Our top picks this week - featuring hypnotic grooves from Wu Mang, ethereal electropop from The Analog Girl, and braggadocious bars from Action Bronson!
Formerly a member of Tokyo indie upstarts Your Romance, Shinji Miyauchi has found a kinship with nocturnal energy with his solo project Wu Mang – trading in new-wave theatrics for smoky, atmospheric R&B-tinged pop. Beginning with a series of slow-burning singles (Moon Gold Hair, Everyone’s Waiting For Someone), Miyauchi introduced himself as a singer-songwriter with a penchant for the romantic, blending 80s New Romantic styles with 2000s indie pop sensibilities. But this was largely hit or miss – with his tendencies towards overly cheesy stylistic choices rendering his music more akin to faded sonic wallpaper rather than anything romantically potent. With his new single Mirror, however, Miyachi injects his music with a groovy undercurrent, freeing him of the sense of overwrought melodrama that plagued his previous ballads.
Mirror’s lyrics tell a dejected tale of alienation, but its newfound electropop energy makes it an attention-arresting jump to the foreground. Musically, the result slots him in a realm not far from groove-based contemporaries gaining ground in the Japanese pop landscape, with the charge led by rising pop starlets like iri. Yet compared to his contemporaries that work in similar emotional realms, Mirror holds a reserved subtlety that allows it to function as a potent, nocturnal moodpiece. With his restrained delivery and deep voice, Miyauchi’s syllables slur into one another, and smeared with the woozy sonic backdrop that he crafts – sparse synth-pop flourishes of gated synths and filtered guitar stabs – Miyauchi’s tale obtains a introverted, opaque quality.
Within this entrancing sonic haze, there is always a sense of immediacy to Mirror’s progression. Driven by a skeletal, hard-hitting drum-machines and anchored by pulsating synth bass, the track never fades into the foreground, unlike his occasionally drifting former work, and without their contemporaries’ stylistic fixations (showmore’s jazz-pop pastiches, for example), the song progresses with effortless synergy. With no element seemingly overdone, the track builds and builds before the chorus explodes on the listener, replete with hypnotic vocal samples and funk guitar. The result is intoxicating.
“It’s as if we're all mirrors – anyone is,” he croons in the refrain. In a way, the track almost seems to reflect Miyauchi’s statement. In the track’s monochrome video, he stumbles up a slope in near-Sisyphean fashion - finding his way and falling again as he reaches his destination. Finally seeing the sun at the slope’s peak, he falls out of frame, and the track seems to end abruptly. But Mirror’s point seems not to be about waking up to the light - but rather the entrancing, reflective journey towards daybreak. Not unlike an endless night-drive, Mirror seems to invite us all to go on the road, to ride along with its own hypnotic loop. Effortlessly stylish.
Watch the gorgeous monochrome video for Wu Mang’s Mirror here:
- - by JX Soo
The Analog Girl
"I Feel on Top of the World"
Revered Singaporean electronic music trailblazer The Analog Girl returns with a collection of self-described ‘dance ballads’ on her latest album, Awe, after four years in the making.
On I Feel on Top of the World, The Analog Girl melds steady disco rhythms and claps with enigmatic soundscapes and textures to compliment her reverb drenched vocals and meditative lyricism. This all comes together in a hazy, dark synth-driven spectacle that has its roots in electropop and nu-disco.
Lyrically, The Analog Girl paints an image of isolation and confusion (“Will I be yours/ Will I be lost/ Will I be yours/ Will I be loved”) before that completely turns around in the song’s incredibly gratifying refrain (“I - I feel on top of the world/ You and I - I feel on top of the world”). The song’s outro is particularly captivating with The Analog Girl perhaps desiring ignorance and bliss (“Wish you would/ Hypnotise me until the world spins/ In synchronicity and virtue”). Musically, The Analog Girl really makes the track pop with elements such as its syncopated flange-laden percussions.
Listen to “I Feel on Top of the World” here:
- - by Isaac Yackem
Only For Dolphins
The lead single preceding Action Bronson’s latest album Only For Dolphins, Latin Grammys sees Bronson gracing a Latin Funk sample with solid flows, hilarious hooks, and an assured braggadocio. The track is classic Action Bronson absurdity from the get go, coming through with arguably one of the best hooks of 2020. “I may not be able to touch these toes/ But I will still fuck these HOES!”.
Bronson’s ridiculously witty lyricism paired with the track’s laid-back basslines and theatrical trumpets is also infused with his love for wrestling (“Suplex city, bitch!”) and action movies (“I fly the plane better than Tom Cruise” or “My new shit Only For Dolphins/ Then let the slammer off like Dolph Lundgren”), which results in an incredibly fun mix of chilled out grooves and self-aware testosterone laden humour that just works.
You can watch the hilarious music video for Latin Grammys that features deepfaked bodybuilding here and listen to the track here:
- - by Isaac Yackem