Track Of The Day: Bestfriend – ‘Hannah In The City’

Hannah In The City’, the lead single from Bestfriend’s upcoming EP, is a beautiful contradiction. Written and produced by the duo, its confessional lyrics and DIY sensibility feel cosy and intimate, while the dreamy, brilliantly arranged synths and Stacy Kim’s stunning vocals, buoyed by Kaelen Geoffrey’s sweet harmonies, give it a lush glossy pop finish.

The song’s subject matter – regret and missed opportunities – follows suit. As Kim explains, “It’s a happy-sad-angry reminiscing song all about the idea that a relationship might not have fallen apart if we’d just done this or that – all while knowing in the back of your head that it was obviously doomed to fail in the first place.”

This is grown-up bedroom electro pop, simultaneously beautiful and bittersweet. Kim and Geoffrey write songs long distance, over email. But you’d never guess. As the band’s name suggests, there’s a real connection, and the duo’s storytelling and ideas marry together as harmoniously as their voices. It’s truly magical. 

‘Hannah In The City’ is taken from Bestfriend’s upcoming EP Places I’ve Lived, which is set for release on 1st October.

Vic Conway
@thepicsofvic

Photo Credit: Maxine Tamoto

EP: all cats are beautiful – ‘the things we made’

Released at the beginning of the month via Moshi Moshi, all cats are beautiful’s latest EP the things we made provides a heartfelt, off-kilter take on pop in the twenty first century with a beautifully developed sense of melody and texture. Where more self-conscious artists might have slipped into irony or even parody when playing with genre in the way this record does, the honesty and vulnerability of the lyrics instead steer it down a far more rewarding path; one that combines the hooks and emotional kick of the best pop with a willingness to experiment, keeping the listener guessing.

The band consists of “queer best friends” Elena and Kyle and this seven track release has a truly collaborative feel to it. Both are credited with playing multiple instruments and switch vocal duties throughout, while the way that the songs have been pieced together – often relatively sparse arrangements which sound nonetheless full of feeling – seems, somehow, reflective of the process of sending and receiving musical ideas across the internet during lockdown. The opening track of the EP – ‘(u know) u mean a long minute 2 me’, in which the lyrics apparently came from Kyle mishearing a line of dialogue in Netflix docu-series Tiger King, a fact that in itself makes the early-lockdown writing period extremely clear – was also the EP’s lead single. It sets the scene for what follows beautifully: a long, soft, introduction to the record which finally kicks into gear with the introduction of drums about two and a half minutes in, shifting from atmospheric pop to a shimmering lowkey take on disco.

If you’ve ever wondered (and I’m not sure why you would) what it would sound like if The XX tried their talented hands at making early 2000s slow jams, it might not sound a million miles away from ‘u c right thru me like a windowpane’. Certainly the atmospherics and soft vocal delivery which The XX made their trademark is evident here, but ACAB have far greater warmth in their lyrics and have more fully embraced pop sensibilities. So, in fact, a comparison to XX solo project Romy is probably more apt. The band themselves credit Owen Pallett’s ‘I Am Not Afraid’ as an inspiration for this track and the connection extends beyond a lyrical reference – both treat genre with the same flexibility while remaining refreshingly earnest. Julia Holter is another useful melodic reference point for the EP as a whole.

Other highlights include the rolling melodies of ‘skippin down the stairs like a slinky’ and the Blood Orange-esque ‘i get dayblindness when ur nearby’ which skitters along, built around a chorus to make connoisseurs of 2010s R’n’B swoon. Meanwhile, EP-closer ‘tryna b the 1 2 solve ur shape’ is the kind of ambient-inspired pop which wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Frank Ocean’s Blonde

There has clearly been a great deal of care taken in the construction of these songs – in their lyrics, their melodies, their arrangements and their recording and engineering. As a result, there isn’t a loose moment across the seven tracks; not a wasted or superfluous second, just twenty two and a half minutes of wonderfully imperfect pop.

the things we made, the new EP from all cats are beautiful, is out now via Moshi Moshi Records. Listen/download here.

Gregory Metcalfe
@GregorysParty

Photo Credit: Aaron Price

Track Of The Day: Lala Lala – ‘Diver’

Following previous albums Sleepyhead and 2018’s The Lamb, Chicago-based artist Lillie West – aka Lala Lala – has now announced the release of a brand new LP, I Want The Door To Open. Set for release in October, the collection offers an epic sonic exploration of persona and presence; a subtle insight into an artist’s quest to fully be themselves in a world full of barriers.

Epitomising the album’s themes of self-discovery and growth, first single ‘Diver‘ flows with a shimmering haze and magnetising allure. Oozing Lala Lala’s trademark dreamy, lo-fi scuzz, it builds with a cinematic splendour and subtle grandeur as layers of almost orchestral musicality (with contributions from musician Nnamdi Ogbonnaya) are interwoven to create something beautifully stirring. Exuding a raw emotion and sweeping ethereal grace, it offers an endearing intimacy; exposing us to West’s refreshing honesty and a heartfelt vulnerability. An exquisite exploration of life’s journey to find our true selves.

Of the track, West expands:

I want total freedom, total possibility, total acceptance. I want to fall in love with the rock. (The rock in question is a reference to Sisyphus, the mythical figure doomed by the gods to forever push a boulder up from the depths of hell.)… I think it’s easy to feel like we keep making the same mistakes over and over again, that we’re Sisyphus. The key is falling in love with the labor of walking up the mountain.” 

Directed by Brielle Brilliant & West, ‘Diver’ is accompanied by a glistening new video. Watch it now:

I Want The Door To Open, the upcoming new album from Lala Lala, is set for release on 8th October via Hardly Art.

Mari Lane
@marimindles

Photo Credit: Michael Schmelling

Track Of The Day: daze – ‘star signs’

Following a debut EP that raised £240 for Mind, ‘star signs’ is the new track from indie dream-pop duo daze. Written in February, the band say they’ve aimed for a mix of “sparkly guitars and warm synths” to create a perfect summer vibe.

I think they have absolutely nailed that. If nothing else, daze have proven that they are extremely competent when it comes to bringing their concepts to life. The fact that they manage to write, produce, mix and master the track entirely from their bedroom is a testament to their talent.

The different layers of the song fit together so well that it feels a lot more polished than you’d expect from even the most technically proficient homebrew. Having said that, I don’t think it’s lost any of the raw charm of DIY tunes. It has a lot of warmth and energy that only comes from a piece of art that someone has poured their heart into as they craft it.

The song itself is light and relaxed, but upbeat. The strings twinkle over the rich synths, eddying gently from riff to riff in a way that you can’t help but get carried along. Between the sparkles, the flow and the way it eventually fades away, ‘star signs’ captures the brightness and colour of summer sunsets using only sound.

It really is impressive how daze have managed to make such an evocative piece of music; a soundscape that inspires you to close your eyes and completely lose yourself in the scenes it creates. Particularly given it hit me with exactly that sensation on one of the drizzliest, dreariest days of the summer so far.

Kirstie Summers
@ActuallyKurt