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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 pages are a combination of 12″ vinyl releases, mixtape cuts, Soundcloud uploads and more. Up this week, Blur, Ty Dolla $ign (with Tinashe and Charli XCX) and an unexpected collaboration between Jeremih and Crookers.

Blur – ‘Go Out’

Tayyab Amin: I mean it’s alright, innit? The kind of joint that bridges stages in a live set or keeps an album rolling. It’ll go down a treat, I’m sure, ‘cause British people just really like pubs. It’s a bit too lukewarm for the grandest of returns, but that’s just how Albarn likes it. (6)

Chris Kelly: Setting aside the Japanophilia of the album’s art and the song’s video, this is a surprisingly solid return to form. But as with any of these reformations, I don’t get too excited about watching musicians I respect pulling off their version of a high school reunion. (6)

William Skar: Gosh, this is crotchety – Albarn sounds like he’s nursing a full-body bruise, and the playing is unexpectedly gruff and sloppy. The general impression is of a band actively taking the piss out of their  bellow-a-long heyday, and I’m curious to hear if The Magic Whip is similarly ulcerous. A bit of a slog to actually listen to, all told, but a noble one. (6)

Selomé Samuel: Blur is a good band. How did they choose 2015 as the time to make their comeback? Who knows. (7)

Mikey IQ Jones: I was a Blur fan in my youth, and while I still enjoy parts of their discography as an adult, the fact of the matter is that Damon Albarn, for all of his overachieving, completely ruins so many of their finest moments. I enjoyed this on first listen: it’s wonderful hearing Graham Coxon try his damnedest to splatter six-stringed gore across its lunkheaded pop stomp, a sound I honestly missed in pop/rock music, but the vocal’s really, truly awful. I can’t tell if it’s is a pisstake of the group’s lager-soaked salad days, or some kind of latter-day deconstruction of it, but the best thing about the song sadly is its video, which teaches you how to make ice cream (in Chinese!). That said, every Blur album had one dumbassed clunker of a tune, so this might just be it. I hope the rest of the album is better. (6)

Brad Stabler: The best thing about Blur has never been their singles (barring huge exceptions for their 1997 self-titled LP and 13), but even for a Blur single this has a dude snoozing all the way through. The years have simply not been kind to them, and this sounds like the last death rattle of a band striving for relevancy a good decade after goodwill and nostalgia could give it legs. Blame the formula, blame the formulaic retread, or blame Gorillaz, but this flatlines right out of the gate. (2)

Claire Lobenfeld: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ. (1)

4.9

Jeremih – ‘I Can’t’ (ft. Crookers)

Chris Kelly: Has a title ever captured the essence of a song so perfectly? Slowly coming to grips with the fact that we’re never going to hear Late Nights: The Album and the consolation prize is this soulless “effort” from the group responsible for foisting Kid Cudi on the world. (0)

Selomé Samuel: Jeremih is nearly omnipresent these days, from Top 40 jams to guest features on underground hits (Tink’s ‘Don’t Tell Nobody’ was easily my top track of 2014) but for as much as I normally stand by him, I just can’t get behind this. It exists in that no man’s land between dance music and pop where anything goes but nothing original happens. Crookers are trying to appeal to too many people, and fall short of producing anything memorable. (3)

William Skar: Jeremih as bassline diva is, on paper, a spectacular shout, but both parties seem to have left their flair at the door. Eminently solid, but get too excited about this? I…well, you tell them, Jeremih. (6)

Claire Lobenfeld: Apparently, Crookers didn’t get the memo about the Jeremih x Shlohmo EP being not so hot. Keep this boy on Mustard beats and let him cook. Even more so, do not wash him out in the production. What a waste. (5)

Brad Stabler: For your consideration: please flip that breakdown into a better song. Or at least put it in the pause menu for the next Gran Turismo. (4)

Mikey IQ Jones: Part of me appreciates how obnoxious and horribly stupid this sounds, but it also leaves a sour puddle of bile in my gut, as though some dickhead spit backwashed liquor into my mouth at the club. That’s essentially the crowd this track is marketed toward, isn’t it? Note to Jeremih: please don’t reference ‘P.Y.T.’ amongst your putrid lyrics about blurry booty vision and Christmas. Honestly, the biggest crime with this song is that the one thing that Crookers always had going for themselves- their sense of humor – is entirely stripped away. Perhaps the guy who left the group took it with him; regardless, this blows. (3)

Tayyab Amin: The good news is that we’re one Jeremih tune closer to the album. (2)

3.3

inc. – ‘A Teardrop from Below’

Chris Kelly: I enjoyed No World, and while this doesn’t have the immediacy of something like ‘Black Wings’ or ‘The Place’, it’s definitely a grower. The Aged Brothers’ ear for melodies and pristine studio chops are still intact, and you might find yourself humming this melody during quiet moments. (7)

Selomé Samuel: I was obsessed with inc.’s debut album to an unhealthy extent, so I had expectations for this, and it’s definitely a grower. The instrumentation is elegant as always while the lyrics are appropriately sappy (“These tears won’t dry themselves”?), but it’s what I’ve come to expect and love about this duo. (7)

Claire Lobenfeld: I think we’re allowed to revive the phrase “PBR&B” if only to shame artists that make this Jon Secada-esque indie rock and are not named Tom Krell. Hard, hard pass. (1)

Tayyab Amin: So good to see inc. back on the scene. This is growing on me, especially the instrumental parts – the maudlin solo past the minute mark and the twinkling cascade of keys over gritty drums near the end. It’s really pretty, but I feel like the Ageds are missing something that gets us singing along; their delicate nature is a strength but there’s always the danger of wilting. (8)

William Skar: No World, for all its obvious charms, often slipped into lethargy. This, however, nails the trick of sounding simultaneously slinky and frisky, moving at a lick without appearing to lift a finger. (9)

Brad Stabler: Succeeds in all the ways that Deadboy fails: updating things they’ve done very well beforehand (very subtle hooks that break in over multiple listens), updating their slow pulse to a very enticing shuffle, and somehow managing to get in several awkwardly spliced (and played) solos in without being too meandering. Like that entire sentence I just typed. What the hell, inc., I like you and you should keep doing what you’re doing. (8)

Mikey IQ Jones: Straight up, No World was my favorite album of 2013, not to mention one of the most heavily slept-on r’n’b records of recent memory. I had unreasonably high hopes for this track, and fuck, it did not disappoint; inc’s unique aesthetic blend of minimalist quiet storm soul, jazz fusion, and post-punk psychedelia – splicing Terence Trent D’Arby with Pat Metheny solos and The Cure circa Seventeen Seconds – is a vibe I simply never want to stop riding. ‘Teardrop’ takes the formula established on No World and beefs it up in all of the places where the debut felt most likely to buckle, toughening up the rhythm just a pinch and pushing Andrew Aged’s velvet vocals higher in the mix, while the serpentine guitars and liquid synths shimmer and flow. Loved it so much that I actually bought it. (9)

7

Ty Dolla $ign – ‘Drop That Kitty'(ft. Charli XCX and Tinashe)

Selomé Samuel: This seems to be another case of three artists I genuinely like coming together to produce something astonishingly sub par. Charli XCX’s talents aren’t put to their best use (the chorus is an irritating nightmare) and the inclusion of Tinashe feels like an afterthought. After ‘Paranoid’ Ty was definitely on a pedestal for me, but how the mighty fall. (3)

William Skar: Charli XCX (screechy, snotty) and Tinashe (slick, limber) make for a weird palette match, like capers in caramel. But this has plenty going for it: purpose, propulsion and some fine Mustard-inspired snap. (7)

Claire Lobenfeld: Even with a subtle nod to Red Hot Chili Peppers, this is the best song of the year. Calling it now! Cashmere Cat and Stargate’s minimalist kinetic production has this almost-slutty ‘2 of Hearts’ quality to it and it’s nice to hear Charli, who has always flirted with sex, go full filth. If I can’t do a split by the end of the year, I’ve failed this track. (10)

Mikey IQ Jones: Knucklehead nonsense that has little use outside of soundtracking a few rounds of shots and some lavatory groping. The ladies save this from being completely unbearable, but it’s still a turd that they’re throwing gloss over. (4)

Chris Kelly: If anyone is going to make money off the poppier applications of the Mustard formula, it better be Ty$. Charli XCX brings the Sucker sneer and a touch of Tinashe does the trick; I’ll be happy if this replaces some Iggy on Top 40 playlists. Buoying my score to counter Singles Club haters. (10)

Tayyab Amin: Charli XCX is properly barking on this one. Maybe sticking out like a sore thumb is the point but it’s more grating than catchy. That said, it’s still a lowkey banger ‘cause Tinashe comes through at the end and sets the whole thing aflame. (7)

Brad Stabler: I’ve been on record before with my hatred of Charli XCX (and her status as permanent hook girl, natch), Tinashe needs more work, and Ty Dolla is just too safe for me to latch onto, but this is pretty inoffensive, even though ‘Drop that Kitty’ as a title and a hook is…ill-advised to say the least. It might even grow on me if I hear it enough times on a Friday Night. A very skeptical (6)

6.7

Jack Ü – ‘Take Ü There’ (ft. Kiesza) (Missy Elliott Remix)

Brad Stabler: No. (0)

Chris Kelly: Diplo’s insistence on always being obnoxious makes it difficult to judge anything with his name on it fairly. Regardless, ‘Take U There’ is just a mess: tired-ass tropes fighting for attention while Missy struggles to break through all the noise. If this is what Missy’s comeback looks like, we’re all screwed. (2)

Selomé Samuel: Missy Elliott swoops in from the heavens and makes this a song worth listening to. I could pass on Kiesza’s over-emoting and that cheesy-ass EDM build (we’re still doing the airhorn thing?), but I would endorse making an entirely new track out of Missy’s verses alone. (6)

Mikey IQ Jones: For real, the best thing about this was the Olive Garden commercial that played before the video actually started… and that place is gross. I love Missy, and I’m psyched that kids think she’s a fresh and promising newcomer, but all of her effortless finesse, exuberant swagger, and endless labyrinthine lyrical references in the verses get a bucket of green Nickelodeon slime dumped all over them by the chorus, which is apparently part of a love song?? By Skrillex and Diplo?? Can we seriously just go to Olive Garden instead?? They have unlimited breadsticks, at least. Sorry, Missy. (5)

Tayyab Amin: As unceremonious and brash as it is, there’s still an airhorn during the build-up to the climax that has no place being there – and I’m a strong advocate of the unnecessary airhorn movement. I’m feeling ambivalent towards Missy Elliot’s verse – on the one hand, yeah, she kills it, on the other hand her flow doesn’t feel Missy Elliot at all. (4)

William Skar: Delirium. Like DJ Clap vaulting a rainbow on a pink pogo stick. (8)

Claire Lobenfeld: I won’t get high and mighty about this being Missy’s first post-Super Bowl showing because it’s just an extra layer of proof that she is a genius. Linking up with Diplo and Skrillex while they’re in the peak of their respective careers is putting her in front of more people who have maybe never heard of her. Is the track good? No, not at all. But she sounds great, so if it leads to more downloads of ‘Gossip Folks’, I’m here for it. (4)

4.1

Deadboy – ‘It Did Not Feel Right’

William Skar: I’ll forever be indebted to Deadboy for introducing me to Hiroshi Yoshimura’s Green, and this evidently comes from a similar place – a patiently-drawn neon futurescape, rendered with grace and poise. That said, rare is the wispy R&B pitch-up that actively improves a track, and the vocal line on this is totally perfunctory; if I’d had first refusal on Deadboy’s Logic project, I’d have backspaced that track and called this a 9. (7)

Tayyab Amin: Getting Burial tingles from this one. It’s as if this draws from the same pool of emotional malaise, and the more I listen, the closer I am to full-on bawling. To paraphrase Slim Thug – “Tears falling as I fall down in a slow circle and die.” (9)

Claire Lobenfeld: This is super romantic, but I wish it would grow more. I can imagine this getting lost on an album, sandwiched between housier bits. Maybe I need to spend more time with this, but it’s hard when all I want to do is hear ‘All This and More’ instead. (6.5)

Chris Kelly: More material for your peace dub folder; pleasant enough, but these work better in a mix than as standalone singles. It’s the second Tamia edit I’ve come across in as many weeks, and — by the way — this one was sampled in the last wave of R&B scavenging. (7)

Mikey IQ Jones: I usually get with Deadboy, but wow, this track is really shallow. I can roll with a pastiche of Vangelis’s ‘Blade Runner Blues’ and an attempt to recast its atmospheres as a woozy r’n’b ballad, but that pitched-up vocal completely ruins this song. On the plus side, at least there’s no ‘Tears in the Rain’ sample. (2)

Brad Stabler: Deadboy’s played his hand in all the wrong ways here, from a lack of anything resembling payoff that’s normally a given in his tunes, to a general sense of aimlessly wallowing. I’m sorry, I’m a fan of him otherwise, but there’s no reason to get with this. (2)

5.5

Final scores:

inc. – ‘A Teardrop from Below’ (7)
Ty Dolla $ign – ‘Drop That Kitty'(ft. Charli XCX and Tinashe) (6.7)
Deadboy – ‘It Did Not Feel Right’ (5.5)
Blur – ‘Go Out’ (4.9)
Jack Ü – ‘Take Ü There’ (ft. Kiesza) (Missy Elliott Remix) (4.1)
Jeremih – ‘I Can’t’ (ft. Crookers) (3.3)


Read this next: 
The 100 greatest track titles in dance music history

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