Tyler, The Creator – Rose Tinted Cheeks
A pinched, strange, smooth listen. In keeping with the woozy tone of Flower Boy it was conceived during the recording process but left off the record. I can see why. ‘Rose Tinted Cheeks’ may go down easy but it leaves little to recommend it besides a reverence for Yacht rock.
Tess Roby – Given Signs
What if New Order was fronted by an actual vampire? Tess Roby has the sort of haunting voice that booms like the narrator of a Hammer Horror. Yet ‘Given Signs’ is punchy indie akin to The xx’s ‘Crystallised’, and Tess’s voice commands entirely. High drama and high art, but a great tune too.
A Perfect Circle – So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish
Long-standing supergroup return, but offer little new. The melody is pretty and the progression of the keys and strings is, well, progressive. Ultimately leaden-footed and singer Maynard Keenan sings with little flair. There may be an attempt at irony here but there’s a airless quality to this that recalls the worst of ’70s pomp; Rob Plant at his most haughty (‘Achilles Last Stand’ etc) alongside Styx levels of grandiosity.
Ariana Grande – No Tears Left To Cry
An intriguing one-off. This feels less like a prunable from an album than a standalone single. Not anthemic, but richly layered and enjoyably loose. Disingenuous to call it a throwback, but the presence of Max Martin does suggest a 90s pop vibe, and a tune that Britney could have conceivably cut in her prime.
Prince – Nothing Compares 2 U
Hearing the Purple One from beyond the grave is spooky, no two ways about it. This sort of archive plundering can be ghoulish – but here it answers a longstanding question: what did the original sound like? Less tragic, more playful. Bursts of sax (of course) and characteristic balladeering. Sinead’s cover may still be the superior version but this is a fascinating insight.