To Die For
Previously, you could tell how sad a new Sam Smith song was going to be by the accompanying coat. Black blazer? Mid-paced tear-jerker. Floor-length navy pea coat? Full-on, award-guzzling, snot-and-snivel ballad. Thankfully on the fragile, genuinely forlorn To Die For, which samples the “I don’t want to be alone” line from Donnie Darko, Smith doesn’t wear sadness as a well-tailored straitjacket. Instead, the creaking pianos and pitter-patter beats cry out for nothing more than the melancholy comfort of an ex’s threadbare hoodie.
If To Die For isn’t exactly the Valentine’s Day mood you were aiming for then try Dagny’s decidedly hornier Come Over. “I’m picturing you when the light hits your face in the morning,” she coos over a thundering synthpop explosion, that languid, misty-eyed poetry undermined slightly by a Mills & Boon-inspired video in which Dagny sets fire to her living room in order to seduce two topless firemen. A huge waste of taxpayers’ funds.
The sporadically entertaining React marks the return of every pop fan’s favourite Nicole Scherzinger solo vehicle the Pussycat Dolls. Expect some mean-spirited wag to note that releasing a song about desperately wanting a reaction from a captive audience going through the motions just before an ambitious reunion arena tour is a brave choice. Braver still is verse two’s nod to Destiny’s Child, the gold standard for autocratic superstar vehicles decked out in questionable leotards.
Daughters of Reykjavík
Iceland’s all-female, nine-piece collective – featuring both a sex therapist and a glacier guide among their members – return with Fool’s Gold, a sort of MIA reduction that ticks all the 2008 blog-pop boxes. So we get a cheap tinny beat, a gloriously mindless chorus about “bitches” and “money”, and a strong whiff of early hipster Dalston.
How it has taken Ed O’Brien – sorry, forgive me, Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien – this long to make a solo album given he has basically been unemployed since 2000 is a mystery. Perhaps he has been noodling away at this slab of percussive psych rock ever since Thom and Jonny unpacked the Warp box sets and fired up the ondes martenot, the lyric “loneliness, no more loneliness” expanded from his unread messages on their group chat. It’s your time to shine, Ed!