santana song-sheet as Khaled’s ‘Wild Thoughts’. ‘Angel’ sees Skrillex and so-very-ludicrously-named-seriously-you-guys-why-aren’t-we-discussing-this Poo Bear load back up the Logic file for their 2015 Bieber smash ‘Where Are Ü Now’ and dick around with the pitched-up oohs, ahhs and airy synths, adding trappy hi-hats till it’s different enough, but only just, for Normani, Ally and co. As much as I appreciate the throwback to a time before we had, you know, actual Nazis openly parading around and nuclear winter on the horizon, Fifth Harmony deserve more for their sultry vocal elegance than this dated beat. (5)

Carl Anka: The Fifth Harmony-Camila Cabello cold war intensifies. Last week, Camila gave us a tepid Cuban-inspired track with a Thugger feature that largely went nowhere. This week, Fifth Harmony give us a tepid dance track with Skrillex’s grubby mitts largely going nowhere. Can’t we all get along and save the music reviewers the stress? (6)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: I appreciate the squiggly menace at the end of the track as a way to ingest drama to a standard try-hard pop song – aka another Fifth Harmony single – but man, something is just not connecting with me in regards to this group. The songs are fine, but the performances don’t have anything meaty enough to hold onto. (5)

Tayyab Amin: My previous issue with Skrillex and Poo Bear was that they didn’t know what to do with vocals and to be honest, sometimes Fifth Harmony really don’t know what to do with them either. My fears were misplaced, however, as this track has turned out to be a total bop! They kill the rap-sing verses and sound fantastic over bass and even the producers’ post-‘Where Are Ü Now’ dolphin climax slots in nicely. I’m ready to add this into my Ariana Grande playlist. (8)

Final scores:
Alice Glass – ‘Without Love’ (8)
MF DOOM feat. Sean Price – ‘Notebook 00 – Negus’ (6.75)
Fifth Harmony – ‘Angel’ (6)
Lil Wayne – ‘Like A Man’ (5.5)
Stefflon Don feat. French Montana – ‘Hurtin’ Me’ (5.5)



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