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The best (and worst) new singles this week: Big Thief, Harvey Sutherland and more

Four Tet's Kieran Hebden is featured under another moniker, while Merpire's got new music out.

Single of the Week

KH

Only Human (Text Records/Ministry of Sound)

KH is Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet. ‘Only Human’ is centred on a Nelly Furtado vocal sample. A veteran remixer, Hebden grabs the four-line hook from Furtado’s Timbaland-produced ‘Afraid’, speeding it up, sticking it on loop and surrounding it with muscular dancefloor percussion. Despite the compound pseudonyms and likely rigmarole of gaining sample clearance, ‘Only Human’ is nimble and joyously refreshing.

Merpire

Lately (Independent)

There’s a mid-‘90s FM radio vibe to Merpire’s ‘Lately’. Loud-quiet-loud is the formula and it goes down a treat. The lean verses place Merpire’s unmasked vocals over a lightly jangling electric guitar. It’s mid-tempo and reflective, not quite Alanis Morissette but not a million miles away. A firm squelch bolsters the chorus; the dynamic shift is like upgrading from a Razor scooter to a Vespa.

Big Thief

UFOF (4AD)

Confusion and withdrawal symptoms accompany the wait between Big Thief releases, but ‘UFOF’ – the title track from the band’s forthcoming third LP – delivers a full body fix. The vast electric guitars that featured on 2017’s Capacity are absent, replaced by picking acoustic orchestration that recalls Radiohead via Minnie Riperton. Adrianne Lenker’s vocals skate above the surface, performing pirouettes and triple axels with unflinching ease.

Harvey Sutherland

Something in the Water (Clarity Recordings/Caroline)

After implanting himself in neo-jazz land on last year’s ‘Amethyst’ / ‘I Can See’ release, Harvey Sutherland teams up with fellow Melburnian Jace XL for a brightly coloured party jam. Released in the middle of an unforgiving heatwave, ‘Something in the Water’ isn’t utter escapism. “Governments ignore the signs, thinking about the bottom line,” sings XL, an unambiguous rebuke of climate change inaction. But built around a compelling Latin funk groove, the track still conveys optimism.