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Everything But the Girl, 'Nothing Left to Lose'

"We wanted to come back with something modern-sounding," explains Tracey Thorn of the first new track from Everything But the Girl in some 24 years. And, while "Nothing Left to Lose" is indebted to a strain of dance music that partly defined 1999's Temperamental, it feels of the moment, eschewing retro garage-house ebullience for gloomier emotions. It's also hard to pin down in the midst of U.K. garage's revitalization; it's headier than PinkPantheress and the artists following her lead, darker than those in the Shall Not Fade camp, and more pop-minded than U.K. bass acts like Overmono. As always, Everything But the Girl is attuned but inimitable.

Crucial to the duo's distinct sound are Thorn's resounding vocals. "What is left to lose," she asks in the chorus, her tone resolute, as an undulating bass synth and a skipping 2-step beat signal the necessity for urgency in times of worry. For how queasy its electronic wobbling sounds throughout much of the runtime, Thorn overcomes anguish in the bridge — there's a sensitivity and confidence to her vibrato, which flickers at the end of each phrase. It's a matter of life and death: "Kiss me while the world decays / Kiss me while the music plays."

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Joshua Minsoo Kim