The best (and worst) new singles: Aldous Harding, Snowy Band and a totally batshit Tropical Fuck Storm
05.07.2021

The best (and worst) new singles: Aldous Harding, Snowy Band and a totally batshit Tropical Fuck Storm

Words by August Billy

TFS just keep getting more barbaric.

Our singles column fires up for another fortnight with spots for Tropical Fuck Storm, Aldous Harding, Snowy Band and jazzmeister John Carroll Kirby. We’ll let you decide which artists hit the spot and which ones didn’t.

Keep up with all the latest music interviews, news and reviews here.

Best

Tropical Fuck Storm – ‘G.A.F.F.’

Working musicians are always gaffing things up – guitar straps, instrument cables, drum sticks, cymbals. Gaffer tape purchases should really be tax deductible. But that’s not what Gareth Liddiard, Fiona Kitschin and Erica Dunn are singing about in ‘G.A.F.F.’ Taken from the band’s upcoming third album, Deep States, ‘G.A.F.F.’ is TFS at their most batshit. Led by a quintessentially-paranoid and doomsday-signalling lyric from Liddiard, it’s hard to listen to yet stays with you like radiation.

The titular acronym stands for “give a fuck fatigue”, a reference to how incessant outrage-mongering causes a sense of essential inertness to pervade our lives. Drummer Lauren Hammel supplies a technical, off-kilter rhythm that accurately conveys the shards of tragedy and mayhem that fly at you, “even when you’re walking your pooch”.

Worst

Aldous Harding – ‘Old Peel’

It feels out of order to label this the worst single of the fortnight when it plainly is not. But it’s also not a particularly good demonstration of what makes Aldous Harding unique and gave her previous albums a singular vitality. ‘Old Peel’ is apparently not a new song at all, but was performed frequently on the tour behind Harding’s 2019 LP, Designer. That it’s produced by John Parish, who also handled Designer, suggests it was an outtake from those sessions.

Perhaps the song’s Circus Oz sideshow vibe works better in the live environment, but on record it sounds an awful lot like Harding hammering home the quirk while neglecting to pay much attention to the song at its core.

A welcome return

Snowy Band – ‘Living With Myself’

When an album gets inside you and brings comfort and melancholy in equal measure, you’re liable to approach the artist’s next release expecting more of the same. Snowy Band’s Audio Commentary was that kind of album for me, so when I first heard ‘Living With Myself’, I was initially underwhelmed. It’s restrained, tender and melodic, but could I count on it to keep me company through many a lone walk or wistful evening recline?

It’s a lot to ask of a four-minute piece of indie pop music, but those initial concerns soon faded as Liam Halliwell’s lead vocals revealed their copper-bottomed confidentiality. Emma Russack and Nathalie Pavlovic take over for the chorus, bringing a sprinkle of cheer to a song that otherwise gives the impression of someone in a state of deep thought.

Pure bliss

John Carroll Kirby – ‘P64 By My Side’

It’s not accurate to describe this as jazz music. But then, what is it ­– spectral groove music? Composer and producer John Carroll Kirby is better known to liner notes junkies for playing keys on releases by Solange, Frank Ocean and Connan Mockasin. He also produced the 2020 album, Pleasure, Joy & Happiness, for Eddie Chacon of Charles & Eddie fame – a fine piece of work indeed.

But ‘P64 By My Side’ is not much like any of that. Taken from Kirby’s new instrumental LP, Septet, it’s a sleek and groove-ridden ensemble recording, at once organic and space agey. Everything about it is scrumptious, from the flute leads to the marimba motifs to Kirby’s laser-swipe synth sounds. It’s perfect for cranking as the world crumbles around you.

Keen on another fun read? Check out the latest instalment of our indie artists column.