Three Track Playlist: New Singles Reviews

After an extended sabbatical, Jonathan O’Shea returns with a trio of single reviews for your consumption. This time the spotlight shines upon Azealia Banks, Gruff Rhys and Laetitia Sadier.

Azealia Banks 2
Azealia Banks: Creative potty mouth.

‘Heavy Metal and Reflective’ – Azealia Banks

Queen of the c-word, f-bomber supreme, attention-seeking “slore” (combination of slut and whore, apparently) according to rival rapper Jim Jones – there are many monikers you could attach to potty-mouthed princess Azealia Banks. The Harlem-born rapper has garnered almost as much interest for her innumerable Twitter feuds as for her white-hot debut single ‘212’.

Since the release of the filthiest/funniest track of 2012 there has been little but a dribble of musical content from the controversial starlet; with her first LP, ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’ still stalled on the production line nearly three years later and a lucrative contract with Interscope now expired. As such, it’ll be a relief for Banks’ fans to hear this tune, which will be released on her own label.

On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be an immediately apparent correlation between heavy metal, as a genre, and reflection, but our Azealia seems to have spotted one. In the space of a prodigiously pounding two-and-a-half minutes, she almost certainly references the (thankfully) long-forgotten Japanese pseudo-pet, the Tamagotchi, amid frenzied Prodigy-esque beats and with her trademark intimidating delivery. Female rap is a crowded field these days, but this blistering new track again evidences that Miss Banks has something incendiary about her which burns brightly – and possibly briefly. 


Liberty (Is Where We’ll Be)’ – Gruff Rhys

Gruff Rhys

While not characteristically playful, Gruff Rhys’ new single is typically melodic – and a fair representation of what to expect from his fine fourth solo album ‘American Interior’, which also spawned a feature-film travelogue and an app. An accompanying tour commences (in Shetland!) early next month.

The whole multimedia project focuses on fellow Welshman John Evans’ trek across America in the late-18th century in search of a lost tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans. Coming from a man who once released a whole album inspired by the DeLorean car which featured in the ‘Back to the Future’ franchise, this unconventional subject matter should come as no surprise.

On ‘Liberty…’, soaring strings, glorious pedal steel guitar and longing lyrics about Evans’ voyage of discovery through America mark a new high in the erstwhile Super Furry Animal’s solo output. He manages to cram several too many syllables into one line mid-song, which elicits a wry grin, as much of the bearded maestro’s canon often does, but otherwise plays it straight. The urgent outro, with Rhys ‘doo-doo-do-do’-ing his way to a climax, caps a delightful summer-time ‘tune with a tale’. 


Then, I Will Love You Again’ – Laetitia Sadier

Laetitia Sadier

Similarly melodic and stirring, but with a pleasingly Gallic twist, is the ex-Stereolab singer’s elegy to the intrinsic difficulties of long-distance relationships. This single was initially made available exclusively to an apple-related musical monolith (aka eyeChoons) back in April, but now thankfully enjoys a wider audience with a full release.

Wistful strings, picked bass and restrained brass backing underscore the anxious nature of her regretful lyrics, delivered in her inimitable style. ‘Where to settle?’ she repeatedly pleas, as if hoping to find some answers to the unanswerable in the music. Thought-provoking, yet suitably catchy enough to secure more success for this surviving veteran of the early-1990s indie scene. 



Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

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