Franz Ferdinand - Billy GoodbyeScottish rockers Franz Ferdinand have returned this week with their new song titled ‘Billy Goodbye’. This precedes the release of their ‘best of’ compilation album named Hits to the Head, which is scheduled to be released in March 2022. The track is a fun and upbeat ode to a retro, glam rock-inspired sound, a genre that Franz Ferdinand are obviously utterly comfortable undertaking, with a wonderfully bouncy rhythm section that is accompanied by their now staple fuzzy, blues tinged guitar and punchy, if rather simplistic vocal refrains. Embracing pop-rock music of the past, such as Queen or David Bowie, the group use a sweeping synth backdrop in areas, effortlessly evolving into a cascade of fluttering keys, enveloping amongst the somewhat cheesy spacey vocal effects occasionally used by frontman Alex Kapranos. This is alongside their now classic indie rock sensibility, a recipe that together seems pretty elementary, but so fitting for the band. ‘Billy Goodbye’ screams fun, and that is something that Franz Ferdinand have definitively conveyed throughout their career. The song focuses on friendships made within their time as a band, and is a wholesome glam rock bop that shows that the group have nothing to prove to anyone, and are back with a nostalgic bang.
Porcupine Tree - Harridan
Speaking of nostalgia, hard rock experimentalists Porcupine Tree have released their first new song after nearly twelve years of silence. ‘Harridan’ is over eight minutes long, and is written in passages, each one segmented by ethereal ambience and sparse chord progressions. The track makes a bold entrance, with a complex slap-bass rhythm section that soon intertwines with shuffling and complex drum passages that don’t detract from the barrage of bass at its core. Frontman Steven Wilson adopts glitchy vocal effects that are interspersed with powerful belting and more subtle falsetto in the more reserved bridge sections. The song is by no means refraining from their hard rock roots though, it sprinkles heavier distorted guitars throughout its long run time, but never for long enough to overwhelm. The song is without a doubt proggy, and is not for easy listening per se, but displays that expert and unparalleled musicianship that has influenced many of the most technically complex artists of today. It is a joy to listen to a new Porcupine Tree release after a long time away, here's hoping that there is more exciting music to come within their upcoming next record.
Placebo - Beautiful James
It seems to be a week full of blasts from the past, as grunge rock band Placebo have also returned with a brand new song titled ‘Beautiful James’. It is very much the classic alt rock sound that listeners are more than acquainted with, but they have added more synth driven elements to this track than hard rock riffing. The song is built around a catchy synth passage that is found throughout it’s runtime, one that catches the ear immediately and grows on the listener more and more with each iteration. Paired with the unmistakable nasally vocal from frontman Brian Molko and a strong rhythm section, the song is immediate and gripping – almost pop-esque. Lyrically, the track focuses around non-hetronormative love, something that is not often conveyed enough and often stigmatised against in rock culture, a welcome concept to a thoroughly enjoyable grunge-like romp from a band you may have forgotten about since their past mainstream fame.
Spiritualized - Always Together With YouIn another lengthy track this week, Spiritualized have released an ambient and minimalist single to come off of their next record, Everything Was Beautiful, which aims at completing a phrase from Slaughterhouse Five in conjunction with their 2018 record, And Nothing Hurt. The new track is named ‘Always Together With You’, and is a rather subtle and dreamy new rendition of a past track with added soundscape elements. Bandleader Jason Pierce, otherwise known as J Spaceman has stated that the album will be the last from this longtime project. The track is abundantly calming, with Pierce’s lo-fi and thin vocals echoing over a hypnotic backdrop. It is six minutes long and is sparse lyrically, but explodes into choruses that are as poignant as they are slow, lazily plodding by whilst still capturing the grand crescendo of its entrance with each one. Orchestral instruments like violins line the ambient soundscape, sweeping over the top of a sound that seems both reserved and intricate at the same time. PIerce has seemingly sampled an aeroplane before the tracks finale, which adds to that large, almost foreboding, yet pleasant presence, but the simplicity of the instrumentation make it more than palatable. This album will be one to watch out for, and if this single is anything to go by, could be an enthralling end to Pierce’s project.
Flo Milli - Ice Baby
Versatile rapper Flo Milli has just released her newest single named ‘Ice Baby’. The song is fairly run of the mill in terms of beat, but Flo Milli certainly shines with her energy and delivery of the verses within it. There is nothing all that impressive about the track’s instrumentation, albeit the production is definitely as crisp and punchy as you would expect from the modern rap scene, with heavy 808 bass lining the foundation of the song, and trap-like hi-hats present in the foreground.
Milli elevates her beat with bars that are powerful, aggressive and enforcing. She is still very much bragging about her wealth and presence, but does it in a way that isn’t the be all or end all of the song. What is most impressive is her snappy and clever lyricism that helps to inform the heavy backdrop, it proves her capability to create a confident and energetic performance out of anything given to her. A particular highlight is the latter half of the track, where Flo Milli’s rhyming technicalities reach their apex, alongside some amusing lines. The song is a fun and glamorous insight into the headspace and deserved success she has garnered, success that is sure to flourish over the coming years as her fame escalates.