When good intentions backfire
Chris Martin's unyielding obsession with EDM and worldbeat takes the form of the Coldplay side project's star-studded charity EP, released in support of the poverty-ending Global Citizen campaign
- 6 Jan 2019 at 04:00
- WRITER: CHANUN POOMSAWAI
"Sometimes/ It falls upon a generation/ To be great/ I ask all humanity now/ To rise up/ Then we can all stand/ With our heads/ Held high," begins the Chris Martin-curated Global Citizen EP 1 with opener Rise Up featuring an excerpt from Nelson Mandela's now-iconic "Make Poverty History" speech. It's an apt start given the wholesome intentions of this EP, although it feels slightly jarring to hear one of the world's greatest speeches getting paired with the euphoric synths supplied here by the Norwegian production behemoth Stargate. The song is clearly engineered for a stadium/festival setting, so casual listening might not be the best way to approach what would otherwise be a stirring anthem.
Los Unidades Global Citizen EP 1.
Produced by Pharrell Williams, the Jozzy-assisted E-Lo follows with a dance hall jaunt and perfunctory hand claps. Martin channels his inner Peter Gabriel, singing in half-English, half-Spanish ("Mama Maria, she would take my hand/ Down to el Rio Sol/ Saying, 'Oye for real hijo understand'") while encouraging us all to "raise up the one hand and raise up the other".
Then, naturally, there's a track titled Timbuktu, a joint effort between Los Unidades, singer-songwriters Cassper Nyovest and Jess Kent, and UK grime mainstay Stormzy. Again, good intentions are marred, in this instance, by cringey lyrics ("Well, I don't know who you are or where you come from/ But I know that I'd go anywhere with you/ Where the days are always dark or where the sun shone/ Or maybe Timbuktu").
Closer Voodoo concludes the EP with a hodgepodge of African and Latin sonic influences courtesy of an eclectic lineup of collaborators, from David Guetta and Wizkid to Tiwa Savage and Danny Ocean. Though the lyrics do share some characteristics with Coldplay's Magic, we're left wondering why, despite its 10-person-strong writing credits, no one ever questioned the blatant naïveté of the line "Oh, how do you do that voodoo that you do?".
The verdict: While well intentioned, Chris Martin's attempt at We Are The World-style collaboration suffers from a case of too many cooks in the kitchen and hackneyed songwriting. Even if you're a Coldplay fan, spare yourself some disappointment and give this one a pass.
MorMor / Pass The Hours
Operating as MorMor, Toronto native Seth Nyquist made quite an entrance to the music industry last year with his understated, synth-pop-inspired debut EP, Heaven's Only Wishful. (Fun fact: one of the tracks, Whatever Comes To Mind, has made it onto Spotify's "The Most Beautiful Songs In The World" playlist alongside gorgeous gems from massively talented artists like Nick Mulvey, Rhye and Tiny Ruins.) On his latest offering, Pass The Hours, the 26-year-old artist/singer/producer/multi-instrumentalist pairs a breezy indie-rock guitar and a driving bassline with his subdued vocals. "Wouldn't pass the hours close to me?/ I see I can tell, looking closely, don't you wait/ Who will hold me up? I wanna touch the sky" he sings in the slowed down chorus, his voice trailing off in what sounds like the most natural falsetto ever. As with his previous offerings, there's a bittersweet undercurrent that spreads throughout the track. In essence, Pass The Hours is warm, wistful and evocative all at once.
Aof Pongsak / Yood Tee Dai Mai
The veteran Thai balladeer stays firmly on brand with Yood Tee Dai Mai [Please Stop], the first single taken from his seventh studio effort, 100% Aof Pongsak. Set against his usual pop-R&B backdrop, the song finds the undisputed "King Of Drama" telling himself to get out of the toxic relationship in which he's taken for granted. "Please stop now/ Stop thinking/ He doesn't care/ Time to get over him and move on," he implores, using the same breathless vocal phrasing one might recognise from a certain legend called Mariah Carey.
Cat Power / What The World Needs Now
Not only did Cat Power's most recent studio offering, Wanderer, give us one of last year's top singles in the form of the Lana Del Rey-assisted Woman; it also offers up intriguing covers of Rihanna's Stay and Hal David and Burt Bacharach's 1965 classic What The World Needs Now. Here, the singer-songwriter turns the latter into a breezy two-and-a-half minutes of jaunty piano keys and background whistling. "What the world needs now is love, sweet, sweet love/ It's the only thing that there's just too little of," she sings, echoing the ever-relevant sentiment that transcends eras.
Slenderbodies / King
The latest taste of Slenderbodies' forthcoming EP, Soraya, arrives in the form of King, a mid-tempo track that is, despite its title, dedicated to "the strong women in our lives". "You know that I'm hiding/ Can't belong/ Shadows that I'm fighting/ Make me strong," croon the LA-based indie-pop duo over their trademark slick groove and crisp basslines. "This baroness/ She always seems to know/ Best, I bet she's my common sense." Though not quite on par with their smash hit Anemone, in terms of catchiness, King sparkles with gratitude and good intentions.
Charlotte Gainsbourg / Such A Remarkable Day
There's a distinct forward disco momentum behind Charlotte Gainsbourg's Such A Remarkable Day, the lead cut from her new five-track EP, released as a companion piece to her fifth studio record, 2017's Rest, thanks to French producer SebastiAn. "Such a remarkable day/ All for me, thanks to you … There's blood on your hands either way/ How can we ever pay your due?" intones the iconic French singer/actress in the opening verse and the hook that follows. Apart from two other new tracks, Bombs Away and Lost Lenore, the recently dropped EP also features a live version of Rest's Deadly Valentine as well as a live cover of Kanye West's Runaway.