Deadshirt Is Listening… Bringing you a rundown of our staff and guest contributors’ favorite new tracks released in the past week after they’ve had the weekend to blast them in their cars, in a club, alone in their rooms, etc.
Mike Duquette is getting déjà vu to…
I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It
The last eighteen months have seen some big names gain huge leads by appropriating the sounds of the greatest hitmakers of the 80s. Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars basically became The Time on “Uptown Funk” and enjoyed fourteen weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100; The Weeknd’s “I Can’t Feel My Face” was one sequined glove away from a full Michael Jackson tribute; and two versions of 1989 (Taylor Swift’s original and Ryan Adams’ full-album cover) visited the shimmery, synth-laden and heart-on-sleeve college-rock tendencies of the decade.
As Deadshirt’s most voracious 80s connoisseur—a man insane enough to prefer “The Living Daylights” over “Skyfall” in our Bond themes bracket—I’m torn by the trend. I love anything that’s a gateway drug to the music I love the most, but I wonder how oversaturated the market’s going to get with tributes to the MTV era. Case in point: “Love Me,” the new single from one of the better 80s pretenders of late, The 1975. Their twitchy 2013 debut album sounded like the Talking Heads if Steve Lillywhite produced them, full of airy keyboards, ringing guitars, and yelping, longing vocals. “Love Me” sounds like they’re going back to formula possibly even more literally than before, closely matching another British dance-rock tune from the band’s namesake year: David Bowie’s “Fame.” It’s fun enough, but even I may want them to investigate other sections of their old record collections in due time.
Joe Stando is startled and excited by…
Le1f is an artist with a wide variety of sounds, from fun, dopey club songs with good hooks to some very raw, intense tracks. “Rage,” off his first full-length album, combines the extremes of his style in a discordant, aggressive track that almost parodies himself, but without coming off as insincere. Opening with the sort of basic loops that define his light tracks, “Rage” comes across as a fluffy, thoughtless track before bursting into a profanity-laden rap with a trap-influenced beat. It dips back across this line again before becoming an all-out trap song, full of bravado and threats. The juxtaposition is absurd by design, but energetic enough to still work. It’s a sort of a punchline that not everyone can do all the time, but it hella works here.
Dominic Griffin is speeding down memory lane to…
“The Love Within”
The Love Within
Whatever bands you loved when you were nineteen will always maintain at least a tiny sliver of space in your heart, a tidy guest room left after the kids have moved out for whenever they want to crash for the weekend. I loved Bloc Party—past tense. I loved the angular guitar riffs and the steady, propulsive percussion. I loved lead singer Kele Okereke’s unique way of making even the most mundane lyrics sound grandiloquent to a fault. Their debut album, Silent Alarm, remains one of my personal favorite LPs of all time, but every subsequent release they’ve put out has chipped away at the monument they initially built up in my mind. Diminishing returns are natural, especially with a band you once adored at such a specifically fervent time in your life, but there’s something about their fall from grace that irks me on another level.
I always check back in, Charlie Brown to the pigskin, in some desperate hopes a return to form will be in order. But that’s the thing, they never really abandoned their style. New single “The Love Within” wouldn’t sound out of place as a B-Side on Intimacy. The problem is that their peculiar brand of sweaty, hearthrob dance rock had a place and a time, and nothing they’ve done in the intervening years has helped their sound or style evolve along with the world around them. As it stands, the glitzy, leering synths that drive this mid-tempo meditation on whatever the fuck Kele is vaguely sad about nowadays feel like the kind of irritating noise blips that might score the cell phone commercials YouTube forces me to watch before listening to songs I like a helluva lot more than this one. Maybe we truly can never go back again. At the very least, Bloc Party can’t. I want to believe the rest of this new album might make me feel a fraction of what their music once held for me, but holding out that hope is all I really have some days.