Plants are blooming, the sun shines more often and the darkness is fading. Spring is nearly upon us and to celebrate the changing of seasons GEM’s New Music Friday is back. This week’s edition delves deeper into Justin Bieber’s sixth album ‘Justice’, indie-pop artist MyKey’s latest effort ‘Welcome to the Witching Hour’ and some additions of Jorja Smith, Inhaler and more.
Justin Bieber – Justice
Justin Bieber released his highly anticipated sixth studio album ‘Justice’ through Def Jam Recordings today. In September last year, he released ‘Holy’ featuring Chance the Rapper as the first single off the album, signalling the start of a new era.
The second single ‘Lonely’, a collaboration with benny blanco, followed just after a month and to start his 2021 with a bang, he released ‘Anyone’ on January 1st. Earlier this month, Bieber dropped his fourth single ‘Hold On’ and to celebrate his album release, he uploaded a music video to ‘Peaches’ featuring GIVEON and Daniel Caesar last night, his fifth and final single.
During an interview last month, Bieber told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe that his next album would be deeper and more of a sequel to his fourth studio album ‘Purpose’ from 2015 – and you can definitely hear similarities in the sound. Just like ‘Purpose’, ‘Justice’ includes prominent beats, catchy melodies, and lyrics that seem more personal to Bieber compared to anything else he has put out in a while.
The album starts off with ‘2 Much’, a song about fearing to love someone so much that it could scare them away, with its intro being a famous quote by Martin Luther King Jr.: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Martin Luther King Jr. is making a return on track 7,‘MLK Interlude’, which is an excerpt from a rare sermon of his, titled ‘But If Not’ and originally took place in April 1967. Besides that, none of his tracks mention or have anything to do with the fight for justice, although Bieber claimed before that the album would be his way of showing support to people who have to fight for their rights every day.
Instead of speaking up about those issues, he decided to sing about the love he has for his wife Hailey and how much she helped him conquer his inner demons – yet again. There are four songs – ‘Unstable’ featuring The Kid LAROI, ‘Hold On’, ‘Somebody’ and ‘Ghost’ – that are a bit less specific and more generally worded, as he’s talking about mental health struggles and missing someone close to him, and therefore more relatable than the rest of the album. All in all, ‘Justice’ is a pop album that is definitely worth a listen – and definitely better than ‘Changes’, as Bieber seems to make his way back to his old sound, instead of forcing himself into the R&B genre – but he did not live up to the expectations he set for everyone else months prior to the release.
Written by: Vicky Madzak
Jorja Smith – Addicted
Have you ever felt like you were putting more effort into a relationship than your partner? English singer-songwriter Jorja Smith talks about the frustrating feeling of giving someone all your energy and not receiving the same devotion from the other person in her newest single, ‘Addicted’.
In the intro and the first verse, Smith tells the story from the third-person perspective of a woman creating a distance between herself and the woman in the song: “She just can’t quit it, her heart’s so numb / Hurts to live it, but worse to run”. The lyrics reflect a collective pain that many people go through, which does not apply merely to Smith’s experience. However, throughout the rest of the song, Smith uses pronouns such as “I”, “we” and “you”, which suggests a more personal connection between the singer and the meaning of the lyrics: “You don’t see what I do / I try to defend you”. The frequent repetition of the line “You should be addicted to me” stresses the singer’s frustration and need for love and affection from the other perso
‘Addicted’ is a rhythmic tune, mainly led by the dominant drum cadence throughout the song, which still carries a wistful atmosphere due to Smith’s anguished vocals. Apart from the drums, the musical elements are reduced, which puts focus on the lyrics and Smith’s mellow voice. ‘Addicted’ is a heart-rending song as Smith shares very personal and challenging emotions with the world. However, as Smith it during an Instagram Q&A: “At least you can say your heart was in the right place, and you tried”.
Written by: Alexa Zsigmond
MyKey – Welcome to the Witching Hour
Releasing your second album can be scary. Will it sound good enough? Will it be as popular as the debut? Will the fans love it as much? Many artists worry about it. Mikey Ambrosino, better known as indie-pop kid MyKey, isn’t one of them.
After being discovered on YouTube by indie lovers all around the planet in 2019, the DIY-prodigy has been drip-feeding the world his songs throughout the past two years. Now the 24-year-old singer has returned with his latest full-length adventure ‘Welcome to the Witching Hour’, an album that once again sees him tap into a deep sense of empathy and emotion in every single one of the records’ marvellous tracks.
Fun and playful with every song that finds its way to the listener’s ears and heart, the album is quick to pull you back to a time when your younger self used to wake up early on a school-free day to watch your favourite cartoons. While songs like ‘Madly’, ‘Graveyard Blues’ and ‘Kneepads’ lure you into endless fields of lo-fi synth beats, gritty electrics and vocal goodness, tracks like ‘Vin Diesel’ and ‘Emily’ take a step back to MyKey’s roots, with an enchanting guitar telling tales of lost loves and monsters under the stairs. Backed by the talented music-wizards Marinelli and The Lonely God, every track serves as its own magical rollercoaster that many will line up to get a taste of again and again.
Mystical and as fairytale-like as you can get, ‘Welcome to the Witching Hour’ is a delight from start to finish and a definite staple for everyone who likes their albums to feel like epic sagas that turn into generation-to-generation handovers. Releasing your second album into the world might have its own ghosts sometimes, but they may just turn into friends if you give them a chance, as MyKey himself likes to sing “I hear a knocking and I’m going down there / I’m not afraid anymore”.
Written by: Laura Weingrill
Daniel Santiago featuring Eric Clapton – Open World
For his first collaboration, Brazilian native Daniel Santiago teamed up with English rocker icon Eric Clapton to create ‘Open World’. At first, this combination may seem like two completely different worlds clashing, and you might ask yourself: ‘How is this going to work?’ But it works spectacularly.
‘Open World’ is a groovy song about love, freedom and the hope for an open world: “I’m high up in the heavens / Don’t think I’ll come down at all / For all will be forgiven / This love feels supernatural”. ‘Open World’ immediately starts with a steady beat and memorable electric guitar melodies – especially Clapton’s electric guitar solo towards the end lends the song a rocky touch. Santiago’s soothing vocals, which seem to be layered, initiate the song’s dreamy and light-hearted vibe. The English guitarist’s smooth bends support the overall carefree atmosphere that the song carries. ‘Open World’ might be the perfect song to feel the breezy spring vibe we are seeking, and it is almost impossible not to bob your head synchronously to the rhythm.
Written by: Alexa Zsigmond
Inhaler – Cheer Up Baby
“Cheer up baby”, because indie rock band Inhaler is back with a new single. The Irish foursome recently released the video for the brand-new song ‘Cheer Up Baby’. The chorus of the song, “Cheer up baby / You’re not on your own / Sinking like a stone”, talks about mental health issues and being stuck in your own head – feelings many people have been dealing with during these times of lockdowns and solitariness.
In an interview with NME, Inhaler said that the song “is a love letter to all our fans who are feeling isolated”. Inhaler’s indie-rock-pop DNA runs through ‘Cheer Up Baby’ and is a fantastic addition to their already impressive discography. The track will, alongside ten other songs, be a part of the band’s forthcoming album ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’, which will be released this summer on July 16. The track list consists of new songs, as well as ones earlier gracing our earbuds– we can’t wait to hear the album as a whole!
Written by: Ine Vanvuchelen
Jacob Whitesides – afraid to die
The first of a year-long of monthly releases, ‘afraid to die’ sets a promising pattern for Jacob Whitesides’ newest project as an indie artist.
Tapping into the topic of mental health once more, Whitesides is brutally honest right from the start, singing “I don’t think that I wanna die / I think I’m just scared to be alive” in the opening lines. The lyrics coexist with a beat that perfectly encapsulates them, flowing from one verse to the other as it captures you inside of a bubble of numbness that will eventually pop by the time you get to the end, pulling you back from the stillness you had become familiar to.
Following a winning formula that’s reminiscent of his previous release ‘Demons’, the outro features an unexpected twist at the right time and place, leading you to the end with a deeper, more obscure tone.
All in all, the track showcases an overall sense of maturity and a sensibility that comes from Whitesides’ awareness of his own emotions.‘afraid to die’ is vulnerable, honest, and most definitely worth a listen.
Written by: Benns Borgese
Lauran Hibberd – How Am I Still Alive (feat. Lydia Night)
“Ring Ring, hello, I’m not at your service it’s my answerphone” rings in a track filled with pure-punk-pop excellence. English indie favourite Lauran Hibberd teams up with The Regrettes’ lead singer Lydia Night to create a momentum of perfect angsty-indifference and slight contempt of all the actions “Michael” brings along.
‘How Am I Still Alive’ could be the premise of an upcoming indie-coming-of-age movie. An edgier more grungy version of ‘The Edge of Seventeen’ would fill our screens if the record would ever be translated to a video format. If it would grace us the way that Hibberd and Night’s vocals align and create the incredible balance of light and deep sounds, it would be another cult-indie for the ages.
Lauran Hibberd and The Regrettes are both living in the same music spheres and with their joined song ‘How Am I Still Alive’ they have made us realise that this is exactly what the world needs and more. It is fun and catchy seeped through with angst and the perfect track to listen on a loop for the weeks yet to come.
Written by: Lauren Dehollogne