Throughout January music lovers have been treated to a sudden surge of new work from some of the most established industry giants in the biz. We give a short analysis of three such releases to see how the music lives up to the name.
Paul McCartney, Kanye West and Rihanna – Four Five Seconds
Taking a direction that has surprised many (The Prodigy please take note), the unlikely trio of Rihanna, Kanye West and Paul McCartney has produced a subtle and simple acoustic pop song which finally gives Rihanna’s voice some room to breathe after several years of crowding out by over-production. It’s stripped back, honest and strangely satisfying to hear McCartney take the considerable talent of both these younger artists and steer them firmly away from lascivious lyrics and abrasive EDM hooks (sorry for sounding like my mother). Once the vocals have had their moment to shine, my attention drifts to the modestly evolving instrumental tracks beneath, expertly layered by McCartney with a few more unusual chord progressions and instrumentation (is McCartney fronting an organ come-back?) that in my opinion save the piece from the fate prescribed by one Pop Justice reviewer of sounding “like track 9 on a Pink album”, heaven forbid. Let’s just be thankful West didn’t spill his supersized cup of autotune all over the track like he did on his McCartney collaboration Only One. Yeesh, Yeezus, what were you thinking?
Giorgio Moroder and Kylie Minogue – Right Here Right Now
Though I absolutely love the title and its originator, I fear Giorgio Moroder’s forthcoming album ’74 Is The New 24′ may disappoint. The two singles revealed so far are expertly produced, fun, pop songs with a gurgling, analogue synth grind that acts as a Moroder signature. But in both cases the melodies and chord progressions seem to only graze the surface, lacking the depth or hook that makes a classic. Even as I write I listen to Kylie Minogue’s shiny treble in the chorus and realise it will probably work for many, but for me the step-touch, step-touch up the Major scale of “right here, right now” is all cheese. I’m in no way adverse to sparkly pop music, but with echoes of Kylie’s ancient collaboration with Nick Cave in my ear, I kind of expected a Minogue/Moroder alliance to be, well, cooler.
The Prodigy – The Day Is My Enemy
Gutsy thudding and a low growl opens The Day Is My Enemy with promise; the sultry female vocal hook intrigues, and even the hit, though familiar, is deliciously meaty. But as the track rolls on, and raspy squawks of ‘get down’ reveal themselves to be the extent of the lyrical prowess, one wonders what it is The Prodigy are actually shouting about this time. The time has come and gone for The Prodigy to evolve, and put their considerable musical talent and subversive sentiments into a project with a new sound. No one is asking for a predictable ‘I’ve mellowed with age’ album but, after The Prodigy has spent the last five years touring excessively, we desperately need something different. If you like The Prodigy, you’ll like The Day Is My Enemy, but if you love The Prodigy, you’ll feel that it’s missing soul.