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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 Prodigy, Carly Rae Jepsen, Darkstar, Meow The Jewels and more.

Meow The Jewels – ‘Meowrly’

Chris Kelly: Let me preface this by saying that I object to this project’s very existence: Run The Jewels really hasn’t caught me, and making a cynical grab at attention with the internet’s favorite animal (CATS!!!) doesn’t change that. The remix is fine, I guess, and certainly less cat-filled than I expected, but who has the time? (5)

Son Raw: The lesson here is just because something on the internet sounds funny at 3AM after one too many drinks, doesn’t mean we should rush out and fund it. The cash from this thing is going to a great cause, so I can’t be too harsh, but considering the talent involved and the energy spent making these remixes, doesn’t it seem like a waste that… uh… all we’ll get out of it are cat beats? (4)

Brad Stabler: Would pay good money, or at least extra attention, to see the Gchats and emails about how this beat came together. How much meowing is too much? How deep should you pitch down the purrs? This is prime material here, kids, and I’ll say it: it more than matches the RTJ2 original. (8)

Akash Chohan: Similar to the obsession of bacon over the past half decade, the legs of this figurative domestic sized demi-cat the entire internet has collectively straddled gave out a long time ago. However, RTJ and the notable collaborators such as Just Blaze who have joined since the jump seem fully aware of the unseriousness that accompanies this release. It’s for a good cause, $65,783 so far on kickstarter is going to the families of Eric Garner and Mike Brown, so I’m very glad it exists. (6)

Anupa Mistry: Surprisingly sound, given the concept is entirely in service of the Brooklyn Vegan demographic of ‘rap fan.’ I asked my cat to rate this by blinking, which she did just twice throughout the song’s duration. Well, there you have it. (2)

Tayyab Amin: Some of these meows sound a little similar to how “Ha” samples have been deployed in ballroom-indebted music. The whole refix isn’t groundbreaking but it is very slick in execution and feels absent of novelty. It’s fine, them deep purrs are nice though. (6)

Claire Lobenfeld Listen, I fuck with cats. I’ve mentioned my own in Singles Club before. I play Neko Atsume like a broker watches stocks. And, yeah, I totally donated to the Meow the Jewels Kickstarter. But even without that three-pronged set of biases, I was afraid this would be overly cat-y. But, El-P is a brilliant producer and what he and Boots have crafted here is weird as hell, but perfectly subtle. What a great entry point to what is surely a fascinatingly bizarre project, probably more campy than cloying. If this is any indication, it will go in the cat people-music nerd canon along with Lil Bub bringing out Steve Albini’s softer side when he guest appeared on her web series and Lil B making Keke the first kitty on wax. (8.5)

Mikey IQ Jones: My beef with this mostly focuses around the fact that I’d been hoping for a more Matthew-Herbert-as-Wishmountain styled project that erased all human presence entirely from these songs, painstakingly tuning the rhythms and melodies of the original rhymes with cat mews and meows. Hairball beats are fine, but I feel cheated here. As a staunch dog person (no felines in my house!), I never thought I’d say this: I WANT MORE CATS. It gets a (5) for the beat and the beat alone.


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Alice Glass – ‘Stillbirth’

Brad Stabler: I appreciate a good diss and will be on Alice’s side until the album drops, but musically it’s on the same ground as the last Crystal Castles track. As a matter of fact, when you play one, you forget the other and vice versa. What would a week be without a little sad irony? (6)

Mikey IQ Jones: We’re reviewing the song and the song alone, and when removed from the pre-release gossip, the context, and the bickering between herself and her former bandmate, ‘Stillbirth’ just doesn’t move me. I can fully relate to and appreciate Glass’s primal scream therapeutic release here, and I hope that it empowers fans and fellow survivors to hold their heads high and gather strength, but some of us face, fight, and escape our demons in more subtle ways. I respect this, but I don’t enjoy it. (-)

Akash Chohan: ‘On Sight’ has trained me to have a pleasant expectation whenever this sort of inorganic scream comes blaring out the speakers, Boomin practically cemented this with ‘Serve The Base’. Perhaps ‘Stillbirth’ benefits from this effect, fracturing into an admittedly predictable contained chaos near the end after a short glacial interlude. Not bad. (5)

Son Raw: The songwriting leans on the loud/quiet stop/start dynamics like it’s the last good idea on Earth but this is genuinely harrowing, and if it provides Glass or someone else in abusive relationship with some hope or strength, it’s done its job. (7)

Chris Kelly: I’m not sure what was worse: Ethan Kath’s comments about Alice Glass or that witch-house-EDM garbage he released after she left the group. Thankfully, Alice’s solo debut delivers the damaged energy of early Crystal Castles with a renewed vigor and a powerful, anti-abuse message. (6)

Anupa Mistry: Pleased that Alice Glass has weathered all the Crystal Castles bullshit to come through with something rhythmically different that’s entirely her own. The sullen aesthetic feels a bit tired over a decade on, but there’s catharsis here too in the gentle, almost lullaby-like hook. I don’t know if I’d come back to this, but the intent – the process of breaking free of an abusive relationship – is admirable. As Glass writes in a note on her website, “I want young women and young men to understand that this kind of treatment of others can happen where it might be least expected. Even in environments that thrive on creativity and open-mindedness, that advocate artistic and counter-culture ideals. Sometimes people will use these things to camouflage themselves so that their abuse might go unnoticed.” (7)

Claire Lobenfeld I wasn’t a Crystal Castles fan, but I was really distressed and infuriated back in April when Alice Glass’s former bandmate discredited her contributions to the band, before scrubbing his statement from SoundCloud. (Silly boy. Nothing ever leaves the Internet.) While this is perfectly passable pop-industrial music, what sticks out about it to me is how much of it comes off as a song about her freedom from a dick dude collaborator. Kicking off with “I just can’t wait for you to die” and going into more subtle meat about being trapped is super powerful. For a race in which I shouldn’t have a horse, I’m even more Team Alice after this track, but I’m probably never going to listen to it again. (5)

Tayyab Amin: With tracks like these – combinations of pop, industrial and electronic noise – I can find it hard to connect because the abrasive textures and forces in the instrumental often come across as shallow and flat. I really like how this builds, though, particularly where it ends up in that final minute. Glass is sounding powerful and the climactic flourish of screeches is a showstopper. (6)


Darkstar – ‘Pin Secure’

Akash Chohan: I was eating a carrot at the same time as listening to this, waving it enticingly as if suspended on the end of a string in front of the crawling (also, brilliantly orange) Soundcloud Player fishbone, in some daft attempt to entice the app to increase the pace on ‘Pin Secure’. I was utterly convinced that this would add a great deal of necessary kinesis to the song but, no dice. (4)

Mikey IQ Jones: So let me get this straight: Darkstar’s lead vocalist left, and they decided to have the next fellow to step up to the mic sound as ineffectual as his predecessor? I can get with the cellular Caribbean bounce of this tune, but fucking hell with those wafer-thin voices, boys. Use your diaphragm, please. PLEASE. I can’t take much more of this flimsy indie beatwise boysoul nonsense; when I hear productions like ‘Pin Secure’, I have trouble hearing anything but artifice. It’s far too harmlessly vanilla for my fuckgiving. Pin’s secure because there’s no identity to steal in the first place. (2)

Tayyab Amin: Thus continues the ephemeral nature of my relationship with Darkstar – I love them when they’re here, when they’re on, but I don’t miss them when they’re gone. I don’t see that as a bad thing, though – they’re consistent with their sound which carries me away on fluttering synthetic wings. It’s alright if it’s a fleeting feeling, since all good things come to an end anyway. (6)

Claire Lobenfeld Man, I love me a good falsetto. And over something swirling and slinky? (7)

Anupa Mistry: This is lovely. The soulful vocal line and harmonies over this lingering beat paired with lots of bright, xylophonic effects and blooming synth lines reminds me of mid-aughts Timbaland – his pop work with Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado in particular. I’m kind of keen to see how pop music will sift through the digital bombast of that era, and I think this is the right kind of nostalgia: inspired, but not derivative. Now I’m curious to hear what other sounds Foam Island will hold. (9)

Son Raw: This knocks harder than anything Darkstar have dropped since leaving Hyperdub, but I’m still getting “Pink Floyd for bros still clinging to electronica” vibes here. There’s always been a reactionary side to Darkstar does but I’m not sure what this is railing against, or what the end goal is. Maybe I just miss dubstep. (5)

Brad Stabler: The main caveat with Darkstar since half past North has always been there’s never a shortage of good ideas to go around, but they never go past being ideas and turn into something great. A strong beat and chipmunked hooks can only go so far, just ask anyone on SoundCloud in the past six years. (6)


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Carly Rae Jepsen – ‘Run Away With Me’

Claire Lobenfeld All right, EM•O•TION is my favorite album of the year, thus far, so this is a 10 for me on general principle, but let’s get into why. The entire record is just fun as hell and it loves the idea of love through the lens of someone who is beyond her jaded 20s and is just totally open to it. (And on top of this, which is the opening cut, there are bangers abound, namely ‘L.A. Hallucinations’ and ‘I Didn’t Just Come Here to Dance’.) Plus, that synth sax! If you like feeling good, everything about this track should make you feel great. (10)

Chris Kelly: When we played this on East Village Radio, passers-by on 1st avenue seemed to be walking in time to it, which is a good enough metaphor about its pop universality. I still think her voice is a little thin but the songwriting on this one (and the album) is excellent. (8)

Mikey IQ Jones: ‘Run Away With Me’ and Jepsen’s additional run of new tunes have all been enjoyable, but somewhat awkward; she’s certainly growing by leaps and bounds as a performer, but there’s still something ill-fitting about EM•O•TION. If you leave listeners feeling too aged for your tunes, you’re not exactly hitting your marks as a pop superstar – she should be aiming for universality, but the album’s songs feel conspicuously better suited for demographics younger than my own, and I’m only 33. I’m far past the age to be running away, so call me (maybe) when you’re singing about settling down and finding (and maintaining) the magic at home, Carly. This is cute and charming, but it’s creepy for me to have any real feeling about a tune like this. (6)

Brad Stabler: Nicely done. (7)

Akash Chohan: CKYZj65W8AABWN_No, but seriously. (4)

Son Raw: If Dad Rock is a shorthand for dismissing white guys with guitars appealing to over 40s in the freshest Oakleys, it’s time to coin Mom Pop for singers whose chief demographic is people who wussed out of buying 50 Shades of Grey but who saw Magic Mike XXL in theaters. (3)

Tayyab Amin: Saxophones catch an unfair amount of flak and things like the opening to this song are the reason why. Once I make it through that ghastly Guru Josh Project flashback, the Carly Rae charm worms its way in, with its bright-eyed vigour and wish-you-were-here merriment. I almost want to reach out into the screen like it’s IMAX 3D and Matrix into her world, but then that wasteman sax shows up again. (6)


Trae the Truth – ‘Yeah Hoe’ feat. Problem & Lil Boss

Anupa Mistry: Love the weight of a deep, slightly nasal flow. Trae’s got so much vocal charisma and presence, but I could’ve done without Problem and Lil Boss’s comparatively chirrupy verses. If we could change the voice preferences on Siri, I’d set mine to Trae Tha Truth. (7)

Son Raw: If you’re not familiar with Trae, you’re missing out on 15+ years of the darkest, most emotional gangsta rap since the genre’s 90s heyday: start with Restless and thank me later, no Drake. With that in mind, a T.I-backed major label debut is almost comically against type: this is a man who speaks to violence and the emotionally wounded men who commit it, not good times in the club. Still, give me a Mustard-style flip on Master P’s ‘Bout It Bout It’ over anything else this week. (8)

Claire Lobenfeld God bless America when T.I. is looking out for someone on Hustle Gang that isn’t Igloo Australia. (And, hopefully, as a friend pointed out, she’ll cake so hard off of the ‘Fancy’ sample on ‘Classic Man’ that we may never have to hear from her again! #JidennaHive.) This has really good Chronic vibes even before the Death Row name-drop. Although, my goodness, do we really have to keep referencing Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl nip slip?! There are so many other “top down” similes to choose from that are evergreen, or, you know, you could come up with something culturally relevant now. Yes, the beat is tough and the flows are tight, but maybe get Quentin Miller on the line? He’s probably looking for a new gig right now anyway. (6)

Tayyab Amin: The more I pay attention to Problem’s verse, the dumber it gets. It’s worth it for the chorus though, and no matter what people are saying, if it can bang, it can bang. This is one of them chameleon beats that’ll keep the party going after the previous track and amplify the heavy hitter that comes after it. It sounds a little vanilla and I’m not sure who produced it but there’s footage of the track at SXSW 2013 – an age ago in terms of party hip-hop, it feels like. Even if it’s not completely fresh, it’s still well-pressed. (6)

Brad Stabler: Rap’s current equivalent of a Mortal Kombat Friendship. (7)

Mikey IQ Jones: This gets a (3) solely for the “Have you lookin like a coupe with the top blown/Super Bowl like Janet with the top gone” lyric in 2015, which gave me a chuckle, but I don’t really care about anything else going on here at all.

Akash Chohan: Should you listen to the rest of the album for the incredible Dejloaf track? Yes. Does this get an extra point for a Janet reference the same week the ‘No Sleep’ video dropped. Yes. Would you want to listen to this particular song over the YG single. Probably not. (7)

Chris Kelly: Sampling that funky worm from Master P’s ‘Bout It Bout It’ makes perfect sense as Trae and company continue the long, fruitful relationship between Southern and West Coast rap. (7)


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The Prodigy – ‘Awol (Strike One)’

Son Raw: Maybe I should just give up and get an office job with health insurance. I could become one of those guys who enjoys music like this, get fat and have 2 ½ kids with a woman who really digs this week’s Carly Rae Jepsen song. Then we could go way into debt buying a house in a shitty suburb, get into fights and eventually get divorced. Actually, fuck that and fuck this song. (3)

Tayyab Amin: Anyone who thinks bringing moshing to dance music was an undisputedly good thing needs locking in a portaloo. We should never have encouraged this, whatever this is. It’s our fault; ‘Firestarter’’s legacy sent Keith Flint on a power trip and soon they were all him, pushing primitive punk aesthetic and product. Back in ‘06 everyone was giving Pendulum grief for sounding like the Prodigy, but I feel like it’s the other way round now. ‘AWOL’ is like a rollercoaster, but it’s a really rubbish one that jitters round loads of hard turns without delivering any moments of exuberance. Pendulum could do it, but I like my Prodigy more fairground. They must be so shit at Theme Park World. (3)

Anupa Mistry: LOL really? (3)

Mikey IQ Jones: This just makes me pine for the halcyon days of Alec Empire and DHR via negative example. Should’ve been called AHOLE. (2)

Chris Kelly: Dubstep Murphys? No thanks. (0)

Claire Lobenfeld One day I’m going to read “Prodigy” in the Singles Club mailer and it’ll mean one half of Mobb Deep, not these fire starters. I never thought I’d ever say, “This is cute” in regard to a track by The Prodigy, but that was precisely my first reaction. It’s kind of catchy, too, but it seems like these guys really have no interest in legacy preservation, huh? (4)

Brad Stabler: Did a shameful rewatch of that shit Daredevil film from the early aughts this weekend – because the Netflix series wouldn’t load, you see – and this would’ve fit right in alongside Nickelback. That’s the very last thing anyone should say about your second comeback. (2)

Akash Chohan: FullSizeRender (4)(1)


Final scores:

Trae the Truth – ‘Yeah Hoe’ feat. Problem & Lil Boss (6.4)
Carly Rae Jepsen – ‘Run Away With Me’ (6.3)
Alice Glass – ‘Stillbirth’ (6)
Darkstar – ‘Pin Secure’ (5.6)
Meow The Jewels – ‘Meowrly’
The Prodigy – ‘Awol (Strike One)’ (2.3)

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