Singles Club: Neneh Cherry and Robyn compete for the title of Comeback Queen

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

Last week saw comebacks from Robyn and Neneh Cherry, who both still have deft command of their super powers for empowerment. Elsewhere, Diplo and Mark Ronson, as festival main stage-bait Silk City, connect with GoldLink and Desiigner – but they’re not the only ones who might be suffering from too many cooks, as Teklife’s Heavee links with a cadre of producers for ‘WFM’, the lead single from his forthcoming debut album.

GABI, responsible for one of our all-time favorite episodes of Against the Clock, rounds out the bunch. Get into it.

Robyn – ‘Missing U’

Cameron Cook: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? We’ve been thirsty for a new Robyn track for the better part of a decade and this is exactly what I expected: pulsing drum beat, arpeggiated synths and lovelorn lyrics. Maybe it doesn’t quite pack the punch of the first time you heard ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ or ‘Dancing on Your Own’, but literally WHO cares? Robyn is back! Album of the year! (8.5)

Michelle Lhooq: This sounds like classic Robyn, which is great, but I was hoping she would come back from her eight-year hiatus with something more. As my gay bestie put it, “It’s as good as any other fun pop song, but it’s not a great Robyn song… it’s like 2/5 ‘Dancing On My Own’”. (6)

Jesse Bernard: This sounds like Robyn, which seems like an obvious thing but coming back to a completely different pop landscape after an eight-year absence isn’t always easy. ‘Missing U’ still manages to maintain the essence of her dance origins. (6)

Maya-Roisin Slater: I find the arpeggiator in this song pretty annoying and that’s really just a gentle primer for some of the deeper dissatisfactions I have with the track. It really misses the mark in finding the magic of a high-energy, sad-pop anthem. Fraught with clichés, from the title’s shortened “U” to lyrics like “remember to forget”, Robyn’s words aren’t poignantly relatable enough to cancel out the fact that the chorus kind of falls short. A song of this order should have the ability to make you feel free powerful and like all your misfortunes are amiable in the end, many Robyn tracks before have managed to conjure such ideals. ‘Missing U’, not so much. (5)


GABI – ‘Whole With You’

Jesse Bernard: There are so many warm elements to this song, it’s difficult to decide which part really sits with me. At first it was the harps, then it was GABI’s voice but I realised it was the slow and subtle synths. Combined, they create an atmosphere that surrounds you. (8)

Michelle Lhooq: I’m especially into the vast pools of negative space, which reinforce the song’s pervading sense of loneliness as she laments, “I wanted to be whole with you.” (7)

Cameron Cook: I always love hearing a singer that truly uses their voice as an instrument. GABI’s vocals cover the entire spectrum, and I love the layering and harmonizing. The track itself is kind of traditional, actually, outside of the purposefully meandering structure. And the super slow beat drop at the chorus is pure genius. (8)

Maya-Roisin Slater: I hear the intention behind this song – to express a moment of deep vulnerability. It does get to this place of unfiltered openness at points, when GABI sings to the top of her range. But I think often in pursuit of this vulnerability she’s forcing a preciousness on her voice that pushes the listener away from really understanding the full extent of her longing. (5)


Heavee – ‘WFM’ Feat. Gant-Man, DJ Paypal, DJ Phil, Sirr Tmo

Michelle Lhooq: Heavee has always had a knack for the more tuneful side of footwork, and his formidable production prowess is on full display here, with the candy-covered synth pads coating the track in a nice gloss of ’80s sleaze. (7)

Jesse Bernard: Heavee’s found his own pocket and space to sit in, with this drum-lite track, he gives focus to the vocal loops and the ferocity in speed of the kick drum. It’s an intense surge that can only be matched by those able to keep up. (6)

Maya-Roisin Slater: The speed and energy of ‘WFM’ drives ahead with such force that not dancing as a first reaction seems almost impossible; a second and third listen reveal it’s missing any staying power. Like, it’s seriously lacking the spice: there’s no unexpected unique or ear catching component that makes you want to come back to the song and explore it again. Given that it’s balancing the influence of five different producers, I’m pretty surprised not one of them was able to chime in with the required sweet spot. (5)

Cameron Cook: I feel like this is one of those tracks that’s difficult to judge when you’re just listening to it on a laptop and not in a packed and sweaty Detroit club. I totally like this, but if I were hearing it peak on a dance floor at 3am, I’d probably lose my shit. As it stands right now, it’s an expertly produced slice of high octane juke, and there’s nothing wrong with that. (7)


Neneh Cherry – ‘Kong’

Cameron Cook: OK, so Robyn is back, but who knew Neneh Cherry is also back?? Neneh is so underrated, ‘Buffalo Stance’ is obviously a stone cold classic but she’s always been so much more. I absolutely love the spooky trip-hop production, and her voice is so distinctive, always on the verge of cracking but never giving into the emotion. I would expect nothing short of excellence from Neneh but this is exceptionally good. (9)

Michelle Lhooq: Neneh Cherry hasn’t lost her political bite in the 30+ years since her debut, and ‘Kong’ finds her tackling issues like the European migration crisis with depth and maturity. The song unfolds slowly, and the most interesting parts are found in its crevices, where the Massive Attack and Four Tet-produced dub beats rumble ominously as Cherry’s voice crackles into a psychedelic haze. (8)

Jesse Bernard: Neneh Cherry’s rich and piercing voice and Jenn Nkiru’s stunning and sensual visual references make ‘Kong’ the place where the vanguard of black British art and music meet. (8)

Maya-Roisin Slater: The way Neneh Cherry uses breath to create micro-moments of tension and release in her vocal melodies gives me crazy butterflies. How she modulates her voice on this track has such a delicate power to it, the minimal approach strips everything else away leaving us with the simple fact of her defiance, her protest. (9)


Silk City (Diplo & Mark Ronson) – ‘Loud’ Feat. GoldLink & Desiigner

Michelle Lhooq: Wait, Diplo is making hip-house music with Mark Ronson now? LOL. (4)

Maya-Roisin Slater: They’ve done it again, those marketable little weasels. The duo have managed to scalpel out the most recognizable bits of the latest house and hip-hop trends and today’s Top 40 and stitched them together into something so recognizable it’s like it’s been on car radio for the past five years. Desiigner’s wailing Auto-Tune chorus gives it that big party feel while GoldLink’s verses serve pomp and wit bobbing in line with the beat. (7)

Jesse Bernard: Diplo and Mark Ronson collaborating very much feels like two of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse coming together, but the track really isn’t loud enough to bring about any real destruction. (4)

Cameron Cook: [long, long sigh] I just… I don’t mind this, I just don’t understand why? GoldLink and Desiigner are pretty good on this track, but it just sounds like a mish-mash of Diplo and Mark Ronson’s respective production tricks, which I suppose is the point? It’s just exactly what you’d think it would sound like, but unlike the Robyn track, no one was asking for yet another Diplo collab that sounds like 1998 meets 2005 all over again. I can’t in good conscience say it’s bad but like… the world would have kept turning, you know? (6)


Final scores:
Neneh Cherry – ‘Kong’ (8.5)

GABI – ‘Whole With You’ (7)
Robyn – ‘Missing U’ (6.4)
Heavee – ‘WFM’ Feat. Gant-Man, DJ Paypal, DJ Phil, Sirr Tmo (6.3)
Silk City (Diplo & Mark Ronson) – ‘Loud’ Feat. GoldLink & Desiigner (5.3)

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)

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

Maya-Roisin Slater is a music and culture journalist based out of Berlin and London. She recently stopped talking about riffs and started talking about frequencies. (@MayaRoisin)

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



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