Dork, June 2020

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DOWN WITH BORING

ISSUE 44 JUNE 2020 READDORK.COM


MUSIC FOR CARS

The 1975

Notes On A Conditional Form

DH00753

22 May 2020

DIRT Y HI T


INDEX

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June 2020 | readdork.com | Down With Boring

Ø4 Intro 2Ø Features 16 Hype 46 Incoming

** BAND INDEX ** BAND INDEX **

Alfie Templeman 50 KennyHoopla

Ø6

ED’S LETTER

THE 1975

At one point, ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’ was set to be The 1975’s final statement. Now, it’s possibly the start of something new.

34

After dropping the first cut from their new album, the world changed around The Aces and turned it into something far, far bigger.

RINA SAWAYAMA

Responsible for one of the albums of the year so far, Rina is fast becoming a pop powerhouse.

Arlo Parks

A story of one man and his best mate - a drum machine.

Ø8

Best Ex Blossoms Bombay Bicycle Club

BTS

ALMA

KELLY LEE OWENS

Charli XCX

46 7

Christopher Cross

31

Crack Cloud

19

Creeper

38

Dead Pony

More than just a TikTok sensation.

38

Drug Store Romeos

10

Powfu

16

FKA Twigs Fontaines DC Georgia

15 Sports Team

ORLANDO WEEKS

19 15 48 15 9

7, 15, 20

31 The Academic 15, 19

15, 47

Hinds

13 19

Soccer Mommy

31 Soko 15 Sorry

Hayley Williams

11, 48

Sinead O’Brien 11

47

The Aces

34, 48

The Big Moon

The Howl 46 & The Hum

IDER

A first-time father dropping a solo debut, ex-Maccabee Orlando Weeks is in fine form.

‘EDITOR’ @STEPHENACKROYD

31

Pizzagirl

47 Silverbacks

Honey Lung

S tephen

44, 47

11 Run The Jewels

Greta Thunberg

CREEPER

17

Phoebe Bridgers

Glass Animals 13, 15 The 1975

Back from the dead, Creeper are better than ever before.

44

15, 47

Olivia Dean

19 Rolling Blackouts CF

Everything Everything

POWFU

11 18

Rina 31 Sawayama 15, 40, 47

Empress Of

16

19

Orlando 15, 49 Weeks

Cutty Ranks

Plans on lockdown, Kelly Lee Owens is at peace with what comes next.

14

15 Moses Sumney

Brad Stank

It’s taken a while to get there, but Alma’s debut album has finally arrived.

12

19 Larry Pink The Human 15 LAV 46 Matt Bellamy 11 Mealtime

Aluna

LA PRIEST

6, 47

7 The Temptations

15 48 31

Jack Garratt

46 Tim Healy

31

Jade Hairpins

46 Vistas

48

Jehnny Beth

46 Walt Disco

15

Katie Malco

47 Weird Milk

13

Kelly Lee Owens

12 Westerman

48

ON THE DORK STEREO THIS MONTH... SPORTS TEAM

Deep Down Happy Finally coming out after a Covid-related delay, Sports Team’s debut is basically the perfect antidote to all this crushingly serious, world changing stuff we’re surrounded with. A concentrated dose of anti-Boring.

PHOEBE BRIDGERS

Use Me

She’s got a meaty role on The 1975’s new album, but that’s simply a preview to what our Pheebs has coming next. Her second full-length is both highly anticipated and - obviously - really really bloody good.

Bangers. Bangers. Bangers. Bangers. Bangers. Bangers. Bangers. Bangers. Bangers. Bangers. Bangers. Bangers. Bangers. Bangers. Bangers. Bangers. Bangers. Bangers. Bangers. BANGERS.

Punisher

PVRIS

CREEPER

THE 1975

Sex, Death & The Infinite Void

Notes On A Conditional Form

They went away at the end of their first album - seemingly sacrificing themselves to the big rock gods in the sky. Reinvented on their return, this is Creeper more ridiculously good than ever before.

We listened to this album solidly for six weeks before writing a single word. Six weeks! So if you want to come at us, Barry, after one spin at midnight on New Music Friday, you can fuck off. Got it? Lovely.

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THE ACES

Well, it’s here. Delayed, then delayed a bit more, then held back a touch longer, then just a little extra wait to add a few bits - ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’ has been a long time coming, but - spoiler alert - it’s been worth it all. Like everything The 1975 do, there’s no doubt their fourth album will be divisive. We feel it’s a record that needs time and consideration to truly appreciate. Firmly not the band of their first two albums, instead it’s sprawling, inventive and following its own creative spirit. It shifts in movements, little narratives or stories, sonic threads or recurring vibes scattered throughout. It’s more ambitious than even ‘A Brief Inquiry...’ before it, but on a far smaller, more personal scale. Warm, honest and often painfully sincere, it’s also not the record indicated by its two most impacting public moments to date. ‘People’ is the bombast that comes before the album starts proper, while ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’ is the echo of what the band were before. Around it sits something new, but also something without peer. Like Radiohead stepped up with ‘Kid A’ and ‘Amnesiac’, so Music For Cars has seen The 1975 pull apart from the pack. What comes next, we don’t know - but over 14 pages dedicated to one of the most important bands of their generation, one thing will become obvious. They’re not done yet.

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8 LA Priest

ALMA


INTRO

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THE BEATING HEART OF POP.

3 DAYS. MORE THAN 200 ACTS. OVER 210,000 VIEWERS. IT’S A HOME RUN! (THAT’S MORE THAN GO TO GLASTONBURY!)

Our online music festival in aid of the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal HOMESCHOOL went quite well, actually.

JUNE 2020

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5 WELL, THAT WAS SOMETHING, WASN’T IT DEAR READER? In case you’ve been stuck under a rock for the past few weeks, you probably noticed our online music festival, Homeschool, took place across the early May bank holiday weekend. Announced in our last issue, and in aid of the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal, nearly 250 artists provided various sets, shows and contributions across three days and six virtual stages - and over 210,000 of you tuned in. That’s more people than were set to attend Glastonbury 2020! Not bad, people From big names like Circa Waves, The Amazons and Tom Grennan, through to indie legends such as We Are Scientists and Ash, Dork faves Indoor Pets, IDER, Will Joseph Cook, SWMRS, Gengahr and The Aces, and new upstarts L Devine, mxmtoon, Cavetown, Bloxx, Alfie Templeman, Another Sky and more, it was one hell of a weekend. Thanks to everyone who tuned in - and before you ask; no, we’ve not decided to do Homeschool 2. Yet. P

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MACHINE HEAD A pop star’s job is not to be boring - so in making best mates with his drum machine, and then naming an album - ‘GENE’ - after it, LA PRIEST is living his best life. Words: Blaise Radley. Photos: Isaac Eastgate.

SAMUEL EASTGATE’S BEST FRIEND IS A ROBOT. In fact, for a period of time, it sounds as if his only friend was a robot, or rather a slightly cantankerous drum machine. With a creative process that sounds awfully similar to certain social isolation protocols, when Dork reaches him on the landline of his home in rural Wales, the current chaos all seems quite distant. “I live with my family in a really empty, isolated area. It’s almost like I planned ahead... but I mean I haven’t.” The robot in question, Gene, forms the crux of his new record, ‘GENE’. After extensively touring his debut solo record ‘Inji’, the part-hermit, part-psych-popstar alternately known as Samuel Eastgate, Sam Dust and LA Priest needed some respite. He found it in some shonkily soldered synthesisers, and a secluded spot in the States. “I settled in a place in California, in the Sierra mountains. I got a house up there, like a log cabin, and started recording this album. That was early January 2017. It feels like a lot of the album happened there and then, but then there’s stuff on it that I did last minute. The main single that’s just come out, ‘What Moves’, that was a last-minute thing. I was just like, I need another song, I need a tune on this record - need another one of those…” Given how pivotal ‘What Moves’ feels to the album, it’s surprising that the record didn’t hinge on its slinky grooves. “It’s a stepping back process, I think. I’ll go through the main bulk of the writing process never reusing the same sound twice, trying to create something entirely different each time. Then, on the last songs, I kind of relax a bit, and I’m like: ‘You know what, I like what I did on that other song, I’m just gonna repeat that.’” More importantly, though, let’s address the robot in the room. “Yeah, well, that’s the other side. With the other half of my time, I was getting into building equipment that would take my writing and production into my own place. My identity is kind of inherent in the machines that I make, so the idea was that the foundations of each song from then on were totally my own.” It sounds like the premise for a B-movie rather than a cosmic pop record: Escape from LA... Priest.

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“My identity is inherent in the machines that I make” LA PRIEST

BTS are going to host an online live gig. There’s not loads of info ‘out there’ just yet, but the ticketed event will take place on 14th June (10AM BST / 6PM KST), with a run time of 90 minutes. “‘BANG BANG CON The Live’ is a live streaming concert where BTS will be inviting fans into their room,” a press release explains. More details will be available on Weverse shortly. It’s o�icial: this year’s READING & LEEDS isn’t going ahead. The event was set to take place from 28th-30th August, headlined by Liam Gallagher, Rage Against The Machine and Stormzy, but will no longer be happening due to the outbreak of COVID-19. “It has become clear that it’s just not possible for this year’s festival to go ahead,” reads a statement. “We are working closely with our ticketing partners and they will be in touch very soon.” THE 1975 have announced a new date for their huge Finsbury Park show. Originally scheduled for this summer, but cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the show will now take place on 10th July 2021, with tickets on sale now.

ON LOCKDOWN

IDER IT’S ALMOST A YEAR ON FROM THE RELEASE OF THEIR FAB DEBUT ALBUM ‘EMOTIONAL EDUCATION’, AND IDER - AKA MEGAN MARKWICK AND LILY SOMERVILLE - HAVE HAD TO PUT A STOP TO THEIR SUMMER TOURING PLANS (WITH TEGAN AND SARA! IN THE US!) TO DEAL WITH THIS CORONABUSINESS. THE DUO TELL US ABOUT WHAT THEY’RE UP TO DURING THEIR DOWNTIME.

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What have you guys been up to since the release of ‘Emotional Education’? Lots of touring? Since the album came out in July, we played a few festivals and then were touring pretty non-stop between October to February. We went across Europe, the UK and we did our first run of headline shows in North America. Then we ended up in Berlin for a bit afterwards. We’re incredibly lucky that we managed to get it all in before global lockdown! How are you feeling about the release now you’ve a bit of distance from it, has your relationship with the record evolved at all over time? We have lots of feelings towards the release of the album - hindsight is a wonderful thing. But mostly we have seen our relationship with the record evolve through playing live and watching our fans connect to the music. It’s shed new light on certain songs and allowed new meaning to blossom. Have you had a chance to think about new music at all? It must be easier now we’re all on lockdown. Lockdown has actually been pretty mental - we were staying at a friend’s place in Berlin after tour, and both caught coronavirus so had to quarantine out there. It was intense! We’re back in London now and yeah singing together, as always, is keeping us sane. Are you able to write and record songs while at home? What’s your set up like? We have a cute set up in our bedroom which we’ve had for a while, where we can rehearse, write and demo. What do you miss the most with the current restrictions in place? The pub. Are there any tips or tricks you’ve picked up to make self-isolating a bit more bearable? Delete Zoom. P

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FYI

set about on some pretty severe social distancing. No people, no internet and no other music. “That place was quite out in the middle of nowhere - the radio didn’t even work in our car. They sell a lot of very broken cars in America, so we were driving around with massive dents and things falling off. I didn’t really want to listen to anything anyway; I always think it’s better to make what you would want to hear. If you’re starved of any sound, then you’re gonna have more drive to create.” Space and place are constantly wrapped up in Sam’s discussion of his creative process. “I remember really early on with ‘Oino’ from ‘Inji”, it felt like I wrote it just because I was in Switzerland. It doesn’t sound very Swiss as a song, but because I was walking around in this new country it just popped into my head, you know?” With his extended, isolated writing period in America, these nomadic impulses hit their stride. “The bulk of the writing was done in America, so it owes a lot to travelling. Even with those last songs, I was still running on the fumes and the excitement of that trip. I don’t think travel is essential for writing, though. It’s a bit like money. Money’s not essential for art, but if you have it, well, it’s oil in the gears or whatever. If you had no instruments, you’d still write a song... but maybe you should buy a guitar.” What used to inspire him then, if not the excitement of a new place? “Well, when I was a teenager writing music, I’d get ideas if I started making some food. I burnt a lot of food that way, ‘cause I’d always start cooking and then go, ‘Oh, yeah, great, I’ll go write this song.’” Perhaps the next record might be a return to those roots? More Welsh rarebit, less Californian sunsets? “Travelling isn’t essential anymore, but it’d still be nice to do it. Well, if there are no more travel bans.” For all his talk of beat-up American automobiles and his drum machine’s family tree, what’s most striking is the way Sam flips topics. His rambling musings about his music drift between passionate absorption and aw-shucks self-effacement, pivoting from freaky writing practices to mechanical bodge jobs, and the realities of releasing an album in the middle of a global pandemic. The most interesting thing of all? That he’s not just a nomadic steampunk traveller; he’s also clearly a family man grounded in his rural Welsh home. Throughout the majority of our chat there’s the distinct sound of a child bumbling around in the background (no, not a motorised one), who only comes fully into frame for one brief moment, when Sam mysteriously says, “I can see that yes, you’ve got yellow spots.” Moments later, he’s back to talking about Gene. It’s not something that’s ever acknowledged, but it certainly discredits our joking assertion that his only friend is a bundle of half-broken motherboards. ‘GENE’ is an album that defies easy categorisation, and in that sense, it fits the man behind it. “I always think, well, it’s about trying to explain the drum machine, but then I’ll remember something like the fact that in Poole I had to record in this cellar for six months. I had to dig out all the soil!” Whether he’s singing about loam, home or chrome, one thing’s for sure: LA Priest has as many quirks as his creations. P LA PRIEST’S ALBUM ‘GENE’ IS OUT 5TH JUNE.

INTRO

With the idea in mind that he wanted to make a portable drum machine for his travels through America, one that could truly match his own unusual tastes, Sam hunkered down with a soldering iron. “If I get an idea, I’ll just get everything out on the floor and try to build it. I had enough knowledge from fixing old keyboards on tour to build bits of things. Most of 2016 I was just hunched over soldering wires. It’s pretty bad for your back, being leant over for a year.” So, how did the droid now known as Gene start out? “The first thing I got working was just this little loop of four drums going round: ‘Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo,’, and you could change the timing of those.” Regardless of our poor phonetic rendition, it’s remarkable how close Sam’s impression sounds to the drums on his breakthrough single, ‘Oino’. Perhaps the gap between creator and creation isn’t so big, after all. Certainly, Sam doesn’t think so. When he talks about Gene, it’s in the same tones reserved for a doting parent. “I feel like it’s more than just a machine. It’s like some weird personality. It’s very volatile, and it does the same things that some real people would do: it decides not to work for a song, or it plays things at a different speed. I don’t know what I’m doing, basically. I’m not qualified, I never learnt electronics at school, so it’s got a lot of quirks to it.” How did those quirks come about then? Smacking it with a hammer? Sticking it together with gum? “I was always aware that some of the best stuff was on the breaking point. I was just building this thing... not trying to make it faulty exactly, but not making it foolproof. Whenever I found an imbalance or a mistake, I wouldn’t remove that, I’d just let it be part of the circuit. When you combine that 100 times, you make this really convoluted system of little circuits, and you end up with quite an organic end product where everything’s almost breathing.” Speaking of quirky personalities, what inspired him to name his progeny Gene? “I built a synthesiser for one of my friends around 2012, and I was like, ‘What should I call it?’ and he said, ‘Oh, you should call it Gene,’ because his favourite song off ‘Inji’ was ‘Gene Washes With New Arm’. That was it from then on. Every machine has been a different character called Gene. The first one I made was Grandpa Gene, and then I had baby Gene. I don’t know what this one is. This one’s just Gene.” The middle child? “Yeah, yeah. The current generation.” How about the song on ‘Inji’? “Yeah, well that song is literally just named after Gene Wilder. He was still around at the time... I think he only died in 2016. I should know that, don’t let people know I don’t know that!” he says with a sudden vigour - he’s right, so we’ll let it slide. “So yeah, in a roundabout way this drum machine is named after Gene Wilder, but that doesn’t even occur to me now. It’s got its own personality. It doesn’t really resemble him very much…” As fun as it is to delve into his fantastical world of robotic companions, Sam is quick to dismiss the notion that ‘GENE’ is just an ode to his hardware. “There’s a lot of other stuff happening, you know, the lyrics and the story... I’m not singing songs about a drum machine the whole time, that would be pretty boring.” But some of the time? He laughs, “Well, it’s the identity of the record in a way, yeah.” With his automaton companion in tow and a secluded spot in mind, Sam


INTRO

A LOT IW TALK ABOUT I ALMA has kept us waiting, but her poptastic debut album has finally arrived. Words: Steven Loftin. Photo: Lusha Alic. IF SOME OF OUR FAVOURITES HAVE TAUGHT US ANYTHING, IT’S THAT GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT. Ever since Alma appeared with thunder banger ‘Chasing Highs’ back in the heady days of 2017, we’ve all been anticipating just when she would drop a full-length, and now that time has come - albeit a little later than planned. “People have been waiting for my album for a long time already, but now it’s like all the plans are changed,” Alma starts, referencing the impact of COVID-19. “But I take this as a challenge, I’m just gonna fucking do it. I’m just gonna get this done.” It’s this defiance that swept Alma and her neon green hair into the spotlight in the first place. Amidst the clattering, thunderous EDM rooted sounds came the image of someone who refuses to fall into line, who wants to do what they want and have fun with it. “When I started, I was very young and very excited to get my foot in the middle of everything,” she says of her initial burst of energy. “We were going very fast, and at that time I didn’t have a plan. I was just having fun and being, like, super teenager, and releasing music that felt right in the moment.” While being swept away amongst the attention, fame, and feature requests, time kept on speeding by. But with all these candles being burned at all kinds of ends, the inevitability of a toll being taken was always there, which Alma recalls happening, “Maybe three years ago, after a long tour.” “When I came back home for a while, I just felt like, ‘Fuck, I don’t have anything to say to anybody.’ I don’t have anything to say in interviews, I don’t have anything to say in the studio, and I’m a person who always has something to say.” Finding herself resolutely in a corner, Alma knew that something was changing, and more importantly, became aware she “was going in the wrong direction,” and needed to follow the natural course of growing up. “I wasn’t partying like I used to, and I took a little time off,” she says. “I started therapy, and for the first time in my life, I’d decided to have a conversation in my head and kind of fucking get to know myself. When [that happened] I understood that I have a lot of things to say, I’ve been through a lot and I want to talk about it.”

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That innate quietness, pushing down whatever’s been happening, comes from her homeland culture. “We’re literally quiet until we just have to speak about our feelings,” she explains. “And that definitely happened to me. I’m super proud of myself that I’ve managed to crack something inside of me and, be like, ‘fuck it, let’s be honest’.” Her work ethic is also due, in part, to Finland. Having said before that she feels like “a hockey game between our worst enemy, like Sweden, and [I’m] the only player,” being one of Finland’s biggest exports means the country is behind her, almost to the point of an overzealous soccer mom. “I felt like my whole country was watching. Every time they made an article about me it was like, ‘Our Finnish hope Alma did this or that and that’, and I didn’t understand. I was just laughing about it, but it was obviously effective. “I started to try to get more successful and, I think it made me a bit mad for a while.” She lets the words hang. “It also affected the music. I won’t say that I hate my old music, that’s not true because it’s part of me, but I’m happy that I finally got a little bit of time to just do what I want to do, and ask myself that question, not my country.” It’s this awareness that makes up the intricate DNA of her debut, ‘Have U Seen Her?’ Even the title echoes the sentiment that Alma felt at the point of breaking: “I had to do a reality check, like ‘Who am I now?’” Being a hard-partying, carefree type naturally brought with it it’s own points of contention, the main of which was understanding just who Alma is. Therapy may have indeed helped this journey of understanding, but taking that knowledge and translating it into the real world was a mountain to climb of its own. “At some point, I understood that I’ve made an impression, some people think I’m this type of human, and, yeah, it’s true,” she nods to her party beginnings. “But then I felt like, ‘this is not one hundred per cent me’, I’m so much more than just parties and fucking EDM.” Growing up listening to “Lady Gaga and people that changed the world”, it’s this mindset that’s fuelled ‘Have U Seen Her?’ Alma wanted to make records “that made me like happy cry, or sad cry,” which has finally come to fruition. Behind the fairytale of ‘Have U Seen Her?’ comes another figure, who, in a similar fashion to Alma, had to deal with going through being tarnished with the hard-partying brush. Having helped pen some tracks for two of Miley Cyrus’ EPs, including the roaring ‘Mothers Daughter’ and heartbreaking ‘Slide Away’, it was in these sessions that Alma found some

“Miley and Lindsay, they both get criticised a lot, and I love that; I think that’s why they’re interesting, that’s why they’re heroes for me” ALMA

more helping words. “I was making my album at the same time when we made her EP,” Alma says. “And she was like, ‘You’ve got to do your own thing’, and she loved the records that I love. She was always telling me that ‘this needs to be the single, I know this is probably never gonna go to the charts, but fuck it because it’s you!’” The single Miley was referring to was ‘LA Money’, perhaps the most hotly-anticipated track on the album. It’s rumoured on deep pop forums that many acts including Dua Lipa were after it, but it wasn’t leaving Alma’s hands for love nor money. Just for that reason, it’s Alma’s personal experiences and belonged solely to her. “It gave me a lot of confidence to hear that because it’s a risky move. Usually, you want to put out the poppiest ones.” While ‘LA Money’ does have its roots in dark-pop, the words read like a confessional from one of Alma’s therapy sessions, including lamenting, “They don’t even know who I am.” Miley wasn’t the only misunderstood

figurehead to make their way into Alma’s life during this time. Most recently an Alma penned track was chosen as the comeback for the music career of Lindsay Lohan, who “actually just DM’d me on Instagram” after hearing the Miley tracks. “She was telling me that she’s gonna do a comeback and I remembered that I had a song called ‘Coming Back’ and it just made sense. We had a lot of FaceTime calls, and it was weird the first time. I was like ‘Fuck, I’m talking with Lindsay Lohan!’ cuz you know, she’s the ultimate party queen.” Helping in understanding who Alma is, these two interactions came from “people that are weird ones, but they’re the cool ones for me,” she says, “Miley and Lindsay, they both get criticised a lot, and I love that. I think that’s why they’re interesting, and that’s why they’re heroes for me.” When it comes to the musical growth Alma’s gone through since those thunderous EDM days, well, it’s all fed straight from those early influences since she’s “kind of paranoid when it comes to new music.” “I don’t even listen to radio cuz it’s just natural that if you hear new stuff all the time [it’s] gonna [be on] your mind,” she ponders. “There have been situations where I’ve been listening to the radio before I went to the studio, made a song, and after two weeks it’s like ‘What the fuck, this melody is straight from a Weeknd track, and we can’t use it’. So now I just want to listen to my own demos, and stuff that I used to listen to.” It’s safe to say that the Alma entering 2020 is one more confident with who she wants to be, how she wants to sound, and now knows the importance of looking after herself. All the way down to the words holding a mirror up to any past indiscretions. “It was so important for me as a human because it was my first time thinking about, ‘Hey, I’ve been an idiot in a relationship’ or, you know, ‘I’m in LA and I miss my mom... I’m gonna write a song about it’. They’re so pure,” she mentions of her newfound appreciation for life. “They’re the feelings that I felt in those moments. It took some time to think back and be like ‘Oh fuck I was stupid in that relationship maybe I’m not gonna do those mistakes again’. Or like, ‘Hey, I love my mom maybe I should call her sometimes, even though I’m busy.’” And ultimately, it’s all down to shaking off any feelings of having to “make music for somebody else,” she concludes. “When I basically stopped thinking about charts, and labels, and fans, I started to become me again.” P ALMA’S ALBUM ‘HAVE U SEEN HER?’ IS OUT NOW.


INTRO

WANT TO IT

HERE’S THE THING

OR: YES. WE’VE ASKED SPORTS TEAM’S ALEX RICE TO ‘DO’ US A ‘COLUMN’. WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN...? THIS MONTH:

WHY HATING SPORTS TEAM IS POSITIVELY ENCOURAGED

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ALWAYS SURPRISED N I’M HOW RELUCTANT PEOPLE WHO MAKE MUSIC ARE TO TALK ABOUT THE ACTS THEY DON’T LIKE. I’ll do interviews quite often where music journalists (only some) will ask you what you think of a lot of bands, often they’ll list them off... you say most of them are great, you think they are... then there’ll be a bit of a gasp from the interviewer if you say you don’t like an act - that’ll become their headline and a lot seem to leave thinking they’ve just spent an hour engaging with some quite dangerous ideas they’ll dismiss as deliberately controversial or loudmouthed. I’ve always found that really odd. If you’re reading Dork you’re someone who genuinely loves music. If you’re sitting at the pub with your mates or round the campsite at a festival I bet you talk about who you want to see, who you don’t, whether you like new music out or not, what’s annoying you on the radio, who you like on record but don’t think are so good live. I can reel these off quite quickly because a lot of 6 Music listeners really really don’t like how much they’re hearing us atm. If you meet any band in private this is how they talk about music too. And that’s so normal. If you care about anything, football, art, your job, it’s the first requirement - an idea about how it should be done, what’s good. Imagine someone who cared passionately about politics but just liked to see it practiced; Tories or Labour, Socialism, Anarcho-syndicalism, Fascism, doesn’t matter, just a big fan of politics. That’d be extremely odd right? you’d probably assume that at heart they didn’t really care about politics at all. So, I suppose this is just a bit of a plea to be less squeamish about bands talking about music they don’t like. It’s an easy headline but I’ll never understand why. Say we’re terrible with growing confidence. Album out soon. P SPORTS TEAM’S DEBUT ALBUM ‘DEEP DOWN HAPPY’ IS OUT THIS JUNE.


INTRO

ALL KILLER SANDWICH FILLER

WHAT DOES YOUR FAVOURITE POP STAR LIKE TO PUT IN THEIR SARNIE? THE BIG QUESTIONS, ANSWERED.

THIS MONTH...

PIZZAGIRL & LINDA MCCARTNEY’S BREAKFAST SANDWICH

(WITH A SIDE OF WINGS, MAYBE) by Pizzagirl

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INGREDIENTS: + Linda McCartney Sausages + That special bloomer loaf in the bakery section of that shop you go to + Two large eggs + Mushrooms + Butter (lightly salted) + Paul McCartney (also lightly salted) INSTRUCTIONS 1. For this sandwich, you’re not gonna wanna eat meat for this, crucial you get this right before you start. 2. Cut two slices of bread, and spread some lightly salted butter on it - you know the score. 3. Lightly oil a frying pan and add your Linda McCartney sausages and cook ‘til cooked. If they aren’t looking cooked, they aren’t cooked. 4. Just before your Linda McCartney sausages are cooked, add some chopped mushrooms to the pan. Not only will the mushrooms taste better, but they will also get to meet your sausages beforehand and add some extra flavour to Linda’s meat. 5. Remove the sausages and mushrooms from the pan and slice the sausages in half so they can lay on the bread evenly! Leave the mushrooms to one side for a minute. 6. Crack two large eggs into a bowl and whisk ‘til whisked, and add to the same pan you just cooked those sausages in, to soak up even more of the breakfast flavour! 7. Scramble the eggs until they’re looking cooked, and pretty gooey, but not dry. 8. Lay the eggs gently onto the sausages, then add those mushrooms you put to one side, and finally seal the food contract with a final slice of bread on top 9. Using two hands, pick up the sandwich, but just before you take a bite say “Alexa play ‘Goodnight Tonight’ by Wings”. If you don’t have an Alexa, haha, why did you say it?! 10. Enjoy! P

JUNE 2020

DORK

THE ITALIAN JOB


Words: Aleksandra Brzezicka. Photo: Peter Ryle.

FRAN KEANEY

FYI EVERYTHING EVERYTHING have announced their new album, ‘Re-Animator’. The band’s fifth full-length, it’s due for release on 21st August, and the news arrives alongside new single. Titled ‘Arch Enemy’, it “sees a modernday protagonist searching for a meaningful God,” says frontman Jonathan Higgs. “Finding only a congregation of greed, toxicity and waste, in the form of a sentient fatberg in the sewer, he duly prays to it, willing it to purge the decadent world above that has created it. These growing grease mountains are a curious juxtaposition of the modern and the ancient; a brand new example of archaic squalor.” MATT BELLAMY has released a new solo track, ‘Tomorrow’s World’. His second release following ‘Pray (High Valyrian)’, which appeared on the Game of Thrones compilation ‘For the Thrones’, the standalone song was recorded earlier this month. “This song captures my mood and feelings whilst in lockdown,” he explains. “I have been reminded of what really matters in life and have discovered growing optimism, appreciation and hope for the future.” BLOSSOMS are going to release a new album of covers and re-workings recorded during self-isolation. Titled ‘Blossoms In Isolation’, the album will feature covers of Frank Ocean’s ‘Lost’, The Beatles’ ‘Paperback Writer’, The Coral’s ‘Dreaming Of You’, and Tame Impala’s ‘The Less I Know The Better’, plus new versions of ‘My Swimming Brain’, ‘There’s A Reason Why (I Never Returned Your Calls)’ and ‘If You Think This Is Real Life’. There’s no release date or full tracklisting just yet though, so keep an eye out for more information soon.

ON LOCKDOWN

DRUG STORE ROMEOS WHILE THEIR UPCOMING EP RELEASE HAS BEEN DELAYED A LITTLE, FLEET, HAMPSHIRE NEWCOMERS DRUG STORE ROMEOS ARE SOLDIERING ON THROUGH LOCKDOWN WORKING ON A VERY EXCITING PROJECT: THEIR DEBUT ALBUM. WRITING NEW MATERIAL FROM THEIR RESPECTIVE LOCKDOWN HIDEAWAYS, GUITARIST CHARLIE HENDERSON GIVES US AN INSIGHT INTO WHAT THEY’VE GOT COMING UP.

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Hey Charlie, how’s it going? Have you had a productive day? Hey! I’m very good thanks. My day’s been 24 hours so far. My sleeping patterns a little skew-whiff as I was up playing one intense online chess game all night. I’ve decided to stay awake ‘til this evening to reset my sleeping pattern. I’m riding a thirdwind currently though and have been quite productive. Are you all self-isolating on your own at the mo, or are you together Monkees-style? I’m living in a warehouse with 12 other people, Jonny’s with 15 other people, and Sarah’s in Winchester with her dad. What does the lockdown mean for band business? Have you had to bin off all your plans for the next few months? Not quite! We’re actually still working quite hard making new forms of media that the coronavirus has created. We’re also writing songs for our album and trying to keep active on social media. Our single / EP release has been delayed, and we’ve had some gigs cancelled, but we’re still releasing a single pretty soon, and the gigs we were really excited about are still happening (at least for now). Do you have any predictions for later this year? I’m really hoping that by July some non-essential shops will start opening and we will be able to visit two friends each. What’s the first thing you’ll do once lockdown is over? See Sarah and Jonny! Perhaps go sailing in the reservoir in Haringey, go to a bustling high street. Maybe hug someone random and then go to a sweaty rave type thing in the evening. P

READDORK.COM

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ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER BECAME AN INDIE SENSATION AFTER RELEASING THEIR DEBUT ALBUM, ‘HOPE DOWNS’, IN 2018. Their refreshing spin on the genre, dressing up the mastered guitar work in breezy lyrics, saw many fall in love with their laid-back Aussie beats. Now, after months of studio silence, they’ve resurfaced with two groovy singles and an album - second LP, ‘Sideways To New Italy’. “It feels exciting,” says singer Fran Keaney. “It was a very intense process, making this record - in a good way. We worked harder than we worked before and we’re really proud of it. It’s good to have it out there with everything that’s happening.” Though it’s never a highway all the way through - especially when your drummer wrecks his leg while playing football. “Marcel injured his leg,” co-vocalist Joe White explains. “Just before we started touring last year in May, he needed to have an operation, but he couldn’t actually get a proper one until he finished touring - then until we finished recording the album.” So he suffered through it and out of the pain, past experiences and current passions, the new album was born. ‘Sideways To New Italy’ is named after an enigmatic town in New South Wales in Australia that built by a handful of Italian immigrants. It struck a chord with them as a weird way of reaching home. While lyrically, it’s an open dialogue with their inner, probably more mature, selves, constructed of smooth, poem-like lines, the instrumental gets more of a kick than their debut. “Really sure of itself like the way that The Clash are really sure of themselves in everything they do. That kind of attitude we were trying to bring into it. Also exploring different rhythms and approaches to the drums which led us onto Talking Heads’ kind of path,” they say on the main influences. What made the process of songwriting special, was the urge to come as one and work together on every aspect of new material, Fran explains. “The album is even more collaborative then what we’ve done in the past. We just wanted to go down different paths, find new identities, slowly, because you can write a song by yourself or you can write a few parts by yourself, and then you can smash it out with the band but realise that the song it already preordained and there’s not as much room for it to wriggle around. So these ones, we tried not to box them into early.” Joe continues: “Essentially just came on a beat for a while and try to find some magic in it. We’ve done that a lot before, and we did more this time. A lot of songs have had a lot of multiple, different versions that have been tried out through the process. We explored a lot more than we ever have before. When we’ve found magic in a pace of music, then the lyrics will come after that. Lyrically we had a different approach because we are different people then we were. We’ve been touring for a year and a half, and that definitely influenced the way we saw

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“We’re really enjoying music at the moment; it feels like a being teenager again”

the world, we saw the home. Therefore lyrics reflected that.” ‘Sideways To New Italy’ takes you on a hip trip from ‘Falling Thunder’, an exhilarating track with groovy guitars to, so laid-back that almost hazy, standout, ‘Sunglasses At The Wedding’. And there’s an airily beautiful newest single, ‘She’s There’, evoking Go-Betweens’ ‘Summer Rain’. “It’s almost a dream-like situation,” says Joe, “in which you want someone to be around so much that you see them everywhere. You see reminders of them everywhere. But then, in reality, they’re not there. That sounds very simple, but it’s like a reflection, an inner reflection and realising that the person you wish was there is not there. Even though you keep seeing them everywhere.” Despite the success of their last album, they’re very much down to earth. Getting on with their lives as nothing has changed let them write songs that fans can connect to. “I don’t think it really changed everyday life. But these songs couldn’t really exist without that. Nothing do to with success. We’re not driving sports cars,” they say. No need for sports cars when you’ve got ‘Cars In Space’, a before break-up bop and a real troublemaker. “When we returned to the track to touch it up a bit, the drums just felt to way too fast,” says Fran. “I remember I was laying on the ground of a studio thinking that the song was done. Killed. That there was not a chance for it to be resuscitated because Marcel’s leg was unable to be used for a few months. But then Joe put a shaker and a tambourine track on it, and it just made the whole thing sweet.” They had so much fun recording the album that, despite the current situation, decided not to hold back the release. “We’ve been talking about how much we’re really enjoying music at the moment, how much it sort of almost feels like a being teenager again,” says Fran. Aware of the big wave of live streams and shifting of boundaries of what you can and can’t do online, they’re considering broadcasting a gig. Keep your eyes peeled. While trying to make their best in self-isolation, they’re aware of the lasting ramifications it’ll have on the music industry. “Nothing is gonna get back up and be normal again,” reflects Joe. “I mean, you can go so deep into this situation that it’s almost mind-boggling what could happen. But I’m sure that when it comes to money which is what makes everything work, it won’t be laying around to splash on things like music festivals, so I’m sure that will have an effect. But also, it’s strange to say, when everything does come back to normal, then we’ll be able to play. It’s gonna be very exciting. When you’re taking it away for so long and then bring it back, it might be more fun than it’s ever been before.” And apparently, it was really fun before. Lucky enough, they’ve been enjoying a different kind of travel while touring. Finding themselves in weird, wonderful places, they’d otherwise never go. Meeting a bunch of beautiful people and letting themselves to look from another perspective. While dreaming about the future and waiting for ‘Sideways To New Italy’ to see the daylight, they’ve set their goals straight: “Tour it and make another record. Eat ice cream on the other side of the world.” P ROLLING BLACKOUTS C.F.’S ALBUM ‘SIDEWAYS TO NEW ITALY’ IS OUT 5TH JUNE.

INTRO

ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER talk their new album, creative collaboration and eating ice cream on the other side of the world.


INTRO

INNER

12

SONG

KELLY LEE OWENS has had her summer plans thrown into turmoil, but she’s at peace with what comes next. Words: Martyn Young. Photo: Kim Hiorthøy.

JUNE 2020

DORK


“It’s a time of deep introspection, and I think that can only be a good thing” KELLY LEE OWENS

FYI

GLASS ANIMALS have announced their third album, ‘Dreamland’. The band’s first record following drummer Joe Seaward’s awful bike accident in 2018, it’s due for release on 10th July via Polydor, with the news arriving alongside the title-track. “The idea for this album came at a time of confusion and uncertainty,” Dave Bayley explains. “My best friend was in the hospital. I didn’t know if he’d make it. The future was damn scary and completely unknown. During those weeks in the hospital, it was so di�icult to look forwards that I found myself looking backwards. Digging around in my mind, pulling up old memories, finding comfort in them even if they were uncomfortable in themselves. Speaking to friends and family, I’ve realised that a lot of people are experiencing a similar sort of confusion now. Everything that we thought we could see clearly in front of us has been thrown into the air, and all the while, we can’t be out finding our footing. We can’t be out creating new memories, so…we’re diving back head-first into the old ones. I hear that in conversations. I see it in what people are watching on TV. In what we’re listening to. In what we’re eating. In dreams.”

ON LOCKDOWN

WEIRD MILK LONDON FOURSOME WEIRD MILK WERE SET TO FOLLOW UP THEIR LATEST BOP ‘IS THAT LOVE?’, PLUS SUPPORT SLOTS WITH THE LIKES OF ALFIE TEMPLEMAN AND FRANK CARTER, WITH THEIR FIRST-EVER TRIP STATESIDE, AND A STEP-UP SUMMER FULL OF FESTIVALS AND WHATNOT. UNFORTUNATELY, THAT’S NO LONGER HAPPENING, BUT AS ZACH CAMPBELL (“I AM ONE OF THE TWO LEAD SINGERS IN THE BAND AND ALSO PLAY THE GUITAR (THE EASY BITS)”) EXPLAINS, THAT DOESN’T MEAN THEY’RE NOT USING THEIR TIME WELL.

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Hello Zach! How’s it going? Are you feeling okay amid all this virus madness? It’s going well, thanks. If I’m honest I am one of the lucky ones - I came home (back to Buckinghamshire) for Mother’s Day, and while I was home the country went into lockdown, so I just stayed. So what’s the plan for you guys - are you able to work on new material at the moment? Do you have many songs already recorded and ready to go? We are all writing things (Alex and Charlie are isolating at the flat we share in North London), and are sending one another phone recordings of things we think could be good. Before this all happened we had started work on a few demos which we have actually been able to continue with remotely - Alex and Charlie working on music and vocals at home in London and then sending them to me to put my vocals on, that’s been a new experience for all of us and has worked quite well. Almost everything except gigs can pretty much go ahead, although being split up doesn’t help with collective creativity etc. Will ‘current events’ impact what topics you want to write about, do you think? I would say for me it’s too early to tell, but it may be different for others. I can’t see how it would for me at the moment, but I do think this will very much be one of those things which we’ll be able to view and appreciate with more clarity a few months after it’s over. ‘Oh yeah remember when we all just had to stay inside, and hugs were banned’, kind of thing. I think the only song I’m aware of written about a widespread virus would be that rhyme Ring a Ring o’ Roses, the pocketful of posey one? P

READDORK.COM

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RUN THE JEWELS have shared details of their new album, ‘Run The Jewels 4’. Due for release on 5th June via Jewels Runners / BMG, the record was mostly recorded at Rick Rubin’s Shangri-La Studios in Malibu and Electric Lady Studios in New York. Guest spots come from Pharrell Williams, Mavis Staples, 2 Chainz, Zack de la Rocha, Josh Homme, DJ Premier and Greg Nice.

“There’s a lot of loss but also hope and rebuilding and rewilding of the spirit, rewilding of the soul.” In contrast to her first record, Kelly’s vocals and lyrics are more prominent here. You can hear the sound of her blossoming as a writer as she deals with big, bold themes, both personal and global, with songs that tackle climate change and the elemental power of Earth. “The lyrics are more straight to the point,” she states. “I needed the messages to be heard literally, clearly. The vocals have got more confidence to them, and that informs the production as well.” “If you think about a day in your life and the range of how many different emotions you go through, then all that can happen within one track. ‘On’ is the perfect example of that, and it’s what I always call a hybrid,” she continues. “I can go into the honesty of that feeling of letting go and moving forward. Then it can transform you into that feeling of acceptance and the music changes, and it’s like let’s literally move forward and create shapes and sounds. The sounds push me forward. The emotion ties it together and allows that flow of ideas.” There’s an idiosyncrasy to Kelly’s electronic music that makes her stand out. “There are things I do that drive people mad,” she laughs. On this album though the defining quality is one of honesty and an embracing of emotions that unite us all. “I had to be really direct, truthful and transparent this time,” she contemplates. “I wasn’t afraid of owning the melancholic shit. That’s life, and it’s the beauty in the melancholy and how things can change from sadness to being transmuted into something beautiful and hopeful. I was working with that sonically and emotionally.” There’s a feeling that the album might have more resonance arriving at a time of personal and emotional reflection for people. “People are going to be attracted to music that has truth and honesty to it,” says Kelly. “There’s nowhere else to hide right now. I would hope that people could connect to the more emotionally-led moments of my music.” She goes on to describe how the album’s themes of the fragility of our ecosystem and the way we interact with it have taken on an added poignancy. “There’s a lyric on the album that says, ‘Never pausing to take it in, always avoiding your sense of dread’,” she explains. “I wrote that before all this happened but this is what’s going on. We’re forced to take a pause to look at all these things we’ve been avoiding. As di� icult as that it is there’s such beauty that can come from it. Emotional intelligence, connection and respect for each other and globally for the planet. It’s a time of deep introspection, and I think that can only be a good thing.” While things in her electronic whirlwind have been put on hold for the moment, there is solace in knowing she is still safe and secure and has completed a record that is a career highlight. One day, hopefully soon, people will enjoy it physically together, but for now, Kelly’s description of her work is apposite for the time. “I’m not afraid to go to melancholy and depths of emotion which then transmute into forward motion and hope via dance. I think that’s what I do best is bridge two worlds together and show that they’re not exclusive and all part of the bigger picture.” P KELLY LEE OWENS’ ALBUM ‘INNER SONG’ IS OUT 28TH AUGUST.

INTRO

KELLY LEE OWENS’ SECOND ALBUM ‘INNER SONG’ SHOULD HAVE BEEN OUT THIS JUNE. There should have followed a summer full with transcendental beats, kaleidoscopic visuals and club dance floors full of people lost in the music and Kelly’s beats and sounds. Instead, we find ourselves in quite a different situation. The music remains but the situation in which people will eventually hear it promises to be very different. Like everyone else, Kelly is at home on lockdown, but she’s at peace with her own situation despite the frustrations of having to postpone the album release to August. “I keep coming back to the centre point of ultimately I’m safe, and I’m in a very privileged position in comparison to so many people in the world,” she begins. “That doesn’t invalidate the fact that you will go through a range of emotions and a rollercoaster ride. All of that is valid,” she continues. “I’m just riding the waves like everyone and trying to get rituals in place.” There’s perhaps a misapprehension that the enforced shut down to life during the coronavirus pandemic is a welcome interlude for stressed out and busy musicians that affords them the freedom to create and express themselves. This may be true for some, but the headspace she is in following three years of making her defining work is somewhere very different. “I’ve already been through my intense creative phase, so I was ready to be out there and out in the world connecting in a live setting with my own stuff,” she explains. “A lot of people are like, ‘Oh, this is amazing. I’ve got so much time to create!’ and that’s just not where I’m at right now. I think that’s important for a lot of people to recognise. Just because you have all this time does not mean you need to go back into this almost capitalistic brain of I must be doing things, I must be creating. How about just, if you can, just being.” The album that she spent so long working on was built up under her specific process of finding and utilising samples, many from nature and the elements to create something rich in dynamics and emotional depth. It all started from a cover of Radiohead’s 2007 song ‘Arpeggi’ from their acclaimed album ‘In Rainbows’. The way she switches up the sounds is representative of Kelly’s subversive skills as a producer. When I think of ‘Arpeggi’, I think of synths. I was like, why didn’t they put synths in this? Why did they use guitar?” she laughs. “That track could only be the beginning, so that was the first track that I did for ‘Inner Song’.This is a stripped-back version. It’s quite dark, but it bubbles up. I was coming out of emotionally heavy and di� icult times. It was a rebirth. “If you put it next to ‘8’ on my last album which was the last track, this first one is bubbling up from those depths and coming back up for air. It’s quite symbolic in a lot of ways for me.” There’s a looseness and freedom to Kelly’s music that gives it such energy and dynamism. “I work quite quickly because I don’t have any fixed ideas, so it gives me the freedom to continue to create what comes in the moment,” she says. This time though, there was also a desire to be more emotional and put her emotions and feelings to the fore. “The only theme is that it’s an honest portrayal of my personal situation in the last three years or so, she proclaims.

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INTRO 14 Take one half of Slaves, and one production whiz, and what do you have? LARRY PINK THE HUMAN. Obviously. Words: Jake Hawkes. Photo: Luis Kramer. FOLLOWERS OF LAURIE VINCENT FROM SLAVES HAVE PROBABLY NOTICED THE PREVALENCE OF A RATHER WORRIED LOOKING BALLOON FLOATING AROUND HIS SOCIAL MEDIA RECENTLY. Well, turns out he isn’t starting a new career as a balloon artist / children’s entertainer – it’s actually tied to his new project with producer Jolyon Thomas, titled Larry Pink The Human. Obvious, right? “When Slaves finished our last record, I felt quite restless,” explains Laurie. “I felt like I was ready to carry on being creative, but also like it was time to have a little breather from the band – we’d just finished a quite intense run, and I’ve been in the band since I was 18 or 19. That’s my whole adult life I’ve been focussing on just one project,

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JUNE 2020

DORK

and it’s had more success than I could ever imagine, but I also feel like it’s an appropriate time to take stock and try something new. I don’t want to go back and do anything with the band until I feel like we’re doing it for the right reasons again, not just out of habit. It’s a completely open book, I’m just focussing on this at the moment is all. “The contrast is that I grew up wanting to make people beat each other up, essentially, because I wanted to see the raw power of music,” he says, when asked about the difference between Slaves and Larry Pink The Human. “But now I’m desperate to make music that people are going to cook their eggs to. I know that sounds simple, but it’s that kind of music that permeates people’s homes and their lives, the kind of thing you choose to listen to when you’re cooking is such a deep connection. “That was my initial plan, but being a part of Slaves for so long, I’d convinced myself I couldn’t write a whole song on my own – and then I did. So I got a handful of them together, and then I had no idea how to make it sound how I wanted it to sound!” “That’s where I came in,” Jolyon

interjects with a smile. It’s a closer partnership than most people have with their producer, and it’s not something Jolyon has done before. “It’s definitely different,” he says about how it feels to be front and centre rather than behind the scenes. “I get quite involved in projects anyway as a musician, so that element isn’t necessarily new, but being a forwardfacing ‘artist’ definitely is. It’s cool, but the stuff I’m enjoying is everything around the music too, the artwork, the videos...everything. There’s an awful amount that goes into it all which we’re both super invested in and we’re both pretty creative people, so it’s exciting to be able to bring that into the whole

“I’m desperate to make music that people are going to cook their eggs to” LAURIE VINCENT

thing in a way I haven’t been able to before.” It’s not just Jolyon that’s working in a different way to usual, though. “It’s so empowering working with someone that helps you bring the best out of yourself,” Laurie says. “I went from doubting whether I could even make music to a point now where I feel super creative. Every song is evolving in a different way, and I’ve learnt to allow things to be completely stripped back, remixed and put back together in a completely different way.” “A good analogy is that Laurie will bring in a photograph of a song, and we just rip it up,” laughs Jolyon. “We’re not precious about it because we’ve both been around the block a few times and we’re happy to experiment. You can turn a painting upside down if you want and a lot of musicians don’t seem to realise they can turn a song upside down too, sometimes it even sounds better back to front.” This visual metaphor is apt because both Jolyon and Laurie are clearly as passionate about the imagery and world they’re creating as they are about the music. “I’m really attracted to strong branding, whether it’s in music, film, sports, whatever,” says Laurie. “I love things that suck me in and have a whole picture far more than when it’s just a case of ‘oh, they have good music’. Even with punk, it was the image and the aesthetic that drew me in just as much as the music and the message. That’s why as soon as the band started forming I showed Jolyon the balloon drawing, which is something I’ve drawn for ages now and I wanted to do something bigger with it. Blending all the different aspects was important.” “It went hand in hand,” Jolyon adds. “The artwork and the music, and then into the video for [the duo’s first single] ‘Love You Bye’, we just took the balloon and didn’t really know what he could do, or think, or mean. So we thought the best thing to do would be to let people interpret him how they wanted, and that’s how we ended up giving a balloon the license to do therapy.” “It’s a developing theme,” Laurie says, when asked if we’ll be seeing more of the helium-filled mascot. “I think it’ll stick around, but we’ll be introducing new themes and new characters as well. I wanna offer people a world they can dive into and become a part of.” And will that world extend into the world of live music, once touring is back on the table? “100%,” says Laurie without hesitation. “Seeing the response that ‘Love You Bye’ has had and the connection it’s already made really gave me that urge to go and play it live and see people’s reactions in the flesh. Isolation has made me miss a lot of things, but seeing the world is a massive part of what I used to do, and I’m craving to go and do it again.” “One thing I will say is that I’m not taking the balloon on tour with us,” interjects Jolyon. “I don’t like balloons, they scare me. They’re unpredictable.” Larry Pink The Human, coming to a city near you as soon as they can, sans balloon. P


The constantly shifting list of Dork's favourite albums of 2020 updated every month!

BANGERS

INTRO

TOP TEN

THE BEST NEW TRACKS

01. THE 1975

NOTES ON A CONDITIONAL FORM *NEW*

We’ve waited long enough, and it’s finally here. Twenty two tracks long, and actually brilliant. Who saw that coming? (Oh yeah, everyone.)

02. RINA SAWAYAMA SAWAYAMA

15

Rina is an artist capable of swerving left at every turn. A remarkable record.

03. THE BIG MOON WALKING LIKE WE DO

04. SOCCER MOMMY COLOR THEORY

05. GEORGIA SEEKING THRILLS

06. HAYLEY WILLIAMS

PETALS FOR ARMOR *NEW*

07. SORRY 925

08. MOSES SUMNEY GRÆ

09. BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB

EVERYTHING ELSE HAS GONE WRONG

10. CHARLI XCX

HOW I’M FEELING NOW *NEW*

ARLO PARKS

Black Dog

She might still be relatively fresh out of the blocks, but Arlo Parks is already sounding like an artist mature beyond her young years. ‘Black Dog’ might be piling up the critical acclaim, but that’s for good reason. Heavy but not so much so it loses heart, ‘Black Dog’ is a genuinely moving cut from an artist capable of dealing with real life emotion with honest feeling and care.

KENNYHOOPLA

plastic door//

A fan of the slash, ‘plastic door//’ is taken from our Kenny’s new release ‘how will i rest in peace if i’m burrid by a highway//’. It’s an affecting listen from an artist already making waves - burning slow but strong, tugging on every heartstring on the way down. So emotive you half expect it to turn out it’s really from some Scottish indie types in touch with their roots, this is one name to keep the closest of eyes on.

FONTAINES D.C.

A Hero’s Death

Already with album two on the horizon, Fontaines are returning with expanded horizons but no less bite. ‘A Hero’s Death’ - the title track of that forthcoming second full-length - barks loud; a repeating refrain spitting out demands and taking few prisoners. Whatever follows, you get the impression it’ll be seen as Quite Important.

GLASS ANIMALS

Dreamland

The title-cut from Wavey Davey and co-’s third album, ‘Dreamland’ is less the textbook Glass Animals bop, and more a hazy, woozy recollection of night-time memories. “Oh, it’s 2020 so it’s time to change that / So you go make an album and call it Dreamland,” the closing lyric suggests. Sounds like a plan.

WALT DISCO

Cut Your Hair

Two minutes and twenty

BANGERS AHOY!

GET THE LATEST BANGERS AT READDORK.COM OR FOLLOW OUR BRAND NEW BANGERS PLAYLIST ON SPOTIFY. CHECK OUT ALL THESE TRACKS AND MORE ON DORK RADIO NOW AT READDORK.COM/RADIO

seconds of prime weirdo pop, Walt Disco have every dial set to Big. From the title, ‘Cut Your Hair’ is doing nothing if it’s not potentially huge. Synths stab, vocals vamp - while they’ve shown promise before, this is the point where Walt Disco finally make perfect nonsense.

THE ACADEMIC

Anything Could Happen

It takes a special skill to sound a little bit anthemic at a point where mass gatherings are firmly off the table, but The Academic have it nailed. Latest track ‘Anything Could Happen’ is anything but a straight down the line, arms along indie banger, though. Delightfully quirky round the edges, there’s a touch of Clor’s mid-00s bonkers pop laboratory, grafted cheerfully onto a chorus that soars sky high. No sign of a dull, predictable guitar band single-bythe-numbers here. Do the maths, and all signs point to massive.

READDORK.COM


NEW MUSIC FIRST.

POWFU There’s more than TikTok trends featuring Dork faves to POWFU. After ubiquitous, Beabadoobee sampling smash ‘Death Bed’, he’s got much, much more still to come.

“Doing everything on my own is my favourite part of it” P OW F U

Words: Martyn Young. POWFU IS REMARKABLY LAID BACK FOR A MAN WHO HAS BEEN RIDING HIGH IN THE TOP 10 OF THE UK SINGLES CHART FOR MONTHS, BUT THAT IS VERY MUCH HIS THING. Supremely assured, marching to the beat of his own drum and pursuing his own lo-fi vision, Powfu is ready to take his chilled out vibes global. Even if you might not have realised you’ll definitely have heard his music at some point in the last year. Whether it’s on the smash hit Beabadoobee featuring viral banger ‘Death Bed’, or in the wildly creative online ether of Youtube or TikTok, his very modern hybrid sound has been everywhere. As he speaks to us from his lockdown bedroom retreat in his native Canada, “hanging out with my girlfriend and just playing video games,” Powfu is taking his rise very much in his stride. “I want to have another song blow up like ‘Death Bed’ did, but I don’t feel any pressure,” says the man born Isaiah Faber. “I’m not nervous about it. I’m just chilling and making music like I always do.” The way he’s always been making music was born from an early introduction. “My dad was in a punk rock band called Faber Drive,” he explains. “So, when I was 2 years old, he taught me to play the drums, and I would practice every day for half an hour. That was my introduction. When I was 11, I got sick of the drums, and I started playing guitar more. About 16 or 17, I started making my own music on the computer. I would just write stupid songs. They were mostly garbage, but I kept working on it and started releasing stuff on SoundCloud, and it went from there.” Powfu has come up in a time when it’s never been easier for all manner of different artists to find an audience and use different platforms to forge a community. In this case, Youtube and Soundcloud have allowed Powfu to experiment and hone his craft and his

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THE FACTS + From Vancouver, Canada + For fans of Twenty One Pilots + Check out ‘death bed (coffee for your head) (feat. beabadoobee)’ + Social @Powfu + See them live: tbc

sound while growing a hugely loyal audience. The music that he makes fits the homegrown nature of this operation. “I make lo-fi hip-hop with a punkish element,” he says. “I’m mixing punk music with hip-hop. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of punk rock - Simple Plan, Yellowcard, Blink 182. Those are my two favourite genres. I’m blessed to be able to do that. I just try and do whatever sounds good. I just think if I were to listen to this, I would hope other people would listen to it.” His approach is a magpie-like sensibility to spot a beat or a sound or a melody and run with it, forging it into something beautifully simple but hugely effective. That’s what he did with ‘Death Bed’. A song that was around a long time before he found the Beabadoobee sample, which became the secret sauce to take it to the next level. “It’s pretty crazy to me. It’s awesome seeing it blow up,” he says. The song is so different from what most other people are making and it’s kind of the definition of lo-fi hip-hop for me. It’s cool seeing it blow up because more people are going to listen to lo-fi. It’s an intro to the genre. It’s inspiring.” After clearing the sample with Beabadoobee’s label Dirty Hit and exchanging DM’s, there’s a hope that at some point the two can perform the song together, but for now Powfu is resolutely sticking to his vision of doing things out on his own. He’s now on a major record label, and everyone knows his name, but that doesn’t matter. He’s going to do things his way. “Doing everything on my own is my favourite part of it,” he says. “I’m able to just wake up, sit at my desk and write lyrics and record vocals. It’s easier for me to concentrate that way. My fans can relate to that. It makes it more personal if it’s just myself in my bedroom doing it.” Right now, Powfu is working at home on another EP which he hopes to release soon. For him and his music, the EP format fits better than the traditional album. “Albums aren’t really my favourite thing to do because I feel like a lot of songs don’t get listened to,” he explains. “I want all my songs to be recognised so I try to keep things short so people won’t get bored listening to it halfway through.” Powfu is an artist that defies convention and has no regard for the “rules”. He represents a new wave who are embracing a different way of reaching audiences and harnessing the creative possibilities of platforms like TikTok in a positive and energising way. His next EP promises to be something a bit special. “It’s a little bit of everything,” he says confidently. P POWFU’S SINGLE ‘DEATH BED’ IS OUT NOW.


OLIVIA DEAN

Walthamstow’s OLIVIA DEAN has had a quick road to hundreds of thousands of streams: signing to London label AMF after her song ‘Reason to Stay’ picked up all sorts of online word-of-mouth hype, she released her lovely EP ‘Password Change’ late last year, and, more recently, her single ‘Crosswords’ - a song about infatuation. Words: Sam Taylor

Has the lockdown impacted many of your plans? Yeah, lockdown has thrown a lot up in the air. I was in the middle of recording an EP when this all started so I’m trying to finish as much of it as I can remotely. I was supposed to go to LA for the first time ever a few weeks back! I’ve got all my fingers crossed that I’ll be able to go in the future. It’s been a while since you dropped your debut EP, how did you find the release? Was it a good experience for you? Honestly, it was quite overwhelming at first, letting go of something so personal to me and putting it out into the world was a new experience for me. In some ways, it felt quite exposing but now it’s been out for a little while I feel really proud of it and very happy with the response I got back. Are you working on any new projects at the moment? Yes!! I’ve just about finished a new EP which should come out later this year, that’s the plan at least. I can’t wait for people to hear it. Are you creative in non-musical ways too? I wish! I enjoy making movies for my friends on iMovie and little documentaries sometimes. I am trying to learn how to DJ but I’m no good yet. P READDORK.COM

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Hi Olivia, how’s it going? This virus business is a bit weird innit, what are you up day to day at the mo? It’s a weird time, isn’t it! So it’s just me, myself and I in my flat at the moment so my day to day is made up of lots of tea, finding and listening to new music and yoga! I’m getting to grips with Logic and teaching myself how to produce, practising guitar and piano and doing a few Zoom pub quizzes with my mates too.


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MEALTIME Not really indie, not really pop, Manchester upstarts MEALTIME are a gang happy to play in the experimental places in-between. Words: Jamie Muir. ”I THINK WE REALISED THAT IT’S OKAY FOR US TO HAVE DIFFERENT TASTES…” Sam from Mealtime is thinking hard about what opened the doors for the band they’ve become. In one line, he nails exactly what makes the Manchester upstarts so unique in a field of bands all looking to create and morph in an age of Spotify playlists and non-stop musical detours. Mealtime can be described as ‘a band’, but it’s worth thinking about them as something different than that. “We love alternative pop music,” adds in Georgia. “We didn’t want to make something really indie or make something really pop. We just wanted to make something experimental.” It’s something Mealtime have delivered on. With a handful of releases so far, their musical jukebox of sounds have formed into something that even the hardest of anti-party protestors would have to put their placards down for. Four singles in, Sam admits, “it’s almost like we didn’t know what Mealtime sounded like until we gained a bit of a back catalogue. We can put together a pretty generic, sellable indie-pop tune, but we have a lot of fun in being curious. It wouldn’t be half as fun without that.” To describe Mealtime and the sounds they create can be a tricky one. We’re talking glorious dance music,

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indietronica, hip-hop beats, electronic flourishes and razor-sharp indie all brought together. Picture a pick’n’mix bag with scoops of all of your favourite sweets dropped in there. There are some that shouldn’t go together with the rest, but the taste says otherwise. “We’re still a band in a traditional sense, but we’re putting elements into it that are different to each other and just fit,” notes Sam. “It’s almost like sometimes when we get into the studio it’s just like: this is a stupid idea, who would think of putting a folk track with a dancehall beat? Thinking that sounds like a horrible idea, but let’s do it! We see if we can make it work, and that’s exciting!” Sam and Georgia burst out laughing - “We’re taking the piss, really, when you think about it,” he cracks between smiles. Forming through university and regular gigs around Manchester, the six-piece today flow like an unstoppable creative unit. Each constantly creating, bringing their ideas to the wider group and building those up from there, it’s led to glorious results that usually sound nothing like the idea that first came into the room. It’s an insatiable thirst to push boundaries as far as they can, with a wealth of ideas sitting in one room. “It’s definitely evolved as our songwriting has progressed,” reflects Georgia. “Especially with me and Sam together, we’re passionate about creating concepts, having this big thing called ‘Mealtime’. It’s not just the music, it’s the visual aspect too. We’re really into art and fashion.” To date, that overarching Mealtime theme has shone bright. The propulsive ‘Rain Like This’, their latest number to

“Sometimes when we get into the studio it’s just like, this is a stupid idea” SA M

THE FACTS + From Manchester, UK + For fans of The Ninth Wave + Check out ‘Rain Like This’ + Social @__mealtime + See them live: tbc

date is born for sweaty clubs - a jumping electronic smash with hypnotic spoken words and euphoric bursts throughout. ‘Sublime’, a mid-90s nightclub ringer that struts with its own confidence from the first note. ‘Denim’, an effortlessly cool gleam of early-00s Y2K pop that could sit pretty on video games and soundtracks all over the place. ‘Teef’, an 80s Stranger Things nod that hits like a smooth cocktail on a summer day. Each release has switched lane, whilst all living in the Mealtime world - it’s exactly what they want to create. As Sam puts it, “we can do whatever we want genre-wise, and it will still sound like Mealtime.” “We’re working towards finding our audience that just totally get us and love what we do,” Georgia explains. “We’re never ever gonna keep it safe and samey. With every release we put out, the visuals and the videos and what-not, we want to create a new Mealtime. We want it to be its own era every single time.” “Sonically obviously it sounds like us, but with every release, I think people are going to be a bit like: woah, what is this. That’s what we want.” That freedom is captured perfectly in their debut EP, ‘Aperitif’, bringing together the tracks they’ve released to date with more eye-opening new paths too. “It’s our first little baby or body of work, and it’s funny because all the songs that we’re using are songs that we’ve had lying around for ages!” says Georgia. “When I’m looking at that tracklist I’m like, there’s so much more that we have recorded and so much more to come.” With the sounds and beats ready to make a splash, it’s in the live world that Mealtime have started to pinpoint what they’re all about too. With the sort of flashing cuts in their back-pocket, the party begins… and will return. Getting in front of people, seeing the looks that come from their unabashed celebratory disco, it feeds into everything they are. “It’s almost encouraging on the live side of things when you’re playing to an audience that doesn’t quite get it yet,” smiles Sam. “Obviously the best gigs are the ones where everyone’s going for it, and everyone’s dancing, but there’s sometimes we come back through after a show, and we’re like: right the crowd didn’t get it at all. That’s fine, we’re not playing to that audience - we almost want to freak people out a bit.” “Honestly,” laughs Georgia, “trying to produce a show with everything that goes into what we record… We’re so horribly self-critical that we think in our heads we can just go on stage and recreate the recording perfectly and it’s so hard. Putting on a show though, that’s the main thing.” There’s a pause. “That sounds shit, doesn’t it?!” she cracks, “but that’s it. Put on a show and dance, it’s hard, but we’re getting better, and we’re just going to get better from here.” Through a whirlwind year, Mealtime have found themselves ready to crack open that door and throw sun-soaked dance into everyone’s faces. Underneath the glorious mix of sounds and eras that make up their standing, is a band throwing everything they have into a band that not only is set on creating their own playing field - but feels like home to each of them. “We’ve worked our arses off for this,” lays out Sam, “working full-time as well as working on everything as a band, which can be hard. We just want to get better and better. That’s the drive. We’d so much rather be tired than be complacent.” P


HYPE NEWS What’s happening in the world of new music.

SINEAD O’BRIEN has shared her new track, ‘Roman Ruins’ - a cut from the Irish poet and performer’s debut EP ‘Drowning In Blessings’, due for release this summer on Chess Club Records. “Written while living in the mansion with fifty people in Hampstead; a sudden realisation occurred,” she says. “It allowed me to see in the brutal light of day. The illusion was collapsed. Exploded. Statues, monuments, clay and ancient structures emerged... A hidden city. The city wants to stay hidden. This is the blind spot.” Dublin’s SILVERBACKS have revealed details of their debut album, along with new track ‘Muted Gold’. ‘Fad’ is set to land on 17th July, and was produced by Girl Band’s Daniel Fox. Catch them on tour from 27th August (hopefully).

CRACK CLOUD have announced their debut album, ‘Pain Olympics’. Due for release on 17th July, the news arrives alongside a video for fun new single ‘Ouster Stew’ - give it a watch on readdork.com. The collective are taking the record out on the road this November, for dates in London )17th), Leeds (19th), Glasgow (20th), Dublin (23rd), Manchester (24th), Newcastle (25th), Bristol (26th), and Brighton (27th). ALUNA from ALUNAGEORGE has gone solo with her new single, ‘Body Pump’. Her debut track is out via Mad Decent, and there’s a debut album on its way too. She explains: “Having enjoyed being the main ingredient to many successful dance records, I started wanting to create the whole dish. In the past when performing on the stages of my white male peers, I always felt like a visitor being one of the few Black women I could see, so it never fully occurred to me to claim dance music as my music, as an artist, even though it was at the heart of my connection to music. “Then I looked at the history of dance music and saw how, for example, Chicago House, known as the invention of house music, was pioneered in the Black and Latino LGTBQ+ communities which gave me inspiration to stake my flag in the ground.”

Glasgow’s DEAD PONY are bursting into 2020 with just buckets and buckets of style. In ‘Everything Is Easy’, they’ve an instant favourite - a hugely boppable, highly addictive tune that’s “a take on how simple childhood experiences can be soured as you grow older,” frontwoman Anna Shields explains. Words: Sam Taylor. Photo: Daniel Blake.

Introduce yourselves - who are you all, and where did you meet? Have you known each other long? Blair: Anna and I met about five years ago and started playing and writing music, we met Aidan and Liam from being in the same music scene in Glasgow about two years ago, and it’s all sort of stemmed from there. Liam: I recall meeting Anna and Blair and immediately just feeling comfortable around them, which was noticeable when we started playing together. Aidan: The first time I met Anna and Blair was at in Stereo like three years ago at a gig we were both playing, at and I remember chatting away to Blair in the green room and funnily enough about four weeks later I think Celtic won the treble and I was absolutely wrecked on the train home and said ‘alright’ to Blair and he didn’t remember me, haha. Dead Pony is a bit of a bleak name? Blair: That depends on your opinion of ponies. What’s been the highlight of your time in the band so far? Anna: Our last gig before lockdown in a sold out Galvanisers SWG3 with The Dunts. That was so surreal and so special, as it was one of the last large gatherings in Scotland before lockdown. Blair: Probably getting to play at TRNSMT in 2019,

getting a mental crowd reaction and then spending the rest of the day getting free beers. Liam: I’ve got to agree with Anna on this one, the Galvanisers show with The Dunts was certainly up there. It’s always a pleasure playing on such a big stage. Lots of room for activities. Aidan: Curveball, but mine is probably when we played Tenement Trail; the energy was good and the rest of the day was quality. What do you do for fun? Do you have any self-isolation-friendly hobbies? Blair: Intense ab workouts and binge drinking on Zoom calls with my friends, lots of quiz nights. Anna: I’ve been working out or doing yoga every day. I have been going on long walks and spending a lot of time with my family. Zoom calls with friends and just trying to connect with my friends and family as much as possible. Liam: For fun, I’ve been cycling like a nutter, trying to keep active every day y’ know. In terms of isolation hobbies, I’ve been fooling around with baked goods more often than usual. Pizzas, breads, mu� ins etc. My latest creation was an oblong-shaped pizza. Aidan: I’ve just been playing the PS4. Has the lockdown impacted many of your plans? Anna: It has yes. Just like everyone we’ve had to put a pause on a lot of things and we’ve had to reschedule gigs and delay releases etc. as we adjust to the “new” way of living. We are lucky that we had a bunch of songs recorded and ready to release so it’s comforting to know that we can still put out music and hopefully cheer people up while all of this is going on. What are you working on at the mo, do you have ‘stuff’ coming up? Blair: We have singles coming out pretty solidly for the rest of the year!! We’ve been lucky enough to have LAB Records come on board with us, and we are very excited to release our new music with them. Apart from that, we have literally loads of demos sitting ready to be worked on, video shoots and other fun stuff for the rest of the year. Some gigs would also be great, haha. P

LAV Lav grew up steeped in music; spending her early days figuring out her thoughts and feelings via poems, songs and everything in-between. Words: Sam Taylor Hi Lav, how’s it going? Are you having a fun day? Hi! My day has been extremely eventful, I’ve played a solid seven hours of animal crossing so far, Rome wasn’t built in a day; it’s hard work, but someone’s gotta do it. Tell us about your new song ‘Wavvy’, what’s it about? I kind of like the idea of the meaning of this song being super subjective. None of the lyrics are absolute, and it can be up for interpretation. I will tell you that I wrote the first draft when I was upset a boy I liked WASN’T texting me back, but the song turned into something different in its last form, not a complete thought, and I like the mess of that. Have you always wanted to be a performer? What did you listen to while you were growing up? I don’t think I ever wanted to be a “performer” I think that word implies that what I get out of music is far less genuine than my reality. I have always wanted to be a poet, I’ve always wanted to make people feel, and I’ve always wanted to create art and music. The performing aspect actually brings me great anxiety, but I have always wanted to make and share art. As far as the music I listened to it was anything and everything. My grandpa is a blues musician, so we listened to a ton of blues and funk, even some jazz. My parents would listen to anything from Macy Gray, to Sublime, to Pantera, to DJ Quik, to Jamiroquai. I am extremely appreciative to have always lived in waves of music; there were very few moments in my childhood with stagnant, musicless air. How did you first make the jump into releasing music and playing gigs? The jump wasn’t huge for me, I’ve always written songs and poems, and I was a theatre kid my whole adolescence; so the jump was more so a hop! Just posting things online was my little hop! What are you working on right now? Are you able to write and record from home? I’m working on creating as much as I can - a couple of short films, songs, music videos, poems. We live in a very strange time, and most of my time right now is spent distracting myself from reality. P READDORK.COM

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Indie boys THE ACADEMIC have shared a teaser from their upcoming EP. Their new single ‘Anything Could Happen’ was produced by Nick Hodgson, and arrives alongside a video shot during lockdown. Directed by Hope Kemp and Ronan Corrigan, the clip features footage from couples in quarantine, plus the occasional dog. Give it a watch on readdork. com, and keep an eye out for news of the EP.

DEAD PONY


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THE 1975

After a longer wait than originally advertised, ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’ is finally here. 22 tracks that see THE 1975 in more ambitious, expansive form than ever before, we dialled in to a locked down Matty Healy to delve deep into the minds of the most important band of their generation. Turns out, he had some stuff to say too. Words: Ali Shutler. Portraits: Jordan Curtis Hughes. Live photography: Patrick Gunning, Sarah Louise Bennett.

THE 1975 HAVE NEVER STOPPED. Their self-titled debut came in 2013, followed by ‘I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it’ in 2016 and ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ in 2018. All three records got to Number 1 in the UK, as well as earning them gongs at The BRITs and Ivor Novellos, plus two Mercury Prize noms. They’ve headlined London’s The O2 six times, Brixton Academy eight times and scored a bill-topping slot at last year’s Reading & Leeds. They’ve been hated, they’ve been adored and now, as they prepare to release ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’ at a time where the world is in violent flux, The 1975 are one of the biggest, and most beloved, bands around. But it’s not getting any easier. When The 1975 first exploded onto the scene with the neon-lit romance of their debut, they were - to put it bluntly - despised. (“It’s still our

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weirdest album. Everyone talks about each album being so different, and they are, but it’s the first one that’s really different.”) What people didn’t get, though, was that their hyper poppy, deeply conceptual music was their way of being rebellious. “We thought making a pop record was really punk because we didn’t do that. We forgot that people didn’t know who ‘we’ were,” admits Matty. “It took a while to get that it was an authentic expression.” For those who did get it, The 1975 quickly became a band to believe in. To live by. Others wrote them off as insincere or annoying, hoping they’d quickly go to The Great Indie Dumper In The Sky. They had other ideas, though. ‘I like it when you sleep’ furthered the battle lines as they took the criticism and turned it into colourful armour. When they performed ‘The Sound’ at The BRITs in 2017, messages taken from the song’s video like “unconvincing emo

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ying On My Mind...


22 lyrics”, “punch-your-TV obnoxious”, “vapid derivative pop” and “boring recycled wannabes” flashed alongside them. Turning the hate into a celebration made people even angrier. How dare a band be so damn cocky. Recently though, there’s been a shift. The 1975 are no longer the same divisive force they once were. The big radio hits of ‘Love It If We Made It’, ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’ and ‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)’ made them impossible to avoid, with the bluster of ‘The Sound’, ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Love Me’ replaced with something altogether warmer. Elsewhere their festival headline slots of 2019 gave the doubters a chance to see them at their undeniable best. For some, it was like the oddly shaped pieces of The 1975 finally slotted into place. On their debut,

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they were seen by many as irritating. ‘I like it when you sleep’ felt to have that swagger bordering on arrogance of a band who knew exactly what they could become, but ‘A Brief Inquiry’ finally revealed them for what they really were; colourful, contradictory, full of heart. “The only thing that I wanted by the time we got to Reading was for The 1975 to be like a cartoon. All the best bands are cartoon characters. Aggressive, romantic, aspirational - whatever it was, I wanted it to feel cartoonish and on the nose. Even dropping ‘People’ the night before and opening with it, that was a big moment. People were like ‘fair enough, it takes a lot of bollocks to headline your first major festival and open with a song that’s been out for like, 6 hours’.” It was a victory for the underdogs.

“If people feel like you’re trying to give them what they want, they smell a rat and then you’re done” MATTY HEALY

“We weren’t supposed to get big,” offers Matty. “I wrote that first record pretty much for us to listen to and to play supporting [early-00s Britrock stalwarts] Hundred Reasons in Manchester. It was going to be released into the alternative ether of nothingness because I couldn’t get signed. We’d been told we wouldn’t get big. We’d been doing music for ten years, so why would we think it would happen? We’d tried, and it didn’t work. We tried another route, and we were told we weren’t good enough. Fine, we’ll just do it for ourselves.” So they, along with manager Jamie Oborne, set up their own label - Dirty Hit. A year before their debut, the band were playing venues like the 200 capacity Barfly in Camden. Four months after it was released, they’d sold out three headline shows at Brixton Academy. Things didn’t stop growing there, either. Now, they’re one of the biggest and brightest around. “I don’t know how to be big,” admits Matty. “I don’t know how to do The 1975. I don’t know what making an album is. There is no formula for it, so I can only react naturally to stuff.” It’s why ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’ is sprawling


THE 1975

“We’re a clever punk band...”

What’s the ethos of The 1975 now? “The ethos is share, don’t separate. If you write all the songs, don’t become The Songwriter. You’re not a god; you’re a cog in a wheel. You share, financially and spiritually, that’s the main rule. The ethos is about recapturing where we come from. We didn’t meet at 17 in a

and introspective, rather than trying to increase The 1975’s market share with big, brash pop songs alone. “That’s the opposite of what we were doing. If people feel like you’re trying to give them what they want, they smell a rat and then you’re done.” Rather than being larger than life, album four focuses on the small. The delicate. The vital. Etched on the vinyl is the message ‘If you find this in the future please know that this was us trying’. “And we are just trying,” starts Matty. “We’re just trying to make sense of all of this shit. People put expectations on us, we put expectations on ourselves, some are lived up to some are underwritten. It’s about reacting to what’s happening and trusting my instinct.” Originally ‘Notes’ was meant to

come out last summer. Then February 2020. Then April. Now it’s 22nd May, and the record is finally yours. When they first started work, there was “a little bit of pressure”, but it only lasted for a week. “We were standing on the top of our most critically acclaimed, successful album, talking about a new album that literally didn’t exist. We had nothing. It was a very daunting prospect.” ‘Frail State Of Mind’ was the first thing written and “as soon as we had that, I knew what we were doing.” The track takes the TikTok urgency of ‘TOOTIME’ and twists it into something fragile and scared to leave the house. “Go outside? Seems unlikely,” Matty sings. “We were making the most real The 1975 record, which is a complete synthesis of aspirational

American culture and miserablist British culture.” But the quiet doesn’t mean ‘Notes’ shies away from being daring. From the call to rebel opening of ‘The 1975’ - a collaboration with climate activist Greta Thunberg - to the bratty nu-metal crunch of ‘People’ that bundles up the band’s long-standing mantra of empowering the youth with the keys to their own future and streamlines it into an impossible to ignore blitz of vitriol, the band are at their most extreme. Even the quiet moments yell. ‘Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America’ is a snapshot of self-indulgence and societal prejudice, an anthem for anyone feeling alone in their bedroom and a warm reminder that you’re really not. The lush pop of ‘Roadkill’, on the other hand, sees Matty try to make sense of a life lived in the crosshairs, “took shit for being quiet during the election and maybe that’s fair enough”, while the closing ‘Guys’ is a sentimental closing montage on The 1975 story so far. “The moment that we started a band was the best thing that ever happened,” he sings softly. Despite their history of doing whatever the fuck

leather jacket with a girl that we fancied, a favourite band, with a reference, with an ego, and then started a band. We were children. We were ‘you make the plinky plonky noise, I’ll make the bumbadumba noise, and it’s really exciting, but then we’ll play more Playstation.” “All our cultural information, all that maturing into a man, everything that’s happened has happened in the same room, with each other. So it’s been about recapturing why we wanted to do that. ‘Notes’ was approached like we used to approach things way back when we first started making house music or garage music. It was exciting because it was a new pasture and the only thing that mattered was how exciting it was to listen to and experience.” So you don’t over-think your art? “I had to accept that what I do isn’t that thought out. People can ask me a million questions about it, they can romanticise it, they can write it down like this, they can put it on tumblr like that, but I don’t really think about it. It’s hard because it’s real-life as well. And we’re lads, so I write a song like ‘Guys’ and everyone’s like, ‘fucking hell, that’s a bit nice’, but we don’t sit around and cry about it once we’ve decided that yes, it is very emotionally sweet. “95% of all the lyrics, it’s the first thing that I write. My art is my instinct. If something cool happens in the studio, and it’s fucking sick, you don’t all sit around going ‘why’. It doesn’t matter why. It’s exciting for an indescribable reason which is even cooler. Success, money, being big, that’s easy shit to aspire to. There are blueprints for that. What there isn’t a blueprint for is just trusting your instinct.”

they want, ‘Notes’ is the first album that sees The 1975 acting like it’s now or never. It might be because it feels like the world might actually end any day now, it might be because they’ve reached the very top of the musical pile, it could even be because they were planning to take a much-needed break. Still, whatever it is, The 1975 approached ‘Notes’ with the belief, “If not now, when?” IN THE EARLY DAYS OF THE 1975, THEIR MUSIC DEALT WITH BLOWJOBS AND TENBAGS. Now it’s racism, climate change and the economy, but they don’t miss the simpler times. “I don’t think about other people watching when I’m writing, but I definitely think about me watching. I hold myself to a standard that I didn’t use to. That’s not necessarily about quality, it’s about content.” The band never want to make the same record twice, and that includes the lyrical content. “Every time I make a record, I put everything into it so by the time I get to the next record, the things that I have to talk about get more specific. My records have become more specific

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The 1975 a punk band? Fuck off. “People want to know what kind of band we are and they can never figure it out, but we’re a clever punk band. We’re a punk band that understood the ethos, which is subvert what is normal, subvert what is being peddled and subvert the commercial idea of alternative culture. You couldn’t do that in 2013 with a heavy band. At that time, I knew that another punk band was not going to change the fucking world because it would be looking backwards.” It had been done. “We’re a punk band because we do it ourselves. We speak of the idea that this is not an artform from a moment. This is not from The Tate. The 1975 is a democratic artform. It’s for the people, and anybody can fucking do it. The Sex Pistols proves that anybody can express themselves creatively and be a fucking serious artist without being a virtuoso.” “Because the Internet has opened up so many doors, people don’t know how to deal with the death of tribalism. People don’t know how to deal with the death of the scene. There’s no scenes left, so you can’t just constantly tribally identify with things anymore.” You have to find your own way. “Being cool is suspicious now. There’s an inherent suspicion of authenticity in the world, and ‘Notes’ is a reaction to that.”


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in their moments but way broader in scope.” Because of that, “’Notes’ doesn’t have one overarching message.” It reflects the world around us, and life is never that simple. “The world isn’t fair. Reality is chaos; therefore, it’s unfair. With the internet, we’re informed of as much chaos as possible, which makes everything feel unbearable. We’re just part of this massive social experiment, and we’re conducting it ourselves.” ‘Notes’, like ‘A Brief Inquiry’, asks questions of our new reality. “Can society sustain the way that we’re communicating with each other? Is my anxiety, my anxiety? Is that separate from the algorithm that is the internet that keeps us informed of all of the chaos in reality? I don’t think so. I’m not surprised when I look at the world and see the amount of mental health issues that there are going around.” ‘Notes’ is a snapshot

is dangerous when you do what I do. I just feel like, in order to be as emotionally present in my art and on stage, I’ve had to get rid of some of that emotional presence in my real life, and it’s fucking me up now.” In the past ten years, the most time Matty’s had off in a row is six days. He runs his own label, so that’s his decision, but he’s quickly discovering that it’s unsustainable. “I felt like there were no sacrifices, no compromises that I needed to make, but that’s left me in

BEFORE THE 1975, THERE WAS DRIVE LIKE I DO. WHILE MANY OF THOSE EARLY MEGABANGERS MAY HAVE BEGUN LIFE DURING ONE OF THE QUARTET’S EARLIER GUISES, THIS WAS A TOTALLY DIFFERENT BAND. BUT NOW - MAYBE - THEY’RE ABOUT TO RETURN? You don’t want The 1975 to ever look backwards, so where does that leave Drive Like I Do? “Drive Like I Do is different because it’s always inherently been that idea of a retrospective listen.” (Because they only got popular after they ‘broke up’ and became The 1975.) “People do listen to these songs, they do exist, and people do love them regardless of my opinion of them, so it would be nice to put them somewhere formally. Probably a vinyl of the first album, 2002-2007 or something and on the same day, I want to drop a new Drive Like I Do record in the same way [seminal emo band] American Football realised ‘oh shit, people love our band now and we have a bunch of songs we never made’. There’s a load of DLID songs that people never heard. I’ve never had the time to do it either. It’s always a nice idea but I’m always working on stuff like ‘Notes’. If I write something really good, am I going to keep it for DLID when I’ve got ‘Notes’ coming up? It’s just not been realistic. However, I wrote a couple of new DLID songs and we recorded them the other day. I’ve been listening to them and it’s really exciting. I remember Hann saying they were ‘peak Drive Like I Do’ when he heard them. It’s weird because it is DLID. It’s a different band, it had its own style.”

a place where I don’t want to be, and it could have been avoided.” “This pandemic has been really di� icult for me,” he continues. “I’m a weird person because I’m madly self-obsessed, but I also don’t like myself. I’m better on stage or in an interview than I am in real life, I’ll tell you that much. Doing what I do, you can very easily become a narcissist. I have a lot of love in my life, but I’ve made a habit of getting up in the morning and curating a world around me that is in service of my vision. I inherently become selfish,” he starts, before apologising. “Sorry I’ve made so much of the interview about this, it’s just that I’m really going through it right now. “I’ve also been depressed for

a very long time. I don’t really talk about it that much because I find it romanticises or fetishes my already quite sadboy image, but the fact of the matter is, I’ve been really fucking depressed for a long time. I’ve been fine with it. I’ve made a career out of it. I’ve made excuses out of it. I’ve done everything that I can do with it, and I’m tired now. I’m just tired of it.” Young people have always looked at Matty for guidance. His everevolving world view and ability to own his various mistakes made him an endearing and relatable role model. “I never pretended that I have the answers, but now I’m starting to get wary of even talking. Not because I get cancelled every week, I can deal with that. It’s more to do with the fact that I feel irresponsible. On the last tour, young people were literally looking up at me, and I felt like I was too mentally ill to understand that responsibility properly. “I feel like an imposter a lot of the time because I do talk about anxiety, depression and all these things in my music, and I fucking mean them, but when someone’s actually looking at you, it doesn’t feel like they’re looking at your music. It feels like they’re looking at you. It feels like they want an answer, and I feel so unequipped to give them one or to guide them in the right way. I don’t know how comfortable I am now celebrating the idea of ‘this is what I would do’ because that’s gotten me here and this is the last place that I want any of you to be.” Even though Matty might not have the answers, what The 1975 have always done really well in their music is offer a sense of community. Whether that’s through headphones on the back of a bus or in an arena with thousands of strangers, their songs are anthems of never truly being alone. ‘I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)’ is a stark admission of suicidal thoughts but it’s twisted to sound like Oasis at their stadium-commanding best. Live, people sing along not just because they know the words, but because they mean them from the depths of their hearts. It takes a special band to inspire such moments of tear-flecked joy. “Creating that environment for people is worth being that open, but when you’re on stage, and they’re staring at me, I don’t feel enough. And I want to feel enough now. I want to feel adequate. I feel like I deserve to really enjoy the things that I’ve achieved. I don’t want to be crying before I go onstage at Madison Square Garden because I don’t feel anything.” The band have “always” felt like they needed a break, but it’s easier said than done. “I can’t not create because

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“‘Notes’ feels like the end of something but it’s quite obviously the start of something else”

of a planet in turmoil. “I’m constantly growing and changing, and so is the world. Art and conversation is just a reaction to that. All I do is make art and talk about it,” continues Matty before pausing. “It’s hard to do now because,” he sighs. “I just need to live, man. I’ve had an amazing life, but I didn’t have a twenties. I was onstage for my whole twenties, and I didn’t grow up properly. I’m not feeling sorry for myself, I’m just saying I need some life experiences that are fundamentally different. [Some of The 1975’s fans] have got kids, proper jobs or have got married. I’m talking to people who have an understanding of a world that I don’t even have access to.” It’s something other A-list stars are finding themselves forced to tackle too. Earlier this year, Halsey announced she was taking a break from touring for similar reasons. “I pride myself on being able to make mistakes, then write songs about them, so you don’t have to make them,” she said from onstage at London’s The O2. “I started realising I can’t do my job anymore ‘cos you guys are growing up faster than I am. I decided that it’s my time to do some growing up, so I can write better music when I come back. Truth be told, as much fun as I’ve had watching you guys grow up, I want to grow up with you.” “That’s a very wise thing to say,” starts Matty. “That’s a really commendable stance to take. I don’t want to do that, though. I don’t want to slow down,” he laughs before admitting, “I’m scared. There’s a line on ‘Roadkill’ that’s ‘I’ll take a minute when I think I won’t die from stopping’. I feel a bit like a shark.” Matty thought he could have it all; a successful life on the road and a healthy, normal one to come home. “[But] building a relationship with a place, an animal, a person


“I feel like I deserve to really enjoy the things that I’ve achieved.”

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MATTY HEALY

that makes me depressed. I do feel pointless if I’m not doing something or making something of value. The idea of stopping terrifies me so much because I have to tour in order to make a living. The 1975 is successful, but we’re still essentially the world’s biggest alternative band. My money is in live, and I’ve spent all my money on The 1975.” Matty promises us that he’s looking after himself and that he’s going to be alright. “This situation has given me a lot of time to think and the one thing that I needed, that I didn’t have, was time. People don’t change until it’s too hard not to. I’m looking after myself. I’m really trying to anyway because I’ve really not wanted to and it’s so easy to slide. I am depressive, and if I don’t put the work in, then I am depressed. I’m doing the work, but I’m not very well. I always talk about it as if I am, but I’ve realised that I’m not. I don’t want to do this anymore unless I’m alright because there’s no point. Everyone’s got a lot of work to do on themselves, but this situation has really highlighted it for me.” IT’S NOT JUST ‘NOTES’ THAT TREMBLES WITH A NOW OR NEVER ATTITUDE; THE 1975 HAVE ALSO BEEN TAKING THAT APPROACH TO MAKING BIGGER CHANGES. The band have started doing things like planting trees for every ticket sold and making a pledge to only play festivals with a more equal gender balance. “I do spend time thinking about my platform and my privilege, but what I think about more is that I don’t really have an upward relationship with other bands anymore.” Sure, he still has heroes, and he still gets giddy when he mentions conversations he’s recently had with Brian Eno and Stevie Nicks,

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“but in regards to other bands that are operating now, I’m very much in the Premier League.” The 1975 are part of the world they want changed and, “I don’t think the doors can be kicked in from the outside when it comes to the reinvention of the live music industry. Who’s going to do it? This is what I do. I say to 70,000 people, do you want to come to my party at Finsbury Park? That’s a privilege of mine, but it’s also a massive responsibility. “If I don’t say no, it has to change, who else is going to do that? Who else is going to make that stance apart from the artist? All the big acts need to do it, and it does require your agent to be like, ‘what about my five houses?’ but the gig’s up mate. We’ve been caught out. It doesn’t work anymore. It’s not sustainable.” The global pandemic has hit pause on live music for the foreseeable. Summer 2020 has been postponed to 2021 and, “everyone keeps talking about how they can’t wait to go back to normal, but it’s going to be a different time when this is finished.” Because of that, “I’m not going to tour ‘Notes’ I just don’t think it’s going to happen. By the time it’s possible, I’ll be in a different place. It will be a retrospective statement, and I never want to be retrospective with The 1975. I’m not interested in looking backwards.” It’s the same reason the ten-yearsin-the-making documentary about The 1975 has never been finished. “I’d do it after an album, but it’s always a retrospective statement.” There’s also the eco-debt their current stage show racks up. “It’s as eco as you can get, but it’s still not good enough, so I’m not doing that show again. It’s so obviously mammoth in its requirements, it’s just impossible to do that and for me to be alright about it. I’m going to get very desperate to play live at some point, but I’m not going to do something that could be tasteless, let alone dangerous.” Despite the political leanings of the first couple of songs shared from ‘Notes’ and the band’s vocal extracurricular beliefs, album four isn’t blatantly political. Right now, “politics begins at home.” “The records are always about me. They’re about what I’m scared of and what excites me. Shared fears and shared excitements are in there - the climate and things like that - but it’s a record about now from the perspective of an individual. ‘Notes’ is a punk record. It feels more political or more punk because it’s about the self and this idea of individualism.” Before there was ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ and ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’, there was

going to be the album ‘Music For Cars’. It was going to be the final album from The 1975 because, according to Matty, “when you’re a writer, you want a good ending. It would have been at the end of the decade, and The 1975 would have been this whole decade-long thing, and stylistically I love that.” Like most ideas The 1975 have, though, it evolved. “The only thing we were going to do after ‘Notes’ was not make The 1975 music for a bit. But I’ve already started on the next record. It already has a title, and I already had a feeling of what it was going to be like,” he teases. “That decade, I was always talking about coming to an end - it happened. That era ended when this all happened. Shit. Easy. Onto the next thing.” “I didn’t really have a choice,” he protests. “It sounds pretentious, but I

In the past couple of years, it’s not just The 1975 that’s settled into a comfortable place. Your label, Dirty Hit, has really grown into something pushing artists at the cutting edge. “Dirty Hit is exactly what we wanted to create, this crèche of cultural movement. You only do that through belief. The label is just an extension of the philosophy of The 1975; it doesn’t matter what it sounds like, if it’s true, fucking brilliant. We don’t sign stuff we don’t believe in. I don’t sign something and think ‘fucking hell; this is going to be an uphill struggle’. I sign people that I’m jealous of. People that make me think ‘fuck, why didn’t I do that’. I’m constantly inspired. 404 are the best band in London. 404 blow my mind. I just get excited about music for a job now. I’m like a six-year-old in the studio. I’m so excited by music that challenges my perception. I love music that I’ve not heard before. I think I’m fun to be in a studio with because I don’t actually have any ego and because I reference so many bands, people know that I’m doing this because I love it. If you teach people it’s fine to be excited; they become even better artists. You’re taught, especially if you’re English, to be a bit embarrassed. Don’t accept the compliment. With Dirty Hit, it’s free reign man. If it’s real, people will listen to it, and people want it. I’m fucking so proud of Dirty Hit, that’s the one thing I’m most proud of. The next thing formally to do is a new Beabadoobee record. She’s asked us to work on that with her. I’m so honoured to do that. She runs her own shit, so she probably won’t need me that much, but I’ll be there.”


THE 1975

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Has Modernity Failed Us? THE 1975 HAVE ALWAYS QUESTIONED THEIR OWN REALITY. Whether it’s finding poetry in the streets of Manchester or wanking on webcam, their music tries to make sense of the world around them. Right now we’re in the middle of a global pandemic that could very well change the lives of everyone and, as you’d expect, Matty Healy has some thoughts on the matter. “To pretend this isn’t the culmination of a set of circumstances that we’ve just been letting go on is naive. This is a result of the way the world is set up. The coronavirus is just a figurehead, it’s a gargoyle of what’s happening in the same way that Donald Trump is. I hate Donald Trump, and he’s an idiot, but the idea that Donald Trump came down and made the world a worse place isn’t right. The world isn’t a worse place than the seventies or the eighties in regards to murder rate or poverty, but we’re so informed of everything it feels unbearable.” And the problems with society don’t end with the chaos of the news cycle or the lack of faith in our democratically elected o�icials. ‘Notes’ asks does individualism, the idea of prioritising yourself over the collective good, work? “If we all do that, that’s how we beat the man, and that’s how we change society. But we don’t know how to serve a series of individuals as a society.” Instead, we’ve got consumer-capitalism. “You want to express yourself? Don’t worry, I’ve got all the shit you need to do that.” Just hand over the money first. “We have a philosophical hole. It’s what I was talking about on the second album, that God-shaped hole. There’s something missing. There’s something missing in me, and when I write, when I’m the most specific, that’s the shit that people get tattooed so I know I’m not the only one who feels like this. “I’m a fucking atheist, and I don’t believe in God, but I understand Nietzsche’s point of we’ve killed God and we don’t have enough water to wash the blood from our hands. Fuck me, think about that. According to science, a society that removes a higher purpose can be enlightened and intellectual, but I would say there’s evidence to suggest they just become materialistic and nihilistic. Worship of self is what

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happens, which is where we’re at right now.” As you look around and see some people hoarding toilet roll, demonising teachers for not wanting to endanger their own lives and pointing the finger at everyone but the government, it’s hard to disagree. It started getting worse in the nineties because of documentaries like Airport, he says. “Where genuine, real-life people went from working in an airport to being really famous. It’s like Howard from the Halifax adverts.” It’s why the character of David Brent from The O�ice was “so tragic”. “We understand that he’s trying to be loved, but he’s trying to get it from the wrong place. He’s trying to be famous, asking if we love him and we don’t. We want him to fail. That’s how the world is set up. That character is incredible, but it doesn’t cut the same way anymore because that level of narcissism is normal. “That fame for fame’s sake was the start of this insane narcissism, and we’ve been talking about how we’ve created a new world since the second record. Now we’re deciding that one is more real than the other. “That’s what ‘Too Shy’ is about. If I’m with my partner and I get naked, or we get intimate, there are no connotations apart from romance or intimacy. If you do the same thing, but you have to do it on the Internet because of distance, the immediate connotations of pornography, sexualisation, voyeurism, cam girl culture all exist. Apparently, it’s not the same, and we’ve not been able to figure out where to put the impetus or where to put the truth. “’Change of Heart’, the best line across all of those albums about that thing is the one that’s like, ‘you say I’m full of diseases, your eyes were full of regret, then you took a picture of your salad and put it on the internet’. This is a real moment that we’re having, we’re having an argument, but there’s something in you that needs to be connected to this other world. “At that moment I’m saying you shouldn’t because that’s not real, but I’m also questioning who I am to say what’s real? Who am I to say about self-worth or where one gets their authentic sense

of self from? We don’t know what’s real anymore, so we accept shit. We accept Donald Trump. We accept all these mad cartoonish ideas because we don’t know. There’s no one to tell us what to do, and that’s what everyone stresses about. It’s fine believing in God, but it’s just a desire for order. “A lot of people get to my age, and they’re not dealing with the personal, they’re dealing with the existential. They’re worrying about God, but I honestly feel more humbled by being part of this tapestry of humanity, exchange, art and death. Death is beautiful. What a crazy concept, to burst into experience and then fucking die, forever. Fuck me, if we lived like that... “Kanye lives like that. He gets himself in trouble but that guy fucking lives like he’s going to die, and none of us do. Why? Go look at your screentime and see if you’re ok with the amount of hours you put into your phone this week. I know that you’re not. I know that I’m not. We know this shit. We’ve gotten to the core of how we behave, but we haven’t gotten to why we behave. We know humans behave like this so we can manipulate them, but we don’t know why they behave like that. People don’t care cos they’ve got a short term profit to worry about. That’s the way the world is set up. Everything has an agenda. “Children in the playpark are mean to each other because they’re figuring it out. They’re just trying everything out. If you’re a kid and you say to another kid ‘you’re fat’ and then that kid starts crying, you go ‘fucking hell, that wasn’t nice. I shouldn’t have done that. I don’t like this feeling’, and you don’t do it again. If your first experience of calling someone fat is in a Youtube comment and you get no response, you can sit there in that warm comfortable feeling of getting something out. You don’t learn empathy. You don’t learn social skills. “We’re just part of this massive social experiment, and we’re conducting it ourselves. It’s a mad cyclical situation. That’s the place that we’re in, and it’s going to require a spiritual level reset. It’s going to require people to graduate from ways of thinking that they’re just not comfortable with. It just doesn’t work. It’s not a sustainable reality.” P


“I’ve already started on the next record. It already has a title” MATTY HEALY

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don’t think you choose when you start to write a new record. The world just tells you. ‘Notes’ doesn’t feel like old news, but it’s already a different time. I’m not in that place anymore. I have to react to that; otherwise, I’ll feel stale.” The music they’ve been working on has “not really required me to be that happy,” he says. “Not that it’s sour, it’s just not about the pursuit of happiness. It’s about what I see which is violence, anxiety, unattainable beauty and nothing in between. I think I’m just going to work on that.” Even though the band are going to continue, there’s a very real plan to take a much-needed break which is why the sprawling ‘Notes’ is wrapped so tightly and offers such bedroom comfort. It’ll be there even if The 1975 aren’t. “There’s no such thing as a natural conclusion. The 1975 and all the records are like a movie, and ‘Notes’ has become the end. But it turns out the movie is ‘The Graduate’.” There’s chaos, conflict, love, but “there’s no real ending. ‘Notes’ feels like the end of something, but it’s quite obviously the start of something else. What it really is, is a tribute to the passing of time. “ ‘Notes’ embraces loneliness. It acknowledges being down. It’s confused, heartbroken and lost. It comes with the message, “Don’t keep aspiring to happiness if you don’t feel happy. You’ll teach yourself that when you don’t feel happy, you’re wrong. But you’re not, you’re just a human.” Afterall, “Life is chaos, and we’re just constantly reacting to that. ‘Notes’ is an album about trying to be. Negotiating with the now and what that means. It’s just me saying that I’m here.” Right now, being heard is enough. Trying is aspirational. “On all our albums, I’ve tried to figure out why or what, and on this album, I’m just saying ‘I was here, and I tried’. That’s the best that we can hope for.” P THE 1975’S ALBUM ‘NOTES ON A CONDITIONAL FORM’ IS OUT NOW.


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Incoming!

Dork

cc: Reviews desk

Notes on Notes... The most ambitious album The 1975 have produced to date requires more than your standard review. Delivered across a sprawling, shifting 22 tracks, over the next few pages we’re going in depth with ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’


THE 1975

Album review

The 1975

Notes On A Conditional Form eeeee

Fig 1. Features & samples a. FKA Twigs

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Provides those vocal harmonies at the start of megabanger ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’ as well as appearing on ‘What Should I Say’. Positively angelic.

b. Phoebe Bridgers

of a number of contributors who bring something new to The 1975’s shared universe. In her instance, it’s a social responsibility; a demand to reform and rebel. Elsewhere, it’s the alt-indie deftness of Phoebe Bridgers, or the soaring, other-worldly tones of FKA Twigs. While on ‘A Brief Inquiry...’ the influence of label-mate No Rome was occasionally more direct (he provided the original beat for eventual single ‘TOOTIMETOOTIMETOOTIME’), here it’s a far more open universe. Sharing the creative stage augments what the band have themselves created, refocusing the direction of travel where needed. It’s Thunberg’s contribution that sets up the album’s first and most bombastic moment. Even nine months on, the shock waves of ‘People’ still ring loud. It’s a deeply political opening to an album which quickly shifts gear to the more personal. Instrumentals have returned to the fold with a purpose - ‘The End (Music For Cars)’ providing a lush, deliberate orchestral cushion. It’s an early reboot for a record which - from this point on - hits an all together different, more measured stride. ‘Frail State Of Mind’ is the lead on one of two distinct moods which combine throughout ‘Notes...’. Born of the much-heralded ‘nighttime record’ the band promised in the album’s build-up, it’s all UK garage beats and affordable hatchbacks with souped-up sound-systems, gleaming under the glow of ring-road city street-lights. It’s uniquely British, but also fresh and authentic in a way which belies any suggestion of misappropriation. Like The Streets before them, The 1975 have an instinctive feel for what works in a way that never seems anything but effortless. ‘Yeah I Know’ and ‘What Should I Say’ run along similar vibes, while instrumental ‘Having No Head’ and the Cutty Ranks fronted ‘Shiny Collarbone’ contribute with their own stylistic swerve. It’s the central run of ‘Notes...’ that really shows just how perfectly The 1975 can inhabit this persona, though. From ‘I Think There’s Something You Should Know’, through ‘Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied’, to

Appears four times on the record. As well as sharing lead on ‘Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America’, she’s also on back ups for ‘Then Because She Goes’, ‘Roadkill’ and ‘Playing On My Mind’.

c. Cutty Ranks

The Jamaican dancehall artist gives an all together different vibe to ‘Shiny Collarbone’.

d. Greta Thunberg

Her words on opener ‘The 1975’ set a socially vital tone for what follows.

c. Tim Healy

Matty’s actor Dad both wrote and appears on ‘Don’t Worry’.

e. Christopher Cross

Track ‘Sailing’ is sampled on ‘Bagsy Not In Net’.

f. The Temptations

‘Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)’ not only samples The Temptations’ ‘Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)’, but has a similar lyrical sentiment too.

‘Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)’; it’s arguable the band have never sounded better. Overflowing with genuine soul, soft tones and deft touches, it’s an imperial phase delivered in a concentrated three-song burst. Emotional, sincere and scarily good, it’s also without peer. The other main thread is semantically linked but stylistically removed; an often acoustic, alt-folkcountry glow that begins with the winding, stream of consciousness of ‘The Birthday Party’ and grows from there. Both the early-90s harmony of ‘Then Because She Goes’ and the tourconfessional, one-horse town mild yee-haw of ‘Roadkill’ stand strong; the latter no doubt ensuring endless column inches for a throwaway jab at the performative nature of personal politics in the social media age. ‘Me & You Together Song’ remains a genuine point of warmth, while closer ‘Guys’ is pure sentimentality. What could have been mawkish becomes an openhearted tribute - an end to a chapter, but a promise that the story isn’t over yet. Of course, one song sits apart from the rest. Though it only first appeared a few short months ago, debuted live at the opening date of the band’s UK tour, ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’ already feels like it could become the defining statement their first decade. Like the moment in the superhero film where the lead finally pulls on the iconic costume, it’s The 1975 proving that they still know how to be the band every other wants to replicate. Sax solos wail, the box blasts bright - ‘Too Shy’ is the beacon burning proud; The 1975 triumphant. The shiniest jewel in the crown, it’s also proof that ‘Notes’ isn’t simply an album thrown together from best endeavours and reactionary thought. At 22 tracks in length, very little feels like fat to be trimmed. Indeed - there’s probably two distinct, standout, career-defining albums for any other act here, if cut in the right places. Each track offers something to the mix. Pieced together across eighteen months of endless touring, a constantly shifting world and - by the close - a global shutdown, if instinct has played a part it only goes to show just how strong those reflex actions are. For a while, it appeared like ‘Notes On A Conditional Form’ might be the end of The 1975. The close of a decade; the perfect last line in a story. While it’s clear that’s no longer the case, the page remains blank for reinvention once more. What ‘Music For Cars’ has taught us is that, no matter which way they turn next - be it the detuned rock aggression of previous incarnation Drive Like I Do, or ambitious new horizons previously untested - limitless potential isn’t something to be scared of. Let’s just not put any public timelines on it this time, yeah? Stephen Ackroyd

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“IF YOU CAN’T MAKE AN ALBUM IN SIX MONTHS AND YOU’RE IN ONE OF THE BIGGEST BANDS IN THE WORLD, WHAT ARE YOU FUCKING PLAYING AT?” MATTY HEALY, THE 1975 (DORK, NOVEMBER 2018) That was the plan. Six months to follow up on the most ambitious album of the year; the genre-hopping pop culture playlist that saw The 1975 transcend their own neon boundaries. ‘A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships’ might have been a record so expansive it kicked down the critical fire doors, but with that done, the rest is easy, right? Right?! A year and a half later, and said full-length has finally arrived. Initially expected in the early summer of 2019, soon it became ‘before headlining Reading’ in late August. Then, February 2020. Or maybe April? No. May. May, in the middle of a global pandemic. What could possibly be more them? For most, this would be proof of a botched job. Overwrought second guessing, excess for excess’ sake, or behind the scenes issues that limit expression. The 1975 have always worked differently. A band of ideas in the moment, often thrown into the most public places with only a cursory pause for thought, the entire Music For Cars era - two albums, back to back - has always been, in part, about the context in which creativity thrives. Announced in a blaze of excitement, the first half was already mostly together. Seven months between the first soon-to-be-ubiquitous posters and the release of ‘A Brief Inquiry...’ was the structured first phase. Taking to the road in early 2019, with plans to record as they went - that was provoking deliberate chaos. But chaos is where instinct thrives. By unmooring themselves from the safety of what they knew, ‘Notes...’ is The 1975 reacting to the push and pull of their own creative reflex, making another gigantic leap from the band they once were to the cultural hearthstone they have so quickly revealed themselves to be. Recorded in countless studios, on tour, between engagements and right up (and indeed past) its own closing bell, ‘Notes...’ isn’t like other albums. 22 tracks in length, it shifts in theme and emotion, ideas blooming wherever fertile ground has been found. It’s testament to the band - and especially Healy and drummer-slashproduction-genius George Daniel - that no matter where that urge leads, it’s not only fully and gloriously realised, but also definitively theirs. It’s also, uniquely for the band, more collaborative. Their opening statement - a self-titled, previously (mostly) instrumental theme - is notable this time around for its vocal presence. Climate change activist Greta Thunberg isn’t just providing words to match music; she’s the first

Notes.


Notes. Fig 2. Easter eggs a. Eats shoots and leaves Like your lyrical throwbacks? ‘Roadkill’ more than just recalls ‘Robbers’. ‘If you don’t eat you’ll never grow / If you don’t shoot than you’ll never know’ is a direct reversal of the corresponding line from the debut album track.

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b. Everything revealed ‘Nothing Revealed...’ is a story of introspection - of constantly being in search of something. Of looking for the thing that will make you happy, but that eventually doesn’t seem right (“And I get somewhere, but I don’t like it / Get somewhere, change my mind / Get somewhere, but don’t find it / I don’t find what I’m looking for”.) It’s a lyrical overtone shared with ‘i like it when you sleep...’’s ‘If I Believe You’, except there, Matty wrestles with the possibility that it was the absence of faith in God which contributed to his feelings of despair. Both tracks enlist a gospel choir, and have similar openings too. c. She said... Yep, it’s one of Matty’s favourite lyrics, and he uses it another nine times across three tracks. d. Shiny synths OK, super fan speculation time - that noise at 0.23 on ‘Shiny Collarbone’ might be quite similar to the sound that opens ‘It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)’. No? No?! No, you overthink things.

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‘The 1975’

The first music heard from ‘Notes’ - it would be easy for the appearance of climate activist Greta Thunberg to feel forced or gimmicky. It doesn’t. A strong, forthright message placed front and centre, and backed up by action to match, that call to rebel is the starting gun on the explosion that follows.

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‘People’

Nine months on and ‘People’ still feels like a brick through the window of the expected. Crunching guitars, snarling vocals and the demand for a chance, the lead single for ‘Notes’ takes all the aspirational hope and polished belief of ‘A Brief Inquiry’ and turns it into a clenched

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fist. Nine Inch Nails meets System of a Down, The 1975 are pulling away from the end of the world with visceral fury. The world needs change, and The 1975 are the first ones in line. At the end of their tether, what other choice did they have?

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‘The End (Music For Cars)’

Playing up to the self-started rumours that ‘Notes’ would be the last album from The 1975, the instrumental ‘The End (Music For Cars)’ starts quietly before bursting into bloom and wrestling with the occasional flurry of ominous dread. From here on out, the track swells with a majestic, renewed sense of purpose as it chases the light. Achingly beautiful but never completely free of fear, The 1975 find new beginnings from potential conclusion. A jarring follow-on from the chaos that comes before it but a vital bridge to what comes next, ‘The End’ is the first truly shocking moment of ‘Notes’.

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‘Streaming’

The second proper, full instrumental moment of ‘Notes’, ‘Streaming’ is delicate, thoughtful and - in its own way - transformative. Like the sun rising over the hills beyond, it’s as much an introduction for ‘The Birthday Party’ that follows as it is a track in its own right. Glimmering like light through tree branches, once fully taken in, it’s hard to imagine one without the other.

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‘The Birthday Party’

At first listen, ‘The Birthday Party’ felt a step apart from what we’d already heard from ‘Notes’. Relaxed, delivered like a stream of near consciousness - it never exactly lacked direction, but following big statements like ‘People’ or the direct, a�irmative action of ‘Me & You Together Song’, it certainly seemed less urgent. In the context of the record, it’s something altogether different. A genuine, sincere moment, it’s just one of many songs that give ‘Notes’ a warm, beating heart.

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The first sign of The 1975’s muchpromised ‘nighttime record’, there’s something gloriously British about ‘Frail State Of Mind’. It’s repeating piano roll flickers like reflective lights of the city against the shining exterior of some hotboxed Nissan Micra, vocal line both urgent and utterly at ease in the same moment. Proof The 1975 can magpie from any corner of their musical influence, it’s still uniquely them.

Glitching, minimalist and toying with vocal effects, ‘Yeah I Know’ is the morning after ‘The Birthday Party”s lush adventure. Spinning head, wandering thoughts and unable to focus, the anxiety bop isn’t sure which way is up. “Time feels like it’s changed, I don’t feel the same anymore,” it sings, a moment of clarity amidst the many chirping voices. ‘Yeah I Know’ captures the chaos and spiralling uncertainty that ‘Notes’

‘Frail State Of Mind’

‘Yeah I Know’

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‘Then Because She Goes’

Another left turn here as ‘Then Because She Goes’ explodes in warm light. At just over two minutes, it’s one of ‘Notes’ more succinct moments, but in that time, The 1975 dance with heart-tugging romance and absolute adoration. There’s the ever-present threat of loss lurking in the shadows as the track focuses on everyday drama. “We’re supposed to leave by half past 8, will you stay or wait?” it asks, a small skirmish in an ongoing battle of the heart while the line “You fracture light again” will be captioning cutesy Instagram pictures for the rest of the year.

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‘Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America’

The most collaborative The 1975 have ever been is also the most vulnerable, as they team up with the living legend that is Phoebe Bridgers for this emo heart-tugger. A simple turn of folksy storytelling becomes so much more as the pair tackle guilt, shame and feeling isolated from the world at large. A song made for bedroom listening, it promises that just because you feel alone, you never really are. It might be dreamy and atmospheric, but ‘Jesus Christ’ wields power in its beauty.

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‘Roadkill’

And from universal teenage issues to


THE 1975

Notes. Fig 3. Themes a. Instrumentals

‘Notes...’ sees The 1975 reintroduce more instrumentals - something which played a major part in the early days of the band. From ‘28’ back in the Drive Like I Do days, to ‘An Encounter’ (which still plays as the opening to ‘Robbers’ live) on their debut - over a fifth of the one hour fourteen minute runtime of ‘i like it when you sleep...’ is made up of sweeping instrumentals. Back in 2016, they even teamed up with a full orchestra for a special BBC Radio 1 show in Blackpool. Though they may have taken a step back on ‘A Brief Inquiry...’, this time round they’re back with a vengeance. ‘The End (Music For Cars)’ provides a deliberate and effective slam of the hand-break, following the bomb blast of ‘People’, while ‘Streaming’ gives ‘The Birthday Party’ the beautiful prequel we never knew we needed, but now can’t do without.

b. Genre fludity

As on ‘A Brief Inquiry’, ‘Notes...’ sees The 1975 skip between genres and sounds at will. If anything, it’s more pronounced than ever before. ‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’ aside, almost every track features

some sort of twist from the iconic 1975 neon template of the band’s first two albums. There are one off moments - the full out rock regalia of ‘People’, or the inclusion of Jamaican dancehall artist Cutty Ranks on ‘Shiny Collarbone’ - but elsewhere the record divides more evenly between two overarching ‘vibes’. On one hand, there’s the famed, very British ‘nighttime’ record, teased so much in the run up to release. The UK Garage beats of ‘Frail State of Mind’, or the standout run from ‘I Think There’s Something You Should Know’ to ‘Tonight (‘I Wish I Was Your Boy’) - so packed with soul - provide genuine heart. On the other, there’s a thread of lo-fi, country and acoustic music which dovetails both emotionally and sonically, but stops twenty two tracks ever feeling like a drag. The mild yee-haw of ‘Roadkill’, the 90s jangle of ‘Then Because She Goes’ and ‘Me & You Together Song’, or the chilled vibes of ‘The Birthday Party’ and ‘Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America’ - the inclusion of the magnificently talented Phoebe Bridgers on more than one occasion adds a richness that shines through.

honest representation of the prevailing mood that underlines so much of ‘Notes’.

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‘Having No Head’

Six minutes in length, ‘Having No Head’ is an instrumental of two parts. Initially sparse - growing piano stabs breaking through the mist - it eventually sparks into life; its second half all beats, synths and glow-sticks. Very much a track to capture a certain mood; once it hits, it’s positively euphoric. A George Daniel masterclass.

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‘What Should I Say’

Perhaps ‘Notes’ hidden gem, ‘What Should I Say’ feels like a track that grows in influence over time. Largely repeating a slightly shifting refrain, It’s every bit the metropolitan banger. Effortlessly cool but with depth below the surface too, it’s yet another sign that ‘Music For Cars’ has seen The 1975 evolve in ways previously beyond expectation.

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‘Bagsy Not In Net’

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‘Me & You Together Song’

An anthem for everyday action and a sugary burst of nostalgia, this is The 1975 at their soppy best. With misty eyes and memories to last a lifetime, it’s a song about unrequited love, not-so-bold declarations and dreams of normality. If you like someone, tell ‘em! It also sounds a lot like earlynoughties Busted, but we’ll take it as The 1975 take the mundane and make it sparkle. “We went to Winter Wonderland, and it was shit.” Yeah, we’ve all been there.

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‘I Think There’s Something You Should Know’

Part of a run of songs which, quite probably, provide ‘Notes’ high watermark - ‘I Think There’s Something You Should Know’ flicks the dial back to the pirate radio of

‘Frail State Of Mind’ and ‘Yeah I Know’. Capturing a moment of self-doubt - feeling there’s something wrong in a relationship but struggling to vocalise it at a point where it might help, the lyric “Feeling like someone, like ‘Somebody Else’, who don’t feel themself” feels like a pertinent echo from a band who have developed so far but never quite lost track of what they are.

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‘Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied’

‘Nothing Revealed / Everything Denied’ sees The 1975 embrace excess as the track sways between piano-led serenity and fractured breakdowns. “Life feels like a lie, is there anybody out there?” it asks before retracting statements (“I never fucked in a car, I was lying”) and biting at paid meet and greets (“you don’t fuck with your poor fans, you meet the rich ones to expand your floor plans”). It’s a new take on a classic The 1975 flavour, but it shows there’s plenty left to explore.

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‘Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)’

A song mired in the self-accepted guilt of falling out of love, it’s impossible to not hear the fraught regret that runs through ‘Tonight (I Wish I Was Your Boy)’. Full of warmth but with a sorrowful edge, it’s the close of an emotional story - from the young love of ‘Me & You Together Song’, through the internal doubts to the final, heartbreaking moment when it all

falls apart. Once that clicks, you’ll be wanting the hankies.

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‘Shiny Collarbone’

After that emotional bombshell, it’s no wonder ‘Notes’ feels the need to mix things up a bit. Utilising the vocals of Jamaican dancehall icon Cutty Ranks, ‘Shiny Collarbone’ is more than just a buffer - it’s a refocus to something new. The end of one chapter, the start of another.

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‘If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know)’

There’s every chance that - with proper distance applied - ‘Too Shy’ could be accepted as the ultimate expression of The 1975’s trademark sound. At the very least, it’s the moment of ‘Notes’ destined to join those iconic bangers in the ‘end of set’ hall of fame. Yes, it may be fundamentally a song about getting your kit off on a web-cam, but it’s delivered with such bright, neon brilliance that it feels like a unifying statement all the same. While ‘People’ may be ‘Notes’’ blunt instrument, ‘Too Shy’ is the surgical knife. Pop perfection.

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‘Playing On My Mind’

Acoustic, and backed vocally for the final time on the record by Phoebe Bridgers, ‘Playing On My Mind’ is a late night internal monologue, full of reflection. Delicate, sometimes dark, but delivered with feeling - it’s an

What a title. The rest of the track is pretty great as well, as The 1975 lean into their electronic influences for this open-air club banger. The open flourishes are typical ‘75 before the pulsating beat takes over and drives the track somewhere new. Emo dance “I’m dealing in death and being lonely”, the track is another that stands on the edge of a break, unsure about continuing alone.

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‘Don’t Worry’

Written by Matty’s dad Tim, but repurposed by The 1975, the penultimate track on ‘Notes’ is a soaring ode to family and fanbase. While ‘A Brief Inquiry’’s ‘I Couldn’t Be More In Love’ was a reassuring nod that The 1975 weren’t going anywhere, ‘Don’t Worry’ is a promise that just cos they’re taking a break, their music will always provide comfort. Feeling like a new dawn after the chaos of ‘Notes’, the sunny side spirit of ‘Don’t Worry’ is a reminder that The 1975 is bigger than the guys onstage.

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‘Guys’

The curtain call of the Music For Cars era is a moment of joyful reflection on the insane journey The 1975 have been on. For an outsider, it’s a sickly sweet burst of twee bro-love, but for those who remember when The 1975 weren’t the biggest band around, it’s an ode to persistence and the strength of their belief in one another. With no ego or grand statement, it’s an unexpected choice to close the most extreme The 1975 album to date, but full of heart and with nothing to hide. It couldn’t be more perfect. P READDORK.COM

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The Matty Show with ‘Roadkill’. A selfdeprecating takedown of his ego, the track captures the weird (“I pissed myself on a Texan intersection”) and the not-so-wonderful (“took shit for being quiet during the election, maybe that’s fair but I’m a busy guy”) as Matty bounces between the roar of the stage and the quiet of the hotel room afterwards. It’s all fun, games and tucked up erections until the ending which reminds you that he actually carries a backpack of medical ‘stuff ’ in case he gets shot. “I’ve been waiting my whole life for you,” comes the Cheshire Cat grin.


THE ACES dropped the first track from their new record, and then saw the world change around it to give it an altogether different twist. Fitting, given ‘Under My Influence’ sounds every bit like the album of right now.

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Words: Abigail Firth.

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THE ACES

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eaming READDORK.COM


WHEN THE ACES RELEASED ‘DAYDREAM’ BACK IN MARCH, THEY WEREN’T JUST USHERING IN THEIR NEW ERA, OH NO. As the world slowly went into complete lockdown, the lyrics to their comeback single started to hit a little bit differently. Daydreaming about your other half because something’s keeping you apart? Yep, this song written about being away from your loved ones for a long time is an accidental quarantine anthem, it’s sparkly guitars and peppy vocals ringing in a summer that’ll likely only be enjoyed in back gardens. It seems appropriate then that Dork meets the four girls over Zoom* (*not sponsored by Charli XCX), where they reside in their Utah homes. Vocalist Cristal and her sister, drummer Alisa, have just woken up and do the interview from their bed (rock’n’roll), while guitarist Katie and bassist McKenna join in from their own homes too. The isolation doesn’t seem to be getting them too down, in fact, they’re getting pretty creative. “I’ve actually really enjoyed it, and I think the girls feel the same,” says Cristal. “Getting to connect with our fans and give them new music at a time especially like now feels like so necessary, not just because our fans love it, but we need it just as badly, you know what I mean? So it’s been really therapeutic weirdly enough to put out music right now.” Aside from the Digital Wellness Tour they embarked on – which included meditation with Cristal, cooking with McKenna, a workout with Katie, and yoga with Alisa – and covering (checks notes) ‘Toosie Slide’ by Drake, there’s the small prospect of releasing new album ‘Under My Influence’ during this particularly strange time, but it’s something The Aces are taking in their stride. “I think like we live in a world where the majority of people who are listening to music and digesting music, they’re not doing it live, like you’re never going to get to play to everybody that listens to your music. So I think it’s really important to keep fostering that community online and keep giving people something to look forward to and keep people positive,” says Cristal. Alisa adds, “I think the number one [piece of] feedback that we’ve heard from fans and from people while releasing the first two singles was like, ‘thanks so much for still putting out music, so many people are stopping, and we need music, we need stuff to look forward to’.” Nurturing that online community is essential for The Aces, and not only while we’re all isolating – connecting with fans virtually and IRL has been the way for the girls for quite some time. During the years between their debut ‘When My Heart Felt Volcanic’ in 2018 and the creation of ‘Under My Influence’, the band spent a lot of time with their fans, learning about their experiences and how the band has impacted them. “They mirror us a lot, which is really cool,” Cristal notes. “We always say that we would hang out with our fans and like, we would be friends with all of them.” They’ve grown with their fans too. The Aces have been together since they were kids (and known as The Blue Aces), and their last album was written back when the girls were still teenagers. On their debut cycle, they toured the world in support slots for indie unit COIN and Aussie pop giants 5 Seconds of Summer, alongside their own US and European

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tour. “When we were writing our first record, we were like 17, and Alisa was 15, so the difference between writing a record when you’re 17 versus writing a record when you’re 23 is huge because you’re a whole different person in that time. You’ve experienced so much more, you’ve matured so much,” says Cristal. “Now we’re like, grown women who know a lot more, we know how to articulate ourselves a lot better, and know how to express our emotions on deeper, more vulnerable levels.” She continues, “We’ve toured the world, we gained a following that we didn’t have when we put out the first record, and this really strong, solid, core fan base. I think that having them makes us feel a lot more able to experiment and explore creatively. We feel so lucky, they’re so dedicated and so committed to being along for the ride with us that it makes us feel like we can kind of do anything and go anywhere and they’ll be

“We’re always finding ways to get closer, and I feel really proud of us for that” CRISTAL RAMIREZ

there for us.” As a group, they’ve been getting closer and working towards developing a stronger bond. With over a decade spent together, it’d be easy to assume they’re already sick of one another, but that’s not the case. On tour, they’ve set rules that prioritise their relationships, strengthening both their group dynamic and songwriting. “We’ve really taken the opportunity when we tour to get to know each other better and better, even though we’ve been lifelong best friends,” Cristal explains. “We have a rule when we tour that every night we change rooms, like when we share rooms with a different girl every night we rotate, and it’s been so helpful for us. She continues, “I think we’re always just finding ways to get closer, and I feel really proud of us for that. Because even after ten years of friendship, we’re still learning about each other. We’re still learning to understand each other


THE ACES

like, oh, that’s really vulnerable, and whoever I wrote that about, if they hear that they’re gonna totally know that’s about them. I remember looking at Alisa and being like dude… I don’t know about that one.” “I love listening to record and just being like, ‘Oh damn! They did that!’ I love that,” adds Alisa. “So that’s what we were after. It was more of a feeling, like an honesty, a rawness. I think those were like the main things we were chasing.” One of the more prominent changes of pace on The Aces’ follow up record is the decision (quote unquote) to use gendered pronouns in their lyrics. Although a natural progression as Cristal discussed her relationships in writing sessions, it’s a notable one, as it tells both her and Alisa’s stories in the truest way. “I think on the first record, we didn’t include pronouns for multiple reasons, just because it felt safer, and

also it was a little more inclusive,” Alisa explains. “But on this record, one of the main things we wanted to do when we were creating this challenge, any fears or insecurities we had, we just wanted to be as honest and vulnerable as possible. And I don’t think you can really create art to its fullest extent if you’re censoring yourself.” Cristal adds, “I kind of approached the girls and I remember having this conversation in the car with Alisa, we were driving to the beach one Saturday. And I was like, ‘We actually haven’t talked about this, like, how do we feel about including pronouns?’ And Alisa was like, ‘You can’t go back. Like, I don’t think that you can not, because I think at that point, you’re going to start being dishonest because you’re starting to like, not really tell those stories for what they were and you can’t be afraid’.” Alisa later mentions that it’s not a conversation we’d be having if the

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and each other’s quirks and different things, I feel like it’s really just made our band stronger.” The trust between the four of them shows itself in their music this time around. Where they’ve always told honest and universal stories, they’re opening up and reaching a more personal place on ‘Under My Influence’, and pushing each other to do so. Cristal says, “Something I think is really amazing about this new record is that we’ve been able to go to more honest places and be really vulnerable because of that trust between us four, and because we’ve built that over such a long period of time that I think Alisa and I, when we go in to write songs, the girls really trust us to tell those stories and to like take up that space, and then as a band to really own all of that. And I feel really, really proud of us for that. “I knew when I was writing lyrics, like if I was kind of scared, then we were doing the right thing. If I was kind of

girls were straight, and of course, she’s right, but it was something they wanted to challenge societally – why shouldn’t they be honest in their own songs? It’s just one of the ways The Aces are defying expectation on ‘Under My Influence’. On track ‘801’, they discuss their lives growing up in Provo, Utah, in a largely sheltered suburb, where they spent their early band days playing local clubs (which was totally allowed when they were kids due to the town’s sober nature). “I think a lot of people grow up in places that feel kind of stifling for them,” says Cristal, “that they might not fit into the mould or to the box and they might not be doing what they’re supposed to be doing. We as four women from like a small, religious, suburban, hometown, were never expected to ever really get out, to ever travel, to be in a band. All of these things are so foreign to a lot of people we grew up with.” On the other side of that, there’s ‘Lost Angeles’, a track about feeling uncomfortable in the city, which Cristal describes as “just as soul sucky if you’re not doing it right”. Other highlights include bass-heavy anti-social-media anthem ‘My Phone Is Trying To Kill Me’, the disco-fuelled friends to lovers story ‘New Emotion’, and firm favourite across the board, the candid ‘Cruel’. “That song was so healing for me,” Cristal says. “It really connected me back to the reason why I make music and how healing it can be. We wrote that song in Malibu, and I was like just going through it with a relationship that I was kind of reaping and letting go. After I wrote that song, it felt like I had just taken this massive weight off my shoulders and was able to see the situation kind of more from a bird’s eye view and really do a lot of necessary healing that I’d been needing to do for a long time. And I was like, oh my god, music’s just as important to me as it was when I was nine years old and that was like a really special moment throughout the process for me.” Katie agrees, saying: “’Cruel’ really does throw me back like Blue Aces days with a simple acoustic guitar writing out like a heart and soul. I love that song so much, and it’s also one of my favourites to record on because we did that in the UK. And that experience of going to the UK and working on four different songs that are on the record, was so cool. I think us four going out there and spending so much time just in the studio really honing in on this record was really special.” The record closes on the bouncy ‘Zillionaire’, which leaves The Aces believing their own hype. You’ll be under their influence in no time. “When we decided to named record ‘Under My Influence’, it felt very much like a taking of what was ours, you know?” Cristal explains, “and I want people to feel things that we collectively feel. We want anyone who listens to just be inspired to own their space and take what’s theirs and to really create in a way they want to, because that’s what we did with this record. And so it feels like when you listen to this record, you’re under our influence, and we hope that people feel inclined and inspired to do the same thing. Especially, women, and I hope that that translates.” P THE ACES’ ALBUM ‘UNDER MY INFLUENCE’ IS OUT 12TH JUNE


Death becomes them...

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At the end of the run from their debut album, CREEPER went out with a final bang. For a year, they remained silent. Now, with their new album, they’re back with a brand new vision, bigger than anything that’s come before. Words: Josh Williams. Photo: Jessica Lena.


CREEPER in recent years, but the whole song is kind of a throwback to the past. We were trying to introduce ‘Annabelle’ as well for the first time with the lyrics. “We were trying to do a really exaggerated over the top version of a punk rock song with a Britpop leaning, so it would be shaggy and campy and things I felt summarise what the band’s goal was, in the beginning, to put the thrill and the pomp back into rock music. It probably would have been a cool one to start the campaign with as it was, in a way, a mission statement. This record is a lot of different styles and variations; the real challenge was to try and sew it all together into a patchwork quilt where it’ll fit nicely together, because there are a lot of these threads.” Will says that “the whole record is very context-driven” when asked about what he feels are the most important songs to the record’s story. “It’s di�icult for me to pick out certain songs off the top my head because I feel like all of it is quite important to digest as a piece. It’s telling a story. Like all my favourite records, it’s something that we appreciate people listening to all the way through because it allows me to take the listener on the journey of the album.” Creeper recently went off on tour with Japanese rockers Babymetal, and it’s safe to say they were quite happy with the reception of the new songs live. “’Annabelle’ has become like a little anthem in itself, and it’s our favourite one to play now. It’s amazing that a song we didn’t know how it was going to go down has instantly become our favourite in the set. I feel like when we finally get out of this lockdown and play it at our own gigs, that’s going to be one hell of a song. Maybe even a set closer. There’s a

“The real challenge was to try and sew it all together into a patchwork quilt” WILL GOULD

little raucous energy to it.” One song that’s an even bigger departure for the band is ‘Poisoned Heart’, as Will reveals. “We realised we had quite a lot of fast songs in our history and a lot of really really slow songs and I thought it would be a cool experience to delve into the waypoint between those two things. “We were looking at a lot of music when we made this record, and one of the artists we were really interested in was Roy Orbison; there are a lot of themes on his records that wore quite heavily on us. It started with Ian and me at a piano, and we started writing this thing, and I wanted to start exploring my baritone vocal. It blossomed out of nowhere and became a really beautiful part of the album, and something completely unexpected. It’s gonna throw people, I know it will, but that’s the fun of all this - to try and keep experimenting and making something innovative and not doing what’s expected of you.” There’s also a cheeky duet in the form of ‘Four Years Ago’, Will says. “Hannah and I have wanted to do a duet for ages. I initially wrote a duet that didn’t end up working. I spent ages working on it, and it became a little bit too High School Musical the first time around. We then were playing around with it and ended up writing this sadder piece, so then Hannah and I recorded it in LA. We’ve actually been doing a stripped-down piano version of it recently, it’s really fun. I think it works well because Hannah’s got such a brilliant voice and she is so crystal clear on what she sings all the time. It’s gonna make a really dramatic part of the set live, and it came out better than we hoped.” There’s a boatload of symbolism used to anchor the story, as Will elaborates. “I was drawing on a lot of stuff I grew up on in Catholic school when I was a kid. Obviously, there’s something of a religious nature in this entire story with a town that’s dominated by the seven deadly sins, and it finds its redemption in the end. All of that stuff is extremely important. It ties the themes of the record together nicely in the way that referencing stories and mythology that we’re all familiar with, for example, the history of man and the religious stuff for sure. “There’s the mechanism that exists inside of it, as well as wisdom, so there are a lot of similar themes that flow through the whole record. These things anchor the story and deliver it in a way that we’re familiar with in a way perhaps not heard before. That is hugely important in building a world in someone’s mind.” Of course, with everything going on in the world Creeper’s spring tour was postponed, but Will can’t wait to get back out on the stage. “We’re excited to be back in front of our crowd to show this world we’ve created. Performing is all we’ve ever known, and it’s so bizarre to have such a long gap on that. I can’t wait to be back out in front of them and singing together with that sense of community that really comes from rock shows. It’ll be an amazing thing to finally get back on stage and perform this music, especially after the situation we have at the moment. It’s going to be madness for the band, but in terms of our little community, it’s going to be cool to be together again.”P CREEPER’S ALBUM ‘SEX, DEATH & THE INFINITE VOID’ IS OUT 31ST JULY.

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DESPITE THE WORLD SEEMINGLY ENDING, CREEPER ARE BACK WITH THEIR BRAND NEW ALBUM, ‘SEX, DEATH & THE INFINITE VOID’. A rich and complex record, their second outing spins a tale of a doomed romance set on America’s wide-open highways, utilising all of the theatricality and drama for which frontman Will Gould & Co. have become known. The album opens with the bombastic double-hitter of ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Be My End’, but it wasn’t always like this. “I toyed around with a few different ideas on how to start the record,” Will explains. “I thought that people would notice that introducing a character and getting to a different world would be really cool. “Originally, I had this idea about trying to start with a ballad to try and throw people off a little bit, but every time I did it, it just didn’t feel quite right.” The tracks themselves actually reference the opener of their debut album, 2017’s ‘Eternity, in Your Arms’. “It’s a conscious thing to nod to the past while pushing into the new narrative. We ended up using this excerpt of the Bible which pertains to the story and had Patricia [Vanian, who’s worked with The Sisters of Mercy, The Damned and more] read it.” Speaking of their debut, Will reckons ‘Sex, Death & the Infinite Void’ is “quite a bold step away from what we’ve done before”. “In fact,” he says, “in the way this has been made, nothing’s been similar to the last one really. It’s been a completely new experience, which is probably what we were looking for at the outset.” That’s not to say Will and co. have abandoned everything that’s come before. “There are obviously clear hints to the past in lots of ways on every record we’ve done. For example, every record has a song that prefaces with the word ‘black’, so we have ‘Black Moon’ on this one. We had ‘Black Rain’ on the last one, and on all the EPs we have something in a similar vein. There’s also obviously the use of traditional female names in the songs, so we’ve got ‘Annabelle’ on this one. Sonically and in terms of the reference points, it’s a very different beast, but still has these little pieces of the past in it.” ‘Born Cold’ was the first taste of the new record back in November 2019, but there’s actually a different version of the song that made the final cut. “There’s a different mix engineer on the single version because we had to get it out. We were basically running a little behind, and we wanted to try and get things done so we had the single ready. When we came to the album, we’re really funny about how the record flows and things like that, and it didn’t feel like that mix fit in with the other songs we had, so we had it re-mixed, so it flows in a little nicer with the other songs. “I didn’t mind the first one, I liked that the keys were up a little bit in it and it’s cool to mix things up once in a while, but the new mix is more guitar-heavy, and it fits in better with the flow of the record.” ‘Cyanide’ has also been shared in the run-up to the record with its vaudevillian pomp. As Will explains, he wanted to do a Britpop song. “I thought it was really, really cool to take a bunch of British influences and send them through an American needle to grow the sound on that one. Then the chorus pops like a bouncing soul song, it’s got a big gang choir which we haven’t seen used much

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RINA SAWAYAMA was always going to be a pop mastermind, but with her debut album out and already gaining the kind of critical acclaim that makes a career, she’s quickly becoming something far more than she ever imagined. Words: Ali Shutler.

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RINA SAWAYAMA BUILT A CULT FOLLOWING WITH THE GLEEFUL 90S POP OF HER ‘RINA’ EP, A RECORD EXPLORING THE BEAUTY AND ANXIETY OF GROWING UP WHERE MEDIA IS SOCIAL. A string of follow-up singles - the pan-sexual pride of ‘Cherry’, the anti-rose thrust of ‘Valentine (What’s It Gonna Be)’ and ‘Flicker’’s anthem for the outcasts - saw her as a pop star with a big heart and a fearless voice. That continues through debut album ‘Sawayama’, but in ways you’d never expect. After touring with Charli XCX last year (“Charli’s just bought together so many freaks of the pop world, and I want to count myself in there as well”), she announced her signing to Dirty Hit and dropped ‘STFU!’ which was a world away from the reworked nostalgiapop of her past. A glass-shattering industrial attack that deals with the daily microaggressions she faces as a Japanese woman growing up in the west, it has more in common with Korn than Britney Spears. It was a bold first step that took no prisoners. The rest of ‘Sawayama’ is just as different, just as shocking, as it does away with expectation and lives at the cutting edge of pop. “My last single was ‘Flicker’ which was so happy and such a huge contrast to ‘STFU!’,” explains Rina. As soon as it dropped though, “my faith was restored in people, and I was feeling very confident. Ok, I think these people can handle this album.” Her plan was always to shock, but it made things di�icult. “I knew ‘STFU!’ had to be the first single, and that really whittled down the options in terms of labels. A lot of them didn’t really get it.” With 80% of the record done independently, Rina began to shop it around to various labels, but they turned her away or wanted change. That made Rina question her own decisions. “I wasn’t very confident at all. There were times where I felt like this album was shit or I’d listen to my EP and feel like I’d never write anything as good as that again. If something really captured the imagination of a group of people, you worry that they’ll never like anything else you do.” But ‘STFU!’ turned heads and sent a new wave of fans Rina’s way. It happened again with ‘Comme De Garcons (Like The Boys)’, a smart hunk of dance-pop with the attitude turned up, the slinking decadence of ‘XS’ and the rose-tinted glitch of ‘Bad Friend’. Every piece of the puzzle offered something different as Rina owned her art and refused to play by anyone else’s rules. “For my own mental health, I can’t look at what other people are doing or listen to what other people want from me because it’s just not fun. When I dropped ‘Cherry’ people then wanted another ‘Cherry’, and I’m not going to do that. When I dropped ‘STFU!’, people wanted more metal, and while it comes back with ‘XS’, it’s in different forms. The record has this identity throughout, but the singles were challenging people in a way. They were all such different genres, I was tweaking peoples taste to get them ready for something that is so broad.” And it worked. By the time ‘Sawayama’ dropped in its entirety, there was a very real visceral excitement around it. “I can’t believe people love it as much as they do. I’m surprised people have understood the journey that I was trying to take people on with this album. The excitement has been way bigger than I ever expected, so I’m super grateful. I feel glad I can release something in this time but I just couldn’t not.”

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Two and a half years in the making, Rina says she couldn’t be happier with the record. “If you are an alternative pop artist, people think that’s just a little phase you’re going through but to be respected for my first record is awesome. I’ve been listening to it nonstop since it was finished three months ago. I love the album. It’s really good to be at a place where you’re so happy with the album, you don’t care what other people think. But luckily loads of other people love it as well. Now I’m just sharing in the love for it, which is awesome.” Right now, because of lockdown and culture being on pause, a lot of people are listening to the music that soundtracked their teenage years. Rina is no different. “It’s always been my comfort blanket, and whenever I feel a bit stagnant with inspiration, I go back and listen to music from back then,” she reflects. “Music really helped me through my teenage years. Going to gigs was something that helped me forget a lot of the things that were happening in my life.” It’s a stance also reflected in her extracurricular work, such as taking part in Skullcandy’s Mood Boost alongside Rico Nasty, Gus Dapperton and Cucu; a campaign that aims to improve mental health and help people who are struggling with depression, addiction and suicide. “I shared a room with my mum until I was 15, so headphones were essential to get a bit of privacy,” she explains. “My outreach has always been about people who have been struggling or who need a lift, whether that’s LGBT or young people. Skullcandy has always championed that, so I really love that.” This feeling of nostalgia is why ‘Sawayama’ takes influence from all over, too. “I like rediscovering all these not cool genres from the noughties and making it into something cool. They were the songs I was inspired by when I was younger. There’s something really powerful about combining lyrics that express your upbringing and having the soundtrack to that upbringing be the inspiration musically as well.” From the opening retro thrash of ‘STFU!’ through ‘Paradisin’’, an anthem about living your best life alongside 80s sax and pop sparkle, to the alt banger swagger of ‘Love Me 4 Me’, Rina takes

“I wasn’t very confident at all; there were times where I felt like this album was shit” RINA SAWAYAMA

the soundtrack of her adolescence and revamps it. The album cycles through phases but never feels confused. “I wanted it to sound connected and part of the same world but push the sonics to occupy different spaces.” And the wild shu�le of the album is never without purpose. ‘Who’s Gonna Save U Now’ doesn’t sound like Lady Gaga onstage at Glastonbury to give the song something to do. Initially, it sounded like a 90s Max Martin pop classic, but then Rina decided: “I’ve done this before on ‘RINA’. I stan Max Martin but I don’t want to rehash what I’ve already done. I watched Bohemian Rhapsody and A Star Is Born in the same week, and that inspired me. There’s strength in numbers. “The whole point of that redemptionstyle song is that we’re all in it together. It sounds like you’re on stage with me. There’s no need for vengeance, we can just stand on this stadium stage and sing together. If it transports people into that space for four minutes, that’s mission accomplished for me.” Rina wanted to offer something real with her debut. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep it up for another five albums, but for my first album, it was important because there was a lot for me to say.” It’s got plenty of bangers, but they all hit differently. “When you have an album that’s trying to have so many singles, it can sound really shit and boring. It’s trying too hard. I feel like I satisfied both things; trying to write really big songs but also have it artistically satisfying.” ‘Sawayama’ is a deeply personal record for Rina, putting her relationship with family, culture and friends under a microscope and holding nothing back. “It was really therapeutic,” she offers. “The whole record is about family and identity. [Opener ‘Dynasty’] is about breaking the chain of intergenerational trauma, pain and depression”. It’s an idea explored throughout the record. ‘Fuck This World’ and ‘XS’ look at the horrible state of the world alongside dealing with your own shit, and ‘Love Me 4 Me’ struggles with the idea of self-love. “I’m emotional in all my songs, whether that’s good emotion or bad emotion, and I bring that into my vocal performance to make it powerful.” Taking inspiration from Lady Gaga, she says: “She’s not scared of theatrics in songs, and that’s something I definitely wanted for this record. I didn’t shy away from it. ‘Dynasty’ is very much a 2000’s pop opera, but that’s what I thought the record needed, so that’s what the record’s going to get.” The majority of ‘Sawayama’ deals with Rina’s feelings of being an outsider and not belonging but ‘Chosen Family’ finds her making peace. “It’s this semiresolve around the idea that family can be whatever you make it. In the LGBT community, that’s a really important concept to heal. If I write a song that I feel like young me would have loved or cried to or whatever, that’s the most important thing.” She knows it’ll mean something huge to others. “I wanted people to feel something. There’s a lot of emotion in this record, and that’s something that I love in pop. I think good music should just make you feel a certain way, whether that’s restored, calm or energised. I hope this record makes people feel all the emotions.” P FOR MORE ON SKULLCANDY’S MOOD BOOST, VISIT SKULLCANDY.CO.UK. RINA SAWAYAMA’S ALBUM ‘SAWAYAMA’ IS OUT NOW.


RINA SAWAYAMA

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SOUND Having captured the extraordinary in one of life’s most ordinary experiences, ORLANDO WEEKS is learning to establish new boundaries as a solo artist and a first-time Father. Written with a focus on pace and vibrancy, ‘A Quickening’ is something pretty special. Words: Jenessa Williams.

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ORLANDO WEEKS

and piano lines you hear on the album by himself, before extending his ideas to the interpretation of the same set of players who featured at his live shows. It was a process of working that forced the shy singer into a state of confidence, taking charge of the world he had built in his head. “With that first run of shows, there was definitely an element of… what’s that horrible idiom… fake it till you make it?” he says. “There’s a bit of that with people you don’t know so well, but who are already established musicians. The thing about Maccabees is that none of us really knew what we were doing at all - we were all learning at similar speeds, some people improving quicker than others. Fe and Hugo when we started the band could play the guitar a bit; I definitely couldn’t and still can’t really, but by the end of Maccabees, they had a real identity in the way they played. I was very aware of the way that their progression – and I spose mine – would shape each record. With this, it’s a very different thing, because you go from 1 to 100 without everyone having to be part of the processing of massaging a song into being what it is. That great reveal of ‘oh, they can play it really well really quickly!’ made things really different. You have to decide much quicker if a song holds proper water.” Thankfully, his boatload of songs survived the choppy waters of the live shows, with recording beginning in earnest. Determined not to overload the organic feel of the project, Weeks and his producer (longtime collaborator Nic Nell), worked to capture the sense of pace detailed on the opening of lead single ‘Safe In Sound’ (“Caught between launch and landing/stood still… still moving”) and ‘St Thomas’’, the song that names the album and the hospital in which both Weeks and his son were born. “There were some really bad album titles kicking around at first,” he admits. “‘Perfect Freedom’ was one of them… even saying it now to you, it gums up my mouth. ‘A Quickening’ is a lyric from ‘St Thomas’’, and I just liked how it

“I started noticing parenthood everywhere and thinking about how other people communicate it” ORLANDO WEEKS

sounded - I think the record has a certain movement to it, and I liked that the title reflected that. I really love that song in particular - the way it feels very comfy in its skin, and very different to anything I’ve made before.” The absence of guitars certainly lends itself to some pretty innovative musicianship. With a piano as the only traditional driver of melody, it’s a record that strides with purpose in some places and meanders through empty space in others, recalling the woozy emotions of Radiohead, Talk Talk or even Massive Attack. A highlight is the swooning ‘Moon’s Opera’ (which Weeks is currently working on an accompanying short storybook for), or ‘None Too Tough’, whose joyful trumpets frame the ascent out of ‘cloudy days’, finally ticking the proverbial boxes that Weeks sung about so many years ago. For the frontman of one of indie’s most beloved guitar bands, it’s a clever way to separate himself from the musical palette that came before, to forge something anew. “Like with all of those things, I’m grateful people see it that way, but it’s such a happenstance,” he reasons. “You can get away with being bad at the things I’ve worked with! I really like sitting at a piano and trying to figure things out that way; I am just about good enough at trumpet and trombone to build drones and to build textures. They do a nice, nice thing where you can bend up and down, and make this really slurring style. And then you can get away with using a piano in a more percussive way, and create that contradiction of those two thing butting heads. With Nic’s production, he is able to find a way to bind those things in a way that I think makes it more comprehendible, which I’m very grateful for. It’s got an identity that I’m really proud of.” And so it seems, Weeks has found something like happiness. A countrywide lockdown has given him the headspace to appreciate his family, and to enjoy the last pieces of creative work that prelude an album release. His old bandmates haven’t heard the record yet – he’s quite enjoying squeezing in a few more precious moments to himself before showing his musical child to the world. “I haven’t been sending it out too much… or at all, really,” he laughs. “With some records you just want them to exist, and then with others… I’m quite enjoying this moment where it is still mine.” He’s understandably nervous about what it might mean to have allowed himself such candour but seems satisfied that he has done so in a way he won’t come to regret. “I think what I wanted to be clear is that what I’ve tried to do with this record is to document my perception, the idea of being witness to something,” he agrees. “I was definitely conscious of at no point trying to assume that I understood my partner’s experience or even my baby’s experience - I feel comfortable enough in it that it isn’t really a record that gives away anything about him, but is revealing of me and my insecurities and my anxieties and my joys. Like with so many things right now it’s been put right back into perspective, but in terms of it being a body of work that I think is coherent and adventurous and I can hear me pushing myself in it… I feel really good about it. I’m more content with the idea that I’m going to understand the record better the more I talk about it, and the more people I talk about it with. I feel ready for that now.” P ORLANDO WEEKS’ ALBUM ‘A QUICKENING’ IS OUT 12TH JUNE.

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LAST TIME WE SPOKE WITH ORLANDO WEEKS, WE TOLD HIM WE THOUGHT HIS MUSIC SOUNDED LIKE WINTER. Not cold or harsh, but a certain draught in its atmospherics, the same sense of crisp outdoors that was woven through the last of his work as frontman of The Maccabees, and all of the artistic projects he’s been up to since. Polite and patient as ever, he was kind enough not to refute our suggestion, but marked it as interesting - interesting as in, “I’d be interested to know if you change your mind.” Turns out, he was exactly right. On record, ‘A Quickening’ is much warmer than his introductory run of live shows might have suggested. If anything, it’s closer to spring in its theme - the celebration of new life in the form of the birth of his first child, and a brave new leap into sharing a little more of himself with the world. “I definitely didn’t sit down and decide I was going to make a record about this,” he ponders, revisiting his headspace of early 2018. “I was just writing songs in the way that I’m always writing and making visual work, and they all ended up coming back to the experiences that we were having waiting for our baby to arrive. I think it’s called Baader-Meinhof theory, where because you’ve started thinking about something, you hear it everywhere else, seeing it in other parts of culture or the news… “I started noticing parenthood everywhere and thinking about how other people communicate it. I could feel that I was making good stuff, and my partner and I have a continuing conversation about what we’re comfortable with. I’m still not entirely sure where the boundaries are, but I’m starting to feel more confident talking about it now. I haven’t had to slam the phone down yet…” In many ways, he needn’t worry, for it’s an album that speaks pretty well for itself. Making great use of Weeks’ knack for lyrical nostalgia, it tells a captivating story of the anxieties and excitement of early parenthood, the thrill of waiting to meet your new child wrestling with the concerns of doing a decent job as a parent. Having spent the past few years living in Berlin, Lisbon and Margate before returning back to his native London, it’s indebted in part to sounds of the sea, a new look on old horizons. Most of all, it’s a story of true First Love, an experience unlike any Weeks has felt before. “That’s one of the most amazing things about it – the grandest, most extraordinary moment in your life, but then life also continues on almost exactly the same,” he says, the smile audible in his voice. “I’m sure other people have described this, but it’s like when you first fall in love – you have a different energy, a different capacity for cycling across London or whatever it is… I guess it’s all of the chemicals released in your brain or your heart, but you feel amazing, and I’ve found that even when you think ‘there’s no way I can get up now’, you do, and it’s all fine. It’s a pretty extraordinary and joyful thing. The downside, not that that is the right word, is that you just become very aware of how complicit you are in the great moments of joy that will happen in that person’s life, but all of the less pleasant stuff that has to happen too. You’re complicit in that, and it’s a heavy thing to carry.” This sense of responsibility plays out not just lyrically, but in the soundscape of record. Orlando wrote all of the trumpet

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INCOMING THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO THE LATEST NEW RELEASES

COMING UP...

THE NEW RELEASES YOU NEED ON YOUR COVID-19 ALTERED CALENDAR 19TH JUNE Maya Hawke - Blush Jessie Ware - What’s Your Pleasure? Phoebe Bridgers - Punisher Sports Team – Deep Down Happy 26TH JUNE HAIM - Women In Music Pt. III 3RD JULY Dream Wife - So When You Gonna... 10TH JULY Alfie Templeman – Happiness in Liquid EP Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard – NonStop EP DMA’s – The Glow Glass Animals - Dreamland NZCA Lines – Pure Luxury PVRIS - Use Me

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17TH JULY Silverbacks – Fad

JEHNNY BETH

To Love Is To Live

eeeee What do you expect from a Jehnny Beth solo album? It’s a fair question, one founded on an ever-changing musical dial that delves, collaborates and thrives in every circumstance.

BEST EX

Good At Feeling Bad EP

eeeee Best Ex, the artist formally known as Candy Hearts, shakes off her pop-punk history with her second EP. While 2017’s ‘Ice Cream AntiSocial’ took the buoyancy of her Warped Tour past to her bedroom, all diary entry confessionals and the joy of a hairbrush microphone, ‘Good At Feeling Bad’ is a jukebox love affair. Free from the shackles of her former life, ‘Good At Feeling Bad’ is an energetic shu�le where anything goes. Opening track ‘Gap Tooth (On My Mind)’ lures you in with a sugary postcard to a far away ex, “how could I become someone you hated, fell in love with all your flaws,” before exploding into a tropical pop banger, all flashing lights

JUNE 2020

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24TH JULY Courtney Marie Andrews - Old Flowers The Naked and Famous - Recover

It’s what makes ‘To Love Is To Live’ all the more intriguing, an open door to a creative world carved out by Jehnny that ties together into an artistic statement with stunning results. Where Savages were bold, furious and unstoppable in their direct fury, ‘To Love Is To Live’ weaves its own path. From raw stripped-back odes to relentless punk intensity, it’s a record that deserves to be listened to as one fully-formed piece of work. A panoramic vision that bursts into

fruition, there are electronic breakdowns (‘Innocence’), smooth tonics that clink with ease (‘Flower’), shu�ling altrock (‘Heroine’) and spoken word interludes (‘A Place Above’ featuring Cillian Murphy pouring gazed observations over a Stranger Things soundtrack). Its message is powerful in every sense. Across sexuality, power inequality, heartbreak and more, it’s the sound of Jehnny channelling everything into glorious art. Jamie Muir

31ST JULY Dizzy - The Sun and Her Scorch Creeper - Sex, Death & The Infinite Void Fontaines DC - A Hero’s Death

and Love Island getaways. “I’m terrified,” sings Mariel, but you wouldn’t know it. The other five tracks are just as excitable. ‘Lemons’ is a hurried anthem of self-love in the same bubbling spirit as Diet Cig while ‘Bad Love’ is a brooding emo-pop number that howls at the moon, deliberate and selfassured as “a schoolgirl crush” goes sour. The chorus of ‘Feed The Sharks’ is ridiculously catchy, TikTok meets ‘Baby Shark’, while the verses swirl with an atmospheric vulnerability. Across the EP, Best Ex offers a chunk of her heart and a reason to have a good time. ‘Two Of Us’ is a moment of quiet, piano-led reflection, “we’re both broken in the same places,” with nowhere to hide before the closing riot of the title track provides an explosive burst of joyful escapism. ‘Good At Feeling Bad’ might only clock in around the twenty-minute mark but Best Ex doesn’t let a second go to waste. Always striving for

more, always with a trick up its sleeve, it’s a rainbow blitz of brilliance. Ali Shutler

‘Breathing Like A Baby’ is where things get interesting. Featuring a guest spot from Rhyson Jones, there’s a bit more pace. Ultimately, imagine a cheap motel with a bed that rotates - ‘Kinky Om’ is pretty music the musical equivalent of that. Steven Loftin

BRAD STANK

14TH AUGUST Biffy Clyro - A Celebration Of Endings Marsicans - Ursa Major 21ST AUGUST Declan McKenna - Zeros The Lemon Twigs - Songs For The General Public The Magic Gang - Death Of The Party 28TH AUGUST Kelly Lee Owens - Inner Song

Kinky Om

eeeee There’s certainly a lot to unpack here. On his second album, ‘Kinky Om’ comes a slow jams a-hoy from the maestro of sensuality Brad Stank. With a hyper-sexualised notion of the world gleaming in his eyes, everything is subdued lounge jazz that often feels like it could just stop at any moment, with the next beat to never hit. Sentimentality does evoke a new facet, paying homage to the band Her’s who tragically passed last year, which finds a new element, an honest emotional side, and it’s one that does suit very well indeed.

HONEY LUNG

Post Modern Motorcade Music EP

eeeee As band after band push their releases back to a time when we aren’t all locked down, Honey Lung are here to fill the gap with their new EP ‘Post Modern Motorcade Music’, and it’s pretty much what you’d expect from the scuzzy garage rockers – scuzzy garage rock. Well, half of it is. ‘Getting Off’ and ‘Name’ offer a lot less fuzz than the standard Honey Lung track and provide

a surprisingly good melodic curveball to the band’s usual output. Unfortunately, this novelty starts to wear thin by ‘Big’, the third track in the same vein, and the paint-bynumbers approach of ‘Be My Friend’ and ‘Juggle’ bizarrely end up feeling like a breath of fresh air. ‘Post Modern Motorcade Music’ is a solid outing for Honey Lung and one that sees them tentatively dipping a toe outside their comfort zone (although admittedly not very far outside it). Having said that, a 5 track EP should feel raw and pacey, leaving you wanting more. It’s not a bad collection of songs, but it’s far less exciting than it needs to be to leave a lasting impression. Jake Hawkes

JACK GARRATT

Love, Death & Dancing

eeeee ‘Love, Death & Dancing’ is a serendipitous statement about learning how to accept the vicissitudes of life while coming to grips with rediscovering who you are having faced your demons. Jack Garratt heavily relies on the classic blueprints of popular music, and switches out the lo-fi electronica which we saw on his debut with an unapologetically rapturous catharsis in the form of funk-inflected pop. ‘Doctor Please’, ‘Mara’ and ‘She Will Lay My Body On The Stone’ offer subdued moments of respite from the cacophonous choruses and showcase a triumph in the simplicity of his voice, which on ‘Get In My Way’ take on an animalistic tension as they growl between each ear. Paired with his honeyed falsetto, it’s almost as if tapping into these two aspects of himself is an actualisation of the war that has been going on in his head. Coming to terms with mortality is crux of the album, and perfectly summarised in the mirroring lyrics of both ‘Return Them To The One’ (“I am alive here / but I am not permanent / I am reminded by my pain / that I must remain here / until no more life remains”) and ‘Only The Bravest’ (“you are not permanent / but you are here”), which brings us full circle into Jack Garratt’s journey of combatting his struggles and coming out the other side, a changed man. Tyler Damara Kelly

JADE HAIRPINS

Harmony Avenue

eeeee Written and recorded by Fucked Up’s Jonah Falco and


KATIE MALCO

Failures

eeeee Katie Malco’s last EP, the heartbreakingly beautiful ‘Tearing Ventricles’, was a piano-led adventure in loss and she’s toured alongside the emo-storytelling might of Julien Baker and Kevin Devine with nothing but a beat-up electric guitar. A musical magpie, Malco makes do with whatever she can get her hands on. Debut album ‘Failures’ finds her with a full band and rather than getting lost with the giddy excitement of a kid in a candy shop, it only amplifies the power of her voice as she kicks open new doors. The opening ‘Animals’ is an urgent burst of claustrophobia, thirteen beers deeps and feeling like a stranger on the bus home, Malco wrestles with a restless

HINDS

The Prettiest Curse

eeeee Hinds aren’t the first band to reveal that life on the road isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be, and they sure won’t be the last. ‘The Prettiest Curse’, the third album from the Madrileños, doesn’t shy away from moments of feeling homesick or the worries. But, thankfully, it doesn’t shy away from The Bangers either on by far their best record so far. There’s an air of confidence right from the start with the pure pop sheen that surrounds ‘Good Bad Times’, carried throughout as they constantly switch between singing in English and their native tongue. Hinds have always crafted catchy melodies, but here they are powering up their production too. Still carrying that same air of mischief and attitude, their collective middle fingers are raised on ‘Just Like Kids (Miau)’ while on the empowering ‘Burn’, a warning is made that “We didn’t come here to please you my dear”. For Hinds, tres is the magic number. Jamie MacMillan

rage while the deliberate pace of ‘Brooklyn’ needs other people. The title track is frayed, held together with tape but resilient as it comes into bloom before a reworked ‘September’ brings things crashing down “I’m not the easiest company,” sings Malco, an unsure voice in a sea of chaos. Very much part of the UK alt-rock scene that gave us Tall Ships, Tellison and Gnarwolves, there’s a scrappy sense of fight in ‘Fractures’ that sits next to the American Midwest emo of her hurt. Think Phoebe Bridgers if she was from Peckham, Jimmy Eat World in a London pub. Delicate yet tough, Katie Malco’s debut captures fleeting beauty and resilient war with brilliant flair. From ‘TW’s repeated “I’m still alive” through the realisation of “there’s no truth in the glory of youth” that stands tall on ‘Creatures’, ‘Failures’ is a record about struggle and hard-fought victory. Bruised,

bloodied but unwavering Katie Malco is a fighter staring down existential and everyday crises. As the haunting ‘The First Snow’ goes out swinging, Katie Malco emerges victorious. Ali Shutler

LA PRIEST

GENE

eeeee Morphing and melding different genres, eras and sounds together can be tricky. For every phenomenal success comes about 10 different failed blenders that’d do better sitting in the bin rather than sitting on the stereo. Thankfully, LA Priest sits comfortably in the former. After shaking off the anticipation that came from early days in Late Of The Pier, his 2015 solo debut was one of intoxicating pleasure.

RECOMMENDED HAYLEY WILLIAMS Petals For Armor

The Paramore vocalist’s debut solo-album might be deeply personal, but it’s also got its fair share of big moments too. Worth the wait.

Five years later, and ‘GENE’ sees LA Priest push himself further out front as an artist truly doing whatever the hell he wants. Like a bottomless potion that keeps evolving and changing shape, ‘GENE’ oozes with a cocktail of bubbling sounds. From slinky R&B that moves like Prince in his prime (‘Beginning’, ‘What Moves’) to pounding deepbass that echo Chemical Brothers on a big night out (‘Rubber Sky’, ‘Monochrome’) there’s an unstoppable aura of individuality and creativity running throughout. ‘GENE’ is an eyeopening statement from an artist thriving with an encyclopaedic knowledge of music. Each listen revealing more, it’s a deep dive into the mind of Sam Dust, and once you’re in, you simply do not want to leave. Is it fair to call him a Professor in his own right? After ‘GENE’, LA Priest’s possibilities are endless. Jamie Muir

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Mike Haliechuk, ‘Harmony Avenue’ is far removed from the abrasive nature of the day job. Like Of Montreal playing post-punk, or a marrying of minds between Britpop swagger and metronomic Krautrock, ‘Harmony Avenue’ is an intriguing, almost unfathomable, mixture of styles and ideas. Now based in London, there’s a sense that much of ‘Harmony Avenue’ is influenced by Falco’s adopted homeland, whether that’s in the glorious psych-pop of opener ’J Terrapin’ or the trippy acid house beats of ‘(Don’t Break My) Devotion’. Throw in the languid ‘Broadstairs Beach’ – buzzing with a sugar-rush and resplendent in its gaudy Hawaiian shirt finery – and you have an album that, in its brightest pop moments, dazzles like a lazy late summer evening. It also means ‘Harmony Avenue’ is something of a colourful and freewheeling sojourn through timeless pop, even if such wildly disparate songs have all the hallmarks of a new band trying to find their style and sound. Not everything sticks, but there is no denying the bravery or the intention behind every cut. Fortunately, for all the stylistic shifting, it is not complete chaos. Falco’s delivery and abstract lyrics hold everything together, adding an appropriate level of absurdity, and this matches the playful music and instrumentation. On closer ‘Motherman’ Jade Hairpins even have space to take a deep dive into Haciendastyle euphoria, with an epic seven-minute slow build. For an album that is choc-full of character, it serves as an appropriate exclamation point on an intriguing, and often beguiling, first paragraph. Rob Mair

ORLANDO WEEKS

A Quickening

eeeee Those farewell shows at Ally Pally back in 2017 may have signalled a grand ending (for now, at least) for The Maccabees, but it was never going to mean the same thing for their frontman. Author, artist, and soon-tobe a father, life kept coming fast for Orlando Weeks. ‘A Quickening’, his first solo album, reflects just what a journey he has been on in the intervening years as it reveals moments from intimate settings and uncovers his fears and hopes for the future. There is a general sense of astonishment and almost disbelief about what is happening to him and his partner that surrounds and fuels ‘A Quickening’. Whether it is the gorgeous

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‘Milk Breath’, describing the simple moments of putting a newborn to bed, the exquisite ‘St Thomas’’, the sweetly honest ‘Summer Clothes’, or even the flights of fancy that power ‘Moon’s Opera’, you get a sense of Orlando discovering this new world he finds himself in and reacting with sheer joy and awe. While his voice brings an inescapable echo of The Old Band, the arrangements and subtle use of space make for a completely different proposition. This is an artist, both metaphorically and quite literally, going through the birth of something wholly new. There’s so much to explore in this new world, you’re going to want to join him in his baby steps. Jamie MacMillan

ROLLING BLACKOUTS COASTAL FEVER

Sideways To New Italy

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eeeee ‘Sideways To New Italy’ couldn’t have come at a better time. With debut ‘Hope Downs’, Rolling Blackouts C.F. delivered on the promise and sun-kissed hopes that many had placed on them. Its follow-up does what any good second album should do, evolving a band with even bigger hooks and dreamier melodies while still grounded in what brought them to the dance. As a complete record, it’s a giddy sunrise that doesn’t let up. Tracks fizz and flow at a sizzling pace as pop swoons meet wrappings of classic bands from years gone by. The brass-eruption of ‘Cars In Space’ or the widescreen cinematic build of ‘Cameo’ reaching for the sort of mass euphoria that ‘Hope Downs’ could only wink at, while bold 80s guitar licks swoop ‘The Only One’ into sounding like a beefed-up Orange Juice track. It’s Rolling Blackouts C.F. sharper than ever before. ‘Falling Thunder’ bears all the hallmarks of summer in the park bliss; the choppy ‘She’s There’ and runaway ‘The Second Of The First’ effortlessly picking up the prize and running with it. It all cements Rolling Blackouts C.F. as a reliable soundtrack only just getting started. ‘Sideways To New Italy’ is the delightful next course in their story. Jamie Muir

SOKO

Feel Feelings

eeeee If you’re having trouble writing a new album, why not try abstaining from all physical

JUNE 2020

DORK

intimacy for 18 months? The result of this unique approach is Soko’s third album, ‘Feel Feelings’, and it’s a corker. Woozy instrumentals rule the day, weaving in and out of Soko’s vocals and creating what can only be described as an “atmosphere” (we know, sorry for the ambiguity). Lead single ‘Are You A Magician’ kicks off with a bang, the contrasting vocals leaving an immediate impression. ‘Blaspheme’, Soko’s first song recorded entirely in her native French, also leans into the treacle-thick mood and, while we don’t speak French, we’ve been reliably informed that the lyrical themes match the album as a whole, exploring the emptiness after a break-up. As the album draws to a close, the songs somehow take the tempo down even further, matching the candlelit vibe with lyrics about past loves, pain, and pent-up desire. What with the lockdown and the state of the world right now, people’s dating lives have taken a real hit, making ‘Feel Feelings’ the perfect album for right now. Jake Hawkes

THE HOWL & THE HUM

Human Contact

eeeee Who’d have thought an album title such as ‘Human Contact’ could be so appropriate?

There’s no crystal ball into the future here, but rather something much larger that captures The Howl & The Hum’s appeal that has seen them grind away to become a band beloved by those lucky enough to discover them. Driven by cutting lyricism, ‘Human Contact’ wraps the immediacy of frontman Sam Gri� iths’ words with sounds that echo U2 in their ‘Joshua Tree’ pomp and chilling modern electronica. Cold compassion and chilling realities rip both at their highest and lowest ebbs. ‘Hall Of Fame’ is a new wave gleamer, ‘The Only Boy Racer Left On The Island’ ripples on the shore before surging to a tidal wave finale, and ‘Until I Found A Rose’ rackets along the tracks with ease. Throughout, there’s a commanding voice and message to what they do, an album and band on top form when it comes to storytelling. ‘Sweet Fading Silver’ is a tearjerking ode to what’s been lost and the memories of the past, while ‘Hostages’ chronicles the end of a relationship. With a lot of bands, taking the stories that influence their songwriting and translating that into a sound that matches can be a tricky balance. The Howl & The Hum do both on ‘Human Contact’, and the result is a rich notebook meticulously put together and ready for all to pour across. It’s essential reading for a motion picture soundtrack of its own. Jamie Muir

WESTERMAN

Your Hero Is Not Dead

VISTAS

eeeee

Everything Changes In The End

It’s a tricky job, trying to pull off an electronic folk approach without it coming across as naval gazing. However, a select few find a way: Jens Lekman and Arthur Russell are two that have done just that; witty, unusual characters with sights set far beyond that of their peers. While Will Westerman isn’t quite at their level yet, his debut album, ‘Your Hero Is Not Dead’, shows he’s making great strides to reach it. His is a graceful sound. Simple confessional songs washed over with electronics and guitar melodies that are breezy but never hollow. A search for hope among the hopeless plays a big part throughout; even the album’s title (repeated in opener ‘Drawbridge’ and later used to close out the album) attempts to capture the idea that whatever you believe in can never go away so long as you do believe in it. It sounds trite, but Westerman’s earnestness and confidence sells it all. His voice is quiet but full of energy, playing into the contradictions in sound he loves to mess with. It’s a refined record full of Gen Y ennui and works as a fantastic introduction to a talent close to striking on something truly magical. Chris Taylor

Like so many of summer 2020’s releases, ‘Everything Changes In The End’ already sounds like a time capsule of escapism and dreams of a hopeful future. The debut from Edinburgh trio Vistas exists in the last long hazy summer before adulthood starts to kick in, that deep breath as they stand on the cusp of life forever changing. The early moments fly by here. The title-track, surging, irresistible, undeniable, sets the opening tone on a record that is packed with sentiments simply about just being there for your mates through thick and thin. ‘Teenage Blues’ gives comfort in its embrace, while ‘15 Years’ couldn’t sound and feel more like a festival anthem if it came with £7 worth of warm lager and questionable food choices. With their familiar production style of crowd-style vocals fully leant into here with built-in call-and-responses, it can’t help but blow the winter clouds away. A reminder that, though this summer may be lost, sometimes all it takes is time before it gets better again. And with that, maybe Vistas have somehow ended up capturing the real spirit of 2020. Jamie MacMillan

eeeee

THE ACES

Under My Influence

eeeee There comes a moment in every band’s career where they focus in on what they want to achieve, and it’s that confidence and hunger that rings throughout ‘Under My Influence’, The Aces’ second record. It’s packed with the sort of razor-sharp pop that doesn’t pause for you to think twice. The fizzing Nile Rodgers-esque cuts of ‘New Emotion’ and ‘Zillionaire’ are disco party-starters of the highest order. ‘Daydream’ and ‘Lost Angeles’ are the sort of anthems that you simply won’t be able to escape for the rest of the year, while ‘Can You Do’ struts with a ‘Moves Like Jagger’ ease that knocks out the competition around them. Throughout, every track and moment is impeccably melded together. An album of towering pop presence that would sound just as mammoth in teenage bedrooms as it does blaring out of a car on the open road. The Aces have ambition, and it’s never sounded better. Jamie Muir


CHARLI XCX

How I’m Feeling Now

eeeee

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There isn’t a better snapshot of living through coronavirus than Charli XCX’s ‘How I’m Feeling Now’. An album made in isolation, it sees the alt-pop icon work virtually with long time collaborators BJ Burton and A.G. Cook as well as take advice from a fanbase going through exactly the same thing. Even isolated, Charli celebrates community and collaboration. When the project was announced six weeks ago, the world at large seemed to believe this global pandemic would quickly blow over and life would get back to normal overnight. How wrong we all were. Now things like live music and mass gatherings are unlikely to return this side of Christmas, and we have no idea when we’ll be able to hug our parents or meet our mates for a pint. That journey of hope, despair, resignation, rinse and repeat is a cycle we’re all currently locked in. It freewheels through ‘How I’m Feeling Now’, a raging bull of industrial breakdowns, emotional turmoil and small pleasures. There are roof-raising moments of classic XCX, the aggressive dance of opener of ‘pink diamond’ is an urgent blitz of resilience that goes hard then harder while ‘c2.0’ is a swirling remix of the fiery ‘Charli’ track ‘Click’. ‘Party 4 U’ is a starry-eyed party for two, a spot-lit slow dance while the room melts away and the closing ‘visions’ is a viciously outrageous rave track that holds nothing back. But for the most part ‘How I’m Feeling Now’ takes the vulnerability that started with ‘Charli’ and digs deeper. It’s “Pop 2’s frantic emo younger sister.” ‘detonate’ is full of self-loathing, with Charli sure that she’s about to blow up the relationship while the bouncing ‘I finally understand’ flips the script and sees her convinced that love is going to be the death of her. She makes no bones about how tough she’s finding things. “My therapist said I hate myself really bad,” she sings on ‘I Finally Understand’, while ‘Enemy’ samples a voice note that says, “It’s a tough journey to be on whilst you’re around other people.” ‘anthems’ is a driving stream of conscious that deals with waking up bored, buying shit online and losing yourself in television with the niggling belief that this experience might be good for you. ‘Claws’ captures the moment you look over at your partner three hours into another Come Dine With Me marathon and realise that there’s nowhere else you’d rather be. Yes, it’s a lockdown album (the first of presumably many), but it’s much bigger than this singular moment in time. It has something to offer, something to say beyond being a brief distraction. Across ‘How I’m Feeling Now’ Charli rages with depression, anxiety, uncertainty, love and peace. Full of chaotic energy, it captures lightning in a bottle. It gives the fears of a generation a powerful voice but never lets them win. Ali Shutler

There isn’t a better snapshot of living through Coronavirus than ‘How I’m Feeling Now’.

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readdork.com Editor Stephen Ackroyd Deputy Editor Victoria Sinden Associate Editor Ali Shutler

ASKING THE USUAL STUFF IS SO BORING

This month it’s...

Contributing Editors Jamie Muir, Martyn Young

ALFIE TEMPLEMAN WHAT DID YOU LAST DREAM ABOUT? Pretty sure I last dreamt about lockdown being lifted, we were all with our friends again, and it felt like bliss. HOW TALL ARE YOU? I’m around 5 foot 7 to 5 foot 8, I think. People always think I’m taller! My mates love taking the mick out of me for it.

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WHAT’S THE MOST IMPRESSIVE THING YOU CAN COOK? I actually love cooking. I did lobster for my parents’ wedding anniversary, and I make a nice banoffee pie, too. HAVE YOU EVER WON ANYTHING? I won a lot of awards at school for sprinting. I used to do 100m in like 12 seconds, think my best was actually 11 something. I’m probably shite now cause I haven’t bothered doing it for yonks. WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY? Earliest memory was probably my dad playing me a band called Crazy Cavan while I was on the floor banging a pot to it. One of the reasons I make sweeeeet music maynnnn. WHAT STRENGTH NANDOS SAUCE DO YOU ORDER? I order Extra Hot at Nandos. I’m not trying to act hard, but I genuinely put hot sauce

JUNE 2020

DORK

Events Liam James Ward .

on EVERYTHING because nothing feels right without spice. It’s like my salt.

Scribblers Abigail Firth, Aleksandra Brzezicka, Blaise Radley, Chris Taylor, Jake Hawkes, Jamie MacMillan, Jenessa Williams, Josh Williams, Rob Mair, Sam Taylor, Steven Loftin, Tyler Damara Kelly

WHAT’S YOUR BIGGEST FEAR? My biggest fear is telling you my biggest fear because if I get really famous, then people on those talk shows are gonna prank me with it. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEMBER OF ONE DIRECTION? I adore Harry. I love his music, and he seems like the best guy ever. I love how much he’s branching out with 10-minute rock masterpieces. His songs are structured amazingly too. Shoutout Kid Harpoon! WHAT IS YOUR MOST TREASURED POSSESSION? I have a signed King Crimson vinyl. Priceless, man. Means more to me than anything. TELL US A SECRET ABOUT YOURSELF? A secret? I’m 34. Don’t tell anyone. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU BROKE? A million girls’ hearts. That was a joke. I feel sick. WHAT IS THE BEST PRESENT YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN? Best present I’ve ever got was a vinyl my girlfriend made for me that had all my favourite songs on. So good.

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WHAT’S THE MOST EMBARRASSING THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO YOU? When I was about 5, we went to this like fire station because they were open for the day to show everyone how they work and stuff. They were doing this thing for kids where you get to use the fire hose which was fascinating to a lot of us, so everyone (must’ve been a good 100200 people) was gathered around waiting for their turn to have a go. It came to me and they passed me the hose. I dropped it, whipped out my ‘hose’ and peed all over the floor. Can’t really remember the rest apart from my mum being very disappointed in me. Anyways, I did it again the following year cause it was funny, hahaha. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A GHOST?

Yeah, I always see my dead cat when I’m walking about. Guess that’s a ghost innit. Weird shit. HOW PUNK ARE YOU OUT OF TEN? Like, 0. Soft as tripe. Wish I could be more punk. WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE SMELL? My favourite smell is fresh bread, or my own farts. IF YOU COULD HAVE A SUPERPOWER OF YOUR CHOOSING, WHAT WOULD IT BE? I’ve always wished I could fly. How cool would that be? WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS? Cause I rock, Dork. P ALFIE TEMPLEMAN’S EP ‘HAPPINESS IN LIQUID FORM’ IS OUT 15TH JULY.

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