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While we may still be processing last March, the month is again upon yet us – but hopefully instead of bringing a global pandemic, it will see some exciting releases from the music world, especially if this week’s batch of fresh singles is anything to go by. The Mic’s writers offer their thoughts on the return of indie legends Wolf Alice, hyper-pop excitement from Kero Kero Bonito, as well as fresh cuts from The Offspring, Ben Howard, and more.

‘Far Out’ – Ben Howard

Far Out is the most recent of Howard’s releases in the run-up to his new album, Collections From The Whiteout, set for release later this month. From the four singles released thus far (dropping Far Out alongside Follies Fixture this week) Howard has made it clear his two-year hiatus is coming to a well-anticipated end with an experimental new sound. While his crafty and cryptic wistful lyricism still endures, the distinct bassline, syncopated drums, and electric guitar accompaniment of the ten-second intro diverge dramatically from the soft acoustic sound of his earlier work. In fact, it’s so atypically Howard that even the most die-hard fan probably wouldn’t recognize it as him at all; until his mature folky vocals permeate the track. After several meandering verses, the synth outro perfectly encapsulates this contemporary twist on his classic indie-folk sound. Already, this track sets up Collections From The Whiteout as a sister album to his 2018 release, Noonday Dream. Only time will tell. Lilith Hudson

‘Let The Bad Times Roll’ – The Offspring

In anticipation of what will be the California four-piece's tenth studio album in their almost forty-year career, The Offspring have released title-track, Let The Bad Times Roll. Like many of their contemporaries from the late 90’s and early 00’s punk scenes, the current state of society has re-ignited the need for the defiant voices of the past to rise up again. A massive nine years since we last heard from them, the track still reads like a vintage Offspring song, with an acoustic opening and chorus akin to Pretty Fly for A White Guy, before launching into heavier guitars. Blending Dexter Holland's unmistakable vocals with their distinctly playful lyricism atop a hard rock groove, the track is an undeniable earworm, embodying the band’s sentiment that “if it’s all going to Hell, we might as well make the most out of it, or at least go out swinging.” Louise Dugan

‘The Princess And The Clock’ – Kero Kero Bonito

After their Civilisation I EP in 2019, it seems logical that Kero Kero Bonito would release a follow-up project aptly titled Civilisation II. They announced this new EP alongside the release of lead single The Princess and the Clock – a tale of a young explorer who is kidnapped while sailing the world, imprisoned at the top of a tower, and worshipped as royalty by an isolated society until she suddenly disappears. This concept perfectly captures the unique nature of Kero Kero Bonito’s song-writing, as the track is crafted around a “legend of their own invention,” which appears to be loosely based on the classic fairy-tale of Rapunzel. The song is fittingly accompanied by an animated music video. Despite being written long before the days of Covid lockdown, the themes of isolation, loneliness, and escapism will be relatable to so many people right now. The track therefore couldn’t have been released at a more perfect time. However, these dark lyrical themes contrast entirely to the sound of the track. Influences of the hyperpop genre can be heard in the sound effects throughout, with ribbiting frogs and robotic glitches woven into the instrumental. It is an upbeat, lively, and experimental pop song, much like the rest of Kero Kero Bonito’s discography. Gemma Cockrell

‘Half a Human’ – Real Estate

Laid-back indie-rock heroes Real Estate have returned with a reflective and breezy single, alongside the announcement of their upcoming EP of the same name. Half a Human is backed by the band’s signature jangly guitar tones and flourishing acoustic licks, with lead singer Martin Courtney’s comforting vocals to tie the piece together. Real Estate don’t find themselves varying too much from their usual relaxed form but this works heavily in their favor, especially for listeners craving another helping of their recognizable sound. The track looks at the human condition through the eyes of a person tired and confused, feeling unattached to themselves; perfectly explaining the modern mood of detachment to constant bad news and disorientation. On the other hand, it is a cracking new song from a band that can’t seem to stop releasing good music. Rebecca Hyde

‘The Last Man on Earth’ – Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice’s new single The Last Man on Earth comes alongside the announcement of their third record, Blue Weekend. It is their first release since 2017 and has been long anticipated by fans. The song is typical of Wolf Alice, but it is also entirely unique from the rest of their discography. The larger-than-life track can be split into three sections. The first section is an intimate slow-paced ballad with soft, almost whispered vocals. The vocals and instrumental then become increasingly more layered, building up to the anthemic middle section before culminating in an orchestral and mesmerizing waltz. Lead vocalist Ellie Rowsell penned the track inspired by the arrogance of humans after reading Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, particularly the line, “peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” The song-writing is mind-blowingly clever: an assessment of the nature of humans to inject importance into books and songs, based on the events occurring in our own lives. We are unable to objectively view art, without considering whether it makes our emotions feel seen due to our egotistical, arrogant and self-indulgent nature. Where the rise of Tik Tok has increased the demand for short fifteen-second adrenaline rushes, it is refreshing to hear a track that provides much more – a four-minute journey in which one can get truly emotionally invested. The track isn’t loud or showy, but instead, hauntingly beautiful in its subtlety. Three records into their career, Wolf Alice continue to prove that they are one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the British music scene. Gemma Cockrell

‘Be Sweet’ – Japanese Breakfast

Dreampop devotee Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast has gone full Stevie Nicks on new track, Be Sweet. The sound is littered with sunshine and joyful 80s disco-synth vibes, held together by a bouncing and catchy bass riff that will get you hitting repeat straight away. Zauner’s vocals are laid-back but purposeful, and she delivers with such note-hitting confidence that, come the chorus, she flies directly into the fantastic range she has to offer with her voice. The entire track screams coming-of-age 1980s film, and maybe it’s because I’ve recently rewatched the third season of Stranger Things, but its imagery is full of neon, roller skates and bright colours. This vibrant left-turn, from the emotional turmoil, heard in her previous two albums, shows optimism for both the artist and her fans; Zauner has a fresh outlook with Be Sweet and is ready to dive headfirst back into the music industry with euphoria and cheer. Rebecca Hyde

‘Leave the Door Open’ – Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak

Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak have announced their first collaborative song under the name of Silk Sonic - Leave the Door Open is the first single from an upcoming full-length titled An Evening With Silk Sonic. Produced by Bruno Mars and D’Mile and written by Bruno Mars, Anderson .Paak and Brody Brown, this latest release re-defines the neo-soul genre and transports us back to the 1970’s with this slow jam love song. The lyricism is similar to what we have heard from Bruno Mars in his 2016 album, 24K Magic, with the added musical flare of Anderson .Paak. Mix that with the sweet nothings that the chorus provides, and it’s enough to make anyone swoon. Both .Paak’s and Mars’ vocals melt together like butter as they harmonize together in addition to some tasty phat bass counter-melodies. Fingers crossed that there are more smooth tracks to come with their upcoming album! Amber Frost

‘Spinning’ - No Rome, Charli XCX, The 1975

First of all, what an exciting assortment of some of the biggest names in the current alternative pop scene! The track is indicative of all three artists’ styles, the on-point production of a New Rome track, the keyboard-bounce of some of The 1975’s more popular tracks (think The Sound, TOOTIME), and the iconic vocals and songwriting of Charli XCX. Spinning is a complete and utter floor-filler, full of layered sound effects and repeat vocal sampling with a catchy pop synth-beat with the ability to teleport the listener to a pop nightclub within moments. Despite all three artists notable vocal ability, the track is thick with autotune and vocoder working incredibly in its favour; you can barely tell the difference between bouncy synth notes and the cut-up vocals. This release suggests 2021 is going to be yet another successful year for No Rome. 2020 saw him collaborating with the likes of BROCKHAMPTON’s Bearface and the increasingly popular beabadoobee, this track is yet another impressive accomplishment under his belt. Rebecca Hyde

Edited by: Louise Dugan

Featured image courtesy of Kero Kero Bonito via Facebook