Singles Club: Denzel Curry’s ‘Percs’ suggests the anti-Xanax wave is here to stay

FACT Singles Club features a panel of writers rating and slating the biggest new tracks of the last seven days.

It was a contentious week for Singles Club, to say the least. Not one track garnered a unanimous response from the panel, although Denzel Curry’s latest offering ‘Percs’ seemed to generate the most fervor — just not from everyone.

Elsewhere, club virtuoso Toxe delivers her first for PAN, Project Pablo “makes Vancouver sound like a ’70s space-age sex colony” and Sub Pop punks Downtown Boys cover Selena (covering the Pretenders).

Toxe – ‘Big Age’

Jesse Bernard: I used to be into playing video games a lot, particularly ones with psychedelic visuals and audio, such as Pandemonium on the original Playstation. Toxe’s ‘Big Age’ sounds very much like it belongs on a video game score but outside of that, it’s too much on the fragmented side to find a groove. (5)

Caroline Whiteley: These vocaloid-esque sound effects fill me with glee. I sometimes struggle to fully grasp the hype around deconstructed club music but this is niceeee. (7)

Michelle Lhooq: Toxe has always been my favorite teen prodigy in the experimental club music scene, so it’s really cool to hear her sound evolving as she continues to stretch her artistic possibilities. Here, her candy-coated synth arpeggios slither into more expressive territory, warbling against a sparse backdrop of snare hisses and strange sighs. Another win for PAN. (7.5)

Cameron Cook: I wasn’t really into this until the halfway point where the breakbeat comes in to breathe some new life into the track. That fact that Toxe is so young and can craft music this complicated is super impressive, and the song is well produced and mixed, it just… didn’t really grab me. (6)


ACT! (fka Egyptrixx) – ‘Ecstatica / On Patrol’

Caroline Whiteley: The epic video game soundtrack-esque music continues and I am here for it. (8)

Michelle Lhooq: The deconstructed trance vibes are pretty cool — the pointillistic synths, in particular, remind me of Lorenzo Senni… lite. But this song is ultimately incoherent — a swamp of ideas that goes nowhere and ends abruptly, as if with a shrug. (4)

Jesse Bernard: The lack of a bassline and choppy melodies on ‘Ecstatica / On Patrol’ is something that my ears have difficulty with warming to. The hollowness in the synths certainly makes the song feel more haunting, but I wonder if this track has more strength as part of a larger work. (6)

Cameron Cook: I mean… this is fine? I love the machine gun beats at the end, and the general air of chaos and paranoia that the track conveys. It actually just made me want to go put a Nitzer Ebb record on, strangely, so I think I am going to do that instead of give this another listen, to be completely honest. (6)


Project Pablo – ‘Fine Match’

Cameron Cook: It’s hard to make Vancouver sound like a ’70s space-age sex colony, but I feel like this track does just that. I’m a sucker for any level of wah-wah electric piano, and even though it does get a tad repetitive towards the end, it held me in a sensual dream-state for its entire duration. Slinky. Is anyone else getting distinct Moon Safari vibes from this? (7.5)

Michelle Lhooq: Yes, but a smooth jazz elevator music version of Air, sorry. (1)

Caroline Whiteley: I love that instead of going the classic “in huge defiance to his own genre constriction, house music producer releases ambient record” route, he releases a Chill Record that still has his unique Seinfeld-esque spin on it. I will definitely listen to this on a Saturday morning, coffee in hand. (7)

Jesse Bernard: This incorporates everything I adore about electronic jazz and funk, it allows you to settle into the track very early on. The percussion combined with the ’80s-inspired funk synths feels somewhat reminiscent of Kool and The Gang’s ‘Summer Madness’, particularly in the way that it builds. And where the song is described as ‘slowing down’, it allows room for that. (8)


Denzel Curry – ‘Percs’

Caroline Whiteley: This is some of the hardest shit I’ve heard all year. (8.5)

Cameron Cook: This goes so hard! I live for a rapper who spits fire to the haters but also knows when to keep it humble (by hip-hop standards, at least). The line “Eight years in the game and I never rode a wave/I may be overlooked, but I’m never underpaid,” is like, aw! Even though he’s basically screaming his rhymes like DMX on a shitty Skype connection, he seems like a really reasonable guy! (7)

Jesse Bernard: Denzel brings all of the energy on his latest track and I’m completely here for it. Along with coming with some high octane bars, Denzel created something that could be one of the rap songs of the summer. (7)

Michelle Lhooq: I’m all about the anti-Xanax wave, but if you’re going to rap against popping bars, you better make sure your own bars are tight. Denzel’s generic lyrics are standard fare, and the production is so boring it’s reduced to background noise. (5)


Downtown Boys – ‘Fotos Y Recuerdos’

Jesse Bernard: Where Selena’s is a lot more relaxed, championing her vocals, Downtown Boys’ cover adds a rowdiness to the song that takes out a lot of the warmth of the original. (4)

Michelle Lhooq: A sick cover of a Selena song by a queer punk band dripping with attitude—what’s not to love? Doesn’t quite transcend into ICONIC status, but super fun nonetheless. (7)

Caroline Whiteley: Cute, cute, cute! (8)

Cameron Cook: I love The Pretenders, and I love La Leyenda Selena, so ‘Fotos Y Recuerdos’ has always been one of my favorite cumbia tunes. This Downtown Boys cover is a no-brainer for me, and the band do a great job with retaining Selena’s original laidback-ness while slathering on a large dollop of punk snarl. Victoria Ruiz sounds even more like a Latinx Exene Cervenka than normal, and I’m sure Selena approves, wherever she is. (8)


Final scores:
Denzel Curry – ‘Percs’ (6.9)

Downtown Boys – ‘Fotos Y Recuerdos’ (6.8)
Toxe – ‘Big Age’ (6.4)
ACT! (fka Egyptrixx) – ‘Ecstatica / On Patrol’ (6)
Project Pablo – ‘Fine Match’ (5.9)

Cameron Cook is an American culture journalist currently residing in Berlin, Germany. He would go to the ends of the Earth for Kate Bush. (@iamacameron)

Caroline Whiteley is freelance writer based in Berlin. (@carowhiteley)

Jesse Bernard is freelance music and culture journalist based in Brooklyn and London, still hotsteppin’ in a Nike Air sneaker. (@MarvinsCorridor)

Michelle Lhooq is an LA-based journalist writing about music and weed. (@MichelleLhooq)

Read next: The Rap Round-up, April 2018: Cardi B is here to stay, Xanax may be out the door



Share Tweet