Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

Katy Perry – Rise

And you’re gonna hear me riiiiiiiiiiise…


[Video][Website]
[3.23]
Iain Mew: I like the continuity from the last Olympic theme which sees “Survival” followed by a song with the first line “I won’t just survive.” Indeed, “Rise” works 100% for the bits which sound over-committed enough that they could have been given to Muse again (“you will see me thrive!” “Victory is in my veins!” “I will not negotiate!”) and about 20% for everything else.
[3]

Alfred Soto: Did we ever doubt “victory is in [her] veins”? Blasting enemies from the top of sequined towers like an agent of Mordor, Katy Perry can’t open her mouth without reminding listeners of her effort and strength. This Olympic theme is the snuggest set of clothes she’s worn since Teenage Dream. No one will remember it in August — that’s the best part.
[3]

Katie Gill: I usually like generic sports anthems but this one’s a boring sports anthem. Katy’s wheelhouse has never been big ballady numbers (remember “Unconditionally?” We try not to.), and that’s remarkably apparent here. Besides, if you’re going for slow ballads with a pseudo-phoenix theme (rising, surviving, lyrics about fire, etc.), then I’m sorry to tell you but the best one’s already been done.
[3]

Will Adams: All the super serious, cumbersome drama of a Eurovision song that finishes in nineteenth but probably didn’t deserve to make it to the grand final in the first place.
[4]

Claire Biddles: This is so middling Eurovision — close your eyes and you can see Katy atop a revolving podium, fibre optic dress trailing 12 feet below her, “You are unable to cast a vote for this song in your country” flashing below her on screen as you order your fourth bottle of fizzy wine from the bar. Aside from when she unleashes her trademark bellow of the song title, Perry feels like a rent-a-star on this, which, as a Katy-hater, means I like it a little more than her usual soundbite wailfests, but not enough to actually want to listen to it again.
[2]

Katherine St Asaph: Behold (the simplification of) the era: America watches Eurovision, HBO’s several years into a swords opera, fashion is smitten with floor-length elf robes, everything is dystopia, Celine Dion is back, and Katy Perry is also back and fits right in. A scatter of trap percussion dates this alongside “Kiss It Better,” but otherwise this is full symphonic power ballad, and if I’m on record anywhere saying Perry’s voice best fits Matrix-y pop-punk, mea culpa. Her kitten-at-a-scratching-post cadence suits the waify heroines that culture casts and fans imagine in these stories, and if she doesn’t (or can’t) go for the final high note this so clearly needs, neither did Conchita Wurst. The lyrics are nothing — if she’s beyond the archetype, why does she then list every single one? Are we battling or transforming or sportsing or Jesuslazarusphoenixing? — but the drama is shameless and palpable and all this needs.
[7]

Moses Kim: With the passing of each four-year epoch, the Olympics feel less like the grand universal spectacle I once believed them to be and more a bloated relic of a more optimistic time in national history. Give “Rise” some credit for capturing our contemporary mood in its plodding, monotonous weight, where the simmering racial and economic tensions of the last few decades have been rendered explosive thanks to a pompous wig with a man attached to it; where each morning feels punctuated with news of distant gunshots; where hope is demanded even as it feels impossible. There is much in the United States to rise from right now, yet Perry sings of rising against nothing more specific than the funeral-dirge trap of the instrumental (meanwhile, everybody in Rio is scrambling to hold the illusion up). “Oh ye of so little faith,” accuses the pre-chorus, but I smell the sewage under the shrine, and if that’s what “Rise” demands, it makes an atheist of me.
[2]

Edward Okulicz: I don’t care for the Olympics beyond the faster, higher, stronger events that make sense within it. I am unmoved by the hero-worship of 99% of athletes. I find Katy Perry to be about the least inspiring pop star in the world. I can’t stand the lyrics of this, not just bad and trite, but perverting the melody’s scansion. It’s really hard to listen to this and conclude that it was written especially for the purpose, because the words feel so unnatural and plonked. I will give Perry credit and/or blame for believing every syllable of this piffle, though.
[3]

Scott Mildenhall: How could something so ponderous possibly rise? And how could it possibly be considered as a theme for TV coverage of the Olympics? At best this is a half-baked Bond theme demo, possessing an uncertain portentousness that could be attractive if it actually went anywhere, but doesn’t. Perhaps it might play better with American viewers, but from here it feels uninspiring in every sense of the word.
[4]

Danilo Bortoli: Putting sportsmanship and competitive nature inside a song can be tough. It can lead to patronizing anthems and chants of blind and vague chants of self-congratulation (comporting a few exceptions of course). Yet, “Rise” makes sense: nobody tries harder than Katy Perry, the popstar who acknowledges she is far from being the “epitome of effortless cool“. That means everything about this song is forced: the lyrics are vague to the point of soullessness, acquiring the same emotional impact you would get from a postcard. That is, by addressing everyone, she reaches nobody. When it comes to the Olympics, timing and faith are crucial, as they have always been, but that is not the point. The question now is: Why so inauthentic?
[3]

Will Rivitz: “I won’t just conform,” says the most malleable pop singer around, over a track so cloying it’s almost physically painful. I didn’t think it was possible to push through Katy’s impenetrable mediocrity — apparently, I was wrong.
[1]

Cassy Gress: There once was a stream of famous Olympic songs all about achieving the dream and having that perfect, glorious moment. This one follows more in the 2012 tradition; it’s about glaring and stomping and steam coming out nostrils á la bull in Bugs Bunny cartoon, FUCK YOU YOU CAN’T STOP ME, and thus it sits in a weird place where it’s too victory-themed for a normal pop song but too oddly angry for an Olympic anthem. The Olympics have been a financial and infrastructural nightmare for years now, but I still, perhaps stupidly, get all excited every year for athletes from all over the world coming together and fighting and winning and glorying — this is too boring for that.
[3]

Brad Shoup: It is a perfect depiction of the elite athlete: the one for whom excellence is not enough, who must silence the one doubter in a sold-out arena, who takes on the unneeded burden of reaching the theoretical notes struck by performative worship. It’s not the ultimate joy, but there is no joy, I guess, that feels quite like the one which shames your haters. That joy, here, is in the hovering: the way Perry’s echo etches her proclamations. The timpani is infernally forged; the snares strain like tendons. It’s tailored to the 40-yard touchdown pass in an NFL Films joint and the endless tease of an NBA-recapped alley-oop, to the atomic narrativizing that sportswriters reach for to make the impressive merely eternal. For this reason, Perry’s anthems have always been her worst songs, and her trifles the best: in the latter, the thrill comes from the doing, not the deed. I’m sure this will be a smash for the Olympic athletes. But take it from a great athlete who won’t be there: it’s less about the rise than the surprise.
[4]

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Drake ft. Popcaan – Controlla

Yes, let’s all do what Drake tells us to, that will be fun…


[Video][Website]
[5.00]

Leonel Manzanares: Was the new version with the Beenie Man participation so necessary? Popcaan effortlessly slays this late-night gentle grinder of a track. Hell, he even slays “Too Good” from that little sample box. It’s kind of fun when Drake plays faux-Caribbean, but his low-toned “romantic” — by that i mean creepy — delivery falls short when it’s sharing the track with an actual Caribbean. My point is, Views needed way more Popcaan than what we ultimately got.  
[5]

Alfred Soto: Ominous and confident about his sensuality, Popcaan shows up the superstar, vocoder and everything.
[3]

Anthony Easton: Along with that Rihanna single, Drake keeps hiring people who sing better than him. I am not convinced that there aren’t two dozen singers who could work in a similar capacity in St. Thomas Parish. Extra point because I am amused that something so bottoming and needy makes the argument about control. 
[3]

Claire Biddles: I don’t know what’s hotter; the push and pull of lyrical dominance and submission, or the anticipatory syncopation in Drake’s delivery — “you like it/when I get/aggressive/tell you to/go slower/go faster” — a rhythm that drips with sexual maturity. 
[9]

Thomas Inskeep: For the life of me I can’t quite figure out what this song’s about — pretty sure Mr. Toronto and Popcaan find a girl “sexy” — but it’s a pleasant enough, plush dancehall-lite record.
[6]

Natasha Genet Avery: So I guess Drake’s fake patois is less a momentary lapse of judgement and more of a directive. The most I can hope for is that this middling attempt at a summer jam helps Popcaan reach the international stardom he’s increasingly well-positioned for.
[4]

Katherine St Asaph: *peeks head into zeitgeist* What’s Fucking Drake up to these days? Curating Caribbean and African artists? Laudable! Droning robotically and still failing to get through a love song without bemoaning more girls? Unsurprisingly unchanged.
[5]

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Metronomy – Night Owl

Cruel summer ’08…


[Video][Website]
[6.17]

Katie Gill: The song starts off so slow I had to double check that my volume wasn’t muted. Once it starts up however, we’re left with a remarkably good piece of electronica that’s somehow chill and peppy at the same time.
[7]

Katherine St Asaph: I always forget what Metronomy actually sounds like and expect toothless, pleasant soft-rock. Toothless, unpleasant cod-funk about a whiny vocalist and his ex’s dreaded Lady Gaga music is not an improvement.
[2]

Claire Biddles: Some break-up songs are relatable because they are universal, and some are relatable because they filter a familiar feeling through specifics. “Night Owl” is from a record called Summer 08, so it’s clear from the start that this is going to be about a particular person. At first I thought the date might be in reference to when they broke up, but it’s clear from the smarting bitterness in the song that it’s when they got together. A reference to “FM radio hosts playing ‘Paparazzi'” situates the story of the song in a fixed time and place, but also perfectly evokes the moment when a soundtrack to a love affair becomes unlistenable as love rots away — I think of all the songs I’ve deleted from my computer, all the records I’ve hidden at the back of the stack, only to hear them in a bar, unavoidable and daring to remain omnipresent when I want to forget. “Night Owl” is bitter and cruel and pathetic and self-loathing, but haven’t we all been those things?
[8]

Brad Shoup: As I understand it, the whole record’s literally about the summer of 2008. Less understandable is this song’s choice to recreate a casually sour reaction to a breakup. Gothic pronouncements alternate with the magnetic pull of downtown parties; he references “Paparazzi” just to tweak it. I wonder what utility there is in resurrecting a shittier you, especially when so many of our past shitty selves are amply documented. I also wonder about the artistry in it. His track’s more willing to interrogate the past than his text is (though he does get in a cracking rhymeset on the chorus). It doesn’t sound like the mutant disco of Nights Out: the grim danceability and rigid interplay are more of the same, if not a step forward. But they — along with Joe Mount’s acidly resigned tenor — suggest someone coming home from those parties and putting on Neon Bible. That shit was always bad.
[5]

Scott Mildenhall: He doesn’t actually date the reference, but as pop songs are one of the most enduring bookmarks of a moment in time to be placed in the mind, Joe Mount should be aware that “Paparazzi” was a hit in ’09, and not Summer 08. Fair enough if he’s making that connection though: the memory is hazy and the writing is lazy — or at least not “thoughtful,” as he protests. Haziness and laziness, remembered and in remembering, are in any case “Night Owl”‘s key. To a knackered production flitting in and out of the whirling synth of its dream sequence chorus, Mount seems to be simply looking for a beacon.
[8]

Alfred Soto: Not a Gerry Rafferty cover, nor a band effort — Joe Mount recorded “Night Owl” by his lonesome. That nagging single note played on his guitar is the kind of simple hook that mediocre bands spend forever trying to find. The breathy Junior Boys-indebted vocal should be resisted at all costs, though.
[7]

Monday, July 25th, 2016

Wonder Girls – Why So Lonely?

Cruel summer…


[Video][Website]
[7.25]

Katherine St Asaph: Dunno, why so forced?
[6]

Thomas Inskeep: More gleaming pop from the Wonder Girls, only this time they’ve gone for light skanking instead of the ’80s gloss of last year’s Reboot. Their lyrics are as sharp as ever (really, gentlemen, you should do right by them), and so is their sound. I just prefer the ’80s.
[7]

Moses Kim: Sticky, sweet, and summer-ready; listening to this makes me want to lick a popsicle plaintively whilst leaning against the moonlit wall of a 7-Eleven.
[8]

Cassy Gress: So many artists put out songs in the summer and call it a “smash summer jam” or similar. This is the first one I’ve heard this year that actually put summer in my mind; it’s probably just the reggae inflection, but “why-y-y I’m so lone-lyyy” has just the right lean on it to evoke heat mirages on the highway.
[8]

Katie Gill: The inescapable summer beach stylings have made their way to K-Pop. Thankfully here, the steel drums and UB40 keyboard don’t sound as cliché as they have in other endeavors. Wonder Girls’ tight harmonies, a fun rap break, and the purposeful lethargy of the track make a wonderful final product that I’ve just been listening to over and over again.
[8]

Jonathan Bogart: It’s a truism that reggae-pop always sounds best in summer, and since I dislike summer, I like reggae-pop best when it’s depressive rather than sunny. Wonder Girls make immaculate pop about subtle shades of emotion, so of course their depressive reggae is going to hit my spot hard.
[8]

Adaora Ede: An insistence on breaking out of the “idol” mold to become an artist is more aligned with the graduated mass idol culture of Japanese pop, yet Wonder Girls’ recent forays into self-composition and production show them breaking out of the less niche-oriented K-pop. In Korean pop music, the musical variety is so great that writing your own songs or even straying out of genre to styles like rock or hip-hop will not instantly separate you from the idol label. WG’s Park Yeeun has vocalized her aspirations for Wonder Girls to be considered artists, not products for mass consumption. However, their first band attempt, “I Feel You,” lacked the authenticity to level Wonder Girls past idol status: the music didn’t require a staged band set for their improved euphony to shine through. “Why So Lonely” does break barriers by standing away from the mediocre power-pop/Maroon 5-esque pop-rock sound that signifies band concepts in K-pop, with every member putting their instruments to good use. Yes, It’s slightly difficult to take to cruise ship vacation reggae-rap at first, but the artistry being conveyed without the help of the JYP machine makes it innovative.
[8]

Will Rivitz: Everything here is really unsettling. The music is a weirdly processed piece of pop-reggae, MAGIC!’s “Rude” with a layer of dust on top. The video takes this strangeness up three or four notches: Wonder Girls don’t quite play their instruments in sync with the music, and look uncomfortable while doing so to boot; nihilistic binge-drinking is casually mixed in with the rest of the video’s relatively innocuous destruction of a man(nequin); and everything’s colored this strange pastel palette which jives poorly with the music and visual content. Has anybody coined the term “unKanny valley” yet?
[5]

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016

Round-up, 2016 week 29

Everything we reviewed, in score order:

Come back next week for our reviews of Wonder Girls, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, something from Game of Thrones, another soundtrack song with maybe the most convoluted credit list ever, and lots more!

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Didrick ft. Amanda Fondell – Smoke

…and mirrors.


[Video][Website]
[5.75]

Iain Mew: Rattling off bleeps in dazzling sequences like someone effortlessly racking up high scores, Didrick sets a scene of triumph and newfound heights. The result is that the conviction Fondell brings to lines about feelings not expected in a million years sounds perfectly in place.
[8]

Cassy Gress: That E minor-C major-A-major chord progression repeating through the choruses is an odd one. It’d have better effect used once or twice as a pre-chorus because as it is it’s reminiscent of a series of hopeful moments gone wrong. Otherwise, the song consists of mostly forgettable shimmery ice walls and 8-bit bloops, and Amanda chews on the vowels and pushes her passagio through her nose hard enough to take me out of the song entirely. Now I’m just idly wondering when that style of singing stopped being a novelty.
[4]

Ryo Miyauchi: Let’s just stop trying to make this into some serious, life-changing epic and skip right ahead to that sweet, dumb chiptune rush.
[5]

Will Adams: I imagine that someday I’ll tire of this maximalist approach to dance music: of fluttering 8-bit arpeggios, bright synth chords, and vocals that sound like they’re soaring over glaciers. For now, “Smoke” feels like riding another crest.
[8]

Thomas Inskeep: Fondell’s voice is obnoxious, pulling the same shapes as Paloma Faith, which unfortunately seems to be becoming de rigeur for dance/pop hook-singers these days (especially from Europe, which still currently includes the UK). I like the d’n’b chorus once it kicks in. How about a whole song that’s just that, without the vocal?
[4]

Alfred Soto: Fondell’s big gulping voice doesn’t always navigate Didrick’s chord changes with ease, but falling in love’s like that sometimes. It would’ve been a winner too had the synth sounds been fresher.
[6]

Will Rivitz: This is the kind of happy-go-lucky electronic pop I’m sure the bloggerati would sneer at if ever it reached their inboxes, but I think this style of music is the bees’ knees, so maybe I’m a bad music writer? Either way, this is a superficial cross between Madeon and Fred V & Grafix – given the source material (Madeon’s hit or miss, but his hits hit hard; Fred V & Grafix are easily top-five favorite artists in my book), it could have been a lot better, but by the same token, given the source material, this was never not going to be right up my alley.
[8]

William John: Teasing out angst into something preposterously theatrical is a very teenage action and one of which I approve of conceptually in pop. “Smoke” heightens the melodrama of unexpected romance with a patchwork of production ideas, some intriguing, others garish. It fails to coalesce mostly because of the guest singer Amanda Fondell, who seems to have used her time in the vocal booth as gurning practice.
[3]

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Frenship ft. Emily Warren – Capsize

I can’t improve on “HMAS Somebody That I Used to Know”


[Video][Website]
[4.17]

Iain Mew: The capsize here is presumably the sinking of HMAS Somebody That I Used to Know following a forcible onboarding by the piratical forces of dull tropical dance music.
[3]

Will Rivitz: I’ve listened to this song four times now, and I couldn’t tell you anything that happens in it. There are guys who sing, I think? And a girl? And maybe some ebbing synths? Airy confections can be great, but this slips away too easily.
[4]

Tim de Reuse: Surprisingly dark for a song with so many “Hey-ay-ay-ay-ya”s. The breathy chants of “oh my god” at first sound a little dead behind the eyes, but by the end they’ve progressed to existential dread — it’s the singular “oh my god” you say when you’re too overwhelmed to say anything else. On that level the lyrics are a lovely little punch in the gut, but I can’t help but see strange dissonance between the half of the song that wants to be a triumphant four-on-the-floor major-keyed singalong and the half that groans “Give in to the lonely” as it cries into its cereal.
[6]

Alfred Soto: Warren’s melody has a hint of remembered angst — a well from which she can continually draw if shes going to keep working with the Chainsmokers.
[5]

Adaora Ede: “Capsize” comes from a lineage of emerging viral alty producer+no name singer pop hits a la the Chainsmokers. Building around a droning indie electro beat isn’t exactly the best way to push an awkward ersatz-duet in which the unknown male vocal gets drowned out by the much more emotive Warren. This would have managed to sound complex in 2012, but with the changing range of synthpop in mainstream music, the time that “Capsize” comes out in does not serve analeptic to a tired boom chorus and faux-ethnic chanting. A collation partly triggered by the half-rhyme of the song titles,I can’t help but think of “Capsize” as the emo, less culturally aware cousin of Vance Joy’s “Riptide”. Which stinks, because “Riptide” was already the weird cousin.
[4]

Cassy Gress: Tropical house is supposed to sound a little tropical, right? This hits the checkboxes with the rhythm and marimba-esque synths, but unlike the songs that sound like a lit up beach party at night, this one puts nothing in my mind other than the studio. “Give in to the lonely / here it comes with no warning” is awkward every time she runs through it, especially on the last chorus, where “lonely / here” gets mangled and smeared.
[3]

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

Nice as Fuck – Door

Not ready to be nice (as fuck).


[Video][Website]
[5.62]

Katie Gill: Is there a name for putting an obnoxious amount of echo over a generic female vocalist that every single damn indie group does these days? We’ve covered at least five of them, that’s enough to give the effect a name. That and the boring bass are the main things preventing this from getting a higher score.
[6]

Tim de Reuse: As a card-carrying post-punk obsessive I do value any effort made to switch up the post-punk revival, especially since we’re probably in the post-punk revival revival revival at this point and I can only take so many identical tom rolls. And, hey, there’s no reason removing the guitar from the equation couldn’t work, but everyone involved in this song acted like it was a chore, and the lack of an instrument is even more apparent given the lack of energy to fill the gap. The bassist repeats an endless three-note loop without expression or variation, the drummer goes for an inoffensive holding pattern, and the listener calmly waits for the song’s subject to meet its verb (it never does). The meek little calls of “shout it” during the denouement only highlight how Jenny Lewis doesn’t seem to have the passion to shout at all. How on earth do you make three minutes feel long?
[3]

Alfred Soto: Jenny Lewis leading a band through a Joy Division rhythm section might’ve been my idea of paradise in 2006, but despite admiring and often loving many of the moments that this scenester has written and sung I’ve never embraced her — colorless productions? an air of hedging, of giving her male critic demographic the right dollops of literate coquetry? “I wanna ride the white dove/in the blessings, the blessings of love,” she croons, invoking Stevie Nicks, another scenester, but one besotted with the possibilities of terrible poetry and being every Henley’s fantasy. Assured and rehearsed in its tautness, “Door” remains shut against the elements.
[6]

Joshua Copperman: In theory, anything that sounds like Case/Lang/Veirs freestyling words over “Disorder” should be worth at least an [8]. It probably would be a [10] if the song was a little more developed, but given that Nice As Fuck really isn’t trying to be much more than an amusing, endearing curio, I can forgive them for that.
[8]

Claire Biddles: Like Krautrock for women i.e. it’s better than Krautrock and it doesn’t feel the need to be 17 minutes long to feel expansive and make its point.
[7]

Ryo Miyauchi: While the muddy riffs and stiff drumming might work for anyone else trying to relive the aughts, they’re not doing Jenny Lewis any good. I get Nice as Fuck is supposed to be a side gig for her to let loose, but can’t the music reflect more of the silliness that the band name suggests?
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: Post-punk is as post-punk does: a little Police, a dash of ESG, nice ‘n easy.
[6]

Katherine St Asaph: Something’s off about the ratio of “nice” to “fuck.” Or of reverb to reason, or of song to no song.
[4]

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Rae Sremmurd – Look Alive

Someone give these boys a coffee.


[Video][Website]
[5.14]
Andy Hutchins: “Look alive, look alive,” implores one of the most exciting rappers of the decade, “be the highlight of my night.” Over a beat this delicately somnolent, it’s begging for a wake-up call. The second album is the drugs album, though, I guess.
[4]

Alfred Soto: “Numb, quasi-ruminative” Rae Sremmurd makes me as suspicious as “Nuanced, character-driven” The Weekend, a comparison which should indicate who’s influencing whom. This is the anomie of the teens in Kids, intended to impress as much for its cool as its cautionary tale aspects. But while “Hands up if your head the dumbest” may gross me out, the boring way in which Slim slurs the line reminds me how shows of affectlessness need good acting.
[5]

Ryo Miyauchi: Mike Will dishes a sweet glaze of midnight bass as always, and Swae Lee sings a lullaby-like chorus to match. Rae Sremmurd could use their own advice in their verses, though. They’re caught in a trance, maybe, but they sink into Mike Will’s digital haze enough to start sounding too numb for their own good.
[6]

Iain Mew: There’s a curious disconnect in a sound that’s so tailored for playing around with its laidback ease, and an act who never sound like they even want to. It’s not like they’ve always played things so cool and straight down to line, which makes the bland adequacy that results even weirder.
[5]

Edward Okulicz: Mike Will’s beat conjures the feeling of having about the worst time possible in the club, which I don’t mean as a criticism at all! There’s an uneasy and almost great hook h here, but Swae Lee’s performance — as if forced to record directly after waking up after two hours’ sleep — might be overegging the pudding based on the idea of numb distance implied by the title a little. The answer track, “Sound Alive,” writes itself.
[4]

Thomas Inskeep: I like Swae Lee’s sung chorus plenty, especially the weirdly precise way he enunciates. He’s a better rapper than partner Slim Jxmmi, too. Mike WiLL Made It supplies ’em with a solid, if unexceptional, trap track that does what it’s meant to (mainly, give Rae Sremmurd a platform). I think they’re singing/rapping this to ladies they’re interested in, but if so, “Look Alive” is a rather odd directive.
[6]

Brad Shoup: Swae Lee is A.R. Kane doing screwed New Jack: melodies deployed blithely despite the aftertaste. He’s the lurid core of this underwritten plinker.
[6]

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Tory Lanez – Luv

Would you settle for “Lyk”?


[Video][Website]
[6.12]

Ryo Miyauchi: “Oops, I think you got me” sums up my surprise with “Luv.” The “One Dance” wave got Tory Lanez more upfront about what he really wants, and I prefer him being open about his business than faking smoothness. His awe at a visa has no match to the dude who inspired the sound he’s rocking, but at least he sings with more joy and energy than the other guy from Toronto.
[7]

Katie Gill: Discount vocals with a discount beat. Something that you wouldn’t turn off if it’s on the radio but nothing that you’d actually remember. It’s not BAD, it’s just kind of there. In fact, I’m finding it hard to write about this song, that’s how exceedingly middle of the road it is. A for effort?
[5]

Iain Mew: “Luv” sounds like going for a lazy swim on a hot day, like the first moment of being underwater and seeing beams of sunlight shimmering on the surface.
[8]

Andy Hutchins: Tory Lanez is on one heck of a run with three very different singles: “Say It” was great mid-tempo falsetto-y R&B, “LA Confidential” was stunningly competent Miguel-ish rock&B, and “Luv” is a confident, lush reworking of one of the best riddims ever, good enough that its spot in the pantheon of patois-inflected jams of the last two years might even be ahead of Drake’s finer genre tourism. Tory’s no more Jamaican — Jamaica Queens doesn’t count — than his fellow Torontoan, but he is Bajan, and he can pull off a “We ah.” He’s also got enough faith in his pen to tease the hook mid-verse, and if it weren’t for a touch too much Auto-Tune slathered on everything, this would be one of the strongest songs of the summer.
[8]

Thomas Inskeep: Pretty boilerplate, heavily Autotuned minimalist trap-soul. If you tend to like this kinda thing, you’ll probably go for it, and if not, you won’t be moved. 
[4]

Brad Shoup: He cuts through the chill with big flapping arms, sending out stagy air-kisses, bubbling about freakiness, trying out all kinds of lines. The dancehall bassline errs on the side of deftness, unlike Tory, thankfully.
[7]

Alfred Soto: Rather garrulous trap music with hints of Trey Songz and Ne-Yo. Lane’s high, pinched Autotuned voice annoys me like a mosquito hovering above my ear, but I’ll admit to being charmed by how badly he wants to smooch in the back seat.
[6]

William John: This song posits romantic love as quotidian rather than elusive, which is both cheesy and deluded. Certainly, if you’re going to justify a sentiment like “everyone falls in love all the time love is incredible but also so normal!!!” (which to me sounds hopelessly quixotic), then you’ll need a better denouement than a few wheezy hums. I appreciate that Lanez isn’t afraid to show pride in his Bajan heritage via vocal inflection, but that just makes me think about how much more Rihanna could’ve done with this glassy beat.
[4]