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Each week on the FACT Singles Club, a selection of our writers work their way through the new music of the week gone by.

With the way individual tracks are now consumed, the idea of what constitutes a single has shifted dramatically in the last half a decade, and its for this reason that the songs reviewed across the next six pages are a combination of 12″ vinyl releases, mixtape cuts, Soundcloud uploads and more. All are treated equally – well, most of the time – with Nine Inch Nails, Angel Haze, Wu Tang, Hot Chip and more in the line of fire.

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David Lynch feat. Lykke Li – I’’m Waiting Here’

John Twells:
See this is what I’ve been waiting for from Lynch, no mucking around with electronic music, just bizarre dreamy retro pop music. Lykke Li plays the Julee Cruise role here and does a remarkable job, conjuring up the best moments of Floating into the Night and not simply retreading old ground. So good. (7)

Chris Kelly: Lykke Li channelling Julee Cruise over a gloomy doo-wop waltz — what’s not to like? The rest (tape-hiss, Danelectro reverb, heartbeat kickdrum) is pitch-perfect, but it turns out that all Crazy Clown Time needed was Lykke Li. (7)

Steve Shaw: Interestingly, this sounds like the kind of music that might score a young director’s re-make of a Lynch film. Nicely moody, if a bit unassuming. (6)

Chal Ravens: The album David Lynch released last year was impressive; a really coherent collection of songs that should’ve made critics think twice about applying the descriptor “Lynchian” to any old slice of death-fixated, bouffant-haired Americana. In fact, one of Lana Del Rey’s people will surely be facing the rack for letting this collaboration slip through their fingers – Lykke Li, for cripes sake! She’s ain’t even ‘Merican! But what a canny choice for this seductive and macabre torch song. Even her delicate-as-a-duckling vocals can’t tip it over into mushiness – it’s equal parts romance and torture. (8)

Joe Muggs: David Lynch does David-Lynch-by-numbers – what’s not to love? (8)


Miley Cyrus – ‘We Can’t Stop’

Steve Shaw:
Somebody really, really wants to be Rihanna. And Mike Will, I’m not happy that you made it. This kind of bollocks should not be encouraged. (3)

Chris Kelly: Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the controversy-courting Miley / Molly reference is about as transparent and desperate as Madonna’s search for Molly at last year’s Ultra, as is the “line in the bathroom” double entendre (never mind that N.E.R.D. did the same thing on ‘Everyone Nose’). But for everyone prepared to hate this song on spec, would you feel the same way if it were Rihanna on the mic? Miley has about the same vocal range and languid delivery here. Meanwhile, Mike WiLL expands his palette a bit (you can still tell who made that bass and those synths) and the snare/hi-hat combo on the verse sounds borrowed from ‘Umbrella’. A hit is a hit is a hit. (6)

Joe Muggs: Well the beat is kind of like a ‘Glee’ version of what rave music might be like, and Miley as ever sounds like a four-times divorced cafe waitress who smokes sixty a day and mainlines vodka, but it’s kind of endearing in a hey-woo-yeah way and the songwriting itself is pretty strong. (6)

John Twells: I sort of hate myself for listening to this, cuz the more I hear it the more my initial dislike for the track subsides. I guess that’s the idea with radio pop though, so job done guys. Honestly Mike WiLL doesn’t add a ton of his signature tropes – this is a far cry from ‘773 Love’ or ‘Bands A Make Her Dance’ – but the cheeky, fuzzy synth-led chorus is just so endearing. Someone help me, my grade is going up with each listen – gimme a week and it’ll be a 10. (6)

Chal Ravens: Yet another dead-eyed ode to MDMA written by people who don’t appear to have taken any. The BPM is ridiculously turgid for someone singing, “And we can’t stop / and we won’t stop”. Sounds like she can barely get started. And really, “To my homegirls here with the big butt / Shakin’ it like we at a strip club”? This is what Disclosure meant when they said, “It’s that – or us” (paraphrasing slightly). I’ll stick with my half pint of lukewarm garage-pop, thanks. (0)


Angel Haze – ‘No Bueno’

John Twells:
Loving S-X’s production on this, it’s nice and druggy and doesn’t just regurgitate Lex Luger’s trap clichés or Boi-1da’s filtery moods. I’m still on the fence about Angel Haze as a rapper, but she sounds more urgent than usual here which I’m all for. Maybe it’s a case of simply matching her up with productions that actually let her do her thing. (6)

Chis Kelly: I’m an Angel Haze fan because she is equally deft at fuck-you battle raps, Rihanna-aping hooks, and confessional storytelling (which doesn’t make an appearance here, unfortunately). This one might be left over from the Azealia Banks beef, but that cranked-up S-X beat will keep this in rotation until her album drops, even if the verses are forgettable. (6)

Steve Shaw: The chorus is surprisingly good, but wow, nobody needs that much happening in an instrumental. Seriously, S-X made ‘Woo Riddim: the kick and a hi-hat and those little downward sample smears in ‘No Bueno’ would’ve been entirely enough. (6)

Chal Ravens: If she’s not careful, Angel Haze is going to cement herself as one of the best rappers of her generation. Adding to her already bulging catalogue of solid turns, this one marries her shower-of-bullets flow with a rhythm by SX, of all people – the UK producer who came up with the magical ‘Woo Riddim’. Sounds like he’s been listening to a fair bit of Clams Casino since then. (7)

Joe Muggs: I thought the thing about AH was that, aside from her self-evident technical skil, she had something to say? She’s certainly not saying much here. Big, bombastic, slick, boring. (5)


Kevin Gates – ‘Roaming Around’

Steve Shaw:
For most of this, Gates sounds like the drunk on the back of the bus chatting to himself. This is a good thing. I’m also glad the beat is as subtle as it is, as it could have so easily swerved into totally overblown, over-compressed, over-limited trap. With these things in mind: 7/10. (7)

Chal Ravens: Ugh, that voice. The chorus leans too heavily on the Autotune for my taste, and he could do with an injection of something tasty around where the middle eight should be, but I could listen to Gates croaking on for hours. (6)

Chris Kelly: Detractors have pegged Gates as a Future imitator, but that’s lazy: Future uses Autotune to contort his voice into something extraterrestrial, while Gates uses it to shade his world-weary street tales. This one does “come on like a movie”: Gates’ songs have narratives to them, and the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League beat is perfectly paired. (8)

Joe Muggs: It’s weird how the most hypercapitalist swaggering success-rap has this kind of defeated, almost dead tone to it… I mean it’s not new, that whole “chill like the grave” thing has been in African American culture since long before hip hop, but the high tech gloss of 21st century production gives it a whole other level of uncanniness. (7)

John Twells: If you’re not into Kevin Gates you just can’t be my friend, it’s that simple. ‘Roaming Around’ is just perfection, it’s Gates through and through – super melodic with a hearty serving of his endearing melancholy. Justice League have never been my favourite production team but you know, their restraint here just allows Gates to shine. If he doesn’t ‘make it’ soon I’m going on strike. (10)


Lone – ‘Airglow Fire’

Joe Muggs:
What I like about Lone is the shameless lushness of it all, whether he’s making wonky exotica hip hop or retro rave or – as here – Detroit techno, it’s always done with this voluptuousness and feeling that he’s making beautifully realised fantasy worlds – which is why the Konx-Om-Pax artwork on Galaxy Gardens was so appropriate. It’s all a bit prog, really, but addictively so. I do prefer the dreaminess and light-footed shuffle of the b-side to this, but this one hits the spot too. (8)

Chris Kelly: Yawning synths, glistening piano, halting stabs, jazzy cymbal swing — everything seems vaguely disparate, but when it all comes together, the result is absolutely jubilant, playing off nostalgia but definitely of the here-and-now. (9)

Chal Ravens: An airglow is the term for the weak emission of light by a planet’s atmosphere, but do you know what an airglow fire is? It’s a rock solid tune, pal, that’s what. This is total cheesy quaver stuff but sod it, we’re on the seventh sunny day in a row here in London and it only takes a sniff of melted Solero to have us contrary Brits waving our shirts round our heads. Big fun. (8)

John Twells: Wow, I’ve never paid a lot of attention to Lone’s productions before but this is just cracking isn’t it? It’s not breaking a lot of boundaries, but fuck – he’s mixed up a Plaid-y sense of fun with some of that garage-y goodness that ‘the kids’ seem to be into. This is what I imagine Disclosure would sound like if their balls dropped and someone implanted them with a sense of humour. (8)

Steve Shaw: S’alright, innit? (7)


Wu-Tang Clan – ‘Family Reunion’

Joe Muggs:
It’s the Wu-Tang Clan, and they’re not crap. Celebrate! (8)

John Twells: Are you fucking kidding me? This is supposed to be celebrating twenty years of the Wu? This? Really? Do yourself a favour and listen to Ghostface’s Twelve Reasons to Die instead. (3)

Chal Ravens: Another track timed very well with regard to the current meteorological situation. It’s easy to let your critical guard down when the sun’s shining, but this seems like good clean fun. The background sound of children frolicking and the mature cheddar vibes of the O’Jays sample will probably not hold up so well when I eventually hear the new Wu-Tang album on a rainy day. (5)

Steve Shaw: Chessboxin’ soundtrack > barbecue soundtrack. (5)

Chris Kelly: The Clan in a celebratory mood is all and good, but the O’Jays sample makes this more Coney Island than Staten Island. (5)


Hot Chip – ‘Dark & Stormy’

John Twells:
Dull & boring. (2)

Joe Muggs: They seem to have turned into Ladytron a little bit here which is no bad thing. No mistaking Alexis’s voice though – he really is one of the great singers I think. This boogies along brilliantly, and like loads of HC songs I think will only get better with repeat listening. (8)

Chal Ravens: S’alright. They’re so very competent, Hot Chip, but so hard to love, especially now they’ve gone all Main Room. I liked it when they wrote wonky bedroom pop about Stevie Wonder. But if it came on the radio, I reckon I’d leave it on. (5)

Steve Shaw: Like the Mighty Boosh trying to showcase some ‘serious’ material. (3)


Nine Inch Nails – ‘Came Back Haunted’

John Twells:
Wow, this might be the first time Trent has said a new track is a return to the early stuff and actually been right. The vocals are pretty trite, but c’mon you can’t go wrong with those synths. It’s almost electro pop isn’t it? Maybe EBM is due for a big revival now that the whole cold wave thing has slithered down the drain. (6)

Steve Shaw: A couple of weeks back I lamented on how I was never really able to get into Pet Shop Boys, despite wanting to. Happily, this single has just reminded me that I will always have Nine Inch Nails’ uptempo material to fall back on.  ‘Came Back Haunted’ has just the right amount of wicked synth and drum machine action to satisfy my studio nerd gland, and enough cheesy, ’80s-style chorus harmonies to make me truly envious of big, narcotic-sweating, EBM body builders who live for that shit. (8)

Chris Kelly: The comeback single is always a tough needle to thread, especially when you’ve had as many comebacks as Nine Inch Nails. This one falls in line with the post-Fragile catalog; the first singles off those albums have been a mixed bag, and ‘Came Back Haunted’ is equally frustrating and promising. Reznor’s lyrical tropes haven’t changed (“[some]thing inside of me” pops up at least five other times in the NIN lyric book), although there is a self-referential nod to the band’s hiatus (and perhaps his age) with “everywhere now reminding me / I am not who I used to be.” Still, it’s layered with the type of meticulous detail that made Reznor’s best songs so rewarding: those percolating synths could have been on Pretty Hate Machine, and the ambience in chorus is reminiscent of ‘Something I Can Never Have’. (7)

Chal Ravens: This is like one of those chrome-edged monster trucks with a rack of disco lights on the cab and a pyrotechnic exhaust pipe – it’s all so huge and polished and macho and bludgeoning. Pass. (3)

Joe Muggs: Well you might as well review a new Ikea phone table – you know what it is, you know what it’s for and you know it will serve its purpose just fine. It’s pretty enjoyable and in a club full of people with clip-on woollen dreadlocks and metal bits on their clothes all sexing each other up but pretending to be miserable about it it will sound great. (5)


Final scores:

Lone – ‘Airglow Fire’ (8)
Kevin Gates – ‘Roaming Around’ (7.6)
David Lynch feat. Lykke Li – I’’m Waiting Here’ (7.2)
Angel Haze – ‘No Bueno’ (6)
Nine Inch Nails – ‘Came Back Haunted’ (5.8)
Wu-Tang Clan – ‘Family Reunion’ (5.2)
Hot Chip – ‘Dark & Stormy’ (4.5)
Miley Cyrus – ‘We Can’t Stop’ (4.2)

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