Music Reviews

New Releases Roundup – beabadoobee, Bastille, Real Friends, Against The Current ft. guardin, The Maine and The Lathums

Gemma Cockrell and Kiah Tooke

Gemma and Kiah review the latest releases from beabadoobee, Bastille, Real Friends, Against The Current ft. guardin, The Maine and The Lathums.

beabadoobee – Cologne (Kiah):

Beatrice Kristi, better known as beabadoobee, has released new EP ‘Our Extended Play’, which she explained as a bridge between her first album, ‘Fake It Flowers’, and her next full-length release. Working with label-mates on Dirty Hit – The 1975’s Matty Healy and George Daniel – the EP combines influences from her debut album with a more polished production, which is seen on Cologne.

The song starts with a stripped drum track which is later paired with layers of electric guitars that give Cologne a slight grunge edge. The track was written by both Healy and Bea and details a passionate romance, which Bea captures in her description of Cologne as a “sexy love song”.

Accompanying the EP’s release is a music video for Cologne that Bea filmed with several of her friends in the style of a cinematic action film. The music video perfectly complements the sharper edge of Cologne.

The produced sound of Cologne and parts of ‘Our Extended Play’ contrasts the bedroom pop sound that gained Bea popularity, moving away from 2018’s ‘Patched Up’ days. The sharper sound allows Bea to experiment with different layered sounds, breaking away from her usual sound in an interesting way.

three stars

Bastille – Distorted Light Beam (Kiah):

Bastille have returned with new track Distorted Light Beam, the first song from their upcoming fourth studio album. The new song is set in the future and imagines the advancements of technology where anything is possible. The song was premiered on BBC Radio 1 as Annie Mac’s hottest record, being a strong lead single for the band’s new album.

A visionary sound

Distorted Light Beam’s futuristic sound marks a new turn in Bastille’s discography, experimenting with synths and electronic vocals to give the track a visionary sound. When discussing the new single, Frontman Dan Smith commented that “For us Distorted Light Beam soundtracks dancing through some twisted, euphoric futuristic club space.”

The band’s upcoming fourth album follows 2019’s ‘Doom Days’, a concept album about a single night at a party which also saw Bastille experiment with new sounds. Setting the scene with Distorted Light Beam, Bastille have created a blend of retro-futuristic pop, an exciting development for the band that will hopefully continue into their next album.

four stars

Real Friends – Nervous Wreck (Kiah):

Illinois pop-punk band Real Friends have released two comeback songs, Nervous Wreck and Storyteller – almost three years since their last album, ‘Composure’. Since the hiatus, the band have returned with Cody Muraro as their new vocalist after Dan Lambton left the band in early 2020. In addition to a new vocalist, Real Friends have also signed to Pure Noise Records, an American punk rock record label, becoming label-mates with bands such as The Story So Far and State Champs.

On the inspiration for Nervous Wreck, bassist Kyle Fasel described how “The pandemic inspired a lot of darker thoughts and also the uncertainty of everything. For a while there, it’s like we were like, ‘We don’t even know when we’re going to feel ready to come back. We don’t even know if the world is going to be in a state where we’re going to be’”.

Nervous Wreck follows in the classic pop-punk sound Real Friends have been known for – with Muraro’s vocals fitting in nicely with the blend of melodic and fast tempos. The song discusses feeling isolated from a past version of yourself and struggling with your identity. Despite the change in line-up, the sound from the new singles is still distinctly Real Friends, but marks the start of a new chapter for the band.

four and a half stars

Against The Current ft. guardin – again&again (Gemma):

Against The Current have released a new single titled again&again featuring guardin, alongside the announcement of an upcoming 7-track EP ‘fever’ which is set to be released on 23rd July. The EP will also include the band’s previously released tracks weapon and that won’t save us.

The lyrics of again&again address the fact that mental health issues are equally as important as physical health problems, with vocalist Chrissy Costanza personifying her mental health struggles as “ghosts” and “monsters”. guardin contributes to the bridge of the track, speaking of similar themes through lyrics such as “Internal dialogue / Voice of the enemy”.

Collaboration with an emo-rap artist works successfully for the band once again

Despite guardin and Against The Current coming from completely different genres, the pop-rock band have collaborated with similar artists in the past – take Costanza’s recent appearance on LiL Lotus’ latest single Romantic Disaster, for example. On again&again, collaboration with an emo-rap artist works successfully for the band once again, with guardin showing off his singing vocals to fit the song perfectly.

The singles from the EP so far show the band returning to their rock roots, something which they realised they needed to do after their 2018 sophomore record ‘Past Lives’. “Toward the end of the [Past Lives] era, we realized it’s time to go back to our roots. It’s time to go back to what made the band what it is in the first place,” Costanza explained. Based on the singles so far, ‘fever’ is a return to form for one of the most promising female-fronted rock bands of the past decade.

four stars

The Lathums – How Beautiful Life Can Be (Gemma):

The Lathums’ new track How Beautiful Life Can Be continues the uplifting and optimistic acoustic guitar pop sound of their previous single Oh My Love. It is their first release since their live album from May’s Sefton Park pilot event, where they joined Zuzu and Blossoms in from of a 5000-person crowd in Liverpool to aid the government’s research into the return of live music.

Lyrically, the new release encourages appreciation of the mundane. Vocalist Alex Moore explained that he used the track to highlight the things “that matter most”. He went on to say that “Our saddest and loneliest moments can lead to our happiest and most content, because we have felt what it is to be down there looking up. It feels like now is the time to appreciate all of the things, big and small, that we’ve missed the most.”

It was written in the middle of the pandemic, when Moore managed to miraculously find beauty and hope amidst the darkness. Much like The Lathums previous releases, How Beautiful Life Can Be has a timeless appeal to it. It sees the Wigan band gearing up to their highly anticipated debut album, which does not yet have a title or release date.

four stars

The Maine – Pretender (Gemma):

Pretender is the fourth teaser track for The Maine’s forthcoming album ‘XOXO: From Love And Anxiety In Real Time’, which will be released on 9th July. The band have confirmed via Twitter that this will be the final single released in advance of the album.

It speaks of the desire for a significant other to feel entirely comfortable around you

Lyrically, the track is about being unashamed of your true identity around others. It speaks of the desire for a significant other to feel entirely comfortable around you, communicated through the chorus “Show me the real you / Misunderstood can feel so good / You don’t have to hide yourself / Pretender, pretender”, before acknowledging that we are all guilty of playing roles and lying to ourselves.

The track has an interesting and unpredictable instrumental, with sudden surges of aggressive drumming throughout the verses, before the drums disappear entirely in the pre-chorus and return for the anthemic and catchy chorus. Pretender adds to the strong sequence of singles that The Maine have released from ‘XOXO: From Love And Anxiety In Real Time’, and it will only serve to further heighten fan’s anticipation of the album.

four 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 @radvxz @realfriendsband and @thelathums via No changes made to these images.

To listen to all of these tracks, check out the New Releases Roundup playlist on Spotify.

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