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The Friday Dispatch
Rita Ora, Molly Burman, Lana Del Rey and the Meat Puppets
Rita Ora talks exclusively to Best Fit for this week’s digital cover, in one of her most revealing interviews yet
If her debut record left us wondering who Rita Ora was, then the subsequent years brought us no closer to her.
A slew of chart-dominating collaborations emerged with Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX, but it seemed that Ora’s momentum had started to fizzle beyond her reputation as a hired gun. In 2015, she filed a lawsuit against Roc Nation accusing the label of neglect, holding her to a five-contract deal while allegedly refusing to release the multiple albums she claimed to have recorded. The company countersued her for $2.3 million, and eventually, they settled the dispute privately out of court. It took six years for Ora to reassemble herself and her team, to claw back what she had built, eventually inking a deal with Atlantic to release her second album, Phoenix. The record was meteorically successful: a pristine collection of electro-pop with many of its singles amassing over half a billion streams,
The release of new record You & I, however, marks a decisive turning point: for the first time, Ora is inviting you in. “It’s a very open record,” she tells me. “It’s made to be like a diary.” Her life has changed irrevocably from the party-girl reputation that defined her twenties. Ora is now 32-years-old, a decade that arrives with hard-earned wisdom, and she is a wife, married to the New Zealand filmmaker and actor Taika Waititi who brought us Jojo Rabbit and Marvel’s Thor series. “I’m at this moment in my life that was something I wanted to capture: meeting this person, but also my friendships changing, people getting married and having kids. My life was drastically changing. I was getting older… I wanted to write something that felt real to me.”
Born into an Irish Catholic family, London-based singer/songwriter Molly Burman’s parents were already laying the foundations for her musical upbringing before she was even born.
Her father was involved in the punk scene from the age of 18, playing bass in The Chiefs of Relief with Paul Cook from The Sex Pistols, while her mother was friends with members of The Pogues and performed with frontman Shane MacGowan. She made her first recording at the age of six when she wrote a Christmas song with her dad, which turned out to be the beginning of the father–daughter musical bond that remains core to her creative process today.
Burman’s upcoming EP Worlds Within Worlds is due out in late August and illustrates new, forward-thinking sides to her artistry with a visible drift towards a more pop leaning sound and new approaches to her process all encapsulated in the music. “I wanted to push the boundaries, have other people’s input and take the songs as far as I could,” she explains. “I started working with new producers and recording in new studios for the first time. I was terrified of doing a writing session beforehand. Usually when I write, I would do it by myself then play my dad a bunch of songs that I’d put together. But it ended up being a really great experience.”
To understand Lana Del Rey is to understand girlhood, womanhood, and the all-too-often embarrassing involuntary attraction to shitty men.
She’s not for everyone; she’s notoriously messy and has a string of controversies under her belt, many of which fans turn a blind eye to or forgive her for. Though, maybe it's precisely because of her public blunders that her fans love her even more; life is messy and people do fuck up. She wears her complicated, chaotic past with pride, and seems to say, you can, too.
She’s aware of this perception of her. After arriving on stage for her Hyde Park show fifteen minutes late, she performs two songs before sitting down for an instrumental break where she gets her hair fixed and combed by a hair stylist on stage, a wink and nod to her Glastonbury performance. The crowds cheer as she sits there before us demurely being groomed, and she smiles out to us, breaking the fourth-wall, acknowledging the hairy elephant in the room. It's an undeniably camp bit, self-aware in its absurdity and pettiness, the kind of which you’re only able to really get away with if you’re at her level of success. And we love her all the more for it.
Something old, something new
Every week, one of Best Fit's writers or editors share their recommendations of two records they love - one from the past, one from the present. This week, Best Fit writer Joshua Mills on the Meat Puppets’ Up On The Sun (1985) and The Whaler by Home Is Where (2023).
Up On The Sun finds sonic perfection in the most ramshackle of forms. While it’s not my all-time favourite album, it is to me the ideal sounding record. The band are remembered mainly for the Kurt Cobain-cosigned Meat Puppets II, and while I love the caterwauling cowpunk of that fiery collection, its follow up is a joyful mess of watery guitars, fiddly psychedelic riffs, twanging bass, and some of the most perfectly imperfect vocals ever recorded (David Berman would approve).
It’s less raucous but just as uncompromising. The Kirkwood brothers’ vocals are spaced out to the point of catatonia (the band have described it as a “beer and pot” record - no kidding), sticking to one note for the majority of the title track’s chorus, droning away without a care on the hilariously funky “Away”. It’s a counterpoint to the ever-frenetic guitars, shooting off spindly hooks for the record’s entirety. The Pups throw it back with the countrified “Swimming Ground” and grinding finale “Creator”, but Up On The Sun is best at its most blissful. “Two Rivers” even approaches genuine, misshapen prettiness. This is the perfect soundtrack to a summer evening about to take a weird turn.
Floridians Home Is Where don’t sit still for a second on their recent second album The Whaler. Across the record they leap from the emo trappings of “chris farley” to the haunting, rootsy “whaling for sport” and the sweetly midwestern-flavoured “lily pad pupils”. Most exciting is when the band bring this fleet footedness to a single song, which they do plenty. Opener “skin meadow” is whiplash-inducingly restless, hurtling through dynamic shifts, screaming, and a brass-led instrumental break before you’ve even begun to categorise the LP.
Their willingness to colour outside genre boundaries makes The Whaler, appropriately enough, a weighty proposition. The album has drawn comparisons to Neutral Milk Hotel; that’s largely down to the vocal tone of Brandon MacDonald (who also plays the Mangum-approved singing saw), but there’s a similar ambition and scale on this release. In a musical format that can feel rigid, Home Is Where have no compunctions about basing tracks around mournful harmonica and slide guitars. It’s a rare album that feels this refined and freewheeling at the same time. There’s a lot going on for re-listens, but it’s immediate enough to grab you tight right away.
Dropping at midnight every Thursday, follow our 20-track playlist for a taste of the best new music from the most exciting breaking artists.
These are the songs our editors and writers have on repeat right now, taken from the hundreds of tracks released in the last seven days. Leading the selection this week are amazing cuts from Rachel Bobbitt, B.Miles, Aziya, Ralphie Choo, and coverstar underscores.