Caller ID: Track Roundup — 11/14/21

Welcome to Caller ID, Ringtone Mag's track review column!

3 album covers featured in the story

Never Coming Back” — Alice Longyu Gao

Alice Longyu Gao’s recent EP release High Dragon and Universe smartly places this track in the middle almost as a booster shot for the fiery, 13 minute in length project. The sharp needle that it is, it gets in and out of the skin in a snappy 1minute and 48 seconds, making for the shortest song on the EP and one that you’ll be looping to extract every juicy instrumental flair out of.

“Never Coming Back” packs a toasty guitar riff lining the drums’ hypnotic timbre. Gao builds up a tempo with the guitar that crashes in a crescendo around her piping voice somehow squeezing out to the top of the dogpile’s sonic layers. Blink and you won’t even see it dart by, so keep your eyes and ears piqued for when this song, and her entire EP, comes a-knockin’.

— Dylan Robinson

Comedown” — That Kid

It feels hard to select just one sampling out of That Kid’s illustriously brimming EP Comedown, but I seriously couldn’t name a better capstone to such a gravitational project than this. That Kid usually mystifies with decadent vocal stylings that’s hard to come by from anyone else in the sphere. This entire project is no different. Adventurous and even ethereal at points, every track on the record lays down autotuned majesty, overclocked to just the right degree in being sweet for the ears.

Zeroing in on just “Comedown” as a single helps reveal what makes this LP tick and I feel it mostly comes… down to how That Kid grounds his instrumental musings in the thickness of the percussion while remaining lofty in the mix with vocals and synths that rise above. Definitely a project worth checking out if even for the starring single alone.

— Dylan Robinson

She Drives a Harley” — Riley The Musician

“She Drives a Harley” is the latest single from Riley The Musician, also known as Ana Kennedy, off her upcoming record Montana. The track opens with the clicking of analog equipment, perhaps a cassette tape loading into a deck. These noises blend into the opening notes of the driving synth melody. Kennedy has repeatedly demonstrated her ability to create earworm-y pop melodies, and this song is yet another banger of an example. Lyrically, it is a melancholy love letter, and whether the sentiment is directed at another person or the singer herself is pleasantly unclear. “You have become the bridge between what is real and what is strange”. Kennedy’s sound is defined by the striking clarity of her vocals. Her smooth midwestern annunciation is undercut by some intentionally stammered vowels.

The sound drops out just before bringing the listener to a hopeful emotional crescendo. The bridge is full of shimmery indie pop synths, evocative of MGMT. While listening, I am transported to an open, endless, wintery highway. I’m not in a summer road trip movie, this is a cool girl song — it’s called “She Drives a Harley” after all. The drive is not aimless, I know exactly where I’m heading now. It’s maybe even a little sad, but everything is going to be okay. Montana comes out on Nov. 19.

— Perry Gregory

Popstar” — Miss Madeline, POLO PERKS <3 <3 <3

Despite this only being the second track in Miss Madeline’s repertoire featuring a collab, she makes it seem as though she was born for this very moment. “Popstar” is stripped back in a flirty R&B vibe, this time around compared to Madeline’s previous work with Ayla D’lyla in the dancey “Life Could Be Sweet.” The simple beat allows Miss Madeline to glide through the track with her well-established glossy rolls of the tongue, especially when the chorus hits.

Once POLO PERKS kicks in with his strapping rap verses, it naturally slips in and out paced well against Madeline’s higher register. The track’s songwriting is adorned with her usual clever wordplay and an excellent chorus that loops back in on itself delicately. I think it’s a great addition to her catalogue and only stokes me for what’s to come next.

— Dylan Robinson

New Shapes” — Charli XCX, Christine and the Queens, Caroline Polachek

Now, I don’t think Charli or my obsession with her really requires an introduction at this point (see my whole article gushing about her in place of that), but this new era she’s crashing into certainly does. Explicitly ferocious hyperpop of Pop 2 to How I’m Feeling Now might be on the backburner for now, yet that doesn’t mean she isn’t heating us up in new ways (more like new shapes) in the meantime prior to March 2022’s imminent release of Crash.

I probably won’t be saying much here that you haven’t already decided for yourself about the recent single “New Shapes feat. Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek,” so just know it’s great and one I’m earnestly looking forward to seeing its place in the wider album. I wasn’t too thrilled on the '80s inspo and snappy, anthemic drums at first, but I heavily adore the features on this one and feel Charli has something great she’s putting on a slow boil for now. For now, at least the album art and music videos are banging!

— Dylan Robinson

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