Each week on the FACT Singles Club, a selection of our writers work their way through the new music of the week gone by.
This week’s comeback kids are cartoon crew Gorillaz, who thrust Mercury prizewinner Benjamin Clementine onto the mic for a track with a political twist.
Meanwhile, visual artist of the moment Jesse Kanda makes his musical debut on Hyperdub, Happa mangles our brain cells with our favorite dance track in a minute, Charli XCX meets two J-pop masters, Jonwayne talks sobriety and Diplo continues unrepentant.
Gorillaz feat. Benjamin Clementine – ‘Hallelujah Money’
Chris Kelly: Another week, another comeback. I’m perpetually uninterested in Gorillaz but Benjamin Clementine is the star here. His voice is dramatic and melodramatic, as he picks strange fruit from a poisoned tree with pristine diction and haunting vibrato. However, I’m wary of anti-Trump protest songs – a little too much preaching to the choir, etc – and I’m especially wary about ones by British and French artists. Don’t you have your own fascists to worry about? (5)
Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: More power to you if you are invested in the near-hidden characters behind the Gorillaz concept, but be happy that Jamie Hewlett’s doodles of Ian Brown and, no shit, a Japanese girl called Noodle have allowed Damon Albarn the platform to continue making interesting, collaboration-heavy pop well into a second decade. Bless Benjamin Clementine for showing up to a high-profile coronation, pushing into the mainstream and disavowing Albarn’s slightly rote HD trip-hop off the strength of his loquacious performance. (7)
Son Raw: We need to have a serious talk about the quality control on these anti-Trump songs. Just because the Cheeto-in-chief is a completely turd does not mean we should sit through another maudlin late-stage Damon Albarn project, specially one with so many schmaltzy choir bits. (3)
Jibril Yassin: I never thought Gorillaz would reconvene again after The Fall, so it’s nice to be proven wrong. ‘Hallelujah Money’ is not the world-conquering pop single we expected, but it’s a reminder of what can make Gorillaz so fascinating. I could care less about Damon Albarn as 2D when we’ve got Benjamin Clementine stealing the show, though – a calming and playful presence you could get used to listening to over and over again. (8)
Diplo & Autoerotique – ‘Waist Time’
Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: The only artist who appears more consistently on Singles Club than Tinashe is most likely Diplo, and he’s been boring every time. This even begins to recycle the ‘Pon De Floor’ percussion before thinking different of it, a rare moment of sensing you’re being a bit too obvious. (4)
Jibril Yassin: This feels less of a 50/50 collaboration and more an Autoerotique production with a few Diplo sprinkles to boot. Filthy bass aside, this put me to sleep after a few listens. (2)
Chris Kelly: Diplo returns to the well from which he first emerged with a blast of blog house nostalgia (I’ve never heard of Autoerotique but it looks like they’ve been Dim Mak regulars for quite some time – makes sense). This one’s all wobbly bass, ‘Pon de Floor’ snares and uncredited “exotic” vocal samples – yep, about what I remember from the first go-around. (4)
Son Raw: If Drake can flip Crazy Cousins into “tropical house”, I guess Diplo can make a bassline banger? Nevertheless, the style is joyless and anodyne in his hands, coming off like steady-beat brostep as opposed to the high-energy fizz that Burgaboy or Flava D synthesize. (5)
Happa – ‘Bum Trance’
Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: When ‘Bum Trance’ begins, it’s a steady throb with flickering melodic leads and horn burps, a cool type of energy sustenance that hints at a marathon-esque effort ahead; then, a squeak and Happa plunges the listener down a trapdoor, where the melody (somewhere between zydeco and a butter-fingered Casio mash) swirls around into new, puzzling zones. Glorious stuff. (9)
Chris Kelly: I gazed into ‘Bum Trance’ and ‘Bum Keep Reading