From the return of Janelle Monáe, to grown-up punks Parquet Courts and Iceage – it’s Another Man’s pick of February 2018’s hottest tracks
The Beast from the East has arrived. The streets outside are ice rinks, and the sky and fields alike are pure white sheets. What better opportunity to call in a day off work, settle in, and catch up with the month’s best new musical releases?
There’s plenty to catch up on – from the rubbery funk return of pop hit-factory Janelle Monáe, to the confident punk of Parquet Courts, Iceage and fiery newcomers Sorry and Spielbergs, via a woozy love note from none other than Frank Ocean. Below, we dig into February’s hottest tracks – perfect fodder for melting the ever-mounting snow outside.
Janelle Monáe – Make Me Feel
Few musical events this year could rival the revelry that greeted Janelle Monáe’s return. A one-two comeback that was also bolstered by the bar-heavy Django Jane, the skittering funk of Make Me Feel is the perfect, sultry accompaniment to summer seduction. Hopping in the studio with Prince has taken Monáe’s ambitions sky-high – it might be her most straightforward pop hit to date, but it’s also her most self-assured.
Mount Kimbie and King – Turtle Neck Man
Mount Kimbie and King Krule are no strangers to collaboration – just last year we heaped praise on their previous link-ups, You Took Your Time and Blue Train Lines. Their latest joint release, Turtle Neck Man is a cutting room dropping from recording sessions for Mount Kimbie’s last album Love What Survives, dusted off and let loose. It might clock in at under a minute-and-a-half, but it’s as freeform and otherwordly as we’ve come to expect from the trio – a snapshot of their creative intuition.
Parquet Courts – Almost Had To Start A Fight / In And Out Of Patience
The snotty brat-punk of Parquet Courts often comes tied to the sharp edges of their NYC hometown, but between last album Human Performance and this, the first taster of their upcoming sixth record Wide Awake!, they seem to be leaning far more into the scorched-earth of the old West. The perfect soundtrack to pistols at dawn, frontman Andrew Savage foaming at the mouth; “I’m tired of being polite!” he barks, and you don’t doubt it for a second.
Iceage – Catch It
Haunted though it may sound, on new single Catch It, Iceage have revitalised the raggedy punk of their past. Operating on a grander scale suits frontman Elias Rønnenfelt’s lofty ambitions – there are touches of his side-project Marching Church throughout, only this time it’s channelled through the snarl that once made Iceage blog-punk’s great white hopes. As they up the ante towards the end, and career towards a new LP, Iceage are more than making good on all that early promise.
Frank Ocean – Moon River
The ideal Valentine’s gift for the lovelorn and loved-up in equal measure, Frank Ocean’s latest single drop took the form of a cover of Breakfast At Tiffany’s classic Moon River. A lucid, modernised version of an oft-covered classic, Frank backs himself with looped vocal cuts and an ever-swelling, self-made choir. Reverb and pitch-shift-heavy, he finds solace in staying solo – the perfect statement track for a shallow holiday.
Spielbergs – We Are All Going To Die
Norwegian indie-rock trio Spielbergs harbour none of their home country’s winter chill. Instead harnessing the sun-kissed escapism of road-trip-rock acts like Japandroids and Cloud Nothings, their pessimistic streak is cast aside be searing riffs and an urgency most lo-fi groups could do well to glen from. Debut EP Distant Star – released on new label By The Time It Gets Dark this spring – looks set to take the cinematic scope of their namesake on one hell of a ride.
Beach House – Lemon Glow
Buoyed by springy synths and space-y sampling, Beach House’s Lemon Glow reinvention is perhaps one of the year’s most surprising. It’s familiar, but fresh – as the dream-pop duo sink into their new electronic neverland, the hypnotism of their former work takes the foreground. “I come alive, you stay all night,” they coo in unison; whether it’s an invitation or an order depends on how deeply you feel that trance.
Sorry – 2 Down 2 Dance
The undoubted shining stars of the burgeoning London indie scene we documented back in January, Sorry’s latest release feels like a group finding their voice. Where previous releases saw their indie-rock sensibility hidden behind clipped samples and melodic lines warped to within an inch of their life, the chorus on 2 Down 2 Dance isn’t afraid of its anthemia. Coming off like a gang of outsiders who’ve just discovered their pack mentality, 2 Good 2 Dance could well be Sorry’s first festival banger come summertime.
Kero Kero Bonito – Only Acting
Kero Kero Bonito might have made their name so far on PC Music-esque meme-pop, but with Only Acting, they’re channeling the youthful exuberance of the MTV2 era. Adding guitars and a surging pop-punk chorus to their sugary concoction works wonders, the chirruping vocal of Sarah Midori Perry injecting life (and an important female voice) into a rock world too-often plagued with whiny, scorned boys. As things take a digitised dissection at the end, Kero Kero are increasingly looking like the futuristic pop prodigies they always hinted at becoming.
Courtney Barnett – Nameless, Faceless
The sardonic lyricism of Courtney Barnett takes aim at toxic masculinity on Nameless, Faceless, as she issues withering put-downs to the countless detractors she’s faced on the internet. Finding a new melodic confidence in the process, Barnett’s never seemed more world-weary and yet ready to tackle injustice, as she sighs, “I wanna walk through a park in the dark / men are scared that women will laugh at them… women are scared that men will kill them.”