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Best Songs Ever: Takin’ a ride on Neil Finn’s disco Vespa

Our regular round-up of new songs and singles, this week featuring Neil Finn, P!nk, Robert Plant, Kings and more…

SONG OF THE WEEK

Neil Finn – ‘Second Nature’

The second single from Neil’s month-long live-streaming project

Every Friday this month, Neil Finn and a handful of his friends have been getting together to rehearse and record his new album at Roundhead Studios and streaming it all live on the internet (read all about it here). To the everyday hack, this is a bone-chilling prospect, but for someone like Finn it’s fun, exciting, he seems to thrive on it. To him, it’s all just… second nature?

The second single released from the rehearsals has a gliding disco beat, elegant string flourishes and a chorus about a guy fully caning it on a Vespa “at 70 miles per hour, in love / That could be dangerous”. The scooter-riding subject is “a lightning rod to love,” which is how you could describe Finn at these sessions – conducting all the creative energy in the room (his backing choir includes musicians like SJD, Tiny Ruins, Lawrence Arabia) to bring his songs alive. / Calum Henderson

Robert Plant – ‘The May Queen’

Plant > Page

Alone amongst baby boomer rockers in the 2000s, Robert Plant almost completely shuns the pull of nostalgia and the lure of revisiting his past. Sure, he participated in a one off Led Zeppelin concert in 2007 (a benefit following the passing of Atlantic records founder Ahmet Ertegun), but despite constant rumours and clamouring from fans he shows no sign of rejoining his erstwhile partners Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones for a full scale reunion. New single ‘The May Queen’ makes it plain why – he has rich music of his own still to make.

Just as with his other excellent work over the past decade, Plant mixes music from his pre-Zep folk days, the weird olde English acoustic mystique of Led Zeppelin III, a love for Eastern and Appalachian music, and incorporates sly modern turns and twist in the production to produce something unique. As a precursor to another new record it may not satisfy more closed minded Zep fans, but for anyone willing to follow Plant’s late career path it’s something of a blessing. / Pete Douglas

Queen Neptune – ‘The Body House’

Dark, sad, political synth-pop from Thames/Auckland

‘The Body House’ is synth and beat heavy but don’t expect to hear it at a club anytime soon. The song is thoroughly dark, right from the whispers at the beginning to the frantic overlap of sounds at the end. The Auckland/Thames duo have shown to be fascinated with politics; they marvel at the hypocrisy and excess of royalty and on ‘The Body House’ they take issue with the media’s obsession with harmed female bodies, and the resulting culture of fear that stems from it. Although the track is clearly disturbed, that doesn’t mean it wants to shy away from being exciting. It’s loud, and plays with fluttering vocals, clipped samples and crushing bass. Through the morbid sadness, the band let the music do the talking. / Alex Lyall

P!nk – ‘What About Us’  

The most enduring post-Britney pop star is very much still here

Of the scores of post-Britney pop stars who materialised at the turn of the millennium, the odds were against P!nk building the sturdiest career. Her first record was a perfectly fine serving of TLC-indebted R&B, but her personality was indistinct, and her first singles felt a little generic. All that changed suddenly when she embraced both rockers and confessional ballads on her breakthrough album M!ssundaztood, scoring hits and anchoring strong and distinctive albums with each of these styles over the subsequent decade.

‘What About Us’ is the lead single from her first album in five years, and perhaps more than anything it illustrates P!nk’s seamless ability to move with the whims of the charts effectively. A mellow piano-accompanied beginning blossoms out into a sleek dancefloor number accompanied by an inspirational yet simultaneously slightly melancholic lyric. It’s enjoyable, even if it veers slightly too far towards the conventional and fails to showcase any of her trademark swagger and attitude. If history is any guide then the album itself will offer other moments which will instead play to these strengths. / PD

Kings – ‘Kush Rolled X Cup Filled’

Don’t worry bout this one…

Every time Kings releases a song, I want to like it, but since his smash-hit ‘Don’t Worry Bout’ It’ took over New Zealand music last year, he’s struggled to match its effortless charm. ‘Kush Rolled’ is a by-the-numbers summer party song, like a diet version of those Euro-house songs featuring Atlanta rappers that have been dominating the charts. The whole thing feels a little undercooked and a lot late (especially the unsatisfying ‘drop’ in the middle and end). Co-incidentally, I was listening to A$AP Rocky’s 2013 Skrillex collaboration ‘Wild for the Night’ a couple of days ago. Now that’s a party. / Henry Oliver


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