Friday, June 26th, 2015

Lawson – Roads

The road to OneRepublic is paved with good intentions.


[Video][Website]
[3.33]

Iain Mew: I haven’t cared for anything they’ve done, but credit to them for realizing that “Counting Stars” would work just as well transformed by ridiculous miniature EDM drops.
[7]

Alfred Soto: Maroon 5 for hootenannies with keyboards.
[3]

Ramzi Awn: I played with matches as a kid, too. Only I didn’t sound so much like Maroon 5. Boring never sounded so festive.
[2]

Thomas Inskeep: This is the sound of Maroon 5 gang-banging Imagine Dragons.
[0]

Scott Mildenhall: Some people might think that being signed and managed by a company that runs so much of the UK radio market that it was forced to sell some of it off could be a hindrance, but they’re very hard to find. On this showing Lawson’s sound has been updated about as drastically as the Heart playlist, but that chug is tried, tested and liable to produce brilliance. This Bo Diddley angle isn’t exactly dynamic, but the lyrics are easy to ignore, and touches like the move into warp speed during the breakdown do prevent it from being an outright pastiche, as if that were an issue.
[6]

Maxwell Cavaseno: More tedious #AMERICANA (knew we weren’t out of the woods yet), with hammy pop production and a Patrick Stump style “soulful” whine. I can’t hit this with enough “NAUH” through a keyboard.
[2]

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Jean-Michel Jarre & M83 – Glory

Piffle.


[Video][Website]
[3.80]

Edward Okulicz: A victory lap fanfare for a race nobody else cares about.
[2]

Iain Mew: Soundtrack-ready fare that’s been deprived of the magnificent flock of birds or glacier or whatever it would need to have any effect.
[2]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Basically a ‘cool kids club’ approach to the Giorgio & Daft Punk “THE OLD GUY IS PRETTY HIP” phenomena. I half expect that that any minute now, we’re going to be treated to more event records like, I don’t know, The Horrors backing Bernard Sumner, or novelty singles where Chance sings a hook for Arrested Development. Regardless of the intent, the song itself is dull, shifting from martial drum programming to “dance” rhythms. Oh, and some arpeggiated New Age synths, because the old guy has to do something more than be a prop, right?
[2]

Cédric Le Merrer: The Bernard-Henri Levy of electronic music team up with every strategic planner favorite’s case study soundtracker. I may resent some of the associations, but you gotta say they are masters of their schtick. Anything less or more than a five would be dishonest on my part.
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: Jean-Michel Jarre, I know Giorgio Moroder, and Jean-Michel Jarre, you’re no Giorgio Moroder. And M83 is certainly no Daft Punk. This starts as a dirge and ends as a (s)lightly galloping dirge.
[1]

Scott Mildenhall: This is a song built for a David Beckham on a speedboat moment, a grand emotional release from the Olympian height of reality-distorting absurdity. News that David Guetta and not Jarre will be the one to hold an overblown open-air concert in Paris for Euro 2016 is therefore disappointing. In a just world, this would be the emotional centrepiece of a drones-and-lasers spectacular, the coda to a night with guest performances from Air, Daft Punk, Justice and probably The Supermen Lovers, upon which all would return to the stage and bask in the triumphant confluence of sport, music and shedloads of cash. Obviously Guetta will be amazing, but it’s an opportunity missed.
[7]

Alfred Soto: Meeting idols can freeze you. I don’t know what Jarre contributes to this shimmering non-entity. Maybe he helped it sound like M83.
[4]

Ramzi Awn: Jarre worries too much about where he belongs, but M83 can do no wrong. As far as anthems go, “Glory” disappoints.
[4]

Katherine St Asaph: Zedd with taste. You’d think that would be a more appealing prospect.
[5]

Will Adams: The low end was left to suffer — the synth bass just sits, and the kick is too light — but the switch from the first verse’s plodding to the remainder’s gallop just feels transcendent. It’s vaguely so, thus I can’t rely on it too much, but I bank on this catching me off guard and giving me a moment of flying.
[6]

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Zedd ft. Jon Bellion – Beautiful Now

Ugly always.


[Video][Website]
[2.70]

Katherine St Asaph: “I see what you’re wearing, there’s nothing beneath it / forgive me for staring, forgive me for breathing” — oh, fuck off a cliff. 
[1]

Cédric Le Merrer: We get it EDM kids, you’re all beautiful champion heroes. You don’t sound very convincing to me but Coué’s trick might still do it for you. To my ears, Zedd is a hack who doesn’t even dare to go full bosh when building his beat on a drunk football supporter worthy chorus of papapas. How many energy drinks does ot take for this to sound any good?
[2]

Will Adams: The egregiousness of Zedd re-using his stock template is usually in inverse proportion to how good the song is. (I say “usually” because some of the best moments on True Colors are when he tries something new for once). For every “I Want You to Know” — formulaic, sure, but still punchy — there is something like this. The combination of the drunk sports-chant hook with an ugly rendering of the popular “do me now” conceit make “Beautiful Now” rather unappetizing. The rest is what you’d expect.
[3]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Zedd is kind of fucked in a sense. His gold mine of emotional swell on “Clarity” worked because it sounded so obvious and familiar despite containing elements that weren’t too conspicuous. Those giddy misfiring late 90s video-game synths, marred to an almost 80s power-ballad level of yearning from Foxes that didn’t overtly try to be an 80s power ballad before the “HERE COMES THE DROP” section came in and helped the record achieve some lazy ‘cool’. He’s not going to get that same success from enlisting a Rolodex of celebrities who put out singles or people who specialize in performing the banal basic requirements of pop. So until he gets that in his head, Zedd’s chances for returning to his former heights are next to nil.
[2]

Anthony Easton: How he whispers at the beginning of this and how excessive he becomes near the end, with a needling production, and an EDM inspired vamping up, reads less an invite to sexy seduction and more of a creepy come-on, especially when he sings being stranded. 
[3]

Patrick St. Michel: Another EDM song, another opportunity to acknowledge this is probably a [10] in a giant stadium surrounded by all your friends, another chance to be reminded I’m sitting in my living room drinking coffee instead. That said, the ba-bas in the chorus sure remind me of the “Numa Numa” song.
[4]

Thomas Inskeep: Song-based EDM designed for maximum festival singalong impact.
[4]

Alfred Soto: Dig, if you will, a picture of “Hey Jude” electronified into a celebration of narcissism.
[2]

Scott Mildenhall: It’s what everyone was thinking: the voiced bilabial stop is a sound that has been long neglected in English-language pop’s attempts to make a chorus out of every part of the IPA. Inaccurate, perhaps, but it does seem that going “ba ba ba baba ba ba ba” is harder to prevent from sounding silly than its rhymes. Yes, the Beach Boys used it to great effect, but Gaga swerved it for “Bad Romance,” and that is surely no coincidence. This would have been better if Bellion was going “da.”
[5]

Ramzi Awn: Just what the world needed: another song about how we’re beautiful now. Tonight’s the night. Luckily, I have other plans.
[1]

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Fetty Wap – 679

“Why was 6 afraid of 7? Because 6, 7… wait, do I have this right?”


[Video][Website]
[4.67]

Alfred Soto: I suppose Fetty had to prove he was human.
[5]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Patterson represent, you miserable wasteland you… For the past month, I have read dozens of declarations of fawning praise of “Trap Queen” which is usually followed with some sort of half-assed apology for him as a rapper. Which is funny because HE’S OBVIOUSLY A RAPPER, AND HE NEEDS NO APOLOGIES. How many young adults develop past their early influences (specifically Gucci Mane, such an overwhelming archetype for Fetty’s flow) when their careers are still in the gestation? And quite frankly how many are instantaneously rewarding? In that regard, I love that we’re not covering the actual follow up in the now Drake-assisted and super melodious “My Way”, but a song featuring the rest of his fellow Remy Boyz (Monty and uh… that other guy). Over Peoples’ cornstarch syrup tooth decay R&Bass track, the Remy Boyz party in the most goonish fashion while Fetty provides wind tunnel siren bayings.
[8]

Thomas Inskeep: Decent bassline, nothing else. And are people really impressed by the boast that he’s “got a glock in [his Fer]rari”? I’m not.
[2]

Ramzi Awn: Standard Mitsubishi rap. I’m sure it would sound a lot better with a 40 in my hand.
[3]

David Sheffieck: Fetty’s still not great on verses — though “He playing Batman, Fetty’s gonna rob him” is probably a new high — but his way with a hook remains as strong as ever, even if it’s not quite enough to balance out the features barely registering. If Fetty manages to team up with a rapper who knows what they’re doing, one who can provide some kind of contrast to his style rather than paddling frantically in his wake, he’ll really be something to reckon with. Caveat that I also had reservations about “Trap Queen” back in February and it’s since dug in deep; I’m already steeling myself for the early-autumn realization that I needed to score this a few points higher.
[5]

Will Adams: “Trap Queen” blindsided me on first glance, as if it were already being propelled so much that I couldn’t give it a fair shake. “679” won’t get the benefit of that same momentum, though the tepid beat might have something to do with that.
[5]

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Natalie La Rose ft. Fetty Wap – Around the World

Daft Punk, ATC, Cooler Kids, or this? Discuss.


[Video][Website]
[4.29]

Katherine St Asaph: The pillowy processing on the intro is nice and new, and Fetty is a welcome if incongruous presence. But the song is the same dance of “global” sexualized exoticism every non-Anglo pop star is given sooner or later (usually sooner) in lieu of material with personality. It’s listenable, but I almost don’t want to listen, for fear that the lack of imagination is contagious.
[5]

Alfred Soto: Regard “Around the World” as the girl in “Trap Queen”‘s response and you’ll feel disappointed, unworthy of the detail and attention that Fetty lavished on her. La Rose wants to feel the heat with somebody, but he ain’t Jeremih.
[4]

Iain Mew: My first response on hearing “Around the World” was to try to work out why the “ra rara ra rara ra rara” hook was so familiar. “Spice Up Your Life” was the eventual answer. Then I figured out that the lovely floating sigh of an intro is melodically close to the best bit in David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes” and that the whole song has a less concrete feel of Tove Lo’s “Talking Body”. So being the kind of person who makes these links definitely affects my reaction, but rather than over-familiarity, there’s an unusual ghostly quality to the results. The extravagant but meaningless chorus contributes, and it’s as if the song was produced by the pop song equivalent of those Google neural network painters — fed a bunch of songs and putting them together in logical patterns that nonetheless aren’t quite right. Those pictures gave me the creeps.
[3]

Thomas Inskeep: Stale EDM/Europop-by-numbers about how much La Rose wants to have sex with you, with the added “bonus” of a rap by the overly-Autotuned Fetty Wap. Actively, aggressively terrible.
[0]

Will Adams: Far from perfect — the rah-rah hook makes even less sense than the admittedly silly central metaphor — but this production is way more detailed and delicate than radio deserves right now. Maybe a big dumb trance remix is in order, though I certainly wouldn’t mind that, either.
[6]

Scott Mildenhall: A song of faith and devotion that’s vaguely apocalyptic, but Natalie’s having a lovely time. She ain’t stopping till the world ends, and when it does, she’ll just wax lyrical about how beautiful it is that you get to spend such a special moment together. That or laugh in your face, anyway; it really is hard to tell. Such darkness is a great move after the effervescence of “Somebody”. The only drawback is that as a foil, Fetty is no match for Jeremih. In fact, he’s pretty useless.
[7]

Maxwell Cavaseno: It’s pretty cheeky to go for roller rather than overkilled bangeur on that drop, slinking rather than thrusting its way through time (pretty good, as the more I get used to Natalie’s vox, I don’t think she’d be able to deliver a lot of volume at the moment). Meanwhile, Fetty unfortunately sounds tendon-level strained in this mix, thus leaving a dampened feeling on what could’ve been a decent minor hit.
[5]

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Sam Hunt – House Party

You’re invited!


[Video][Website]
[7.00]

Will Adams: Sounds like my kind of house party: not too crazy (maximum twenty people… guess who’s a homebody!), the music simple and genre-broad enough for anyone to enjoy, turned up just loud enough to rouse up the whole chorus if you want.
[7]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Sam Hunt is the culmination. He is the one million comparisons of rap & country, both positive and negative, finally come into human flesh. Sam Hunt is currently copping weed from some dude in his hometown, asking if they’ve heard 56 Nights (his dealer is still stuck on that J. Cole). He strongly opposed his fraternity putting up a confederate flag in the pool room, and he has an awkward freestyle video somewhere due to get leaked in the next three years. All of this is conjecture, but it is unmistakable the ease that Sam Hunt holds in treating country as a vehicle, not as a definition or a home. This kid has a future outside of his genre sure enough, and you can see it leaking out of him. It’s gonna be very interesting to see if he holds it back or unleashes for the world to react.
[6]

Anthony Easton: This is doing less well than his first two singles, but I think I like it the most. It’s his voice, which positions an absurd proposition into a reasonable request. The smooth voice and the R&B-lite production move this into a suburban seduction, but most of the points reflect how efficient that seduction is. Also, best chorus of the year.
[9]

Megan Harrington: It’s important to remember that, as much as Sam Hunt looks like a stylish gym rat, as much as his lyrics favor Drake’s paradigm of romantic sadness and unabashed lust, as much as his production works to incorporate hip hop and R&B — he’s not rebelling against country music or its strictures. In a post Taylor Swift world it’s easy to see defectors everywhere, but artists honored at the CMAs are country artists, no matter their eclectic approach or Billboard success. So, “House Party” has some turntable scratching which is historically out of place in Nashville — much like cellphones and the internet, it’s ridiculous to imagine that only the coasts have experienced the rise of rap as a pop phenomenon. My point is and remains, what quantifies country music is the desire to document small, human moments. Quiet nights that get loud. Small towns that suffocate and nourish equally. The banality of love. “House Party” is country even if you like it. 
[8]

Alfred Soto: Are those record scratches? Somebody’s been listening to “MMMBop,” not hip-hop, probably co-producer Shane McAnally. Sung with confidence — this is the man behind “Take Your Time,” a country tune with spoken word passages that remains one of the year’s oddest pleasures.
[7]

Thomas Inskeep: Apart from some strummy-ness, this could practically be an Selena Gomez single — it’s even got faux-scratching. I guess what non-country fans (like, oh, The New Yorker) find appealling in Hunt is that he’s not “restrained” by the typical conventions of country. My problem with him is that he’s barely country at all; this might as well be mid-level Top 40, which also helps explain why he’s crossing over so handily. 
[3]

Patrick St. Michel: Those record scratches sound so goofy, like someone trying to sneak “trill” into every conversation. But that silliness is probably the point, right? This is a song built around one joke turned incredibly sweet. Sam Hunt is silly, working in a roof-is-on-fire reference as he talks about having a “house party,” yet still comes out the other side looking like a guy who just really wants to spend time with someone. He took melodic cues from that Owl City song with Carly Rae Jepsen and somehow made it work. Dude is a loveable cornball here.
[7]

David Sheffieck: The scratching is just icing on the corny cake, but the entirety of “House Party” is a delight: silly and romantic fluff, the kind of thing you wish you’d gotten an invitation to until you realize the song’s been welcoming you in the door all along.
[8]

Leela Grace: I don’t want to leave my house either. I talk a lot about Sam Hunt and mostly what I say (yell) is “WE’RE GETTING MARRIED” but I’m pretty sure that’s the goal.
[7]

Brad Shoup: As befits a gender-flipped “Birthday,” Hunt offers kindness without expectation, generosity without condescension. Its shit-eating gears grind crazy fast, it’s a singalong rush, and it’s my favorite single — or at least the one that sounds closest to a classic — so far this year.
[10]

Katherine St Asaph:Sneakernight” by someone who wishes he was more Tom Petty but knows he’s more One Direction. But not enough; One Direction — or bro-country, if you wanna crack open those worms — would know what to do with a chorus.
[4]

Josh Langhoff: Every Sam Hunt single makes me sadder for sleeping on his debut last year, because Hunt is clearly the LFO of our day. (That’s Lyte Funky Ones, their 1999 debut immeasurably more vital than those frowny Warp guys I’ve never heard.) “House Party” matches the polyrhythmic guitar snap of LFO’s “West Side Story,” and while Hunt doesn’t make Shakespeare puns or find endless rhymes for “Capulet,” LFO’s musical invention had nothing on this dawg of the frathouse of Montevallo. I mean — crazy eyed drunken me forcing you into a corner here, somewhere between beer pong and Risk tournament — have we fully grasped this song’s significance? Hunt’s gonna go top 10 country singing a full chorus over nothing but drums and scratching. He’s doing it with a nonchalance that Big & Rich, smashing away at genres, never managed; he’s singing with less effort and more authority than the LFO guys. Like its subject, “House Party” innovates without fuss and delivers pure pleasure. 
[8]

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Jay Park ft. Ugly Duck – Mommae

And what would 2015 be without Fake Mustard? Higher-scoring, that’s what…


[Video][Website]
[3.00]

Maxwell Cavaseno: “THIS AIN’T DJ MUSTARD!” Trust me fam, nobody was thinking Mustard would use a synthline so flat. As far as run-of-the-mill ratchet attempts go, this is fine, but Ugly Duck turns headless chicken and runs into the beat so many times he forgets that you kind of have to pay attention to that “CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP” breakdown and maybe switch your flow to er, match it? Anyway, Jay Park does his thing with a sea of wolf-whistles and come-ons which work if he’s trying to match 2 Chainz’ level of corniness.
[4]

Madeleine Lee: Jay Park deserves credit for being one of the first Korean idol stars to demand recognition as a skilled rapper, way before Block B, BTS, and the current wave of credibility-seeking idol rappers. That said, this is the first time I’m actually okay with him doing the rapping on his own song instead of handing it off to someone else. Finally I can hear what he has to offer as a rapper beyond just competence and native English, with a verse that’s American in its metaphors and Korean in its onomatopoeia. As an AOMG-and-friends group cut that kept Mr. Co-CEO to the singing parts only, it would be either the exact same song or a better one (Zico’s in the video — imagine him pogoing over this), but for once, Jay’s rapping is not the worst part of this. Here are the worst parts of this: 1. The video is creepy and uncomfortable to watch, as creepy and uncomfortable as the big ass = foreign parents conceit used by both rappers. Jay’s body gets filmed in the same oily close-up style as the models’, but at least his face is in the shots. Stick to making videos about utopic Asian-American romance, dude. 2. Nobody made a “Gray poupon” joke. COME ON!
[4]

Crystal Leww: East Asian pop has a long and tumultuous history of appropriating from black music and also being stupidly racist about it, but I honestly never expected this sort of fetishization of black forms on Asian bodies. I guess it’s slightly better than getting a bunch of black women to twerk, but this is still gross and bad. Oh, song sucks, too.
[1]

Brad Shoup: Astoundingly corny, and racist to boot. At least Ugly Duck is terrible at staying on-beat, though.
[2]

Thomas Inskeep: DJ Mustard-jocking K-Rap that, like much of Mustard’s work, is too minimalist for its own good. A little beat, some chants, a rap, and that’s about it for the most (least) part.
[4]

Ramzi Awn: 2:40-2:49 is where it’s at. Clean as a whistle. The rest is disposable.  
[3]

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

MustardMayo ft. Iamsu!, Marc E Bassy & Symba – Got U

Next up, two great(…?) flavors…


[Video][Website]
[3.17]

Maxwell Cavaseno: The pairing of Nic & Dijon makes perfect sense. Mustard’s tastes always work best when leaning toward more irregular sounds and melodic-structures, though usually he requires pinch hitting by guys like Mike Free. Nic Nac, on the other hand, is so unnatural yet toweringly anthemic; he makes mini-“Archangel”s for kids who break into each other’s iPhones and who blow their paycheck on backwoods and “Girl Scout cookies”. Now, you’d think the ratchet Jack Ü would get some features with some life in ‘em, but nope! Iamsu’s rapping over the past year or so has become downright pitiful, whereas newcomers Marc E and Symba sound like Tyga and Jeremih milkshakes left on a kitchen counter for four days and then mistakenly sipped. It’s a troubling start for a collaboration that should have so much force behind it.
[2]

Alfred Soto: We would not be reviewing this if Mustard’s name weren’t in the credits, and the other guests would not participate on a stronger backing track.
[2]

Iain Mew: It’s odd that DJ Mustard should put his name up front on a song where the production is so unremarkable, featureless rather than effectively minimal. Unfortunately, all the vocalists perform like they’re not the centre point either.
[3]

Brad Shoup: I’ll give Symba this: “You ain’t no side chick, more than a main girl/Wives get divorced, we in our own world” is this year’s “We’re not lovers/But more than friends”. It’s a post-“Trap Queen” world, and everyone’s trying to find their way in it. I was wrong on that one, and I knew it once Fetty’s shivery “yeeeeeah” started coming through my car speakers. No one here is willing to get that loose here: their heads are in the clouds.
[5]

Ramzi Awn: If “that’s my bitch” is the best you can do to express your love, you’ve got problems. 
[3]

Thomas Inskeep: I feel like I can hear Nic Nac in here, because there’s more musicality than you typically get from a Mustard track. The singing is pleasant, the raps are nothing, and five minutes later I’ve basically forgotten it. 
[4]

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

Krept & Konan ft. Jeremih – Freak of the Week

It’s DJ Mustard Day! Never mind that this day is occurring in 2015 and not, oh, several years ago! First up, original recipe…


[Video][Website]
[5.00]

Maxwell Cavaseno: It’s been strange to watch Krept & Konan deteriorate so purposefully from their Gipset era to their road rap successes to the most bait of commercial rap attempts. Their consistent dumbing down doesn’t stop the closer they come to the top; here they squander a decent Mustard beat and Jeremih hook combo. I hope that once their album comes out they prove me wrong, but the UK’s hope for non-grime MCs to hold them down appears to be more dependent on your Youngs Teflons, Mostacks and 67s than these two.
[4]

David Sheffieck: The beat’s as by-the-numbers as Mustard can manage currently, somewhere between a [3] and a [5], but bonus points for Konan’s verse. “I know you ain’t shy like Chief Keef” is only trumped by “We can take a little detour/ Have you ever ate McDonald’s on a G4?” It’s fun enough to make it seem like you’re listening to something interesting for a few seconds.
[6]

Anthony Easton: Krept and Konan make me want to eat McDonald’s on a G4, which is one layer to how weirdly effective this is at seduction — others might be the heavy bass near the end, or the languorous place in the middle that repeats exactly how much she’s a freak. Also, points for how ideas are hinted at but not excessively — the second of siren, the one verse of cat-in-the-hat rhymes.
[8]

Brad Shoup: By the end, Jeremih starts to drown in the assonance. It’s his single, really: his swoops of phrase — like an autograph’s flourish — are much more compelling than Krept & Konan’s measured leer. Mustard’s rattling trunks; he sacrifices melody (and countermelody), but it’s a nice contrast to all the long ‘e’s.
[5]

Scott Mildenhall: Rigid and plodding, with only the McDonald’s line raising a smile. Krept and Konan sound almost like Mustard Music Factory competition winners, and that doesn’t sit right.
[5]

Alfred Soto: Jeremih sings his hook of the week, the singers ignore the big fat bass, and this piddles to a joyless conclusion that’s almost two minutes in coming.
[3]

Ramzi Awn: Mustard on the beat and McDonald’s on a G4 sounds pretty good — if only the song did.
[4]

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Alessia Cara – Here

Way to make us feel old, Alessia; you were -3 when “Glory Box” was released.


[Video][Website]
[7.11]

Katherine St Asaph: Alessia Cara, like Lorde before her, is being embraced as alternative teenpop by people who may not actually listen to the music they dismiss. Akin to “Royals,” “Here” is more about pop than parties; the music she doesn’t listen to (as opposed to “music with a message,” a dully sanctimonious turn of phrase) receives more disdainful lyrics than any individual party teen. As it stands, teenpop about teen ennui has a long history — most recently the cluster in the mid-00s with Katy Rose and Shut Up Stella — and generally doesn’t dismiss large swaths of its peers as vapid. As sympathetic as I am to hating parties, and teenage superiority complexes, and even to nerding out over trip-hop as a junior, form matches subject matter. As in: given the sample, I ask myself what am I doing not just listening to “Glory Box” instead.
[5]

Iain Mew: I often didn’t chose very original choices of music for my teenage sulks either; it didn’t make them any less satisfying.
[7]

Alfred Soto: While Lorde records a new album, this comer will try to fill the voice with all the mystery an oversampled Portishead lick can provide. Bedsit pop with attitude — she doesn’t even much like the boy next to her. Refreshing, I say.
[5]

Maxwell Cavaseno: Petulant, defensive and insecure in all the best ways. Alessia’s flinty and kind of a bitch all over the track, both self-aware yet still disinterested in compromise. You imagine that the party must be a complete moodkill with her around if you try and drag her in, and that sort of fierceness is a great way to make your way into the game, the Isaac Hayes sample and her soulful self-indulgence the aura of a brat who knows what she wants and gets what she wants. If you’re trying to do the same and its not in accordance to her wishes then well, like many a trampled force has told you with their remains, it can suck. But as long as its not you on the receiving end, its quite intriguing to watch.
[7]

Brad Shoup: Hey, if I was at a party playing Portishead, I’d be grouchy too. She sings about music with a message — which, ugh — but she’s making music with some mileage, fleeing from this room to that. Even with the beanie drawn down, she sizes everyone up wickedly well, as Pop & Oak hang Ike’s rap over her like an oppressive dark-orange sky.
[7]

Edward Okulicz: Once you hit a certain age, this kind of song, this kind of mood, and this kind of delivery would just become impossible to recreate. And you probably wouldn’t want to be singing this sort of thing at 28. But I’m glad Cara’s got it out of her system and into my speakers.
[8]

Thomas Inskeep: The influence of Tinashe — and the sadly underheralded Melanie Fiona — continues on this smoldering slab of Isaac Hayes-sampling (but you may hear it as a Portishead sample) R&B that’s getting words like “antisocial pessimist” on the radio. Cara sounds both young and wise, and I wanna hear more from her.
[7]

Ramzi Awn: Seldom does a song like “Here” come along. Cara pays homage to the soul of Jhene Aiko, Robyn’s grit and Tinashe’s whip-smarts, but sets herself apart from the pack. The hook burns slow and tender, allowing Cara to repeat herself, and breathe.
[9]

Crystal Leww: I went back to my college town a few weeks ago to try to see Miguel play a show on the lake shore, and it was raining and cold and windy the whole damn time. They ended up canceling the show because the wind made conditions unsafe, and I remember listening to “Here” on the ride back and feeling like it was basically how I felt about college: being too drunk and falling for the wrong boys and listening to privileged white girls talk shit when they had nothing to complain about in their lives and seeing people get too high and standing in a corner clutching a warm PBR and being disappointed when I did go out. There are lots of songs about shitty parties and feeling like you don’t belong at those shitty parties and feeling like you are already too old to go to those shitty parties and a lot of them are good, but Alessia Cara does a really nice job capturing that feeling in a way that makes sense.
[9]