Our regular round-up of new songs and singles, this week featuring Carly Rae Jepsen, Future & Kendrick Lamar, Teeks and Drax Project.
SONG OF THE WEEK
Carly Rae Jepsen – ‘Cut to the Feeling’
Is Carly Rae Jepsen the new Robyn?
This is the best straight-up pop song of the year so far. Combining Robyn-esque electro with Belinda Carlisle-era ‘80s pop, it is beyond irresistible. Crazy then that this song was passed over not once but twice, not making the cut for either 2015’s Emotion or 2016’s Emotion Side B, which, supposedly, collected the best songs that didn’t make the earlier album. Either way, thank the American Gods that she was cast in Ballerina, an animated movie about, um, a ballerina (to be released again this year as Leap!) and this song was revived. It’ll be mentioned on all the song of the summer lists in the north, but down here, this’ll help us get through the winter. – Henry Oliver
Teeks – ‘If Only’
First, the voice. It’s smooth, it’s soulful, it’s deep but not low. It’s legit. Add some vinyl haze and there’s nothing to tell you this voice isn’t coming at you from some classic soul record you’ve never heard before. But, on ‘If Only’, Teeks’ strength is also his vulnerability. His voice is so good, the songwriting on ‘If Only’ can’t match it. The hit songs Teeks’ voice conjures in your mind are some of the best pop songs ever written, so it’s no slight that this doesn’t live up to expectations. But if you record a classic-sounding voice with such a classic-sounding arrangement and production, you better have songs that can carry it. And, if you don’t, all have left is a voice. And a voice also needs something to sing. – HO
Future ft. Kendrick Lamar – ‘Mask Off (Remix)’
If it ain’t broke…
Other than ‘Bad and Boujee’, there’s only one song in competition for banger of the year and it’s Future’s flute-resurrecting ‘Mask Off’. Adding the almighty Kendrick can only improve it, right? This remix makes no alterations to the original song’s flawless beat, but does, of course, add a new verse. Kendrick’s bars are as dynamic as ever, and the way he combines rapping and singing is particularly genius. Problem is, this is a Future song. Kendrick’s ultra-clever flow doesn’t support the dark, codeine-saturated vibe like Future’s does. The original track evoked a mood and stuck with it. This version doesn’t. Why mess with perfection? – Mitchell Houlbrooke
Drax Project – ‘Cry Me a River / Higher Ground (Live)’
Wellington Jazz quartet bring EDM to life
Drax Project have taken their core drums/sax busking sound and beefed it up for the stage with guitar and bass. This Wellington quartet choose to use their jazz chops not to breeze through Charlie Parker tunes, but to bring EDM bangers to life. Their latest live EP’s tracklist looks reads like a typical afternoon set on George FM, but the way they make these tunes analogue again is kind of genius. Closing out the record is this killer mashup of the Justin Timberlake classic and perhaps the hardest-hitting instrumental trap song ever, ‘Higher Ground’. Shaan Singh not only plays a deliciously dirty tenor sax, he can also sing as well as the best of them. If for nothing else, listen to this to hear how to do a bass drop live with not a turntable in sight. – MH
The Spinoff’s music content is brought to you by our friends at Spark. Listen to all the music you love on Spotify Premium, it’s free on all Spark’s Pay Monthly Mobile plans. Sign up and start listening today.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.