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Not To Fall Apart

Edition #29 • White Lies, illuminati hotties, audiobooks, Léonie Pernet, KIDSØ

🕒 This newsletter is 1167 words, a 9-minute read.

The lights go out—the excitement towers to infinity. The cheers swell like a tsunami. Then, a bang and the show starts.

It has to be one of the best concerts I've ever had the fortune to experience: The White Lies celebrating the 10th anniversary of their debut album To Lose My Life at the Brixton Academy in London in 2019.

I've seen the White Lies already on other occasions, but the performances simply couldn't hold up to their records. Primarily, Harry McVeigh, the singer, either succeeds or fails to live up to the expectations. So naturally, I was sceptic standing in the vast art deco hall. Yet there I was, in England's capital, completely caught off guard.

Back then, I wrote for Negative White:

McVeigh was in fine form, though it didn't matter if he hit the notes. For all, the lyrics resounded back from nearly 5,000 throats. People were in each other's arms, in a frenzy of euphoria and beer. A highly contagious exuberance twitched through the masses. Mercilessly as glorious, the immortal hymns crashed down on the enraptured.

So tantalizing are these brief snapshots that abound on Instagram: No technology can capture that feeling of having been at that show. No adjective, no matter how polished, accurately describes the experience. That collective energy welded everyone together. That force of melodies made you vulnerable and immortal at the same time. It is a memory that burned itself into the body not only intellectually but quite physically.

Now, why do I tell you this story? It's simple: White Lies have published a new song this week. Since its release, the single has been heavy-rotating in my playlist. But it also had a rough start.

And obviously, there are four other songs that I'm recommending today: a raw ballad, freakish weirdo-pop, feverish beats, and a warm universe of neo-classical electro await you.

Best wishes,

White Lies – As I Try Not To Fall Apart

I had to listen to As I Try Not To Fall Apart a couple of times until it dawned on me: Once again, the British trio White Lies delivered an incredible song.

White Lies' latest single starts with a full-on pumping 80s groove. Then, Harry McVeigh's voice meanders in an almost Smiths-like fashion, introducing the actual melody to the composition. Only in the chorus, the instruments follow his complex up and downs. As I Try Not To Fall Apart would be rather monotonous without the spotlight on McVeigh.

Am I a faulty kind of man so tender in the heart?
Are clues embedded in my hands, a horoscope of cards
No, I'm no special grain of sand or undiscovered star
If there's a great and holy plan, I'd rather have no part

Yet, the song is stunningly dense, the lyrics highly repetitive, hooking the listeners in a trance. As I Try Not To Fall Apart remains pretty levelled throughout its runtime. No climax, no big finale that provides catharsis. In this regard, the single is not related to other songs like Farewell To The Fairground or Tokyo.

You take me in your grateful arms
And I try not to fall, oh I try not to fall apart

It's a constant but melodic grind, and that's what might put people off at first. But it's precisely that continuous flow that creates the euphory, an eternal and complex highlight. The more you listen to As I Try Not To Fall Apart, the more it opens its doors to the gigantic atmosphere.

illuminati hotties – Threatening Each Other re: Capitalism

A short burst of shredding guitars welcomes you to the world of illuminati hotties, the project of producer and writer Sarah Tudzin. However, Threatening Each Other re: Capitalism isn't a loud rock song but a slow, thoughtful ballad.

Tenderpunk – that's what the illuminati hotties call their sound. It certainly matches the feeling of Let Me Do One More, the latest record published on Friday. There are wild sides to the album, but also a lot of melancholic parts. Tudzin explains: "The songs tell a story of my gremlin-ass running around LA, sneaking into pools at night, messing up and starting over, begging for attention for one second longer, and asking the audience to let me do one more."

Threatening Each Other re: Capitalism drips regret from every note, vulnerability vibrates between the strings of a raw guitar, and doubts echo in Tudzin's voice. The songs beauty resides in the contrast of heavy sound and the whispered storytelling.

audiobooks – The Doll

There's a healthy amount of weirdness to the British duo audiobooks. David Wrench and Evangeline Ling fully embrace their broad spectrum of inspiration in their new record Astro Tough.

After introducing their head-spinning freak-pop approach in 2018's Now! (In a minute), they even manage to up the game once more. The Doll, the first track of Astro Tough, only gives a glimpse of the hectic craziness that awaits.

This little girl lost her doll on the muddy road.
She came from behind and pulled at my arm.
I said: "I'm sorry, I have not seen it."
She said: "please call 911."

The Doll features a cracking electro sound – swelling like storm clouds. All while Evangeline Ling tells a rather depressing story of a little girl who lost her doll. Her voice drags detached from any emotion through the story. In a way, The Doll is a devastating testament to a cold, apathetic society that forgot the meaning of meaningful relationships.

Léonie Pernet – Hard Billy

Soothing apocalypse. Sinister hope. Hard Billy by French artist Léonie Pernet is the heartbeat of the fragile world. A hymn to fights and life itself between rebellion and myth. It sounds otherworldly.

Announcing her second album Le Cirque de Consolation, Léonie Pernet's Hard Billy is a promising herald. The drums keep on hammering dull like shreds of sound in the air from a distant techno party. But Pernet's voice is so close; it pierces your soul with a hypnotic mantra. A sinewy synthesizer tries to bridge the field of tension.

The young multi-instrumentalist demonstrates her power. Hard Billy is full of longing, hope for the hopeless and despair for the hopeful. Optimism and pessimism dance, touching their naked, sweaty bodies in feverish desire.

KIDSØ – Finja

They are spiritual children of Olafur Arnalds and Christian Löffler: Moritz Grassinger and Martin Schneider seek to combine neo-classic and electronic music. And obviously, the German duo KIDSØ is quite successful in its endeavour.

Finja is driven by a shimmering electro-pop, creating a dance-inviting carpet. Meanwhile, the strings and piano seem detached and very much in harmony with the beat—the two musical worlds simultaneously contrast and complement each other.

Grassinger and Schneider, the two drummers, create a dreamy fusion that is clearly derived from their rhythm-based origins as musicians rather than a classical root. They add delicate instruments to the beat rather than the other way round. The result is a soundscape that wraps its warm arms around you and escapes into a dreamy galaxy.

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