Adele joked that her return would be a drum’n’bass album, but (thankfully) the majestic comeback single at least does not make good on that. Fortunately, PinkPantheress has delivered the goods, throwing it back to Y2K-era nostalgia instead. At times, you don’t know what you’ve missed until it’s handed back to you.
Pop music at the turn of the millennium was special. I truly believed that we were at the dawning of a new era; from Britney’s space fling, ‘Oops… I Did It Again’ to the android-suited Backstreet Boys who felt ‘Larger Than Life’ – but in the UK, the underground was brewing its own kind of futuristic storm that was climbing up the charts.
“‘to hell with it’ is full-throttle, wistful and – more than anything else – exciting”
UK garage had established its relevance in the 90s, but it wasn’t until 1999 and pirate radio that the genre began to make an impact on the mainstream. Shanks & Bigfoot’s iconic ‘Sweet Like Chocolate’ was the first garage number 1, quickly followed with anthems by Artful Dodger, Architechs’ ‘Body Groove’, Sweet Female Attitude’s ‘Flowers’ and So Solid Crew’s ‘21 Seconds’. With garage absorbed by grime, while it remains a staple in UK rap, dance music and the underground, its poppier form has arguably dipped in and out of relevance in the recent mainstream. PinkPantheress is set to change that.
From humble beginnings on SoundCloud to having her runaway tune ‘Just For Me’ used by Lizzo, Charli D’Amelio and Bella Poarch on TikTok, the speedy success of PinkPantheress in 2021 has been wild to witness. With the platform making such an impact with music in the content hosted there, it was only a matter of time before it spawned its first legitimate stars, and PinkPantheress has clawed her way out of the clamour to be truly relevant.
Describing her music as “new nostalgic” due to its blend of garage, drum’n’bass with an occasional hyperpop touch, the Bath-hailing artist is throwing it back for Gen Z all while giving it a spin of her own. It’s hard to believe that, despite emulating the sound of the era so precisely, PinkPantheress herself is still only 20-years-old and a university student to boot. With (until recently) only a handful of tracks to her name, fans have been salivating over the release of her debut mixtape to hell with it.
Mixtape opener and early effort ‘Pain’ has PinkPantheress wearing her influences on her sleeve with a sample of the aforementioned Sweet Female Attitude classic ‘Flowers’, while recent tease ‘I Must Apologise’ captures the rich vibrance and Y2K nostalgia of the era with the glitchy schisms and autotune of moments more modern. It’s full-throttle, wistful and – more than anything else – exciting. For an artist initially so intent on being anonymous, now is the time for PinkPantheress to leap forth with an inimitable roar.
PinkPantheress – ‘Reason’
Following on from above, ‘Reason’ is a perfect example of PinkPantheress’ deft musicality. Chilled, dreamy vocals bring that futuristic hyperpop vibe amidst the track’s lucid production, but it is the rattlestop drum’n’bass beats that give the track its full force. Ebbing and flowing between otherworldly and a robust energy, ‘Reason’ brings the past to the present for a moment truly heavenly.
Shamir – ‘Gay Agenda’
With a title like ‘Gay Agenda’, you’d presume Shamir’s latest cut to be a hard hitting politically infused effort – and it is, in his own words, “a song about radical acceptance internally and externally”. Striking and bold, the track is a murky concoction of shuffling beats, winding atmospherics and glitchy production; it’s as uncomfortable and ominous as it is bewitching.
serpentwithfeet – ‘Down Nuh River’
Hot on the heels of his recent album DEACON, serpentwithfeet returns with his first new music. Plucked from the accompanying EP DEACON’S GROVE, ‘Down Nuh River’ is a playful outing that explores the artist’s childhood through bubbling bass notes, fun production and lackadaisical, meandering melodies.
Joy Crookes – ‘Trouble’
The latest single to be lifted from her debut album Skin (out today!), ‘Trouble’ sees Joy Crookes reflect on cyclical turmoil with a family member. Clattering percussion and a rhythmic groove underpin its core, offset by brass and Joy’s effortlessly smooth vocal; “It’s a cliche but we really do hurt the ones we love,” she says. “It’s because we know we can and that the love will always be there.”
Delia Dane – ‘Proof’
With a slew of singles released this year including recent effort ‘PRETTY PLEASE’, Kitsuné alumni Delia Dane is back with new single ‘Proof’. The irresistible new track leans into its disco influences and sleek, understated pop, its punchy beats and breezy guitar work emphasising Delia’s smooth vocal as she ruminates on unrequited love.