EP REVIEW: The Weeknd - My Dear Melancholy
Over the years The Weeknd has shifted his sound towards a mainstream polish which has seen him top the charts multiple times, sell out arenas across the world, release his own clothing line and become one of the biggest names in R&B. Some of his long-term fans have said that we’ve lost the old Abel because the passion and emotion which was very apparent in his early material has just been replaced with production. And to be honest that statement is kind of true but he’s decided to prove everyone wrong and release a surprise EP of emotionally raw tracks. “My Dear Melancholy,” hears him returning to his original sound and showing everyone that the old Abel hasn't gone anywhere. EP opener “Call Out My Name” is easily the EP’s strongest and most emotional track. We hear him confessing that he’s struggling moving on from his ex-girlfriend even though he knows that she didn't put in as much effort as he did. The lyrics are emotionally raw and will break your heart on the first listen. “Call out my name when I kiss you so gently. I want you to stay, I want you to stay even though you don't want me”. The moody production is amplified by his echoing vocals that haunt you right to the end. The song’s topic is revisited again on the second best song “Wasted Times”. It’s just as raw and details the next step which is the issue of moving on because your mind keeps wandering to who she's with. But then his attitude switches towards a sassier side proclaiming “I ain't got no business catchin' feelings”. These two songs set the tone for the 6 track collection with “Try Me” and “Privellage” offering a slight hip-hop influenced production while “Hurt You” and “I Was Never There” incorporates shiny synths. This EP has definitely been made with his old-school fans in mind that have been begging him to revisit this sound for the past couple of years. They are going to be ecstatic. As for his pop fans, they are probably going to skip through this record and go back to “Starboy”.
SINGLE REVIEW: Shawn Mendes - In My Blood
Over the past couple of years Shawn Mendes has impressed with a maturity beyond his years and an interesting musical evolution. He’s gone from releasing manufactured guitar and piano pop to a blues influenced alternative pop sound. For his upcoming third studio album he is evolving once again with a bigger rock-pop sound. “In My Blood” hears him holding onto his raw roots while injecting an arena ready Kings Of Leon sound. This is a song that is truly going to come to life in his live shows and provides a bit more of an upbeat dynamic. While it does have a very bold production it also hears him being the most intimate and honest he’s been yet. He confronts his personal battle with anxiety and explains how having anxiety isn't just a negative thing. The honest track is very relatable and introduces a darker melodic feel which was very overdue. “Help me, it's like the walls are caving in. Sometimes I feel like giving up but I just can’t. It isn't in my blood”. I also love the fact that the lead single isn't a cliche love song because that would be too predictable. Instead you have an anthem for anyone that feels lost and that’s more important in this current state of the world. His vocals are still strong and really shine through the acoustic verses before the rock choruses highlight a rougher edge. He also released the synth injected “Lost In Japan” as a instant-grat track which offers some sexy Justin Timberlake vibes. Very different to the lead single but it’s a very cool contrast. So yeah, apparently there is nothing Shawn Mendes can't do.
SINGLE REVIEW: Tinashe - Me So Bad
Tinashe’s upcoming sophomore album “Joyride” has suffered a lot of setbacks. The album was first meant to be released at the end of 2015 but has since been continually pushed back with a lot of “lead singles” and false release dates being delivered. But on April 13 she will finally release the record and she’s just delivered a new single for you to get excited over. “Me So Bad” is a cheeky and seductive track that offers a playful vibe that will have you grooving instantly. It’s a lot more commercially friendly than moody lead single “No Drama” which had a raw feel but had a slightly lackluster production. Whilst this new song may be a little gimmicky it works. The chorus will have you feeling cheeky and delivering the line “You want some me so bad. Come get this body” over and over again. The only thing that lets this song down is the amount of features. She has guest verses from both French Montana and TY Dolla $ign and it’s a bit unnecessary. Her verses are the strongest and deliver the most seductive vibes so I’m a bit unsure as to why she willingly ruined that. One feature I would understand. But two? Otherwise this is a very good song and the best of the three she has released so far.
SINGLE REVIEW: LAUV - Chasing Fire
Lauv is the Californian newcomer that I can't get enough of. His new project "I Met You When I Was 18" sees him drip feeding singles in a playlist format the tell the story of falling in love, heartbreak and self discovery. His newest single "Chasing Fire" comes just weeks after his first Australian tour and it's an absolute banger. The heartbreak anthem explores the feeling of knowing that breaking up is for the best but still being in love with them and finding it hard to give up that connection. "Im chasing fire when I'm running after you. You got that something that I never wanna lose". It has this raw emotional storyline while managing to channel this euphoric production that will have you wanting to run around during the chorus. It's that untapped energy ignited from the final flame that gives you the punch for the final fight to try make the relationship work. This is the boldest production we have heard since "I Like Me Better" and definitely has the potential to breakthrough to mainstream airplay. It has a different vulnerability compared to "Easy Love" and "Getting Over You" which I think just enhances the storyline and has you feeling a different kind of way.
Check out the live review and photo gallery from Lauv's Brisbane show here.
SINGLE REVIEW: NE-YO feat. Bebe Rexha & Stefflon Don - Push Back
The truth is Ne-Yo is struggling to stay relevant at the moment and it’s starting to show. You will never forget the lyrics to tracks like “So Sick”, “Because Of You”, “Closer”, Sexy Love”, “Miss Independent” or “Let Me Love You” because they are all bonafide hits. But his new material just isn’t. His previous singles have been cliche, gimmicky and just scream “give me a hit already” and with his seventh studio album “Good Man” quickly approaching it needs to happen ASAP. So he’s trying to stay fresh and “hip” by teaming up with some of pop-RNB’s finest newcomers Bebe Rexha and Stefflon Don so he can receive some guaranteed traction. “Push Back” is the end result and it’s not an awful track but it’s also not the best either. The tropical meets reggae production mixes in with his pop-RNB sound that he's perfected over the years. It has its catchy moments and grows on you after a couple of listens but that’s mainly because of the sexy chorus. “Baby, push back when I jump behind it, when I jump behind it. So when I jump behind it, push back on me”. His verses are quite strong but Bebe Rexha steals the show because… well… she is Bebe Rexha. This is the strongest song he has released in a VERY long time but it’s definitely not in the same category as his other hits. So don't get TOO excited.
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Want to listen to some of these songs? Then check out the #BLEACHED playlist on Spotify which is curated each week by Thomas Bleach featuring his favourite new releases.