Music Reviews

New Releases Roundup – guccihighwaters, Sabrina Carpenter, ELIO, Royal Blood, LILHUDDY, Billie Eilish and Birdy

Gemma Cockrell and Kiah Tooke

Ahead of the start of the new semester, Gemma and Kiah give us their thoughts on a variety of the newest single releases, from indie to rap to pop. 

hold somebody – guccihighwaters (Gemma):

Taken from guccihighwaters’ sophomore album ‘joke’s on you’, hold somebody sees guccihighwaters team up with artist powfu and producer sarcastic sounds to produce a song with smooth, soothing and tender layered vocals paired with a beautifully melancholic and moody-toned instrumental. It follows his 2017 debut record post death.

The charming nostalgia adds a magical element to guccihighwaters’ music, telling an emotional tale of missing simpler days which anyone can relate to

hold somebody speaks of the strong desire to be in a relationship and be close to someone, despite not currently being in the right headspace or mindset to do so. “You will never find love if you’re gonna act like someone else with somebody else” is a standout lyric in the song, portraying emotional depth and thought-provoking insight. 

The single is accompanied by a music video that showcases a high school couple as they go through the motions of prom. This storytelling of days past is a key element of guccihighwaters’ music, with his previously released track highschool (which also appears on the album in remixed form featuring convolk) reminiscing a past relationship from his high school days. The charming nostalgia adds a magical element to guccihighwaters’ music, telling an emotional tale of missing simpler days which anyone can relate to.

Skin – Sabrina Carpenter (Gemma):

Released (conveniently) in the midst of her involvement with the Olivia Rodrigo – Joshua Bassett love triangle, Sabrina Carpenter’s latest track Skin audaciously responds to Rodrigo’s track drivers license, evident from multiple lyrics throughout the track. “You’ve told your side, so I’ll be telling mine,” “Maybe you didn’t mean it, maybe blonde was the only rhyme,” “Don’t drive yourself insane, it won’t always be this way,” and “You can try to get under my skin, while he’s on mine” all allude to to the supposed love triangle which has captured the attention of millions.

She does extend some sort of olive branch to Rodrigo, stating in the opening line of the track that she believes that they could have been friends if they had met in another life, and stating in the bridge of the track that she hopes that one day they can look back and laugh about the drama.

Despite these niceties infused into the lyrics, I can’t help but feel that Carpenter is slightly immature by responding to a heartbroken 17-year-old  with a song boasting her happiness – “I’m happy and you hate it.” Rodrigo is evidently hurting, so for a woman who is 4 years older than her to address her in this way doesn’t sit quite right. Rodrigo’s song wasn’t written with the intention to fuel drama, but instead as a method to cope with her raw emotions – and she never said a bad word about Bassett or Carpenter in the process, showing maturity beyond her years.

However, some think Skin could also be directed at Carpenter’s ex-boyfriend Griffin Gluck, who inserted himself into the drama by publicly supporting drivers license when it was released. Drama aside, the track is an emotional pop-ballad, but it is difficult to assess the track without the circumstances influencing your perception,


Up and coming pop princess and Charli XCX protégé ELIO has released her second EP ‘Can You Hear Me Now?’ with track CHARGER being premiered by Zane Lowe on Apple Music. It tells the metaphorical story of ELIO walking out on her lover, but realising after she’s left that she left her phone charger behind. The song debates whether she should return to collect it, and risk giving him a second chance, or not.

ELIO’s sound exists somewhere between bedroom pop and indie, contrasting low emotions with the high energy of the pop genre

Despite not being written based on a true story, it still holds meaning for ELIO. “There’s definitely a balance, which I guess is a great way to describe this EP. Finding balance in my life and my happiness, and my music. CHARGER was a bit of a stepping stone to that. I always thought writing a song that was detached from personal experiences was meaningless but when I wrote CHARGER it was just a fun song that is now one of my favourites,” she explains.

ELIO’s sound exists somewhere between bedroom pop and indie, contrasting low emotions with the high energy of the pop genre. Through music crafted entirely from her bedroom, ELIO speaks out to a Gen-Z audience with extremely relatable lyrics, speaking of the shared loneliness that the younger generation experiences whilst navigating the internet and online world.

Typhoons – Royal Blood (Gemma):

Royal Blood have announced their forthcoming third studio album ‘Typhoons’, alongside the release of the album’s title track of the same name, Typhoons. The 11-track album is set for release on 30th April.

“We sort of stumbled on this sound, and it was immediately fun to play,” explained frontman Mike Kerr. “That’s what sparked the creativity on the new album, the chasing of that feeling. It’s weird, though – if you think back to Figure it Out, it kind of contains the embryo of this album. We realised that we didn’t have to completely destroy what we’d created so far; we just had to shift it, change it. On paper, it’s a small reinvention. But when you hear it, it sounds so fresh.”

Typhoons fuses newfound dance influences with the previous sound that the duo had established on their debut and sophomore records, the self-titled ‘Royal Blood’ and ‘How Did We Get So Dark?’. The track doesn’t entirely abandon the sound that Royal Blood have developed since 2014, but instead experimental elements are added to this sound that the band are renowned for, to ensure it maintains its freshness and creativity.

21st Century Vampire – LILHUDDY (Gemma):

Tik Tok star LILHUDDY has made his musical debut with a pop-punk inspired track titled 21st Century Vampire. With influences such as Blink-182, My Chemical Romance, and 5 Seconds of Summer, and his role in the rap-turned-pop-punk Machine Gun Kelly’s directional debut ‘Downfalls High’, along with the alternative image that he presents on social media, it is unsurprising that LILHUDDY has chosen to take this direction with his sound. 

There is no denying that, much like his family, LILHUDDY does have musical talent, with vocals that suit the pop-punk genre very well

“It’s okay to be different. That’s the message I’m relaying,” says LILHUDDY, “In a lot of ways, I’m a very misunderstood kid too. People don’t know my whole story or who I really am. I’ve always wanted to be my full self. Music is my way to finally show them.”

Except for obvious comparisons to Machine Gun Kelly, the next most obvious comparison is Yungblud, who has an album titled ‘21st Century Liability’, with some fans accusing LILHUDDY of plagiarism on Twitter due to the similarities in title. It has been noted that the single artwork for 21st Century Vampire and the Spotify artwork for Yungblud’s Lemonade are similar, as well as the music videos for 21st Century Vampire and Yungblud’s Medication incorporating some strikingly paralleling scenes.

LILHUDDY comes from a musical family, with a multi-instrumentalist father and a mother who went to college on a music scholarship. There is no denying that, much like his family, LILHUDDY does have musical talent, with vocals that suit the pop-punk genre very well.

However, originality is not LILHUDDY’s strength. The uncanny resemblances to much of Yungblud’s discography are difficult to ignore. The pop-punk elements of the track are nothing new that haven’t been utilised by other artists in the past, and the lyrics lack emotional depth for the more mature listener. However, the track may serve as a gateway for younger fans to discover the genre of pop-punk, much like 5 Seconds of Summer’s self-titled record did 8 years ago.

Lo Vas A Olvidar – Billie Eilish (With ROSALÍA) (Kiah):

Billie Eilish has unveiled her first release of 2021; a sad wistful track sang mostly in Spanish featuring ROSALÍA. The song is set to feature on HBO’s ‘Euphoria’ with the heart-breaking lyrics fitting perfectly with the dramatics of the American melodrama.

Lo Vas A Olvidar translates to ‘you will forget it’ which highlights the song’s exploration of the aftermath of a breakup. Parts of the song are also sung by Eilish and ROSALÍA in English which helps a non-Spanish speaking listener understand the narrative of the song, with ‘can you let it go’ repeated throughout the chorus.

Although Lo Vas A Olvidar is a breakaway from Eilish’s previous upbeat song, Therefore I Am, the new track is a nice variation to add to her discography

Eilish and ROSALÍA’s vocal range complement each other, as the soft high vocals of them both blend together to create the perfect melancholic atmosphere. The song was produced by Eilish’s brother Finneas whose simple and gentle synth backing adds to the downbeat feel of the song.

Lo Vas A Olvidar marks Eilish’s debut song in Spanish, her collaboration with ROSALÍA, a native Spanish speaker, understandably the inspiration, as ROSALÍA helped write the song all the way back in January 2019.  In March of 2019, ROSALÍA tweeted a polaroid picture of her and Eilish captioned “Can’t wait to finish our song,” which left fans anticipating their collaboration for a while. Although Lo Vas A Olvidar is a breakaway from Eilish’s previous upbeat song, Therefore I Am, the new track is a nice variation to add to her discography, being in a different language but also a more downbeat sound than before.

Surrender – Birdy (Kiah):

Introducing her fourth album, ‘Young Heart’, Birdy has released Surrender as the lead single for her new upcoming album. Not having released a full studio album since her 2016 release ‘Beautiful Lies’, Surrender marks the return for the indie folk singer, with the full album expected to be released in April 2021.

With Birdy known for her delicate vocals and sadder songs, Surrender is no exception; the track is backed by a slow piano melody. Whilst being simple, the song has the peaceful essence expected from a Birdy song. The song is accompanied by a music video shot by Sophie Muelle that captures that sentiment, being shot by the sea and depicting beautifully scenic backgrounds.

The song addresses a past relationship and the lyrics of Surrender are full of longing and regret for the lost connection. Birdy’s gentle vocals combined with the melancholic piano create the right atmosphere for a break-up song, however the lyrics do suggest that the relationship ended for a reason.

When discussing her upcoming album ‘Young Heart’, Birdy commented that “This album just feels very personal – I’ve grown up a lot over the past five years and have experienced new things that have shaped my understanding of the world.” The vulnerability seen in Surrender highlights this new turn for Birdy, with the rest of her album still to come.

Gemma Cockrell and Kiah Tooke

Featured image courtesy of Nina via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @sabrinacarpenter, @royalblooduk, @lilhuddy and @birdyinstagram via No changes made to these images.

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