Best Albums of 2015 So Far (That I Missed)

I’m human. Believe it or not, the pinnacle of dickhead that is I am prone to fucking up. I can only pump out one horrible 500 word review every now and then, and as such, have missed out on some pretty incredible records. Other sites offer up the #content, sure, but I feel bad that I haven’t been able to personally deliver a small, spelling-error-stuffed, profanity-laden review of some amazing records that I think others should hear about. For some reason or other, I never posted about them at their time of release, and I’m genuinely bummed that I didn’t offer my two cents whilst the iron was hot, or whatever the phrase is. So, basically, here’s the good stuff that I missed that you shouldn’t:

1. The Living Eyes – Living Large


2. Screaming Females – Rose Mountain

3. Heart Beach – Heart Beach

4. Love of Diagrams – Blast

5. Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper


6. METZ – II

7. Jess Locke – Words That Seem to Slip Away

8. Dollar Bar – Hot Ones

9. Twerps – Range Anxiety


10. Marlon Williams – Marlon Williams

11. Sharon Van Etten – I Don’t Want to Let You Down EP

12. Grenadiers – Summer

13. Clowns – Bad Blood


14. Blur – The Magic Whip

15. Joanna Gruesome – Peanut Butter

16. Thee Oh Sees – Mutilator Defeated At Last

17. Superstar – Table For Two


18. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love

19. Kangaroo Skull – Palace of Nothing

20. Oh Mercy – When We Talk About Love

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New: Twerps – Shoulders

CAN YA FEEEL IT? CAN YOU FEEEEL IT? Besides practicing for my try out as a WWE commentator, I’ve been curled up in the fetal position as well, just waiting for the new Twerps album to drop. Sure, they satisfied the hunger with the release of the magnificent ‘Underlay’ EP, but it’s just not the same as typing LP.

They released the bouncy and brilliant pop opus “Back to You’ a few weeks back, and they’ve followed up with “Shoulders”, which shows the other side of Twerps. There’s the funny, wholesome twee Twerps, and then there’s the side that encapsulates modern suburban agony. “Shoulders” sweepingly succeeds in the latter, with a poignant, brave call to arms to sit atop their shoulders, even in the face of getting older.

‘Range Anxiety’ comes out on January 23rd on Chapter Music. Keener for this than seeing fanboys riot over Ben Affleck’s performance as Batman. Also, big congrats to these guys for getting announced on the Burgerama Four Show! Getting to play with Weezer, J Mascis, JEFF the Brotherhood, Roky Erikson and Madlib. Fuarkin’ crazy!

Video: Twerps – Back to You

Praise the jangle Gods! Twerps have announced that they’re going to be bringing out a new record next year! As you (should) all know, Twerps have released a bunch of records that can only be described as the inner thoughts of every 20 something, sighed over powerfully relaxed guitar lines.

They’ve dropped the first taste of the record a couple hours back, and it’s called “Back to You”. According to my iTunes library, other bands with a song called “Back to You” includes Woollen Kits, Bloods and Something for Kate. So, pretty good company there.

As usual, Twerps’ musical style has slightly evolved, but maintained their impossibly catchy hooks and bouncy coolness. Accompanied by a slideshow of various colourful backdrops of Melbourne, “Back To You” involves that signature self-doubting but who-gives-a-shit theme that anchor all the best Twerps songs (“Dreamin”, “Who Are You”, “Work It Out” etc.). The inclusion of a very cool child-like synth line, crashing over the top of a gorgeous guitar riff that’s pretty much the Go-Betweens on an overdose of Prozac.

Absolutely cannot fucking wait for the new Twerps record, out Jan 23rd on Chapter Music and Merge Records. Also, they’re supporting Belle & Sebastian on their Aussie tour. I’m so happy I could contribute to society!

Album Review: Twerps – Underlay EP

We live in a cruel, cruel world. Intolerable, really. There’s no words to describe the kind of pain and suffering we go through. I mean, what kind of just God puts so many painstaking months between each stunning release from Twerps? A year on from their triumphant ‘Work It Out 7″, we’ve been graced with the perfection that is the ‘Underlay EP’.

Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to become unhealthily obsessed with Twerps. At their sold-out Red Rattler show, a guy stage-dived during ‘Dreamin’, and was trying to start mosh-pits for the majority of the show. Mosh pits!? At a Twerps show!? Bit of a dipshit move, obviously, but it just proves the point that people are being driven to the point of insanity by Twerps’ music.

I mean, it might have all started with that dolewave thing. Man, fuck dolewave. If your band sets out to make a dolewave record, give up, go home, that’s probably the most suicidal way of starting a band I’ve ever heard. Your music will suck, as you’ll constantly be repeating the phrase WWDDD (What Would Dick Diver Do) to yourselves, and crushing any and all hope of originality and creating something good to listen to. Instead, look at Twerps, or Dick Diver, or The Ocean Party. These are not “dolewave” groups, they’re just bands bounded together by amazing lyrics and a knack for strumming a guitar. The ‘Underlay EP’ is a perfect example of how Twerps succeed that bullshit pigeonholing, and prove themselves (as if they hadn’t already) to be one of Australia’s most bonafide lovely bands to listen to.

“Heavy Hands” starts off the record, a thing that almost puts the catchiness of “He’s In Stock” to shame. It’s got a riff as perky as the wind of St Kilda, and a chorus of defeatism that screams relatability to every single shit-kicking nobody on the face of this planet. What kind of rare song has the ability to be catchy as a case of herpes in a porn shoot AND actually speak to disenchanted and maligned? Not since Big Star, right?

The genius doesn’t stop there. There’s the Little Miss Muffet-esque “Conditional Report”, and “Hypocrite”, a lovely love song which is the audible equivalent of an aimless Sunday arvo with a VB in hand, an existential crisis on par with deciding whether to eat a mouldy sausage or not. Twerps manage to remain disarmingly charming, and yet put every shred of heart on their sleeves, and speak with soft passion. Not to remove myself too far from my ocker writing personality (my Mac just brings out the bi-polar in me, fuck you Jobs) but the voices of Marty and Jules are packed with subtlety, and every time something occurs, the enjoyment of the music is slightly marred with a questioning of what they could be talking about. For such simple music, Twerps pack themselves with questions.

Take for example the standout track “Consecutive Seasons”. Under a bubbling jangle guitar/bass line a song which features the lines “I don’t wanna sing Dreamin’/it’s lost every single meaning/I’m so damn sick of it all”. Are you serious? Did Marty just nonchalantly and gorgeously dust off a line about how one of his band’s most famous songs is bullshit? What? Are bands allowed to do that? Are they allowed to shoot themselves in the foot like that? Or are Twerps a bunch of psychics, and foresaw a dipshit nearly derail that same song at the Rattler, by constantly knocking into me with a repeated phrase of “Sorry bro, but hey, you know how it is!”

To be blunt, the magic of Twerps is that they always manage to scrape together songs that are as ramshackle, and dusty as the engine of a rusty ute in Darwin, and yet they’re absolutely flawless pieces of songwriting and pop structure. And when I say flawless, I mean, there is absolutely no holes to be poked in there. Nothing. There’s nothing bad to say about this album, or the band. I mean, some Skrillex-muncher might think they’re boring, and that the lyrics, “have too many words,” and, “not enough sick drops”, but for those who can appreciate a decent grasp of musicianship, as well as honest, humorous and endearing reflections of Australian culture, then there’s nowhere to go but Twerps.

You can buy the ‘Underlay EP’ here through Chapter Music’s Bandcamp. It’s recommended to get on the vinyl/cassettes quickly, as they will vamoose faster than a Cronulla Sharks player getting asked for a drug test.

Gig Review: Mac DeMarco w/ Twerps

After this photo was taken, we made sweet love in a villa in Eastern Jamaica*

Thursday, 12th December @ The Standard

May as well start this bleary review by saying that Mac DeMarco put on a gig worthy of the almighty Top 10 of the year. That’s right, some no-name numbskull, that every blog from Pitchfork to Polaroids of Androids seems to adore, was one of my favourite things to see with my own eyes that was musically related. Put it somewhere between a repeat viewing of Spinal Tap and The Stooges. Yeah, it was pretty fucking great. Here’s why:

FOISTLY, Twerps one of my all-time favourite recent Australian bands (thoroughly confused yet?) were opening the bill for our lovely Canadian compatriot Mac. Actually, Destiny 3000 (one of the best up-n-coming Sydney bands of 2013, check ’em out here) opened up the whole show, but because I live a demised life, I missed their set. By all accounts, they played really great, which is no surprise, because they are better than sex followed by pancakes.

Anyway, back to Twerps.  They don’t come up to Sydney all that often, which is a total bummer and a money-saver, because I would see them every time they came. It seemed that not a whole lot of people in the audience knew who Twerps were, or at least the punters I was surrounded by, but by the end of the set, everyone in the crowd was fucking enthralled.

I say fucking enthralled because Twerps put on just the greatest of sets. The set was mostly leaning on new material, a whole slew of stuff coming from their upcoming sophomore record making appearances. Judging by the mixed expressions of awe, shock and the sudden realisation that the only way to spiritual one-ness is to follow this band to the ends of the earth that adorned most attendees’ faces, the new material worked a charm.

Not that the established stuff didn’t hit the mark either, far from it. Opener ‘Dreamin’ captured everyone’s attention immediately and set the performance at a cracking pace (a paradox because of the songs’ silkier-than-a-waterborne-sealion nature, but you get the point). And newer hits off their triple A-side single that came out last year, ‘Work It Out’ and ‘He’s In Stock’ were so thoroughly charming, you’d swear Marty was a goddamn Disney prince.

So, Twerps have walked off stage, and I’m at a crossroads, because in my mind, in absolutely no way have they played long enough. No, my body craves Twerps like teenage pop idols crave tabloid attention. Mac DeMarco could have bailed on the show right then, and I would’ve gone home happy. But no! He had to rock up with his band, ALLLL the way from fucking Canada and make sure I had one of the best nights of my year.

DeMarco gets on stage with the band and starts acting like he’s been in the country for his entire life, with the quick ease and intimacy that would put any comedian to shame. Did I mention this guy’s fucking funny? Throughout the night, he spat beer into the audience (in good humour), spouted about Einstein and how ‘…everything’s relative…’, and there was kind of an extended part about fucking various band members’ mums. Oh yeah, and he has the greatest radio voice of our generation. Someone get Alan Jones to fuck off and replace him with Mac DeMarco.

If it had just been the comedy and word jousting, I probably would’ve left a very happy man. But these dudes added music on top of it! And it was really, really good music! Like, really, really good! Think an amalgamation of The Idiot/Lust for Life-era Iggy Pop crossed with The Rolling Stones in their drug fucked Exile On Main Street days, and then sprinkle some Screamadelica-level Primal Scream over that already mouth-watering delicacy. You do realise I’ve just rattled off three prominent artists at their artist peaks, and this fucking dude goes and combines all that shit into an orgasm inducing bender? You do realise I’ve just done that, right?

Anyway, you may have heard a couple of his tracks getting bounced around, stuff like ‘Ode to Viceroy’, ‘My Kind of Woman’, and of course, ‘Freaking Out the Neighbourhood’. All of these were above and beyond good, making the crowd shake and our lungs work overtime to try and reciprocate the lust vibes emanating from DeMarco.

However, the most interesting aspect of the music was how it became so alive on stage. When listening to it on record, you sort of get this weirdly awesome haze hanging over it, but in the flesh, the haze is replaced with a full-blown sleaze rock accent. Everything becomes a little more corrupted and amazing to witness. People even were moshing and crowd surfing, to music that sounds as though it was made as bong smoke filled every corner of the recording studio. Thats an amazing sort of reaction to garner, and DeMarco responded thusly, even stage diving into the crowd during ‘I’m A Man’, and inviting Marty from Twerps to do the same.

But DeMarco sure know how to save the best for last, a medley of unrelated by stunning covers. There was ‘Taking Care of Business’, ‘Rollercoaster of Lover’, ‘Enter Sandman’, and a back to back of Back in Black’ and ‘Thunderstruck’, all played with the shambolic and fun attitude that made Mac DeMarco a unique and fucking invigorating thing to watch.

So, to summarise, Twerps were awesome and Mac DeMarco waas really awesome. There was simply just too much awesome in a single room for a night. It was not good, I had awesome in my clothes, I smelled of it for days after. I fucking hate awesome stuff. Goddamit Mac DeMarco and Twerps, why you gotta ruin my pessimistic existence?

*This sentence is in absolutely no way, shape or form a representation of anything resembling truth 😦

New: Boomgates-Widow Maker

Fuck yeah, if new Boomgates doesn’t make your morning, then there is no hope for you. Boomgates, the anti-supergroup, have just put out the first bit of new material, and it’s appropriately titled ‘Widow Maker’. No, its not some Mad Max Thunderdome dune buggy covered in metal spikes, nor is it a doom metal masterpiece. Instead its the usual Boomgates affair. Breezy like going commando in gale force winds, looser than a rugby superstar post-successful grand-final, and more infectious than any disease found in the basin of the Amazon rainforest. ‘Widow Maker’, like every Boomgates track, carries an everyday beauty with it, something that will make the average Joe turn their head a full 180-degrees, and do a comical scrabble to marry this song, logical fallacies be damned!

New: The Stevens-Hindsight

Chapter Music have had a better year than the cast of FRIENDS after Season 3: they’ve released albums by Dick Diver, Pikelet and The Cannanes. But hands down, hands fucking down, this new song from The Stevens is the best thing to come all year. Don’t think that I’m saying that lightly either-I love Standish/Carlyon’s album just as much as the next darkwave obsessor. But ‘Hindsight’ is more catchy than a baseball made out of candy floss hit by Babe Ruth. This song is something that you need to own. It encapsulates the whole Melbourne dreary-pop sound so fucking well, with the beautiful jangle, the down-and-out vocals/lyrics and the general Charlie Brown post-getting-punched-in-the-nuts vibes. This song will make tears well in your eyes, a smile splatter across your ugly mug, and your face will roll around in its neck socket like a bobblehead figure. ‘Hindsight’ is….beyond words good.

‘Hindsight’ is the first single from The Stevens’ debut record ‘A History of Hygiene’, coming out on Chapter Music on November 1st. You need to get that record, but you should also definitely buy their EP that they put out earlier this year. It’s got the Mikey Young seal, and it sounds stunners.

 

HSC Trials Study Playlist

A lot of people are struggling with the Trials at the moment. I’ll make this brief: here’s a bunch of music that you can study to and will hopefully help you not fail. Nothing too weird or unsightly, nothing energetic, just really smooth relaxing music that will put you in a good mood and help you not go on a killing spree. 

1. Hebronix-Unliving

2. Twerps-Who Are You

3. Bearhug-Cinema West

4. Nite Jewel-One Second of Love

5. Modest Mouse-Baby Blue Sedan

6. High Highs-Open Season

7. Telling-Stella

8. The Beta Band-She’s the One For Me

9. The Flaming Lips-Do You Realize??

10. Elliot Smith-Ballad of Big Nothing

11. Portishead-The Rip

12. Elvis Depressedly-I’m Never Going to Understand

13. Laura Marling-Ghosts

14. Dick Diver-Water Damage

15. Shining Bird-Distant Dreaming

16. Ciggie Witch-Back Aches

17. I’lls-To: All the Blurred

18. Naysayer & Gilsun-In Mind (feat. Simon Lam)

19. Chet Faker- I’m Into You

Gig Review: At First Sight Festival

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Saturday, 20th July @ Carriageworks, Redfern

At First Sight Festival, a festival made up of local talent and co-presented by FBI Radio and the venue, was a good idea on paper, and an even better idea when seen in execution. Equal parts record fair and music festival, set in Redfern’s Carriageworks, it was an absolute awesome spectacle to take part in. It succeeded in an environment that has seen so many festivals fail. In the pst 12 months, OutsideIn Festival and At First Sight Festival are the only debut festivals in the Australian market that haven’t folded or completely fucked up. Movement, Parklife, Supafest-these are just some of the few that have been fucked. But At First Sight completely exceeded expectations and even managed to sell out it’s series of concerts, in it’s debut year nonetheless. It could’ve been the bands, made up of local acts either from Melbourne or Sydney, that gave a very communal and Australian feel to the festival. It could’ve been the relaxed and take-it-as-it-comes vibes that flowed the entire time, turning the crowd into a consistently respectful and appreciative audience. For example, when Marty from Twerps broke a string, a guitar from another band was instantly fed up to him, regardless of the fact that they had a back-up ready. It could’ve been the awesome unearthing atmosphere that surrounded the entire event, as in both the record fair, and festival, music fans of all persuasions dug up incredibly rare treasures. Or it could’ve been a culmination of all these things. Yeah, it was probably a culmination.

Unfortunately, I missed the first part of the festival, and although I’m kicking myself about that, I can’t continue without at least mentioning the great contingent of acts that swept past my gaze. Day Ravies, Holy Balm, Client Liaison, and Shining Bird are all awesome acts worthy of checking out, and I’m sure they all put on killer performances. However, I was too busy indulging in being a dickhead and eating brunch/scoring Pussy Galore’s ‘Dial M For Motherfucker’ for $20 to see them, and for that I am sorry, awesome Sydney/Melbourne bands.

So, for the first act of the day, Straight Arrows had to suffice. I say suffice, but in reality, they were a kick-arse, bruised balls start to a festival that no average coffee from a breakfast spot in Redfern could hope to replicate. Although the crowd was slightly sparse, Straight Arrows’ frontman Owen Penglis gave it his absolute all, shouting and screaming his raucous garage-punk with the tenacity of a stubborn Velociraptor, between half-retarded gimmicks to get the attendees to buy their shit…it worked. The set mostly veered towards the material off their debut ‘It’s Happening’, with ‘Bad Temper’, ‘Haunted Out’ and “Something Happens‘ standouts. However, new song ‘Never Enough’ did make an appearance, which was fuggin’ awesome.

Next was Songs, also from Sydney. They’ll be playing Splendour in the Grass next weekend, and one of their members used to be in Youth Group, who had that song/cover ‘Forever Young’ (don’t even fucking pretend you don’t know every word). However, the un-Google-able Songs don’t really play the pop-centric la-di-da of Youth Group (but then again, WHO DOES AMIRITE?). Songs are shoegaze with a cohesive edge, with slurred, rhythmic pulses shooting out from the band constantly. Live, songs like ‘Boy/Girl’ develop personality, with the body of the song shifting into overdriven waves that hit the audience with undeiniable energy. Although Songs hit a few bumps early on, with their opener conking out due to a lack of sound from singer Ela Stiles’ bass, their set steadily built into a highly enjoyable tale of purist sound.

After Songs came Super Wild Horses, from Melbun. Although the members Amy Franz and Hayley McKee started out with the premise of forming a band, and then learning instruments, their bare-bones rock n roll was something that would make Jack White drop his guts. Despite being pretty exposed, and sporting a case of bronchitis, Super Wild Horses were on top of their game. They shifted instruments, they were entertaining and friendly and their stage banter reflected a very down-to-earth band. Musically upbeat, and bluesy in the happiest way possible, recent hit ‘Alligators’ off their 2013 album ‘Crosswords’ proved to be a crowd favourite. Oh yeah, and they had the world’s tightest snare onstage. That thing could shatter glass it was so taught.

When Super WIld Horses finished up, Beaches took the stage. Beaches is a group of five ordinary girls who make amazing reverb-saturated shoegaze. If Songs were the shoegaze band that brought everything together in a body of music, then Beaches were the band that exploded that apart. Every member would shoot off a tendril with their own musical direction, creating a very complex and layered musical experience. Although it took them a while to hit the stage, due to one of the amps being blown, when they did, minds were blown. Beaches set mostly showed off a range of tracks from their recent album ‘She Beats’, including the amaze-balls ‘Send Them Away’ and ‘Distance’, and it was a blasphemously great experience. Although the mix was slightly fucked up, Beaches still delivered a killer performance, that see’s them out savaging Savages. Bonus points are awarded because one of the girls was wearing a Drown Under t-shirt.

After Beaches blistering set came Sydney pysch-garage band The Laurels. Having seen them previously in support of The Black Angels a month or so ago, I knew that we were in for a treat. Still, they brought more than the usual ragamuffin behaviour, with the band being everywhere at once on the small stage. Headbanging, pedals and washed out machinations of sound were the calling cards of the performance, as well as a stellar ‘Changing the Timeline’. It looked pretty fuggin’ brutal and exactly how I imagined a Burnt Ones show might go. Fuck me, I was very proud that a band of such awesome magnitude called Sydney home.

So, what better way to follow The Laurels psychedelic masterpiece than Twerps, the painfully original slacker pop band from Melbourne. Fun Fact: Twerps are Jessica Alba’s favourite band. Does that matter for anything? No, no it does not. Well, maybe it raises Jessica Alba from soul-sucking scum to mildly annoying piece of shit. Anyway, Twerps are a band that everyone who isn’t terrible should love. They sound like they don’t try, but end up up coming up as a better version of Camper van Beethoven, or the Australian Neutral Milk Hotel. Yes, they are better than Jeff Magnum. Maybe it’s because they’re uniquely Australian and it feels good to hear Australians sing about Australian shit, but it goes further than that, as every bit of material Twerps have put out in their very, very short career is absolutely amazing. They proved that straight away with both tracks off their Work It Out 7″ being amongst the first songs they played that night, as well as the closest thing Twerps would call a hit, ‘Dreamin’. All these tracks are supremely different: ‘Work it Out’ is the break-up anthem to end all break-up anthems (Morrissey can shut the hell up), ‘He’s In Stock’ a drug deal ode, and ‘Dreamin’ a modern, morbid Aussie fairytale. However, they all kick considerable butthole. There was even a trio of new songs, most of which remained un-named except for one with a ‘working title’ known as ‘something something something Bondi Junction’ (it was really fucking long, I couldn’t remember most of it). As for the band, well, cheap sweaters and plastic heart necklaces, goofy smiles and goofier cliche rock manoeuvres are all the standard in a Twerps performance. It was an actually an honour to witness the greatness of Twerps in live format, and blew my mind of all expectations, my brain littering the various expanses of the Carriageworks. Their closer of ‘Who Are You’, performed with the help of the ladies of Super Wild Horses and Beaches was a spectacular finish that was completely unexpected and very well received, the 3 bands rocking Sydney like only Melbournites could.

To finish out the night were headliners HTRK (pronounced Haterock, I guarantee you’ll feel like a twat once someone inevitably corrects you). Their doomy ‘n gloomy disco was highly divisive in my mind. Whilst at some points it seemed to muddle and drone on unnecessarily, the rest of HTRK’s set was composed of incredibly intoxicating electronica. There were a few moments, such as the gothy and drained ‘Synthetik’, in which my face involuntarily twisted into a shocked o-face. HTRK’s creepy loops and spine-tingling darkness shrouded their music in intrigue, but as a performance it was mediocre, and I checked the time a couple times extra than usual. Still, a HTRK performance was still a moment of triumph in a day’s worth of extraordinary and diverse music.

I’ll reiterate what I said in the introduction: At First Sight was a crowd-pleaser and was especially awesome at succeeding in the same area that so many others, with arguably much bigger and better lineups, had drastically failed. Then again, who needs Nas or 50 Cent when you’ve got Twerps on the lineup?

Scott & Charlene’s Wedding-Lesbian Wife (free download)

‘Lesbian Wife’ is a title that will disappoint a lot of people. Thousands upon thousands of horny 13 year olds/recently confused husbands will type that phrase into Google, looking for 2 minutes of satisfaction, only to find…this brand new and amazing Scott & Charlene’s Wedding.

Scott & Charlene’s Wedding is a band from Melbourne, that have fucking exploded since their signing to Fire Records in England. It’s the same fucking label that Guided by Voices are on, how could shit not go perfectly for a slacker pop band? Regardless, Scott & Charlene’s Wedding have put in the hard yards and their more recent stuff, such as previous single ‘Fakin’ NYC’, is a nice build up from the older material on ‘Para Vista Social Club’.

Anyway, back to ‘Lesbian Wife’ and horny boys. ‘Lesbian Wife’ features the jangly guitar and deadpan vocals that we’ve come to expect from the band, but the song carries a little bit more weight than that. Sure, the swashbuckling narrative of the everyman done in blow-by blow-form that is favoured by Scott & Charlene’s Wedding  (as well as other exploding Aussie talents like Twerps and Dick Diver) is there, but there seems to be more confidence and prowess behind the song that pushes it from simple my-girlfriend-dumped-me territory, to a well-worn gem that the band should be more than proud of. Excellent lyrics (‘Keep on keepin’ on is my favourite song/that’s what I do, even when I’m wrong/on the outside I feel old, but I still don’t do what I’m told), a superb chorus that you’ll be singing to your grave, and the amount of fun and realism balanced with musical genius to ensure that it panders to even the most Calvin Harris-esque of fans.