After a lot of waiting, Radiohead have finally released new music. “Burn the Witch” is the first single from their upcoming album (which has been rumoured to be coming in June). The track has been teased by the band for more than a decade. Last week, fans in the UK received mysterious leaflets in the mail that said “Sing the song of sixpence that goes / Burn the witch / We know where you live,” the final lines from the song. Over the weekend, Radiohead’s Facebook and Twitter accounts began to disappear, profile pictures and cover photos being replaced by blank images. Their website slowly faded until it too was completely blank. Last night, a teaser appeared on their Instagram of a claymation bird, and then this morning we got a full video to accompany the release of the song.
“Burn the Witch” is a churning, building, absolutely massive Radiohead song. Backed by an orchestral string arrangement, the heavy bass line when it comes in allows Thom Yorke’s voice to take flight. “This is a low-flying panic attack,” he sings before the song’s ominous chorus: “Burn the witch / Burn the witch / We know where you live.” The song’s political undertones are evident in lines such as “Do not react / Shoot the messengers,” and interestingly, the ‘witch’ burned in the video is a man with a notebook who has come to inspect the claymation town. Johnny Greenwood’s impressive arrangement (he’s been performing with symphony orchestras for the last few years) alongside Yorke’s impeccable songwriting reaches its startling conclusion as the song escalates into noise—something Radiohead have always been good at—as the ‘witch’ in the video is set ablaze.
Kaytranada’s “Glowed Up” begins with a spacey, alien-sounding intro before the beat comes in behind Anderson .Paak’s smooth, rambunctious flow. “I’m glowed up” he repeats through much of the song, perhaps referencing his recent string of guest appearances following his major-label debut Malibu. “Lately I’ve been glowed up… Feeling like the only one out here / Even if I slowed up / Got enough purp to last the whole damn night here” he sings over the track’s prominent big synth line, giving it an anthemic chorus. But then the track takes off in a new direction, and the bassy, jazzy, Flying Lotus-esque bridge/outro gives .Paak a chance to reflect on his fame and success. “Not just another name / Not just some wannabe,” he sings, and you have to agree that Anderson .Paak is pretty well here to stay – Malibu is still the best album of the year so far. But teaming up with Kaytranada here takes his talents to another level, backed by slick production and one of the most interesting beats of the year, recalling the production on Outkast’s ATLiens and updating it to rival that of Drake’s most recent work.
Classixx’ “Grecian Summer” signals their return, their first release since 2013’s excellent first album Hanging Gardens. A modern disco classic, “Grecian Summer” takes Classixx’ distinct production style to new heights. Sounds like: lobby music played in funky, colourful hostels in Europe, where hanging “pod” chairs and art-deco furniture abound.
On “Good to Love,” FKA twigs strips back the production elements of last year’s M3LL155X EP, and ends up sounding a lot more classic. She reminds us that she’s a phenomenal singer, as well as a performer and producer, and writes a love song. “Good to Love” is soft and sultry, capturing the very best of twigs’ talent, a beautiful ballad and instant modern R&B classic.
Amidst all the Kanye West madness last night, James Blake shared a stunning new track. During his BBC Radio 1 residency, he played a new song called “Modern Soul.” Blake’s new album Radio Silence is slated to feature Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and none other than West himself, although it doesn’t have a release date yet. On “Modern Soul,” Blake contemplates his career and finds himself at a crossroads, singing “Because of a few songs” and “I want it to be over” over and over again, making for an emotionally raw excursion into electronic music that sits with some of his best songs to date.
Aussie producer Flume has shared another track from his forthcoming album Skin. This time, he’s featured none other than Vince Staples, the Long Beach rapper who emerged last year with his debut album Summertime ’06, and Kučka, a relatively unknown artist from Perth who sounds uncannily like Aluna from AlunaGeorge. The track itself is harder-hitting than anything Flume’s done before, no doubt because of Staples, but it retains Flume’s impeccable sensibility when it comes to balancing sound.