Selecting from this summer's expansive pool of new tracks, 2 of Shuf's writers talk us through their favourite releases of the last few months.
Lil Uzi Vert - XO Tour Llif3
For a minute there, we actually thought we’d managed to pull off an Emo Revival without a drop of mascara. For the last three years, the resurgence in popularity and exposure for the Emo genre has been signalled by the work of groups like The Hotelier and TWIABP’s purposeful abandon of the aesthetic cornerstones of the genre’s most influential and profitable period a decade earlier. Critics heralded the so-called revival’s return to form, forecasting Emo’s future to be far from the swooping bangs, tight jeans, and mall macabre fascinations that warped the previously understated hardcore punk sub-genre into a Billboard charting behemoth akin to Hair Metal in the 2000s. Little did they know the Emo Revival wouldn’t truly start until Lil Uzi Vert sang, “push me to the edge/all my friends are dead.” See Uzi Vert belongs to the previously unacknowledged generation of kids raised on a sonic diet of equal parts Paramore, My Chemical Romance, Kanye, and Gucci Mane. With the Soundcloud throwaway turned runaway career defining hit XO Tour Llif3, the Hip-Hop artist provided a shining example of the true sound of Emo in 2017 capable of bringing pit of despair performance to the pop chart. Effortless delivery and airtight aesthetic have allowed Uzi to combine the suicidal shallowness of Hot Topic’s greatest hits with the mechanical repetition and unmistakable drums of Atlanta Trap for a final product that moves both Hip-Hop and Emo forward.
Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee Feat. Justin Bieber - Despacito (Remix)
Despacito is for the children. Adults, old folks, and teens too. Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's ode to slowfucking was an international phenomenon; inescapable in 2017 from BBQs to chain restaurant bathrooms and of course wafting out of an endless stream of passing cars in the street, windows down just in time to hear you scream "¡Ay, Bendito!" Fonsi’s sexed up balladry is sublime and addicting; a broad expression of wide eyed lustful sincerity delivered via the drums and accentuated with glee by an inspired feature from Daddy Yankee. A hit before Scooter Braun inserted Justin Bieber’s Cool Ranch flavored mortal shell into the mix, “Despacito” is the first Spanish language song to make it to number one on the Hot 100 since “The Macarena” turned Hispanic culture into a robotic novelty anthem for suburban white Americans to dance to. Foreseeably created by Latinos with a Latinx audience in mind, the silly yet seductive authenticity of Despacito has spread to the entire world making the track the most streamed single of all time. A triumph for Latin America, Pop music, and the entirety of humanity; we don’t deserve Despacito but we’ve got it, slow and low, and delivered with love.
Words: Nick Boyd
Chelsea Wolfe - 16 Psyche
On September 22nd Chelsea Wolfe will release Hiss Spun, her fifth studio album, via Sargent House. Wolfe recorded the album in Salem, Massachusetts at GodCity Studio with Kurt Ballou, the guitarist and producer of legendary metalcore act Converge. Chelsea Wolfe, Salem, and Kurt Ballou is about as gloriously unholy of a trinity as you could hope for this fall season, and the first fruits of their collaboration, 16 Psyche, are just about as brutal as you would expect. Like most of Wolfe’s work, it’s a track that feels conjured rather than composed. The production work from Ballou pushes Wolfe closer to full-on doom metal than she’s ever sounded before, her signature macabre stylings still intact, but with plenty more grit to balance out the empty spaces. The track opens with a sinister guitar riff that lurches in the background against Wolfe’s gorgeously reverbed voice before exploding into a chorus that sounds like a solid wall of doom. Somehow, as we’ve come to expect from Wolfe, it’s doom that can be equally admired for its beauty as it can for its darkness. It’s a perfect heavy hitter for those long days of summer that leave you with nothing but despair.
Charli XCX - Boys
In May Charli XCX announced that her already long delayed third studio album will not find arelease until sometime in 2018. Her rationale, as she told The Fader, is that she would like to release other types of music first before doing the whole studio album thing again. To many, this sounds like popstar speak for record label turmoil; which, if indeed the case, would be a surprise to no one. Her first two studio albums were vastly different in approach, and she’s since released an EP and a mixtape that find her far out in the leftfield compared to her previous work. It’s easy to imagine record label executives trying to impose their own manufactured narrative and aesthetic on to Charli this time around so that she might become a more easily packageable popstar. On Boys, the first single from this upcoming studio album, Charli issues atongue-in-cheek rejoinder to all of the fans, critics, and studio execs who have been scratching their heads at Charli’s recent behavior. What has she been doing this whole time to prevent her from getting the album out? Well, what every female pop star does (in the most purposefully cliched sense): think about boys. “I’m sorry that I missed your party/I wish I had a better excuse/Like ‘I had to trash the hotel lobby’/But I was busy thinking bout boys.” Overthinking is the enemy of action, indeed. When the song hits the bridge--a truly remarkable transition that sounds like the mark of pop divinity--Charli sings “don’t be mad, don’t be mad at me”, and just like that you’ve forgotten what you were even at mad at her for in the first place. While we patiently await her new album we, too, will keep ourselves busy thinking about Boys.
Words: Andrew Ward