Loose Ends (feat. Jorja Smith)
Two of Britain’s finest current artists team up to deliver a shared message of love, the virtue of responsibility and the importance of family. A gentle salve on what can be a harsh world.
Do It Without You
‘Do It Without You’ is a solid summary of everything Jacques Greene does best. Melancholic vocal sampling, airy ambient synths and rising percussive elements come together in this brooding number. Real human emotion wraps itself around relentless breakbeats and repetition for one of Greene’s strongest outings to date.
Use This Gospel (feat. Clipse and Kenny G)
Kanye’s first gospel album was, even to his ardent supporters, a bit hit and miss. However, the MBDTF era production, Clipse guest bars and Kenny G solo on ‘Use This Gosepl’ marked it out as a clear highlight.
Sidi Mansour (Moving Still Edit)
Dublin producer Jamal Sul aka Moving Still once again with an edit of a Tunisian folk song on Dar Disku Records – a funky slab of lo-fi house that juggles squelching bass with folk vocals and 80s throwback power synths.
Pressure To Party
On ‘Pressure To Party’ Jacklin pens an anthem for the introverted. On a relatively down-tempo, stripped back album the track plays an adrenaline rush, an outburst of pent up emotion. Jacklin speaks against social expectation, normality and the idea of fitting in with gusto. A bop if I ever heard a bop.
A fan favourite finally got a release this year and everyone had a good cry.
Both “You’ll see, a wise man once told me / You gotta live within your means / You got a pocket full of cash / But you gotta have a lot more than what’s in your jeans,” and “I realise there ain’t nothin’ to talk about / You gotta kill ’em with success, show them what focus is all about,” are contenders for the best hip-hop lyrics of the year. Wise up and take note.
An ode to Curry’s father, ‘Ricky’ is by definition a major trap earworm. Storming and melodically satisfying, ‘Ricky’ sees Curry’s stripped back flow transformed into a hooky and memorable anthem that stands out as one of the year’s strongest hip-hop tracks.
Gone (feat. Christine & The Queens)
One of Charli’s most clear appeals to the mainstream, ‘Gone’ is a huge anthem that brings together two of left-field pop’s biggest stars for a club influenced, empowering cut that in a better world would have dominated the charts this summer.
On The Record
‘On The Record’ is “a song about the addiction to making pop songs and irresponsibly chasing the perma-receding horizon of professional musicianship,” and it’s a convincing aural argument for the satisfaction inherent in the process, particularly when that sax solo arrives. My word.
Roy of the Ravers
The Nottingham producer gifted us with a new EP this year in the form of SE1 Acid. ‘1999’ is our highlight of choice. 13 minutes of progressive, sweat-drenched acid house to clatter your lethargy around the side of the head.
Don’t Talk About It
A pop-geared indie song taken from Richardson’s debut LP brimming with singalong, hand clap, foot stomp energy and a fantastic chorus.
Intricate, detailed and astronomical, ‘Les Alpx’ is a cerebral electronic joy that is executed with a phenomenal precision that would be at home both inside and outside the club.
All Tvvins, Sorcha Richardson
No One Is Any Fun
An irresistible slow burner with ascending synths and building percussion lines that reach a booming drop after the second chorus. Sorcha’s influence is discernible in the nostalgia-laced lyrics which, mirrored with All Tvvin’s electro-infused melodies. One to return to in quiet moments.
We’ve Got To Try
Every now and again, the Chemical Brothers really nail it in a big way and ‘We’ve Got To Try’ is a soulful acid romp.
Clairo has been a major breakout talent in 2019 and ‘Bags’ in one of her strongest tracks to date. Relaying the heartening details of a collapsing relationship in her inscrutable vocal style, ‘Bags’ greatest strengths lie in its unpolished, understated anguish.
A Jai Paul outing is a rare treat and ‘He’ is another classic to add to the pack. 80s synths, discordant percussion and muscular basslines provide a nostalgic background for Paul’s soft, falsetto delivery. Simultaneously familiar and entirely unique, ‘He’ is a welcome return from the perpetually hyped artist.
Bantum, God Knows, Farah Elle & Ben Bix
Bantum and God Knows’ collaborative streak seems to only produce gold and ‘Strongest Thing’ pairs them up with Farah Elle and Ben Bix for another winner. Trip-hop beats provide a memorable accompaniment for God Knows’ heartwarming lyrics and Farah Elle’s short but sweet hook.
Nothing Is Safe
“Something foul in the air / something is askew”. ‘Nothing Is Safe’ is the nail-biting tale of what appears to be a drug deal going deadly wrong. There’s an air of malice about the whole song, right down to the panic-inducing synth sounds. Storytelling class.
Aoife Nessa Frances
Finding kinship in folk artists like Angel Olsen and Jessica Pratt, Aoife Nessa Frances’ debut single immediately reaches into the depth of the human condition, identity and finding strength in adversity. It’s a song that is more rewarding on repeated listens.