February 19, 2014

Spinning Singles | Week of Feb. 20

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Ellie Goulding — “Goodness Gracious”

Known as “England’s Sweetheart,” pop darling Ellie Goulding has shown wonderful versatility throughout her career — from her heartfelt and sentimental cover of Elton John’s “Your Song,” to the more recent powerful and hypnotic single “Burn.”

In her latest single, “Goodness Gracious,” Goulding draws on the power of “Burn” while still maintaining the light and airy quality present in all of her work. A collaboration with Fun. frontman Nate Ruess (co-writer of Ke$ha’s “Die Young”), this is the third single released from Goulding’s 2013 album Halcyon Days. Although Russ mostly takes a background role in “Goodness Gracious,” his impactful melodic sense and lyricism perfectly balance Goulding’s raw but charming presence.

Goulding channels her inner L.A. girl in this track — in the music video she appears dressed in various sequined or neon outfits and the video opens with a view of the iconic Sunset Boulevard palm trees. The catchy refrain and lively dance beat make the single sound less like classic Goulding and more akin to pop princesses like Katy Perry. Complemented by a textured synth-pop background, Goulding’s sugary, fairy-like voice shines through the track, floating over the tropical texture as she sings about a love that she just can’t shake.

— Caitlan Sussman

Childbirth — “I Only Fucked You As A Joke” 

We’ve all been there, right? “I Only Fucked You As A Joke” is a hilarious punk anthem from Childbirth, a newborn band hailing from Washington. The album, It’s a Girl!, can only be purchased in digital form for five dollars, hinting at the group’s relative obscurity. The song sounds like a forgotten track from the Bloodhound Gang, with a yelping chorus line — a hook that is a repetition of the title — and garage rock beat. If the title wasn’t indicative enough, the song is about a one-night stand that would preferably be forgotten. It comes from the perspective of a woman, who prays she is not pregnant and definitely does not want to be your girlfriend.

While the lyrics are hardly poetic (“You’re not that cool and you look like a troll”), the beat is extremely catchy, to the point where you might find yourself tapping along well after it is done, and perhaps even muttering the chorus. The beauty of “I Only Fucked You As A Joke” is that it hasn’t been edited and muddled with synth. Instead, the song delivers a crisp mix of electric guitar and drums that is devilishly good. The song is only a minute and forty-five seconds, which is disappointing, but makes it perfect for constant repeat.

— Alice Anichkin

Todd Terje — “Delorean Dynamite” 

Todd Terje initially made a splash with the excellent “Inspector Norse” in 2012.  The bouncy Balearic beat of that track represents a quirky spin on the space disco soundscapes that fellow Norwegian musician Lindstrøm effortlessly churns out. The follow-up track, “Strandbar,” showed Terje experimenting with house sounds to create a rougher sound and “Delorean Dynamite,” a highlight cut from his debut album It’s Album Time (April 2014), shows Terje bringing that experimentation to its conclusion. Terje pulls out all the stops — a chugging and groaning bass, pitch shifts, Ibizan synths. Then in the middle of the song he reveals one more ace up his sleeve: a funky guitar riff that is his best hook since “Inspector Norse.” Terje continues to delight in his own weird, eccentric, and endearing way.

— Kai Sam Ng

Sisyphus – “Alcohol” 

Sufjan Stevens may still be intrinsically associated with the tweeness of his since-abandoned 50 States project and his songwriterly preoccupation with Christmas, but let’s not forget the apocalyptic synthetic orchestras that dominated Stevens’s last full-length, Age of Adz. With Sisyphus, his collaboration with alt-rapper Serengeti and producer Son Lux, Stevens returns to that darker-edged sound. On “Alcohol,” Serengeti deftly rides a swaggering, squelching beat with an assonance-happy flow that reads more like the paranoid ramblings of an escapee from a militant Alcoholics Anonymous compound than the transcript of a traditional booze-obsessed rap song. Its twitchiness is compelling enough, but the track really sinks into its own with the two-and-a-half minute coda, which sees the chaos resolve into a sea of twinkling bells, amorphous vocals and that ever-persistent drum cadence.

Whatever Sisyphus has in mind for its March debut LP, let’s hope that it is less a rehash of “Chicago” and more lyrics like “suck on your dick with the devil’s integrity.”

— James Rainis

Some of the music from this week’s Test Spins can be spun HERE:

And because this gem isn’t available on Spotify yet:

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