September 11, 2013

SINGLES: Miguel, Arcade Fire and Toro Y Moi

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Miguel, “Can’t Sleep Together”


The final release from Adult Swim’s 15-week singles program, Miguel’s “Can’t Sleep Together,” is a dark and vaguely depressing tale of two insomniacs’ mutual seduction. Despite occasional romantic platitudes (“woman, you feel like a dream to me”), the track remains an addictive bedroom track — not that that’s surprising coming from Miguel.

The sparse percussion and frenzied guitar ooze a desperate sort of apathy and the chorus — “I can’t sleep, you can’t sleep, let’s can’t sleep together” — suggests a tryst via convenience rather than attraction. Lyrically, “Can’t Sleep Together” isn’t terribly sophisticated, but the steady repetition and Miguel’s falsetto prove sufficiently hypnotizing by themselves. “Can’t Sleep Together” is a banger, but it hints at dissatisfaction and a lack of fulfillment. The song is a natural progression from Miguel’s 2012 knockout Kaleidoscope Dream, which proved — along with recent work from Frank Ocean, Justin Timberlake and The Weeknd — that eight-minute-long introspective meditations on inadequacy, and radio-ready hits are not mutually exclusive. This track may not be Miguel’s most intimate, nor his most affecting, but what it lacks in emotional depth, it makes up for with restless, staccato guitar and a glittering synth beat.

Arcade Fire, “Just a Reflektor”


To deny the brilliance of both the stark black and white of the Anton Corbjin-directed music video and the hazy, multi-platform experience of “Just a Reflektor” would be blasphemy. However, the hullabaloo surrounding those two causes a lot less excitement than the next sentence: Arcade Fire have gone disco.

When the Grammy-winners joined forces with LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy, we knew he would add a little dance-punk touch to the gloriously grandiose Arcade Fire sound. “Reflektor” delivers on that promise. A disco stomp pulsates throughout its eight minutes, as Winn Butler laments the social media age (“Now the signals we send are deflected again / We’re still connected, but are we even friends?”). From a horn-propelled (and Bowie-featuring!) middle section into loping piano chords and give-and-take vocals from Butler and Regine Chassagne, “Reflektor”’s anthemic pomp and circumstance is appropriate. Since the “us kids” stance of Funeral, the band has fought for the innocence of childhood in the face of adult disillusion. Devoid of irony and brimming with emotionally raw energy, “Reflektor” serves as a call to arms and a reinvention, embracing a new method for an old message.

Toro Y Moi, “Campo”


Chaz Bundwick, the smooth mixing, dark rimmed glasses-wearing DJ from South Carolina, has given us another reason to believe that musicians are sexy. After releasing his third, and arguably best, album, Anything In Return earlier this year, Bundwick is going on tour — but he couldn’t do it without one last song, “Campo,” which he released to the world yesterday via SoundCloud. The new song isn’t an indication of another album though, so don’t get too excited; this caramel-sweet single is tour-only material.

The new song sounds more like Toro y Moi’s earlier stuff. In a in a single word, it’s groovy. The soul-pop tone in Bundwick’s voice beckons and the funky, bongo and bend-ridden riffs, are infectious and sway-worthy to say the least. The guitar is smooth, and the light, almost cartoon UFO-reminiscent synth and moan of the saxophone make “Campo” sound confident is a way that is purely seductive. While the more experimental, stuttering beat of the track could, in the hands of another DJ, harsh on the songs mellow, in Bundwick’s hands the beat gives this song a kind of confident hipster confident swagger that permeated as he insists, “just do it.” Take a listen, and prepare to sway.