FLUX

articles about pop culture

Month: March, 2016

Track Review: Stephen – ‘Sincerely’

 

 

Indie electronica is pulsing with upbeat music. Youtube channels like La Belle Mixtape overflow with sunny-eyed vocalists and uptempo instrumentals. However, 24 year old artist Stephen has made a name in this scene with his own brand of gloomier, more introspective music.

Stephen’s previous single ‘Crossfire’ was a meditation on the divides in our culture. It featured a mix of acoustic guitar, a mean electric breakdown and socially conscious lyrics. An unlikely gem.

Now his latest offering ‘Sincerely’ continues this trend of genre-bending and introspection. This time, Stephen turns his eye to the ills of 21st century society, the hook making a toast to the few out there who love us sincerely. Spooky voices shift around Stephen’s solitary voice while his guitar propels the song forward; it’s as sombre as something the Haxan Cloak might put out, as bouncy as a Kygo remix.

In other words, the dude proves once again that he’s one to watch.

Track Review: Oh Be Clever – ‘River’

 

 

Indie-electronic duo Oh Be Clever have been making eclectic avant-pop for a while now, but ‘River’ might be their most gripping track yet.

The Utah natives have had a busy few years. They’ve gone from playing bars to tours of Arizona, California and Texas; even performing at SXSW. ‘River’ reflects this growth, and the influence of new acts they’ve come into contact with.

It’s a sombre song – singer Brittney Shields sounds like she’s evoking spells over an instrumental that is at once booming and nocturnal.

It shows the range of their abilities without feeling forced – calling back to their high school band days, while at the same time being committed to their most recent electronic work. It’s yet another reminder that they’re a duo to watch.

And what they got have planned for the coming year? In Shields’ own words: “Oh Be Clever’s goal has always been to be GLOBAL.”

 

 

Track Review: Kanye West – ‘FML’

Kanye West’s newest album The Life of Pablo is a bizarre, manic, fragmented musical document with a lot of moments both inspired and disappointing. I haven’t come close to formalizing my thoughts on the album as a whole, but one track in particular stands out for me.

‘FML’ is the bleakest song on the album (and this album has some pretty dark moments). It features Kanye rapping about what sounds like a manic episode. He makes reference to the anti-depressant Lexapro and and rattles off a laundry list of woes and concerns. Shadowy synthesizers warp around his voice, with only vague snares here and there to remind you that it is, in fact, a hip hop song.

It sounds like something off 808s and Heartbreak, but it replaces that album’s self-pity with self-loathing. It’s possibly the darkest corner of Kanye’s mind he’s let us glimpse yet.

A rending hook from the Weeknd helps bring the song’s themes of self-destruction home – indeed, the Weeknd might be pop music’s favourite self-immolator of the moment.

The song’s outro, though, is where it gets really interesting. A distorted sample of Section 25’s sombre ‘Hit’ implores the listener to “see through the veil” while Kanye’s voice freefalls around it. It’s twisted rock, something that would be completely at home on Kid A. And possibly the weirdest sample on a Kanye record, which is saying something.

Ultimately, it reminds us of one of the dichotomies that makes Kanye so interesting: the dude’s got a lot of enemies, but none is so venomous as Yeezus himself.

 

Track Review: Pusha T – ‘Untouchable’

On Untouchable, Pusha T reminds us of his life before rapping.

The song immediately calls to mind those coke-slinging days: the danger, the highs, the darkness hovering just below the surface. Pusha T’s lyrics stab over a sparse and haunting Timbaland beat, while a Biggie sample thunders around him.

However, the song feels almost fragile – the glass-like, dissonant loop and Pusha T’s meditative lyrics make it feel like his midnight musings. Let’s hope the coming dawn is just as gripping.

 

Flower Duet

Considering the Fermi-Paradox (the fact that although space is infinite, we have yet to encounter  – in all its wide reaches – alien lifeforms), it seems highly possible that mankind is the only sentient race in existence. The only one capable of making art.

If this is true, then Flower Duet might be the most beautiful thing in all of space and time.*

*Disclaimer: this post may contain some bias. May.