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2018 IN REVIEW: Top Tracks

For all musical acts, there are tracks that stand their own. Whether it cements their career, signifies a change in direction or, on a grander scale, is unique to the industry – musicians are graded song by song. Over the twelve months of marvelous music that 2018 brought us, there were a whole host of singles that catalysed careers and united fans across the country. But which records stood out for the contributors at MCR Live? Which songs will outlive the year and remain lodged in our brains (and playlists)? Take a look at what we picked, right here:

‘Curse of the Contemporary’ – LUMP


‘Curse of the Contemporary’ was released, seemingly out of nowhere, in April by Laura Marling and Mike Lindsay (Tuung) under the name LUMP. It was at the beginning of our heatwave, and that bass-line became the staple of my summer. Now, it feels just as fresh as it did back then – Marling’s gorgeous vocals glide effortlessly between octaves over Lindsay’s almost hazy sounding guitar. ‘”f you should be bored in California, I’m sure I’m not the first to warn ya” threatens to stay in your head on a loop for weeks, but it’s hard to complain; it never gets old.

‘Only My Honesty Matters’ – B.E.D.


By now, you’re used to lyrics about anguish and pity towards the World, cast alongside a heavy punk-edged, indie bassline. The lead singer straddles their Fender, gaunt black makeup streaked down their face. ‘Only My Honesty Matters’ gladly sets that image aside. The ‘B’ in B.E.D. is Baxter Dury, the stark voiced son of punk legend Ian Dury – of Madness fame – whose vocals take lead in the track. Much like his famous father, Baxter’s voice is a thick, cockney drawl which pours out the lyrics put together by himself and singer/songwriter Dellilah Holiday ‘D’, of London-based punk act Skinny Girl Diet.

It’s a modern-day poem that speaks of how predictable and complacent society has become: “Listening to Florence & The Machine and having a roll-up/Impudent white, obvious people with shocking clothes and awful music, red death and assigned to being a nob/alternative thoughts, alternative clothes or leisurely dressed boss, corduroy, all-in-one time team”. The backdrop is a repetitive chorus of drums and synths orchestrated by Dellilah and ‘E’: composer and musician Etienne De Crecy. It’s not the commonplace political, bohemian angry song, that leaves you with sweat dripping from the nape of your neck. It’s stating the obvious, it’s matter-of-fact, it’s not mocking us, it’s pointing the finger. It’s Dury.

‘It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)’ – Peggy Gou


Early on this year, lady of the moment Gou released a classic house track on Ninja Tune that undoubtedly deserves a mention. What makes this such a stand-out tune is that it has so many layers throughout, possessing both buoyant energy and features her own enchanting Korean vocals throughout. The depth of the track stands out against her previous releases, a step away from her synthy disco signature.

‘It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)’ has since had many remixes, which reveal the appeal it has had to more artists in the electronic music scene. It remains fresh and current while lending to the classic 1990s-house background, and it’s clear this is just one of many more exciting releases coming from Peggy Gou.

‘Four Out Of Five’ – Arctic Monkeys


Known for crafting a U.K. rock sound so iconic that it would later be engrained into the woodwork or concrete of every rock dance floor across the country for a decade. Arctic Monkeys released ‘Four Out of Five’ in 2018 with a completely fresh musical idiom.

With a new ’80s funk-influenced, down-tempo and up-stroke guitar infused sound that stunned fans everywhere, Alex Turner and the rest of the band released a really dynamic and thoughtful concept album, ‘Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino’, and ‘Four of Five’ was released as its lead single.

Accompanied by an awesome music, video which pays great homage to science fiction movies; ‘The Shining’ and ‘A Space Odyssey 2001’ by Stanley Kubrick, ‘Four Out of Five’ is jam-packed with layers of lyrical storylines and cryptic narratives, a unique and brand new sonic pallet with instrumentation that is off the charts, and a whole new artistic direction.

‘Lux Prima’ – Karen O and Danger Mouse


Last month, Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and prolific producer Danger Mouse dropped Lux Prima, the first single from an exciting project (due next year) the two have embarked on. It’s a nine-minute-long, sandwich of a song – it opens and ends with an ambient, winding synth section featuring an Air-esque drum and bass line. Three minutes in, this ends and Karen’s distinctive vocals work together with a string staccato, crooning ‘I’m nowhere / I’m no one / I’m nobody / There’s nobody but you’. The looping structure enables us to get fully immersed for a while in a dreamy, astral soundscape while we wait for more of this fascinating collaboration.

‘Pick Up’ – DJ Koze


If you found yourself circulating electronic music festivals this summer, this will surely be one of your most heard and remembered tracks. The blissful tones of this relaxed yet stimulating dance track will be sure to inspire minds for months to come. Sampling the vocals from 1972 track “Neither One of Us” by Gladys Knight proves a success running throughout creating a haunting edge and a message about heartbreak.

One of the most interesting points about this track is the fact that it is made up of synths and melodies quite simplistic, yet it does not sound simple in the slightest. Coming straight off his album Knock Knock, this tune is an ultimate crowd pleaser which will be circulating electronic music for a while to come.

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