FACT Singles Club features a panel of writers rating and slating the biggest new tracks of the last seven days.
Do you know controversial dystopian YouTuber Poppy? Here, let her introduce herself.
Following her Mad Decent debut album released last year, she reconnects with Diplo for a track about the impending robot takeover. Can the panel handle it? All that, plus tracks from Empress Of, Ty Dolla $ign and Jeremih’s MihTy project and mmph, a FACT fave making his Tri Angle debut.
Empress Of – ‘When I’m With Him’
Maya-Roisin Slater: :’) the late summer banger I’ve been dreaming of. There’s nothing I love more than pop artists that leave it all out on the table and Lorely Rodriguez’s releases as Empress Of consistently do just that. There’s a beautiful intimacy in the rawness of her voice. The flow is so effortless and the annunciation so relaxed it comes across like she’s spilling her guts in casual conversation. (8)
Michelle Lhooq: Empress Of totally nails the heartbreak dream-pop vibe in the school of M83: those dusty guitar licks are especially nice accents against her breathy soprano. When she sings “querías mas que te lo podría hacer” I FELT THAT. (7)
Jesse Bernard: Despite the sunshine and bloom that Lorely Rodriguez exudes in the video, the lyrics for the song are morose, especially when she sings, “I feel like I’m the outside looking in / When I’m with him.” But the hopeful tone gives it depth. (8)
Cameron Cook: This is so good! The retro synthline is such a sweet spot and her vocals are pop perfection. I feel like since Taylor Swift dropped 1989 (which has some real bops, don’t @ me) so many people have tried this brand of throwback ’80s pop. For every hit (E·MO·TION) there have been plenty of misses (if you give us another Diplo track to review I swear to god). This is the absolute pinnacle of this sound in 2018. While Empress Of has always been innovative and interesting with her synthpop, this song could launch her to an entirely new level of popularity. (8.5)
Poppy – ‘Time is Up’ Feat. Diplo
Cameron Cook: WHAT DID I JUST SAY, FACT?? Actually, I’m gonna have to eat my words here because this track is great. Even though I like her previous viral tracks, I wasn’t sure how Poppy would fare as a “real” artist and not a highbrow joke, but this is totally solid. I love that she’s morphed into a shady robot bent of terminating humanity for the good of the planet (which, I mean, at this point…). Fine, Diplo, you win this week! (8)
Michelle Lhooq: A friend recently posted on FB that “the inevitable post-diplo electro-house serato djs vs bushwick choker identity politics techno war that all the elders warned us about” is coming. If so, the catchy but soulless ‘Time Is Up’ will be the #teamDiplo anthem, with its retro-fetishistic synths and vocoder voices, how could they resist? (6)
Maya-Roisin Slater: Nobody is more subtle and polemical in their cultural commentary than YouTube superstar Poppy. Add in the philosophical production stylings of Diplo and you’ve got yourself a hot take on the slow apocalypse and all the artificial intelligence related antics imagined to come with it.
A poorly thought out social experiment and an old man trying to understand the internet for the first time collaborated to make a song that sounds like it was straight off Daft Punk’s chopping room floor. (1)
Jesse Bernard: I guess if you’re going to signal humanity’s impending doom, doing it over a Diplo beat isn’t the worst way to go about it. But I’m not overly keen on the pro-robot themes because I’ve watched I, Robot too many times. As a song, this falls fairly flat. Who is looking to pop music to solve environmental issues? (5)
mmph – ‘Woodlawn’
Michelle Lhooq: There’s a lot of ideas packed into four minutes of deconstructed Wagner – a little to its detriment – but the recurring call-and-response theme keeps it coherent. Thank god for a classical-electronic hybrid project that DOESN’T involve an orchestra trying to play rave music… (7)
Jesse Bernard: This track is perfect for someone who has attention issues, it’s the kind of song that’s great to write to if you need a change of pace and energy: when a song abandons formal structures and compositions, it also allows me as a listener to do the same. (9)
Maya-Roisin Slater: ‘Woodlawn’ sounds like a condensed video game soundtrack. In its short journey, it takes you through all the beautiful landscapes, moments of distress, expressions of elation and points of curiosity that might be brought to you in a one hour sesh with your favorite game console. (6)
Cameron Cook: This track feels very Shibuya-kei at first, the Japanese electro microgenre that birthed Cornelius, Takako Minekawa and Buffalo Daughter (and that one weird early Sufjan Stevens record but that’s a story for another Singles Club). It’s really taking me back to my bedroom in the late ’90s, flipping through my one imported issue of FRUiTS magazine and wishing I was coasting on a tricked-out BMX through the streets of Tokyo. The track itself is expertly produced, all bouncy and upbeat but heady and introspective. I love it. (8)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CMdl5ksqRwTy Dolla $ign & Jeremih – ‘New Level’ Feat. Lil Wayne
Maya-Roisin Slater: This song is croon central and I’m here for it. The bassy beat mixed with Jeremih and Ty Dolla $ign’s sweet serenades give it that ’90s R&B feel, while pithy high-hats and Wayne’s verse lovingly capped with a BRR solidify an original hybrid sound. The track makes me think of silk sheets and drugstore heart chocolates. True romance. (7)
Cameron Cook: Lyric of the week goes to Ty for, “Ice up on the check the bezel/Yeah, rocky, rocky, fruity pebble.”
This song suffers from what I called the “merry-go-round effect”: when the melody of a hip-hop track just kind of goes round and round and round until you feel a bit nauseated. That being said, it’s super groovy, Jeremih is on point as usual, and, I don’t know why, but lately I’m just happy if Weezy even shows up to the studio. Not my fave but I’ll take it. (6.5)
Michelle Lhooq: Ugh, I got so bored by this totally generic piece of drivel I almost didn’t make it to the Weezy verse, which (barely) saves it from the trash can of forgettable R&B ballads. (3)
Empress Of – ‘When I’m With Him’ (7.9)
mmph – ‘Woodlawn’ (7.5)
Ty Dolla $ign & Jeremih – ‘New Level’ Feat. Lil Wayne (5.5)
Poppy – ‘Time is Up’ Feat. Diplo (5)
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)