Tuesday, March 20th, 2018

MNEK – Tongue

Getting closer to that still unclaimed mid-[7] score this year…

Alfred Soto: MNEK has sung some of the most committed dance music of the last few years even when the tracks aren’t worth the effort. Rapping, resorting to his lower register, whispering, MNEK is credibly in heat while sampled steel drums explode like fireworks.

Julian Axelrod: Approximately ten billion sitcoms have devoted an episode to the conundrum of saying “I love you” to a new partner, but it still feels like a minefield of insecurity and miscommunication no one can navigate. So while MNEK is mining fertile ground here, it doesn’t feel staid. Rather, “Tongue” is a delirious, maximalist meta-pop powerhouse that turns a shy whisper into a mile-high neon billboard. The whole thing is knowingly goofy, but MNEK’s intoxicating vocal and the top-notch production make it clear he means business. And after that final whispered bridge, when he’s made the leap and said the words he can’t unsay, we get one last huge endorphin rush chorus firing in every direction. By the end of the song we fully understand the sensation he describes: excruciating tension, followed by sweet release.

Nortey Dowuona: The full sweeping bass, stabbing synths and underground, sharp, clattering drums do more than justice to MNEK’s soaring croon, sexy purr and smooth trills, which seem to have gotten even better.

Crystal Leww: One of the most underrated voices in dance music and pop writing gets a single that’s probably supposed to represent a new, sexy direction. “Tongue” feels too cut and paste for me, like an assortment of “moments” that never quite come together to form a whole. I know that songs like “Deeper” weren’t making him into a huge star, but they were good! They had feeling! They sounded like MNEK in his groove as the pop-house star. “Tongue” feels too much like a child playing dress up as a pop star.

Jonathan Bradley: “I’m putting both hands over my mouth/I can only hope nothing’s gonna come out/But there it is on the tip of my tongue” is tense and evocative scene-setting, a gripping beginning for a tale of intrigue. Then MNEK says it all over again. And again. And again. It turns out that’s the chorus.

Scott Mildenhall: The stakes feel so high here that it’s mildly terrifying: “I Wanna Have Your Babies” for the thisismydigitallife generation. MNEK could probably make brushing his teeth sound dramatic, but the tension this time is especially fraught, and not least because it seems impossible to know if he really is saying it. The tip of the tongue is about as far as a phrase can metaphorically get before becoming audible, so the danger is tantalising. It all makes a strong case for the visceral against calmness and rumination as the supposed keepers of rationality (if maybe one worth thinking through).

Will Adams: Sometimes it’s easy to forget that MNEK is a pop songwriter. Amidst his walloping production and house vocal turns one can overlook his keen eye towards sharp, smart hooks that drill into your brain, and “Tongue” is an excellent example. The spacious verse quickly collapses into an up-close drop chorus, invoking the whisper hook of “Problem” and the skin-prickling R&B-electro of “Shhh.” But where MNEK ups the ante is the building production, clattering drums and censor synths that wrap around the spoken admission in an attempt to cover it up. But the admission pierces through, and at the end it’s all you can remember: “I think you’re the one,” he mutters, the catharsis of a thousand crush songs at once.

Will Rivitz: One of those moments when lyrical content and musical form align perfectly, in that both content and form melt into puddles of pure dopamine almost before the song even starts. “Tongue” is an absolute mess, the dozen-odd sounds so meticulously siloed into groups of three or four for most of the track’s runtime all allowed to flood together into a frenzied amalgam of nonsense during a particularly luminous bridge. And yet it’s precisely this messiness that makes it shine, a loping, wild-eyed beast of an emotional roller-coaster encapsulating the dizzying rush of dancefloor libido with a deftness seemingly beyond MNEK’s years. Lust, passion, and a hopeless romanticism spiral out of control, exploding into unadulterated glory; “Tongue” is powerful with a little bit of tender, and no other song released yet this year comes even remotely close to its firework.

Reader average: [9] (7 votes)

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One Response to “MNEK – Tongue”

  1. This.

    More please. It helps me hate the world less.