I came across an Instagram from the Warner/Chappel music label welcoming an artist named Youngr to their family. The name caught my attention and I noticed he had a new record out; “Out of My System.” Immediately scrolling to Spotify, I found his sound new age and fun. Something you’d hear at a Malibu beach party at sunset, when everyone is at their peak, and the fire is blazing.
Marry Passion Pit with HelloGoodbye and you’ve got Youngr. An electronic pattern pulsing with pop lyrics. The man behind it all? Dario Darnell. Hailing from the United Kingdom, Darnell is no stranger to the music industry. Him and his brother, Lorne formed the pop duo Picture Book back in 2012. Perhaps this was a foreshadowing of the upcoming success to happen to Darnell.
His latest single, “Too Keen” is another electric pop dream doused in soulful vocals and a rapture of a chorus. He opens with,“I wish it was still cool to text you, but you went and sent another clumsy message.” Predictable pop lyrics with a fun musical twist could be Youngr’s specialty.
Lyrics like, “sniffin vicodin in Paris never felt so euphoric, baby,” “get another bottle, maybe get another bag,” and “I heard that you’re addicted to them Xans now, girl,” shouldn’t make you bop your head and swing your hips, but if there’s one thing Blackbear conveys, it’s that the lyrics don’t make the song (although his can be quite witty and modern-day erotic), the music makes the song. He’s a rhythmic rapper who can actually hold a note over a ravishing electropop/hip-hop beat. The contrast between the sweetness in his voice and the brash lyrics makes him standout in his own genre; branching out from what other rappers are doing.
Yanking at the obvious cliches in our society, it’s easy to make fun of the people we’ve become in 2016. In the pop-esque “Wanderlust” Bear sings, “All her friends areverified, wow, man that’s so cool, wow, girl can we hang out? let’s take a thousand pictures…people sayin’ that we’re goals.” Social media and the California lifestyle are common themes in all of Blackbear’s music, but his disgust for our culture is also evident throughout this EP (listen to “sniffing vicodin in paris” – second verse.)
There are times when you worry about Blackbear, as he openly admits to being a drug user and wanting to die as he explicitly mentions on “Sometimes I Want 2 Die.” You almost feel guilty for liking his music for fear of encouraging such damaging behavior. But the charts don’t lie, Cashmere Noose shot up the iTunes Top Albums charts, even crowning it the #1 R&B album the day it was released. Fans have been stalking this set of tracks ever since the rapper released them on his Soundcloud back in the heat of August. It’s no surprise his fame is impressively rising due to his own team of devoted friends. He remains proudly unsigned as he mentioned on Twitter October 19th saying, “blackbear remains unsigned :)” The overwhelming success of Noose sent fans in a frenzy to buy the EP. Bear even tweeted out that if you can’t afford the new music or are struggling, to text him your email and he’ll gift it to you. He understands the importance of having a strong fan base which has kept him relevant in the music scene without needing to be backed by a label. That’s a true artist, all drugs aside.
Usually crooning in a singer/songwriter haze of acoustics, Aplin flips to the pop side with her latest single, “Miss You.” Her voice is pure and pretty as she sings, “Oh God I miss you too, it’s all I ever do.” The Kygo-like vibe suits her well as the beat bounces nonchalantly. Aplin proves her stint in pop could be permanent.
“I Would Like” by Zara Larsson
After the overwhelming success of “Never Forget You”, the Swedish native is back with a saucy single titled, “I Would Like.” She keeps pop alive as her shockingly powerful voice sings, “I would like to get to know you baby, I would like to get under your sexy body.” Combining pop and electronic elements, fans can’t wait to hear Larsson’s album (come 2017, hopefully.)
“Blow You Up (feat. AlunaGeorge & Less is Moore)” by Yogi, Less is Moore, AlunaGeorge
Throw AlunaGeorge on your song, add some hip-hop beats, a new-age drop after the chorus, and you’ve got yourself a banger. “Blow You Up” is a repetitive eclectic mix, Aluna just adds the tinge of pop it needed to be big. Her soprano-ish voice chirps alongside the harsh tones of hip-hop providing the coolest contrast.
“Human Touch” by Betty Who
I’ve always had a soft spot for Ms. Who. She seems overly happy and knows how to do pop right. Her lyrics are touchingly positive and remind you of warm summer days. “Human Touch” is her most electronic song to date. Fans have been hoping for her return to music and praying her new album will be dropping soon (no date yet!) A happy-go-lucky chorus features Who singing out some notes following every electronic peep.
“Synthetic apparitions of not being lonely” could describe any The 1975 show.
Matty Healy twitches around as his skinny legs squirm to the electric beat. He nonchalantly swigs from his wine glass as his crazy curls bounce in time with his fingers as they nonchalantly play simple chords on the piano.
Seeing The 1975 live is an experience. The light show is candy for your eyes. The lyrics are food for your soul; dripping in neon dreams and sex fueled guitar riffs, one young adult can’t help but close their eyes and get lost in every moment. Each band member keeps to themselves, focusing on their parts, barely making a head nod or smile to one another. All remain dark shadows in front of an array of colorful psychedelics, making every concert goer oooh and ahh in a magical haze, while capturing the perfect Instagram.
As for the setlist, it couldn’t have been more dynamic. Interludes like “Please Be Naked and “I Like It When You Sleep For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It” were dripping (literally, the background was melting colors) in pure emotion as ringleader Matty plucked gracefully at every piano key. Older songs like, “Girls,” “Sex,” and “Medicine” had fans jumping and clapping in time with every word.
One of my friends has barely listened to anything by The 1975 and after watching the show said it was one of the best concerts she’s ever been to. The energy was electric youth fueled on love and heartbreak. Healy makes fans feel like there’s an unspoken club we all can be in together where the skies are light pink and love is always free. Boxing these guys into one genre would be insulting; their sound is unique beyond words. The focus is on the music, and not themselves. Fans care about their sound, NOT who they go out with or how much money they make.
Setlist: “The 1975”
“Heart Out Loud”
“A Change of Heart”
“This Must Be My Dream”
“I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it”
“Please Be Naked”
“If I Believe You”
“Answer” is the holiest we’ve ever heard Phantogram. Piano chords glitching on repeat remind fans of the emotional impact this band can still have even in a ballad style. Lead singer, Sarah Barthel’s voice gracefully opens with, “And you can’t hold me down, cause I need an answer, cause I need an answer love.”
It almost feels like a prayer you could recite before bed. Clarity and the power of hope take over your mind. Most people can relate to these honest searching words (try not to shed a tear while really listening to the words.) The duet-like setup makes the song reminiscent of a relationship. As usual, the two succeed at harmonies so in-step, it’s chilling. The pre-chorus peeps out saying, “They say be with the one that you love, be with the one that you love, I need an answer.”
The New York natives admitted their new album is different from their past sound. Barthel told thenationalstudent.com, “I think it’s really easy to want to rush out music in the digital age – it’s so easy to just finish something and want people to hear it straight away… But it’s important to fine tune your songs and not rush anything.” The inspiration behind “Answer” was the loss of musicians like Bowie and Prince, as well as Barthel’s sister this year. Phantogram has proven their music can be raw and beautiful, and that is the answer.