In an era of over-produced pop music, one has to give credit to artists that are intent on stripping back appearances, spacing out rhythms and hooks with effective silences allowing the music to breathe, registering with listeners because of what they hold back rather than flung at us.
This summer has, therefore, been one of impressive minimalist pop music.
Moonface’s City Wrecker
Canadian singer-songwriter Spencer Krug has been releasing a steady flow of music under his Moonface sobriquet since splitting with a former band I’ve never heard of.
Krug has recently said that the songs featured on his upcoming five-song EP titled City Wrecker is essentially about: “Going in and going out. Regret and hope. The past and the future. Ducking out early from your own farewell party.”
From his remarks we can deduce that Krug seems a pretty listless soul. The sadness of this song, therefore, invokes the emotive pains of a sensitive bloke imbued with restlessness but incapable of helping himself. It’s probably the best piano balled in some time.
Jamie xx’s All under one Roof Raving
UK hardcore rave culture is at once celebrated and pared-down by Jamie xx who balances a tribute to classic British club culture while spacing out his beats with steel drums and buzzing sawtooth basslines; additionally throwing in pleasing nods to 2-step garage flows of the early noughties.
This is the sound of urban London nightclubs winding down in the early hours. The Spartan production of the track deceptively belies the amount of stunning sampling and sonic science that’s at play here. Yet for all its homage, this is entirely Jamie xx’s baby.
FKA twigs’ Two Weeks
When British artist FKA twigs dropped this song at the start of the summer the music press went berserk. Eventually the American press heard the hype and began complimenting FKA twigs’ sound as being both “lush” and “lucid”, even claiming her new album LP1 is an “orgasmic joy”. (Words plucked from this month’s TIME magazine, no less.)
I love this song and remain a fan of twigs’ previous few EPs that birthed the sounds and moods of her latest album. The problem is, however, Two Weeks is such as force of nature that no other track on the album comes close to its brilliance, which renders the whole affair rather slight. The album is very good, but there are other artists out there from Kelela to Fatima Al Qadiri making experimental pop music every bit as good as this―perhaps even better in some instances.
Nevertheless, FKA twigs, who was actually a former stage dancer for Jessie J, Ed Sheeran and Kylie Minogue, has matched her onstage persona with mesmerizing homespun eccentricities. It’s the high-voltage sensuality and raw weirdness of twigs’ performance that has truly captured international attention. The music is intricately layered and spaced, but it’s the singer’s otherworldly qualities that give it life.