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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: the Chemical Brothers, Lindstrøm, Glacial Sound’s Sharp Veins, Shyvonne and more.

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The Chemical Brothers – ‘Sometimes I Feel So Deserted’

Chal Ravens: Thoroughbred Radio 1 euphoria that sounds exactly like The Chemical Brothers, and I’ve got no problem with that. I mean, it’s highly unlikely I’ll hear it anywhere except at a massive festival, and I’m not the sort of sadsack beardo who’d pretend not to enjoy a Chemical Brothers set. (6)

Brad Stabler: My landlord hates this song. (4)

Son Raw: Well it’s better than the Prodigy comeback, innit? But it’s also worse than that Moby remix of Plastikman so that places The Chemical Brothers exactly where they were two decades ago: jockeying for position amidst their arena-tronica peers. The truly scary thing is that if you ignore that cheesy vocal, no easy task mind you, this has more life to it than a lot of the tastemaker ketamine-techno that sent the Chemical Brothers to the big room boneyard. (4)

Claire Lobenfeld: I didn’t grow up with The Chemical Brothers as essential artists, but it’s not going to stop me from feeling like I need to put a premium on their work. This has some slickness to it that I can see appealing to a larger pop audience and I’m not mad at it. The vocal effects are nice, too, but I probably don’t need to hear this again. (6)

Mikey IQ Jones: It’ll be curious to see if The Chemical Brothers will have a Random Access Memories moment with Born In The Echoes, because this tune takes the classic musky and robotic fuzz-funk of Exit Planet Dust and Dig Your Own Hole into slightly beefier contexts that are likely to appeal to young, tweaked EDM heads with soft spots for Pharrell’s falsetto and thumping leasebreaker bass hits. I was prepared to roll my eyes and write this off entirely, but I’m actually really digging it – as an opener to the new album, it’s striking, and I’m curious to hear how the list of guest stars (Beck, St Vincent, Q-Tip, etc) are going to fit in. This could actually be a really fun and fucked up album. (7)


White Poppy – ‘Confusion’

Claire Lobenfeld: There are a lot of interesting elements going on here—the cushiony guitars, the backward vocal samples, the playful bassline—all wrapped up in a lot of warm fuzz but it doesn’t completely land for me. This is the kind of warped Beat Happening-informed sound wall that needs to go a little bit harder in 2015. With one extra advance to this kind of sound, I think this could have been extremely special. (6)

Mikey IQ Jones: I have a hard time feeling anything for this, honestly. It hits a number of critic-friendly cool points, from the muted and muffled Factory Benelux post-punk bass sounds to the African juju-inspired guitar lines floating above a shoegazer fog of distortion, but for real, folks – I am straight-up sick and tired of these unintelligible half-assed mumblestiltskin mushmouth-in-the-echo-chamber vocals. If you’re going to go this route, I beg and plead for you to please demonstrate some fucking conviction in your voice. This just sounds like a fatigued genre pastiche to me, and I need another one of those in my life like I do a Sriracha enema. (3)

Chal Ravens: Where’s my oil projector? This is very fine work despite the too-obvious vocal treatment and seems much more closely crafted than the stuff that usually passes for psychedelic. In fact it could have gone on much longer – it’s too overwhelming to absorb in three minutes. (6)

Son Raw: Hey, it’s shoegaze! Remember shoegaze? It’s back! In prog form. This isn’t particularly exciting nor is it offensive – it seems absolutely genuine if you care about such things but it still can’t shake the fact that this is well-trodden territory. (6)

Brad Stabler: Crystal Dorval’s output always tends to be something I admire more than I actually like, and this doesn’t do anything else to buck the trend. Innocuous dream pop will probably outlive us all, though, and this tune does actually stand out once the guitar enters into the back half and things get a little weird. Wouldn’t pass up the chance to hear more of that. (6)


Littlebabyangel – ‘@cartier’

Claire Lobenfeld: I’m willing to give this — Industrial SoundCloud soul? — a second chance when it isn’t appropriating The Notorious B.I.G. Until then, pass. (2)

Brad Stabler: Somewhere there exists an alternative universe where Zebra Katz covered The Downward Spiral from start to finish, and I have no idea if I want to go there. (6)

Mikey IQ Jones: The song’s barely two minutes long, and I still couldn’t remember even a sniff of what I’d listened to. I played it twice just to make sure. (2)

Son Raw: First thing’s first – the track bangs. Babyangel’s got a twistedly funky delivery and knows how to swathe his voice in enough distortion to complement the post-Yeezus grunge-hop beat. At under two minutes, it leaves me wanting to hear a lot more, which is always good, but ditch the utterly cliché post-Tumblr faded polaroid aesthetic on your website PLEASE. (8) cause it’s the music that matters.

Chal Ravens: Hate myself for liking this. (6)


Todd Rundgren, Emil Nikolaisen and Hans-Peter Lindstrøm – ‘Put Your Arms Around Me’

Chal Ravens: From the radio static on the vocals I gave this a nine and challenged it to lose even a single point from there on in, and it did not falter for a second. This is fucking brilliant and I really feel for anyone who can’t get on board with a mighty war between space rock and space disco on a galaxy-sized battlefield strewn with glitching time signatures. However, historically I do like The Mars Volta, so adjust your interpretation of that nine accordingly. (9)

Brad Stabler: You take two geniuses of days past and sort of present, the frontman for a pretty nice shoegaze band (go back to the 2005 debut of Serena-Maneesh, it’s brilliant), and the result is, well, it’s something. It starts out sounding like Cats as covered by Ariel Pink and the Brooklyn Improv Ensemble (I made that up), and then turns into something between work training montages and re-runs of Sailor Moon. Your mileage will vary within the same minute. (5.5)

Claire Lobenfeld: As far as sound-fucking some Andrew Lloyd Weber vibes goes, this takes from Random Access Memories‘s Starlight Express entryway and makes muddy-as-shit musical tunes written by Hall and Oates? I don’t know! Way too much is going on here! What is there to put your arms around when the music is literally everything? At least no one is rapping on it. (4)

Mikey IQ Jones: I’ve been morbidly curious about this album, and while it’s cracked in plenty of places, it seems a bit too self-consciously so; for someone who’s simultaneously as experimentally uncompromising yet absurdly deft with a pop hook as Rundgren, this just feel like Todd-By-Numbers, while Lindstrom and the dude from Serena-Maneesh just give off vibes that they’re trying hard to be willfully oblique in a very patronizing way. I’m giving this points because it’s very much how I wished and wanted the Moroder/Britney ‘Tom’s Diner’ cover to sound. (6)

Son Raw: This one’s dedicated to the three people on Earth who were waiting for a Lindstrøm/Rundgren collaboration. (3)


Shyvonne – ‘On My Mind’

Son Raw: Nice backing track, but let’s be real – this is all about that vocal. Shyvonne leaves it all on the floor with genuine soul in an era of imitators, but the song grooves slow and low when it should soar as high and free as the uptempo numbers she’s referencing. Can we get a dub, a UKG cut up and a couple of remixes? This one has the potential to go far. (7)

Mikey IQ Jones: This made me physically cringe; it takes a number of sonic ingredients that I am prone to enjoy separately and stitches them together into an awkward jury-rigged ensemble that would look considerably stronger with some alterations and tailoring. As it stands, it just fits awkwardly on the body, and I’m not feeling anything close to sexy, funky, or daring about wearing it. It might sound like it’s made for the dancefloor or club, but it doesn’t FEEL that way, which is often considerably more important than style. (5)

Chal Ravens: The vocals seem underdeveloped to me, as if they’ve come from another record and been hastily retrofitted to this indie-electro tune. It’s alright but I’m not sure what it’s all about. “Tales from the crypt, you reap this”? (4)

Claire Lobenfeld: I am not sure that a flip of ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me’ is necessarily clever in this case, but the entire package works. Disco shouldn’t sound so depressed, but the muted textures fit. I still get a little bit of the heebie jeebies from that Police reference, though. I understand that the vocal melody is the only inspiration, but it’s still a song about being into an underage girl. Woof. Otherwise, this would be total Claire-bait, but I can’t escape that creepiness. (7)

Brad Stabler: ‘Don’t Stand So Close to Me’ is one of the worst songs ever, and every time Shyvonne cycles back to the opening bars she reminds reminds us all that The Police exist. When that’s not happening, there’s something intriguing going on here: the four-on-the-floor sections are actually quite good. Off ‘Mind Reader’ and the hopes that she’ll get more bold this is a cautious (6)


Sharp Veins – ‘Inbox Island’

Son Raw: Like fellow Glacial Sound producer Rabit, it’s a bit of a misnomer to call what Sharp Veins does grime, but since Boxed’s residents are the ones brave enough to play his instrumental abstractions, that’s where they’ll go for now. Categorization aside, this is startlingly original music that’s miles away from established genres. Better yet, it tackles truly contemporary concerns of place and interconnectedness at a time when we’re just beginning to recognize how the internet has shifted our perceptions of those concerns. I spend most of Singles Club trying to figure out ways to tell you that a track, no matter how pleasant, does nothing new: this does plenty. (9)

Chal Ravens: From what I’ve heard of Sharp Veins so far he’s doing his best to avoid being put in any particular box, and this tune accordingly seems to draw from Reichian minimalism as much as it does from the vivid strains of Boxed-esque grime. I’m expecting impressive things from the EP even if I won’t be whistling this later. (7)

Claire Lobenfeld: This feels extremely familiar and completely brand new at the exact same time. I can’t tell if this is just exactly the kind of thing I would want to listen to all the time or the kind of thing I am already listen to too much. Is it somehow a Southern fried version of the Donkey Kong Country soundtrack? Have I been waiting for that since I was nine? (7.5)

Mikey IQ Jones: This sounds like I’m playing some The Legend Of Zelda game in which the dungeon is a nightclub in Hyrule – slightly bucolic and idyllic, but underscored by a creeping darkness and the incessant pulse of not having enough hearts in my life meter. I’m looking for the damned Mirror Shield and I can’t find it. Some gelatinous raver beast is spitting molly-and-THC-laced bile at me, and I can’t seem to get around him. It’s frustrating as hell, but I run around the dungeon for considerably more time than I need to because I dig the soundtrack and I am stubbornly determined to get that shield.

After about an hour or two more of exploring, I finally get that fucker and enter the boss room: Ganon is vanquished, Tidal is no longer a diminishing concern to anyone, Awful Records get a #1 chart topping smash, and vinyl pressing delays are lifted across the land. And that, dear readers, is the most FACT-centric piece of writing you’ll probably ever read of mine on this site. Nice tune. (8)


Final scores:

Sharp Veins – ‘Inbox Island’ (8)
Shyvonne – ‘On My Mind’ (5.8)
Todd Rundgren, Emil Nikolaisen and Hans-Peter Lindstrøm – ‘Put Your Arms Around Me’ (5.6)
White Poppy – ‘Confusion’ (5.4)
The Chemical Brothers – ‘Sometimes I Feel So Deserted’ (5.4)
Littlebabyangel – ‘@cartier’ (4.8)

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