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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: Grimes, Chance the Rapper, Levantis and more.

Levantis – ‘Undr’

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: Apparantly Ninja Tune’s sub-label are behind these mysterious figures and their not-so-mysterious music, so that should allow us to play some identity games until we remember to google the members. ‘Undr’ is fine. It’s a bubble of electrical twitches that fades into being and out again, the type of piece that surely heralds a bigger purpose elsewhere. The question is whether it’s intriguing enough for you to follow it there? No. (5)

Son Raw: I’m not sure if this is a track or a transmission from our future robot overlords warning us of our impending demise at the hands of the hive mind. I suspect this kind of signal-geekery will be looked back as our decade’s prog, but hey – prog’s due for a critical reevaluation anyways. (5)

April Clare Welsh: And the big reveal… Levantis is a shit-scared piece of algae trying to dodge an ‘evil fish’. Actually, thanks to the internet ALWAYS SPEAKING IN CAPS, it takes just two seconds to bust the mystery behind his alias but [redacted] did at least try and amp up the intrigue. This is perhaps more elemental than his cerebral techno alias but it’s still got enough of a kick to quench the thirst for something special. And as I look at the pea soup fog currently giving London its industrial je ne sais quoi, I really can’t imagine a track more suited to my journey along the open road that is the 242 bus route. (7)

Tayyab Amin: This doesn’t really work as a standalone, it comes across more as an interlude. It’s still intriguing, mind, ‘cause now I wanna know how you get to this intense, throbbing and slightly paranoid place, and where you can go from there. It’s the crunchy, dubby punches and shard chimes that do it for me on this one. (7)

6

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Chance The Rapper – ‘Angels’

April Clare Welsh: There are stand-out elements to this which speak volumes – the gospel voices, the steel drums and those deep sax trills – but the whole isn’t greater than the sum of its parts. In a way it almost feels a bit drunk? But of course it’s a thousand miles better than anything Robbie Williams could ever do, especially if he was pissed at the time. (5)

Son Raw: Chance The Rapper actually rapping over rap beat is a step in the right direction after Surf, a welcome acknowledgement that experimenting is cool and all, but that going all Common circa Electric Circus isn’t the way forward. ‘Angels’ plays to Chance’s strengths – it’s soulful, high energy and lets him spazz out on the delivery. Welcome back, bruh. (7)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: I have an odd Chance issue – like, why do I not love him? ‘Angels’ is gorgeous, full of warmth, nimble rapping and STEEL DRUMS but there’s something keeping me at arm’s length. I hope I can fall for this and work out what’s missing. It’s an odd sensation to feel like you’re what’s missing from a very specific equation, so (6) for the confusion but that aside: (7)

Tayyab Amin: Chance has got angels but he damn sure feels like one of my angels. I guess even angels got angels. His raps have formed such a real presence in my life, I can’t even imagine being from the Chi and seeing him put on for the city like that. Often, an artist’s unique trait becomes their defining facet. In his independence, Chance has held on to all of his different facets and where they intersect. That ad-lib? That’s Chance. Juke? That’s him too. Gospel rap. Horns. Chicago. His flow, his voice, what else? Many artists solidify their greatness by diversifying throughout their career – Chance is constantly showing us everything he has and all that he is. That’s what makes him such a real, tangible presence in my life at least, sitting on my shoulder, squawking in my ear. (9)

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Freddie Gibbs – ‘Fuckin’ Up The Count’

Tayyab Amin: The same melody some would spill their heart’s secrets out to, the same melody that would sing some kids to sleep, the same soft, after-hours downtime melody Gibbs uses to talk business, reality and the merits of getting your hands dirty. But for all those Wire samples, they still wanna end the video with a shot to the head in the trunk like that’d be logistically sound for covert activities? (8)

Son Raw: I loved Piñata, but it still felt like Freddie Gibbs wasn’t in the right weight class: he’s real enough to go way way further than the backpacker scene. Getting a Boi-1da beat, even a slight one, is a step in the right direction but what’s really exciting here is how Gibbs plays with his voice: do I sense a hint of Thugga influence there? I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for him to rock a skirt though. (8)

April Clare Welsh: YouTube user Twizz the Whiz Kid has commented, “Gibbs got this gangster rap shit on lock” and I’m not going to argue with him. But what will Freddie do with that million when it eventually arrives? Also, I can’t imagine his mum approving of the video or the fact he’s stashed a hundred thousand dollars down her sofa, but let’s just hope she gets a cut. (7)

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: I have a more understandable Gibbs issue: a strong performer with a versatile ear and dulling deficiency regarding ambition. (5)

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Katie Got Bandz – ‘P-E-T-T-Y’

April Claire Welsh: I need this my life right now; it’s so c-a-t-c-h-y it’s nestled comfortably inside my head with its feet up. I like how it’s tough and playful, and what way to fight back against the trolls and haterz! Also, anyone who calls their mixtape Drillary Clinton 3 is a massive hero. (8)

Son Raw: The flip side to Chance going off the rails into hippy dippy world, it sometimes feels like Chicago’s drill scene can’t emerge from the darkness – even the party tunes are delivered with a scowl and a diss. Katie Got Bandz twists that formula into a smirk and some shade to great aplomb, even if that synth preset is rinky-dink. (6)

Tayyab Amin: This beat is too sluggish and bland for me to get into. It has the palette and it has the formula, but it never punches, never evokes. The U-G-L-Y hook never did anything for me, as smart a move updating it with 2015 vernacular is. (5)

6.3

Rezzett – ‘Zik Zak’

Son Raw: OK, we got an answer regarding that future Levantis transmission: apparently we defeat our evil robot overlords thanks to the power of chill, so it’s all good. There’s a lovely distance to this, as if we’re hearing the track through cotton padding, but it never feels forced. There’s not enough music custom made for that hour where you get back home and still want to dance, but can’t fully engage with all out club sounds (8)

Tayyab Amin: A fair few Rezzett tracks involve taking the plunge into the deep end – which I love – but I like variety too, so I’m quite glad this is more of a paddle in the shallow outskirts of the tar pit. I have high hopes for this track to be transmitted first when we come into contact with the aliens. (8)

April Clare Welsh: ​​This is gnarly and beatific, and as brand collaborations go, Palace definitely occupy the more credible end of the spectrum so maybe we can all live happily under the corporate eye after all. (7)

7.7

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Grimes – ‘Flesh Without Blood/Life in the Vivid Dream’

Son Raw: Look: Grimes spent a significant part of her formative years in my city, but there’s zero chance we’d ever frequent the same parties, clothing stores, social events or even neighborhoods. If you asked us to describe utopias, they’d probably be opposites and we’d be horrified by each other. So yeah, I think this sucks – obvious personal opinion alert.

But I’m going to abstain from rating it since it’s clearly not made for me. Not to be fair, but because Grimes thrives on any sort of attention and saying this is of any importance is more damning than slating it. (N/A)

April Clare Welsh: The unofficial video of Halloween 2015, this song was probably the defining water-cooler moment for trendy digital marketing agencies everywhere. The first act is essentially the pop-punk anthem Avril Lavigne always wanted to make but has never been kooky enough to do and the fact that Grimes has moved from love to fame is testament to her rise. All hail. (8)

Tayyab Amin: It didn’t take many spins for me to go from, “This isn’t really my thing but she’s thriving here,” to, “I love this, it’s perfect.” Grimes hasn’t really done the radio-friendly riffage pop before as far as I’m aware and thankfully there’s no gimmick or shock value to the new development, she’s embraced it with astounding grace. The vocal melodies, the gleeful mix of textures, those bouncing Grimes drums – it’s all down to her talents. She doesn’t need an industry in order to kill it. (9)

8.5

Final scores:

Grimes – ‘Flesh Without Blood/Life in the Vivid Dream’ (8.5)
Rezzett – ‘Zik Zak’ (7.7)
Freddie Gibbs – ‘Fuckin’ Up The Count’ (7)
Chance The Rapper – ‘Angels’ (7)
Katie Got Bandz – ‘P-E-T-T-Y’ (6.3)
Levantis – ‘Undr’ (6)

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