Music Reviews

New Releases Roundup – Against the Current, Citizen, bülow and Grouplove

Gemma Cockrell and Kiah Tooke

Gemma and Kiah team up to give us their thoughts on the newest releases from Against the Current, Citizen, bülow and Grouplove.

weapon – Against the Current (Gemma):

Against the Current have been a favourite band of mine for over 5 years now, and I was delighted to discover that they were returning to their rock roots on their latest single weapon, which will appear on their currently untitled upcoming third album.

Their 2018 record ‘Past Lives’ was slightly disappointing – it had some great cuts such as Personal and I Like The Way, but overall the album succumbed to the common downfall of pop-rock albums: it was too much pop, and not enough rock.

weapon harks back to the band’s ‘Gravity’ EP – the feisty and fiery persona of lead vocalist Chrissy Costanza shines through just as it did on tracks such as Talk and Fireproof in 2015. Despite weapon arguably leaning more into the rock genre than ever before, the band successfully maintain the catchy and melodic nature of the pop genre.

Every instrument on the track, including Costanza’s voice, are as passionate and powerful as they possibly could be. The track represents an impressive return to form for Against the Current, and the band sound at their best when they fully embrace the rock elements of their sound.

Black and Red – Citizen (Gemma):

Midwestern post-hardcore trio Citizen’s upcoming fourth album ‘Life In Your Glass World’ completely embodies the term garage rock; the band recorded the album in its entirety in a studio that vocalist Mat Kerekes constructed in his garage. Much like the previous singles which have been released for the album, Blue Sunday and I Want to Kill You, Black and Red is reminiscent of the mid 90’s alt-rock genre.

incredibly catchy and instantly memorable

Black and Red is a more obvious choice as a single than a track like Blue Sunday, which incorporates a very unique and unconventional song structure. Whilst Blue Sunday’s experimentality was incredibly impressive, Black and Red is a notable track for completely different reasons. It follows a more typical verse-chorus-verse structure, causing it to be incredibly catchy and instantly memorable.

First Place – bülow (Kiah):

Returning with a slow and calming sound, Canadian singer Megan Bülow’s new song First Place combines stripped acoustics with soft synths to create a peaceful alt-pop song. First Place marks bülow’s first solo release since her 2019 EP ‘The Contender’; after having collaborated with a number of artists, from Rich The Kid to Mura Masa, First Place is a refreshing reminder of what bülow is capable of by herself.

First Place discusses the artificial friendships that people create when they want your attention or are trying to gain something. Behind the inspiration for the song bülow shared, “Quarantine was a big light to see who was actually in my life for the right reasons and who cared about what was going on.” The acoustic elements of the song intensify the honest feelings behind the lyrics of First Place, which are the feelings of being betrayed and used.

bülow’s progression as an artist can be seen from her debut release, EP ‘Damaged Vol. 1’, to her latest release of First Place. Her diverse discography ranges from the heavy electro-pop sound of the break-up anthem, You & Jennifer, which has gained over 57 million streams on Spotify, to her acoustic sound introduced on The Contender, and further experimented with on First Place. Despite not even having released an album yet, bülow’s music career has already seen her collaborate with big name artists and amass millions of streams on Spotify, leaving her debut album highly anticipated.

Deadline – Grouplove (Kiah):

Adding to the growing number of artists now releasing surprise albums, Grouplove released the track Deadline before unveiling the whole of their fifth studio album, ‘This Is This’, just days later. Deadline was debuted on The Late Late Show with James Corden, giving fans an idea of what the new album would sound like. Alongside the album, Grouplove also announced a live concert series called ‘This is This Moment’, a collaboration with live-streaming platform Moment House.

Using feisty sounding guitars and shouting vocals, Grouplove have incorporated sounds of heavier genres in the lead single

Shifting their sound in a new direction, Deadline breaks away from their feel-good happy indie sound which they became known for in their popular tracks Tongue Tied and Ways to Go. Using feisty sounding guitars and shouting vocals, Grouplove have incorporated sounds of heavier genres in the lead single for ‘This Is This’. When discussing the sound for the new album, Grouplove commented “It’s important to stay emotional. The whole rainbow is important, if we just live in the light blues, are we really alive? I’m not. I need to feel it all.”

Although the sound of Grouplove has appeared to develop in places, some of the lyrics on Deadline appear slightly cheesy, depicting the frustrations of feeling burnt-out with lines like “I’m gonna smash my face in the cake and celebrate”. The energy of the song feels slightly hollow at times, heading in a punkier direction but not being fully developed, making it sound somewhat out of place. Despite this, Deadline is definitely an interesting song to contrast to the sound Grouplove created in their debut album ‘Never Trust a Happy Song’.

2 stars

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 @againstthecurrent and @bulow via No changes made to these images.

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