The Hot Take #7: Disclosure, Miguel, Tame Impala and More

This week's new singles, reviewed
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This week's new singles, reviewed

Welcome to The Hot Take, a new feature where a selection of writers discuss some of the noteworthy single releases of the closing week. This week we take a look at the new singles from DisclosureMiguel, Tame ImpalaShamirThe Chemical Brothers, Vince StaplesTitus Andronicus and more. 

(Check out the Score Review at the end of the column.) 

Disclosure: “Bang That”

Brendan Frank: It would be tough to understate the impact of Disclosure’s contribution to dance music over the past five years. They are responsible for some of the greatest jams of this decade. But their tightly packed, smudge-free take on Chicago house and U.K. garage feels close to its breaking point on “Bang That”. The sample, “Pass Out” by 313 Bass Mechanic, tries for the same shout-along vibe of “When a Fire Starts to Burn”, but never quite hits the same groove. Here, The Brothers Lawrence may simply be trying too hard. B-

Samuel Tolzmann: I think what makes Disclosure so great is that they know enough about crafting a good house track that they can pull off both crossover pop songs and more formal club bangers with equal aplomb. The tellingly titled “Bang That” is one of the latter for sure, a relentless workout with a rubbery bassline. It probably won’t be a radio hit – it’s a little too modest and low on melody for that – but you can bet that your average gaggle of dancefloor revelers will be mighty appreciative to hear it in a set. B-

Luis Tovar: "Bang That" isn't the cross-over pop anthem I expected Disclosure to release on the eve of summer. To be blunt, it's a stopgap single. Not unlike last year's "Apollo". Or "The Mechanism", their 2014 collaboration with Friend Within. And like "Apollo" and "Mechanism", "Bang That" is a really, really effective dance-floor filler. But it also falls short of greatness. It's too simple and one-dimensional, especially by the standard set by Settle, to have much life beyond... I dunno, August? B-

Miranda Thompson: Dropping their first new music since 2013’s Settle, Disclosure are firmly disposing any scent of shimmering pop-loveliness a la "Latch". In fact, "Bang That" is probably the best description for that door swinging tight shut behind them as the duo immerse themselves in a tight, sleek house track that you’d struggle to see any YouTubers warbling along to. Setting up some serious anticipation for their next record, there’s no doubting that this is a summer stomper you can get your teeth into in the meantime. A

Average: B

Miguel: “Coffee (Fucking)” featuring Wale

Genevieve Oliver: I love this song, but then I’ve always been a sucker for R&B songs about morning sex. Miguel and Wale seem so evenly matched, trading off snappy, seductive lines over a catchy, sensual beat. Plus, the single art kind of reminds me of Richard Hell’s Blank Generation. More unabashed male sex symbols please. A

Nathan Wisnicki: Anyone who opens with the line “I wish I could paint our love,” stretched-out and dead-serious with swishy wind effects all around him, walks a thin rope and wants you to know it. Yet Miguel manages to be genuinely sexy and very serious about sex, albeit within his own “slow-mo dreamlike plummet” sort of logic. There just aren’t many good songs these days about the glory of morning sex, especially ones that so sincerely relish the smell of hair (and a morning coffee buzz, naturally). And then...!...one of the most misplaced rap verses I’ve heard in a while. Wale’s generally okay, but this is just so totally, obviously off the vibe; I mean, “Morning wood” puns? With this production? Seriously reminds me of those generic Wiz Khalifa or Pitbull verses I’d hear every time I turned on a radio in 2012. Frustrating, but mostly gorgeous. B+Luis Tovar: Fuck Wale. He's never been anything more than innocuous and forgettable, but how dare he mar this wonderful little song? Look. I understand why Miguel felt he had to throw some Wale in there.  This song isn't new. He gave it away for free last December. Wale's verse, stupid as it is, and the new, eye-catching subtitle, make this song feel new again. And a new single is what one needs to launch an album. Fine. I can live with that because this song, if you can look past the mood killing Wale verse, is so good. B+

Brooklyn Russell: In the interest of full disclosure I am not particularly fond of this bizarro emasculate man (if there's even a word for it?) phase contemporary R&B music is currently in. You know: jaded, dejected men who are often too cool for school to have a little bit of fun anymore. It's sadly become a genre of music plagued with cynicism and eerie (and boring) sexual exploits. After all, this is music built on heart and soul. Which is why, barring the obviously questionable song title, “Coffee (Fucking)” is A-ok with me. While Miguel is no Prince or James Brown—in the way the two were able to ooze cool and sincerity—he still finds a way to effortlessly add his version of unabashed sexuality and fun. “I've never felt comfortable like this”, Miguel sings, as though all of his doubts from a few years back had magically vanished. “Coffee (Fucking)” is surely going to be a pleasant palette cleanser from your humdrum R&B. B

Zach Bernstein : Miguel proudly continues his streak as contemporary R&B's resident weird psychedelic visionary. I really like this — that eerie guitar backing track, the booming bass, those beautifully layered vocals. This has all of the trademarks of a great Miguel jam. The only reason I'm docking this one slightly, and it's a slight reason indeed, is that I actually prefer the original, edited version. This is one of those rare cases in which the clean version is actually better, and infinitely sexier, than the explicit release. "Coffee" and its new subtitle leaves far less to the imagination - Miguel's tone is already smooth enough to preclude the possibility of missing the innuendo. Sometimes less really is more. B+

Average: B

Lightning Round!

Tame Impala: "Eventually"

Luis Tovar: In which Kevin Parker continues to treat his art like a precious metal, polishing it and molding it into something more beautiful than it was yesterday. A-

Zach Bernstein: With every successive pre-release, I get every more insanely excited for Currents. This track is no exception.A-

Brendan Frank: Gorgeous melodies and shiny set pieces amid the heartbreak. Currents is really starting to take shape. A-

Shamir: “Darker”

Luis Tovar: I was going to write something flippant about preferring Shamir's more upbeat songs ("On the Regular" is my ringtone), but Mr. Bailey's voice is remarkable in this setting. Like Nina Simone with softer edges embroidered with naïveté. B+

Zach Bernstein: Now that's some real soul right there. It's not my personal favorite, but there's no denying the talent here. B

Brendan Frank: Shamir is just showing off on this one. An incredibly soulful performance. B+

The Chemical Brothers: “Go” featuring Q-Tip

Samuel Tolzmann: I know that I said the Chemical Bros. were a self-parody act last time they were featured on this roundtable, but “Go” is a redemptive moment for the long-running dance act. It sounds less trapped in the dated “evil sci-fi” aesthetic they made their name on and more like the work of people trying to participate in the mainstream dance music conversation in 2015, consciously referencing the now-hip-again 1990s rather than failing to move beyond them. Echoes of many of the major third-millennium moments in French crossover dance are audible, from New French Touch (that descending scale on the pre-chorus) to “Get Lucky” (although Q-Tip is much more than a measly Pharrell stand-in). It’s not quite a home run, but it’s a good sign. Plus, that Gondry video! C

Brendan Frank: Reuniting with Q-Tip for the first time since 2005, The Chemical Brothers are out for fun and nothing else on "Go". Both acts are well into their 40s, but come across as savvy vets with energy to burn. Q-Tip keeps pace with the running bassline no sweat, spry and focused. A mediocre bridge is the only point of weakness. B

Miranda Thompson: Seeking to recapture some of that 2005 "Galvanise" glory – Er, I know, right?! - ten years on, The Chemical Brothers have hooked up with their old mate Q-Tip for another big bouncy number in the same euphoric vein. With its spacey building intro that’ll give you plenty of time to hustle to the dancefloor, there’s no doubting that "Go" is one helluva number. Showcasing the insistent bass that’s synonymous with these Brit electronic staples while Q-Tip’s slick vocal skitters all over the track, you’d better prepare to pogo – and suffer some serious RSS from all that head nodding. Proper fun. A-

Average: B

Vince Staples: “Señorita”

Brooklyn Russell: Sheesh! Please Vince, don't hurt 'em! Vince Staples' name has been making its way around the blogosphere since it first crossed paths with then-burgeoning Southern California collective Odd Future. But Staples' rising stock in hip-hop didn't exactly skyrocket—initially. Last years Def Jam debut Hell Can Wait felt like a rough draft—music made with the intention to tease the audience. Besides, Staples' vision has always been bigger than a mere seven song EP of sketches. And alas, we're here. “Señorita” is the sort of hard crossover (street and mainstream) rap song you'd have heard on Rap City: Tha Basement back in '02. It's the sort of rap song that has every high school cafeteria rumbling in unison as hands bang to the beat on tables. Also, the tandem of Staples and Future is quite outstanding. Basically: this is what I'm talkin' about! A

Nathan Wisnicki: Screw beating around the bush: my quota for minimal trap beats with anxious, darkly trashy vibes and little eerie trebly piano bits...well, it’s been filled and then some. Staples’ steady-pouring delivery is impressive as usual, but the beat itself (until the long, weird outro, which is at least different) is unimaginative even compared to the guy’s modestly enjoyable EP. Plus, Vince could definitely use a decent sense of humor. Not bad, just...sans good. C

Zach Bernstein: It's not really my style, but I can't deny that Staples' flow is rhythmic and compelling and Future's chorus is stupid fun. Future can really make something out of nearly nothing - that two piano-note hook is one of the more menacing beats I've heard in recent years. B

Average: B

Lightning Round, Pt. 2

Britney Spears: "Pretty Girls" featuring Iggy Azalea

Genevieve Oliver: You know I would only talk shit on a song about women wiping the floor with men if it were actually really bad. D

Luis Tovar: Britney can be (and has been) great when she's given good material. Listen to her cover of "Tom's Diner" with Giorgio Moroder, not this POS. D-

Samuel Tolzmann: Sometimes, you hear a song and think, “Wow, this is terrible.” And sometimes, you hear a song and think, “Wow, this is a radioactive piece of shit and I feel like a worse person after being exposed to it.” F

Snoop Dogg: "California Roll" featuring Pharrell Williams & Stevie Wonder

Brooklyn Russell: While “California Roll”, the reunion of Snoop Dogg and Pharrell Williams, ain't no “Drop It Like It's Hot” part deux, it's still a fun, carefree track nonetheless. Bonus points for Stevie Wonder! B

Luis Tovar: I'm really enjoying Snoop Dogg's turn as the most elevated easy-listening crooner around. B-

Nathan Wisnicki: Half-baked, but mellow-beachy-daydreamy and charmingly colorful. Weird, I’m actually looking forward to a Snoop album for the first time in...ever. N.B.: Stevie’s made two albums in the last 20 years — in ’95 and ’05. Fingers crossed. B

Zach Berntein: Well, I guess he's devolved back into Snoop Dogg again. God bless Stevie and Pharrell—this wouldn't be half as good without them. B

Titus Andronicus: “Dimed Out”

Zach Bernstein: This is real punk music - the vocal slobbering of Johnny Rotten, the frenetic instrumentation of the Ramones, and the spirit of the Clash moshing together on one song. I'll keep this write-up short and sweet, just like this song. Bonus points for the hilarious (and unintentional?) interpolation of a Handel's Messiah-style refrain in the middle of the song. Really funny and really good. B+

Brooklyn Russell:Some three years removed from their lethargic bootleg “punk” album Local Business, New Jersey's quintet Titus Andronicus have returned with “Dimed Out”—a salvo that is home to The Most Lamentable Tragedy—a concept album that clocks in at 29 songs over 93 minutes. Gone are the classic rock tropes and absurd bagpipe solos as frontman Patrick Stickles emphatically belts out “I only like it when it's dimed out” over a cacophony of rocking instrumentation. It's a deceptively simple track that harkens punk's ethos that Stickles briefly touched upon when he was gleefully flying the culture's banner in '12. Now, where the hell is this song going to fit in exactly on an album with 29 songs? C+

Genevieve Oliver: You basically have to be a ride-or-die Titus Andronicus fan if you’re from the New York suburbs, which I am. It’s also my favorite Shakespeare play so I’m in this for the long haul. “Dimed Out” is a hard-charging anthem that captures some of the band’s rollicking live energy, and it has me super psyched to hear the rest of The Most Lamentable Tragedy, but I’ve always been more partial to this band’s eight-plus-minute concept pieces. B

Nathan Wisnicki: This shit is undeniably on-point. Having actively resisted the critical hosannahs for this band’s Monitor album back in 2010, I wasn’t expecting much here, but this packs the kind of earnest, galvanic surge that earns the ambitions of a punk anthem and doesn’t pander like most songs that A-word’s doled out to. The snarl and fury really does evoke the spirit of Hüsker Dü, a spirit many bands imitate and flail ridiculously in the process. The Monitor still doesn’t excite me, and doesn’t overcome the dim recording. Here, when Patrick Stickles barks about how he “saw the sun and felt its light’s power,” I was reminded of Bob Mould shredding the word “sunshine” three decades ago...but with no time to despair any more not in this speed rush. “I’ve got plans I haven’t time to write down/I’ll incite a riot, fire flying all around.” Godspeed. A

Average: B+

Score Review

Disclosure, “Bang That” B
Miguel / Wale, “Coffee (Fucking)” B+
Tame Impala, “Eventually” A- // Song of the Week
Shamir, “Darker” B+
The Chemical Brothers / Q-Tip, “Go” B
Vince Staples, “Señorita” B
Britney / Iggy, "Pretty Girl” D-
Snoop Dogg / Stevie Wonder, "California Roll” B
Titus Andronicus, “Dimed Out” B+