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The best (and worst) new singles this week: Chitra, Little Simz, and more

Fontaines D.C. and Arno Faraji also feature.

Single of the Week:

Chitra 

Better Than Before (Our Golden Friend)

There’s no shortage of songs signalling frustration or regret at unwanted emotional intervention. On ‘Better Than Before’, Melbourne’s Chitra approaches the subject with off-hand resignation – “Not caring must not be my thing”. The arrangement pairs the tropes of classic singer-songwriter balladry with a sort of casual lethargy. Chitra is a gifted vocalist, resembling Angel Olsen or Julia Jacklin in how easily she shifts into her high register. As a result ‘Better Than Before’ has a calming quality despite the emotional complexity at its core.

Fontaines D.C. 

Too Real (Partisan)

This is shaggy, loose and dead serious. There’s an art-punk quality to Dublin’s Fontaines D.C., which is on full display in ‘Too Real’. Although capable of making a loud and direct impact, the band strays from conventional structure in verses with an improvised quality. But while improvisation may have played a role in its initial construction, the finished product seems custom built to instil a feeling of challenging uncertainty. It’s a song that asks you to rise to its level – high octane, questioning and unpredictable.

Little Simz 

Boss
(Age 101)

At 24, Little Simz is only just leaning into the prime of her young career. The London MC doesn’t lack for confidence so rather than rolling out empty boasts, she sublimates her self-belief into a tantalising brand of 21st-century hip hop. Despite her origins, Simz isn’t inclined towards grime, road rap or trap. With its big distorted drum beat and propulsive, squash-court bass groove, there’s a classic flavour to ‘Boss’ – the lyrics even include a nod to Kanye’s ‘Touch the Sky’ to further contextualise Simz’s creative coordinates. Forget ‘Ye though; Little Simz is one 2018’s most exciting voices.

Arno Faraji 

Things Change (Independent)

R&B and rap combine on a song that’s far closer to Drake than Biggie. The lead vocal is fit for mainstream consumption and starts to grate after a few listens. The real drawcard here is Faraji’s budding prowess as an MC. The Perth-based teenager lays out intimate details of declining personal relationships, manoeuvring around the laidback production with feline agility.