Despite The 1975 making a strong case to suggest ‘rock is dead’ while concluding their sold-out UK tour; a few releases this week prove the genre is not on its death bed. At least not yet.
Foals made their return with ‘Exits’ and announced two albums for this year. One nil to the rock-believers. And let’s not forget Florence + the Machine who threw a curve ball with ‘Moderation’ and its B-side ‘Haunted House’. Two nil.
The power of pop continued to push on as well though. Dua Lipa released the sensational ‘Swan Song‘ and Ariana Grande shared ‘7 rings’ and the track listing from Thank U, Next – the follow up to one of our top 20 albums of 2018, Sweetener. I make that a draw.
Away from this feud – here are three triumphant tracks we’ve uncovered for you to feast on. Featuring a long awaited return from Vampire Weekend, a riotous, resurrecting track from Blaenavon and a frenzied fireball from GIRLI. Enjoy.
Vampire Weekend – ‘Harmony Hall’
It has been six long years since we heard from Ezra Koenig and co. In that time the New York band have departed with Rostam Batmanglij, their multi-instrumentalist band member. They have also headlined a few festivals including End of the Road in Dorset last year. But otherwise it has largely been radio silence since the epic Modern Vampires of the City. ‘Harmony Hall’ is the band’s comeback single and the first to be released from their upcoming fourth album, Father of the Bride. It retains all the quirks and tippy-tappy piano chords we have come to love from Vampire Weekend and all with an unsettling summery vibe to boot. Lyrically, the track is far more overcast than its plucky guitar riffs suggest: “Of wicked snakes inside a place you thought was dignified / I don’t wanna live like this, but I don’t wanna die,” Koenig sings in the chorus. Them snakes likely relate to the serpent spiralling on the single cover. Sundara Karma have also used this illustration for their new single. Suspicious right? Answers on a postcard please Sundara Karma.
Blaenavon – ‘Catatonic Skinbag’
‘Catatonic Skinbag’ is a riotous return for the usually ethereal Hampshire band. It is the first taste of Blaenavon’s second album Everything That Makes You Happy due to impact later in the year. Its steely, spiky and wild with surging riffs, but the track is succinct in its message. “The song is about isolation,” says frontman Ben Gregory. In a tweet from the band, Ben shared his story of experiencing a breakdown at the end of 2017. “There’s a way out. Art, friendship, love. You don’t have to be a catatonic skinbag,” he said. The band are set to tour the UK and Ireland in May starting Dublin and ending in Tumbridge Wells with stops in Liverpool, Sheffield and more. ‘Catatonic Skinbag’ is an exciting direction for a band who truly deserve every ounce of credit they attain.
GIRLI – ‘Deal With It’
In 2018, GIRLI embraced pop with open arms easing up on the whole ‘teenage-fuck-you’ attitude she was previously known for. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Deal With It’ is still full of attitude but it is purified pop with no grungy undertones. It follows from previous singles: ‘Young’, ‘Day Month Second’, and ‘Play It Cool’, all three of which were acid-pop firecrackers drip fed to us last year. GIRLI’s long-in-demand debut, Odd One Out, is due for release in April which you can preorder now (if you preorder before 3pm on Tuesday 29 January you will receive early access to her upcoming tour). ‘Deal With It’ signifies just how GIRLI has matured into a poignant, powerful (and potently pink) popstar of this internet-obsessed era. She is a brazen talent heading for the big leagues.