One tune that really excited me

While I surely respect the craft of Mura Masa and his adventurous role in modern music I personally didn’t get that deep into his music so far. But then this song happened in early 2020 and I can’t get it out of my head. I mean Mura Masa is really good in his field (I was told) and Wolf Alice are definitely on of Britain’s best new bands of the past decade but when singer Ellie Rowsell joined him on Teenage Headache Dreams this whole thing reaches a new level of brilliancy. I don’t know if there’s still such things as anthems in contemporary music but I’m not afraid to label the song that way. It’s got this great uplifting build-up but there’s also an incredibly sadness that runs through this all, an ongoing struggle as the protagonists sing lines like “Seems like the good time’s over” right next to “Up all night, take life twice.” Facing life’s fugacity is always tough and realizing that you’re not young anymore can be tough although it’s not the event of the world, obviously. Mura Masa and Ellie Rowsell perfectly capture this emotion in a perfect way, already making this one of 2020’s greatest songs if you ask me.

One wonderful (re)discovery

American glam pop brothers Sparks might be one of the most underrated yet influential bands of the 20th century. Just take a look at all the bands that have been verifiably inspired by their music: The Smiths, Franz Ferdinand, Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Depeche Mode, Björk, The Ramones. Pretty sure David Bowie also loved Ron and Russell Mael and I think their legacy is worth to be discovered. I new a few tracks before like their huge 1994 radio hit When Do It Get To Sing My Way but this month I decided to dig a bit deeper and luckily the folks just released a new career-spanning best-of-sampler called Past Tense last fall. It contains 58 songs from half a century of music making and I can tell you it’s one hell of a rollercoaster ride. Starting with psychedelic lo-fi sound we quickly move into 1970s glam rock territory, before we head for New Wave, groovy 80s pop, eurodisco beats, classical chamber pop and other musical adventures. Due to their persistence Sparks might be one of the most versatile groups in the history of pop. Their pop is a bid odd, quite ironic but contains really clever lyrics and good hooks as well. It’s a challenge, that much is for sure and especially the Past Tense sampler can be a bit exhausting if you try to make it though it in one run. But it’s also a great gateway drug into the bizarre cosmos of these hidden pop giants. The compilation is not on Spotify but here’s a playlist that tried its best to recreate it.

One thing that really annoyed me

See, I know it’s easy to make fun of Justin Bieber due to… well, him being Justin Bieber. But he released some pretty solid pop tunes over the past years and I think we can all agree that Yummy isn’t one of it. It’s actually the opposite of ‘yummy’, it’s dumb. But most of it it’s incredibly mediocre on all levels – the production, the hook, the really, really stupid lyrics and of course the lyrics. Somewhere in the World Wide Web I read a tweet that mentioned how Bieber can get away with such mediocre pop when a female colleague might have gotten roasted for a release like this. And honestly compared to what Ariana Grande, Lizzo, Billie Eilish and Co. are doing these days this one feels horribly uninspired. And then Bieber even wanted his Beliebers to cheat to get the song to number one which is another desperate nail in the coffin of this crappy song. Male pop stars need to step up their game and until they do at least we got Lil Nas X.

One thing that really surprised me

Well, all hail to the possibilities of modern communication. Last week I more or less got called out by Ellie Goulding on Twitter for stating my surprise regarding her new collaborative track with Four Tet. I didn’t tweet that to provoke a shitstorm and her 6 Million twitter followers didn’t got all over me but come on, don’t say the track description “Four Tet – Baby (feat. Ellie Goulding)” leaves you at least a bit secptial when you read it. If a mainstream pop star teams up with one of electronic music’s most profound artists there is the slight danger that it moves too close to the pop world but lucikly Kieran Hebden isn’t falling for this and delivers a mesmerizing piece of synthetic tenderness on this one. Goulding however does also a good job but like she correctly tweeted “A voice is a voice” and it actually could’ve been any other voice in here and you wouldn’t have noticed a big difference. I’ll leave it up to the world what to do with that realization. Let’s focus on the good bit here: A new Four Tet album called Sixteen Oceans arrives in March.

Just a random thought

Where the heck are Delphic? This month their debut album Acolyte celebrated its tenth anniversary and that gave me an opportunity to finally listen to it again after a few years, realizing what great songs This Momentary, Doubt or Counterfeit still are. The record arrived in the midst of the ’00s indie rock going electronic’ wave and perfectly captured the best of both worlds. I also enjoyed the nod to early 90s Madchester rave here and I remembered great live shows around the time (I got introduced to them via a Bloc Party support slot in 2009). But I also remember how the follow-up album Collections flopped fundamentally on all commercial and creative levels. They changed the trippy rave sound to a slicker pop approach which didn’t work out at all especially since the songs were really weak. I think Delphic never really recovered from that failure which is a shame considering they released a follow-up mixtape called Get Familiar which went back to the roots of the band but didn’t get much attention. It looks like Delphic are one of those bands that split up without actually telling the world about it. What a shame.

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