The Mic Recommends...

On this edition of The Mic Recommends, our writers bring you a bumper crop of thoughts, critiques and reviews of the latest single releases. Read below and soundtrack your week with the help of the smooth, sunny electronic beats of Mall Grab, pop-punk spirit from Tik Tokker turned pop-punk princess Nessa Barrett, a funky hard rock electronic blend courtesy of Twin Atlantic, and many more.

My Old Life – Zuzu

Liverpool singer Zuzu has announced her debut album Queensway Tunnel, which will be released on 12th November. The album will see her tackling change, addiction, escapism, identity, community, and mental health. The first taste of the album arrived in the form of her new single My Old Life, on which she ponders over the tumultuous nature of the past year-and-a-half of her life. This has evidently been a period during which she has learnt a lot about self-worth and setting boundaries, and My Old Life sees her reflect on the journey that she has been on. To become the person she is today, she has left all negative energy behind, allowing her to move forward as a stronger person. She has no regrets as she “wave[s] goodbye to [her] old life”, a feeling that she describes as a “huge weight off [her] shoulders”. The acoustic guitar that drives the song has a euphoric and timeless quality, adding to the liberating nature of the track. My Old Life is a promising release from Zuzu, and only further builds anticipation for one of the most exciting debut albums of 2021. Gemma Cockrell

If Anything - John Glacier

If Anything is the lead single lifted from recent album release SHILOH: Lost For Words, and makes for a delightful tropical breeze of light electronic beats, with a delivery as icy cool as Glacier's arctic namesake. The track, and indeed the entire album, was brought to life with the help of stellar British producer Vegyn, who has worked with names as big as Frank Ocean and Travis Scott. Treading a meandering sonic path, which could easily be reduced to 'bedroom beats' meets 'chill UK rap', Glacier maintains a swift pace to build an authentic stream of consciousness narrative. Louise Dugan

Love Reigns - Mall Grab

Skipping from smooth soul samples to liquid techno, via both ambient and warehouse rave influences, Mall Grab is hard to dislike. His latest release, Love Reigns, is a decidedly sunny effort, out just in time to enjoy as the UK creeps back toward something resembling normality: piano notes slide across synth pulses and glistening snare patterns, in a blissed-out track reminiscent of the 90s house scene. The track is accompanied by a video in collaboration with Liam Oz, and features a skating 'day-in-the life vlog' exploring the capital - summed up best by the London-based Aussie producer himself as 'wholesome'. Louise Dugan

Monster – PVRIS

PVRIS have given fans a preview of their upcoming era with their newest single Monster. It is their first release since their third album Use Me which came out last year. Lyrically, the new track tackles processing the opinions of others and the expectations that come from within oneself. The song sticks to PVRIS’ signature alt-pop sound in the verses, but the chorus takes a very different tone, with angsty half-spoken-half-shouted vocals. It is easily the darkest and most aggressive that PVRIS have sounded since they burst onto the scene in 2014, an unexpected turn after Use Me took on a more pop infused sound. It represents the start of an exciting era for the band, as they experiment without straying too far from the genre which helped them to grow their fanbase up until this point. Gemma Cockrell

Bang On The Gong – Twin Atlantic

Glasgow rock band Twin Atlantic have released their new single Bang on the Gong, complete with a cheeky, 70s inspired music video, produced by bassist Ross Mcnae. It is near impossible not to dance along to this one, especially whilst watching lead vocalist Sam McTrusty sleazily vibe out to the tune surrounded by back-up dancers. Both the song and the video alike are fun, flirty and funky, proving the incorporation of electronic elements to their classic rock beat to be a step in the right direction for the band ahead of their upcoming UK tour. Abi Kara-Fernandes

Take My Breath – The Weeknd

With Take My Breath, The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) is teasing fans with his new 80s inspired synth-pop sound. He has spoken about his latest artistic direction, known as ‘The Dawn’ on social media, and this is marks the start of that journey. Following the success of his 2020 album, After Hours and his role as the After Hours villain during his performances and music videos, fans were left curious as to what The Weeknd’s next move would be and how he could possibly top his previous work. Take My Breath does just that, with a catchy infectious chorus and exceptional vocals from Abel. The track sees him describing his relationship with a girl who longs for him, using lyrics such as “dream” and “fantasy” during the bridge. A track so fiery is an exciting start for The Weeknd’s next chapter, and fans can only anticipate incredible story-telling music from here, as The Weeknd is the gift that keeps on giving. Hannah Aldred

i hope ur miserable until ur dead – Nessa Barrett

Viral TikTok star turned musician Nessa Barrett has announced her upcoming EP pretty poison, and revealed her new single i hope ur miserable until ur dead. Much like la di die, which was released earlier this year, the track takes on a pop-punk inspired sound. Think good 4 u by Olivia Rodrigo, but Barrett does not want her lover to be “happy and healthy”. Not at all. Instead, as the title suggests, she wants them to never find love and be miserable for the rest of their lives. At least she admits that she’s “petty as fuck”. A bitter anthem, perfect to soundtrack those post-breakup emotions with a healthy dose of pop-punk angst, Barrett proves that some TikTokkers are destined to make good music. Gemma Cockrell

Please Don’t Leave Just Yet – Holly Humberstone

Holly Humberstone’s latest track, Please Don’t Leave Yet, is co-written by 1975 frontman Matty Healy – the result is an exciting collaboration. On first listen, Healy’s synth-pop production washes out some of the clarity of Humberstone’s voice. But if you persist and familiarise yourself with the electronic elements, the two work surprisingly effectively together. This is not quite as strong, and certainly not as weep-inducing as Holly’s most evocative track to date, The Walls Are Way Too Thin. Yet, it replicates the same mellow quality with all the emotional maturity fans have come to expect from the young artist. Not only immense emotional maturity, but impressive too is the ease with which Holly expresses even her most personal thoughts through devastatingly tender music. It also conjures an incredibly vivid narrative, which is no doubt the result of a conscious effort at storytelling through her writing process. This record, Humberstone says, puts her in mind of “drifting far out to sea, or old deserted cargo shipping yards with all the lights at the edge of the city”. The track will feature on her upcoming EP, due to be released in November and perhaps hints at a slight, but not complete, departure from her current catalogue of haunting ballads. Joe Hughes

Place In Me – Luke Hemmings

Australian singer-songwriter and 5 Seconds of Summer member Luke Hemmings has released his third single, Place In Me, from his upcoming album When Facing The Things We Turn Away From. The track is a mellow change to the singles Hemmings has released so far, as its heartfelt lyrics seem to delve into the singer’s inner psyche ("Call me in the morning, yeah, I'm sorry that I let you down / I'm so apathetic, it's pathetic but I need you now, now"). Accompanied by a soothing guitar backing, Hemmings’ vocals are front and centre in the track, differing to lead single Starting Line, where the build-up of an instrumental crescendo was the focus. The track also shows a different musical stance from the upbeat and danceable Motion; all three singles paired together are evidence of the singer’s impeccable musicality, which will hopefully be explored further upon the release of his album. Amrit Virdi

PMA – All Time Low ft. Pale Waves

PMA, standing for ‘Postmodern Anxiety’, is All Time Low’s brand new single, where they’ve teamed up with UK indie band Pale Waves to deliver an upbeat, fierce and infectious track. The lyrics offer reassurance to fans, that such ‘postmodern anxiety’ is ever present in today’s society and that they are “not alone” in feeling these dark thoughts. The lyrics also refer to “staying at home”, perhaps something fans know all too well recently, thus causing ‘postmodern anxiety’. Such lyrics are accompanied by guitar riffs and drums that make you want to dance. The blend of Alex Gaskarth and Heather Baron-Gracie’s vocals is incredible and their voices complement each other well in their joint chorus. The track is certainly one that will get stuck in your head and will remind you of the importance of remaining positive, even in dark times. Hannah Aldred

Edited by: Gemma Cockrell & Louise Dugan

Featured image courtesy of The Weeknd via Facebook.