MusicJanuary 12, 2018

Best Songs Ever: Justin Timberlake thinks he’s got his swagger back. He’s wrong.


Our regular round-up of new songs and singles, featuring Troye Sivan, Justin Timberlake, David Byrne, MGMT and more…

Troye Sivan – ‘My My My!’

No-one’s 16 forever

Troye Sivan’s new single probably won’t meet your unfairly high expectations, but it’ll come close. Sivan’s debut album Blue Neighbourhood was a stab-you-in-the-heart autobiographical account of a time in a young person’s life when everything is the same but nothing is certain. Anxiety and insecurity sheathed in dreamy electro-pop haze. Three years of growing up later, we’re presented with a version of Sivan his 16-year-old self probably wouldn’t recognise. The mousey brown locks have been bleached, the dreamy aesthetic has been hardened, and Sivan holds himself with a confidence Blue Neighbourhood’s subject matter simply didn’t grant him.

At surface level ‘My My My!’ is caught up in the ecstasy of new love, but what it’s really doing is provoking you to reminisce or relate to the euphoric freedoms adulthood grants, the late nights, the new faces, and the ‘Green Light’ invincibility. The weight of the world has finally lifted from Sivan’s shoulders and it looks good on him! Production-wise the song doesn’t give us anything we haven’t heard before (yes, the chorus smell of Adam Levine), but it’s a bop you can bet will go down a treat during the wee hours of Sunday morning, dancing to a point of sticky, arms-flailing, absolute breathlessness. / Kate Robertson


David Byrne – ‘Everybody’s Coming To My House’

Ex-Talking Heads leader plays to his strength and exposes a weakness

What I like about the first single from ex-Talking Head David Byrne’s new album American Utopia: the wind instruments hinting at Steve Reich and that period of NY minimalism; the slight update of the mid-period Talking Heads, when the band resented him for excluding them in favour of Brian Eno, adding subtle sampling and programming to his afrobeat inspired funk rhythms; the acoustic guitar recalling early Heads; the guitar solo. What I don’t, unfortunately, like about it: Byrne’s vocals. I feel bad writing this but there’s something in the way that his voice lifts into a falsetto that just hasn’t aged well. Like, as you get older, you lose some of that agility and the held note that rises quickly to a peak at the end of the breath can no longer generate the frantic energy it once did. So, if he’s losing that, it’s hard to know where he goes from here. How does a frantic, energetic singer get old? Perhaps American Utopia will answer that question differently than its first single. I hope so. /Henry Oliver

Justin Timberlake – ‘Filthy’

It ain’t easy bringing sexy back

In which JT attempts to balance his fashion-video-styled-by-John-Mayer-in-the-‘Real America’ album trailer with a return to form mid-00s Timberland banger. “I guess I got my swagger back,” he says near the beginning of the song. He’s wrong. “Haters gonna say it’s fake,” he sings slightly earlier. Yes, they are. Yes, I am. / HO

him – Waratah Bay

Aggressively anonymous (in a good way)

him is the project of Auckland artist Jazmine Rose. The project name feels like an oxymoron –  it’s so aggressively anonymous that it ends up standing out – and Jazmine’s music itself takes a similar approach. It would of course be unfair, and generally not nice, to call ‘Waratah Bay’ “anonymous”, but there is something so unannounced and tenuous about him’s approach to song-writing. It works well, and less certainly becomes more with raw guitar plucks and glassy, elevated vocals. The effects around the vocals add a lot to the song with the tail of each line is echoed to the point of unfamiliarity. The echoes begin to sound like distant seagulls, as if the track really was filmed on Waratah Bay. / Alex Lyall

Camp Cope – ‘The Opener’

Australasia’s punk call for equality

We should really, by now, be paying attention to the bands coming out of Australia, particularly all the female musicians. Camp Cope agree. Taking to the stage recently at Australia’s Fall’s Festival and causing some controversy when pointed out that there were minimal women on the line-up and asking why the ones that were on the line-up were on small stages in the middle of the day. (Read about their It Takes One campaign against sexual violence at music shows here.) ‘The Opener’ faces this head-on: “It’s another all-male tour preaching equality”. But, what I liked the most about it was it actually starts off kind of unassuming, slow and low. Then Georgia ‘Maq’ McDonald is yelling and you’re getting worked up and you don’t know why until towards the end when you realise that it’s a fired-up equality anthem and it bangs. They have said their New Year’s resolution is to “be louder than ever.” If they keep on this track with their music it’s going to be really hard not to listen. / Bridie Chetwin-Kelly

MGMT – ‘Hand It Over’

MGMT aren’t back – they never went away

Here’s what I always assumed happened to MGMT: after the big album with ‘Kids’ and ‘Electric Feel’ on it they released that album with a cover that looked like a Nintendo 64 game, everyone who liked the first album decided it was too weird/had no hits and they vanished off the face of the earth. What really happened is they kept going, releasing a third album in 2013 and have another one coming out this year. And they’re still the 444th most listened to artist on Spotify – big in Mexico City and Sao Paulo apparently. Latest single ‘Hand It Over’ has the kind of woozy nostalgia-tinged vibe that’d be right at home in between UMO / Mac Demarco / Tame Impala on a Sunday afternoon knob-out playlist – a good re-entry point to the band for the jaded thirtysomethings who used to go hard to ‘Time To Pretend’ at house parties back in the carefree ’00s. / Calum Henderson

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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