#Review: Chicane – Everything We Had To Leave Behind

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Chicane (aka Nick Bracegirdle) is a British musician, composer, songwriter and producer who has had a string of hits that have been massive on the Ibiza club scene, including ‘Saltwater’ (featuring vocals by Máire Brennan from Clannad), ‘Offshore’, ‘Don’t Give Up’ (featuring Bryan Adams) and ‘Stoned In Love’ (with vocals by the legendary Tom Jones). Now, 2021 sees the release of his eighth album, Everything We Had To Leave Behind (released through Modena Records and Armada Music); here’s what we have to say about it…

chicane-everything-we-had-to-leave-behind

Atmospheric is the only way to describe the opening, title track of the album with its rumbling bass, euphoric synths and haunting vocals from Maltese singer Joseph Aquilina.

In fact, atmospheric is an accurate description for much of the album. Having spent the past year writing and recording the record in his studio, there is a real sense of peaceful reflection, hope and even isolation – something so many people can relate to right now.

With this reflection come some tracks which reminisce of a more youthful Chicane yet still manage to show just how much he has grown over the past twenty years or so too. Such tracks include ‘Never Look Back’ with it’s heavy, Chicane-esque synth line and ‘One Foot In The Past, One Foot In The Future’ – a deep house cut that builds beautifully throughout.

This is an album with no fillers, only epic tracks that each have so much to offer. However, some of the standout songs have to be, ‘Sailing’ featuring vocals from Christopher Cross (Bon Ivor) which is an upbeat house anthem that evolves throughout; ‘Don’t Look Down’, an all-consuming, track of ecstasy that although never fully takes off, has highs and lows in all the right places; ‘Now Or Never’ is a rather commercial offering that begs the listener to get up and dance and ‘An Ocean Apart’ has some seriously soaring vocals that ride atop a juddering synth soundscape.

This is an album of epic proportions that is begging to be played loudly and in it’s entirety.

That’s not to say the rest of the record is not filled with gems; ‘8 (Circle)’ has some moments of pure serenity amid a wonderfully chaotic beat and echoing vocals and ‘Juno’ which is pure Chicane goodness that reminds of a crystal-clear summer’s day.

Possibly one of my favourite tracks on the album is the superbly diverse, closing track, ‘Hello, Goodbye’. It offers space for synths that reverberate through you before kicking into a chest-thumping bass-driven beat. It constantly adapts throughout the 7-and-a-half-minute epic whilst still remaining a euphoric daydream.

There’s a wonderful structure that lies at the heart of Chicane‘s latest album, and that’s that you could be basking in the sun one minute and feeling the call to the dance floor the next.

This is an album of epic proportions that is begging to be played loudly and in it’s entirety. It flows beautifully and wholeheartedly captivates the listener from start to finish.

Another wonderful album by a truly talented producer that leaves the listener fulfilled. It’s definitely one to have on repeat this summer!

Rating
5


‘Everything We Had To Leave Behind’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/everything-we-had-to-leave-behind/1553835994


Everything We Had To Leave Behind on Spotify

Everything We Had To Leave Behind (Official Music Video)

Don’t Look Down (Official Music Video)

Hello, Goodbye (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this producer’s latest album? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#Review: Lucy Spraggan – Choices

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Lucy Spraggan is a singer, songwriter and all-round storyteller, from Buxton, England. She is most notable for her appearances on 2012’s series of X Factor. However, since then, she has built a huge, loyal following, from her debut, independent album release through to this, Choices, her sixth album. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Lucy Spraggan - Choices

Having recently gone through some significant changes in her life; a divorce, lost a significant amount of weight and become sober; there is a lot of material for Lucy Spraggan to write about throughout this record. Musically, it’s incredibly diverse too – this is an album that has a great deal to offer.

It all opens with the rather Western-sounding, ‘Flowers’, which sees Spraggan take on a more provocative tone than we’re used to. Having recently become single and lost three stone, she is keen to show that she’s not always about funny lyrics, but can be more sexy too.

Next comes the very singable ‘Roots’, which sees Spraggan tackle the topic of being unhappy about being told by many to lay down roots somewhere and do the “normal” thing of settling down. She very powerfully identifies this is not for her; for now she doesn’t have any roots and she’s happy with that.

Possibly one of the most powerful songs to ever come from her though, is ‘Sober’ – an acoustic-led track all about her decision to remove alcohol from her life – it’s beautifully honest and takes a real step back to assess her life.

Other tracks that really stand out include: ‘Run To The Hills’, a catchy and simplistic yet forthright song written about the falling apart of her relationship and wanting to get away from it all; ‘Heartbreak Suites’ was also written about the end of her marriage but candidly looks at how a relationship should not become a unit that revolves solely around each other, and in the process forgetting and losing those who matter to you; and ‘You’ve Let Yourself Down’ is a thoroughly different flavour from the rest of the album with its almost tropical house feel to it that I just can’t get enough of.

This is an album of diversity, both lyrically and sonically, and it’s just begging to be played on repeat.

That’s not to say the rest of the album is not incredible too – there’s ‘Animal’ with its Bollywood-style drums that are inspired by Spraggan’s love for working out to bhangra music; ‘I Spent A Night In The Desert’ – an ode to her best friends, that’s also wonderfully uplifting and then there’s ‘Run’ a song about metaphorically and physically running towards something she’s found that she was looking for. Also, ‘If I Had A God’ is an open discussion about what it would be like if she were religious and had a strong faith; it’s inspired by those devout Christians around her, however she has found a power within herself, rather than through an external God.

Title track, ‘Choices’ is a way of summarising the whole record really and sees Spraggan express her happiness at choices she has made and finding a new lease of life without being afraid to be herself – additionally, the harmonies are to die for and the acoustic-led backing track is stunningly intricate.

The album draws to a perfect close with the tale ‘Why Don’t We Start From Here’ – a song she describes as a sequel to 2013’s ‘The Tourist’ from her second album, Join The Club. It’s a song about taking a leap of faith to make a new start, whenever you want it, which is a real inspiration to others.

This is an album of diversity, both lyrically and sonically, and it’s just begging to be played on repeat. It’s exciting in every way and although a lot of inspiration is drawn from her divorce, there is something refreshing about the integrity of her writing and the fact that she has woven a diverse tapestry throughout the sound of the record too. This is a thoroughly strong release and makes for a truly engaging listen. I just can’t wait to see what she produces for album number seven!

Rating


‘Choices’ is out 26/02/21 and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/choices/1534375882


Choices on Spotify

Coming Friday 26th February 2021.

Flowers (Official Music Video)

Animal (Official Music Video)

Sober (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the Lucy’s latest album? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#Review: Normandie – Dark & Beautiful Secrets

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Dark & Beautiful Secrets is the third full-length release from Sweden’s very own Normandie. They claim this album is the true sound of the band with vocalist, Philip Strand (also a producer/writer for a number of pop artists & he even penned the Irish Eurovision entry for 2021), claiming that the album is much darker and delves more intimately into their personal lives than they have been before. Let’s see if it matches their ambitions…

Normandie - Dark & Beautiful Secrets

Overall the album is very pacy and it doesn’t let up often. Dynamically, it’s fairly steady in that it keeps up the initial pace of ‘Babylon’ and ‘Hostage’, which are very anthemic in their presence at the start of the album. Which is great. However, for an album claiming intimacy, it lacks interest in how it flows. It has more of a dance anthems playlist vibe than a gritty window into the soul. Having said that, there is some let up within the tracks themselves with stripped back choruses that then smash back into very catchy choruses. It’s the kind of thing we’ve seen from bands in a similar vein such as Don Broco and Thirty Seconds To Mars. Unlike those bands though, all the tracks feel pretty much the same, very driven and super catchy in the choruses, but that’s all.

Speaking of catchy choruses, ‘Jericho’ and ‘Holy Water’ are particular highlights on this record, but to be honest, any of the tracks would easily pass as a single release. Lyrically, the choruses are just straight to the point, trying to encompass the track as a whole with one or two lines. Again though, the album lacks imagination in its writing. The lyrics feel quite generic and although the use of some good concepts such as the idea of Holy Water drowning you (a reference to Strand turning his back on the church at the age of 14), it cannot shake some very over-used lines and clichés.

Dark & Beautiful Secrets is not a bad album, but it’s nothing that stands out from the crowd.

‘Atmosphere’ tries to break both of the issues above. It is a much slower track than the rest and is a nice relief from the driving beats and heavy melodies on the rest of the album. It really is a standout track which is unfortunately lost amongst everything else. It’s a track about losing yourself and true to its title, really has some atmosphere about it. Lyrically, it feels much stronger than the rest, less forced and the production really adds to the feeling of the track as a whole. There are some heavier elements to the album too which are ear-catching. Most notably, is the riff in ‘Mission Control’, which really throws me back to some old Muse tracks, that I haven’t visited in a while and ‘Renegade’ feels influenced by the newer Bring Me The Horizon tracks of recent times. I would say these are the only varying elements to this album but it still feels quite ‘samey’ as mentioned before.

Dark & Beautiful Secrets is not a bad album, but it’s nothing that stands out from the crowd. If you enjoy similar bands such as Don Broco, Bring Me The Horizon (later releases) and PVRIS then you will enjoy this, but I think you’ll forget about it a few weeks later. Add ‘Atmosphere’ to your favourite playlist and that will do you right.

Rating
3


‘Dark & Beautiful Secrets’ is out 19/02/21 on Easy Life Records and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/dark-beautiful-secrets/1539052326


Dark & Beautiful Secrets on Spotify

Coming Friday 19th February 2021.

Babylon (Official Music Video)

Holy Water (Official Music Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the band’s latest album? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


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#Review: Bars and Melody – Carpe Diem – EP

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Bars & Melody (check out our 2017 interview with the guys, here) first rose to fame as contestants on Britain’s Got Talent in 2014. The pair were automatically sent into the semi-finals of the competition, when Simon Cowell pressed the “golden buzzer” after watching their performance of ‘Hopeful’ (later released as their debut single). The duo ultimately finished in third place in the series but since then have gone on to build a very loyal following and built up a big name for themselves, returning to feature in 2019’s, Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions. To date, they have released 3 albums and a couple of EPs but now 2021 sees the pair take on a new sound with the release of Carpe Diem. Here’s what we have to say about it…

Bars and Melody - Carpe Diem

What is immediately clear from the opening bars of ‘Santorini’ is that this is a new Bars & Melody. The pair have taken on a surprising new sound and one that’s clearly been itching to surface for some time.

Their 2020 album, Sadboi, was a mixture of pop hits and the start of experimenting with a new sound but ultimately was a successful crowd-pleaser in preparation for Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions.

Since then though, the pair have taken the opportunity to go out as independent artists and create something new and altogether more mature in sound, in the form of new EP, Carpe Diem.

This is a mini-album that emanates a new-found confidence.

Throughout the EP, the auto-tune has been applied heavily and the bass and beats are booming, creating a more mumble-rap and at times, even trap-sounding beat – it’s their most credible and urban sound to date. It’s something new and exciting from the pair and undoubtedly shows the type of music they’ve been dying to make for some time, after now not being held back by major labels.

This is a mini-album that emanates a new-found confidence and sees the pair using explicit and at times, even risqué lyrics. It’s a clear departure from their former, squeaky-clean image and sees the pair rapping and singing about more adult concepts.

‘Santorini’ is a sure-fire hit for fans and the pair indicate it being one of their favourites on the EP too, despite it’s risqué lyrics. Meanwhile, ‘Little Missy’ showcases Leondre Devries’ rapping skills and Charlie Lenehan’s lyricism at their best. ‘Own Ways’ is another banger and a great way to end the EP with its thumping bass and its catchy hook.

Some of the lyrics could be thought of as being a little vacuous in places, like ‘No Type’s, “You a perfect 10, yeah” and that of the ‘Russian Model’ chorus but somehow the credibility of the beats and the fact it fits with the genre itself make up for it.

Whatever you think, Devries and Lenehan have demonstrated a new-found maturity and set of writing and rapping skills across the EP, showing that they are diverse and have the longevity to adapt and make something new of themselves. It would just be nice to hear Lenehan with a little less autotune on though as his voice is great without it!

Whilst it’s still somewhat of a shock to hear them now, this is the new-and-improved Bars & Melody and one that leaves me excited for their next full-length album! Let’s hope they don’t keep us waiting too long and continue to grow and develop in sound as they themselves continue to grow up and mature.

Rating
4


‘Carpe Diem – EP’ is out now and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/carpe-diem-ep/1545462855


Carpe Diem – EP on Spotify

Santorini x Little Missy (Official Music Video)

Own Ways (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of the duo’s latest EP? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

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Matt – Muzik Speaks
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#FeelGoodFriday: Alphalove – ‘Don’t Wanna Stop’ featuring Conor Maynard

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Alphalove (aka Alex & Chris) are a pair of music producers from the UK, who signed with Insanity Records (Sony UK) in 2020.

The pair teamed up with internet sensation Conor Maynard to create this remake of a Luther Vandross classic, modernising it for the year 2021.

The EDM/dance take on the track brings something completely new to it and features a series of classic EDM traits, from the piano-led lead to the thumping basslines and drum patterns; it’s a song I’ve had on repeat for days and one you can’t get enough of. It’s the perfect end to the week for #FeelGoodFriday!

No official music video exists at present, so for now you’ll just have to enjoy the lyric video below.

What are your thoughts of this dance duo’s remake of a classic? Do you have a #FeelGoodFriday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Don’t Wanna Stop’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/dont-wanna-stop-feat-conor-maynard-single/1543753386


#ThrowbackThursday: Jessie J – ‘Price Tag’ featuring B.o.B

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Jessie J is British-born singer-songwriter who has seen a whole string of successes but this particular song saw her score her first UK Number 1.

‘Price Tag’ features American rapper B.o.B and was released on 25th January 2011, landing at the Number 1 spot, the following week. It was the second single to be taken from Jessie’s debut studio album, Who You Are.

The song features a funky guitar loop like that of a reggae track, with a vintage backing beat, all topped off with a sing-along chorus and powerful vocals from Jessie herself.

The music video for the track is pretty cool too, seeing Jessie J performing in front of a large money tree, an oversized teddy bear and even dressed as both a ballerina in a large jewellery box and a marionette on strings. It’s well worth a watch if you haven’t already seen it…and if you have, why not watch it again and reminisce.

What are your thoughts of this decade-old hit? Do you have a #ThrowbackThursday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Price Tag’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/price-tag-feat-b-o-b/1445851157?i=1445851166


#WildCardWednesday: Charlie Simpson – ‘Blameless’

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Charlie Simpson is most notable for being a part of award-winning boy band Busted as well as being the front-man of post-hardcore band, Fightstar. However, he has also seen great success as a solo artist too, with three albums already under his belt, and a fourth on the way!

‘Blameless’ sees Simpson take on a slightly different sound to anything he’s previously released (solo or in a band). It features Simpson’s trademark raw, powerful and raspy vocal atop a piano-led backing track with a semi urban-style beat to it. It’s something new for the singer-songwriter and leaves me intrigued for what his new album will hold.

The music video was directed, produced and edited by Simpson himself, during lockdown. It sees the singer performing in a variety of settings, most of all in the forest, at different times of day and night with some wonderful lighting effects surrounding him. It’s simplistic but reflects the track’s raw feel perfectly and the editing is pretty cool too.

What are your thoughts of the singer-songwriter’s latest single? Do you have a #WildCardWednesday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Blameless’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/blameless-single/1547874823


#TunefulTuesday: Troye Sivan & Kacey Musgraves – ‘Easy’ featuring Mark Ronson

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Troye Sivan is a South African-born, Australian singer-songwriter, actor and YouTuber with a series of singles, albums, EPs, movies and vlogs under his belt.

This particular version of the song, ‘Easy’, is a remix of his original track, and was released in December 2020. It features vocals from American singer-songwriter, Kacey Musgraves and production from British musician and producer Mark Ronson. In fact, Musgraves actually co-wrote and performed a new verse specially for the song, whilst Ronson added a really cool disco-pop vibe to the track.

The song is catchy as hell and the perfect song for Tuneful Tuesday, as I’ve had it on repeat for days!

The music video for the track is pretty awesome too – featuring both Sivan and Musgraves as two people on the run, driving vintage cars, dyeing their hair and perfoming in a motel room as well as going to over-the-top drag shows and dancing the night away. It’s a must-watch!

What are your thoughts of this pop banger? Do you have a #TunefulTuesday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Easy’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/easy-feat-mark-ronson-single/1543288293


#MellowMonday: Greyson Chance – ‘Holy Feeling’

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Greyson Chance is back with a brand new single, ‘Holy Feeling’.

The singer-songwriter first rose to fame when a video of his performance of Lady Gaga‘s ‘Paparazzi’, at a grade school music festival, went viral on YouTube, gaining him over 68 million views.

Now, with a couple of albums under his belt and a whole string of singles, the artist returns with his mellow yet stunningly powerful offering, in the form of ‘Holy Feeling’.

The song has a certain quality of George Ezra about it during the first verse, when Chance’s gravelly vocal kicks in. However, by the chorus, we are treated to an uplifting and strong voice that is begging to be sung along to with full force.

It has an emotive and optimistic vibe to the song that has me reaching to repeat it, time and again.

The video for the song is pretty simplistic yet stylisticly cool too. It was shot on 16mm film and features people displaying a love and passion for each of their specific creative crafts – from a ballerina and a carpenter to a photographer and a tattoo artist – none of whom are actors. Interestingly, it was shot in the same location as that of his single, ‘shut up’. Check it out below.

What are your thoughts of this singer-songwriter’s latest single? Do you have a #MellowMonday track to recommend us? Please leave your thoughts or song suggestions in a comment or via social media.

Matt – Muzik Speaks
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‘Holy Feeling’ can be downloaded off iTunes now – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/holy-feeling-single/1545586122


#Review: Celeste – Not Your Muse

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Celeste is a British-Jamaican soulful singer songwriter who ahead of releasing her debut album, has already seen a string of successes with the likes of her songs being used in the John Lewis & Waitrose Christmas Advert 2020 and as the theme song for Sky Sports Premiere League. Not Your Muse is her debut album and here’s what we have to say about it…

Celeste - Not Your Muse

The album doesn’t kick off to the best start with a couple of slow, rather forgettable, albeit soulful, tracks and it isn’t until ‘Tonight Tonight’ that the album really kicks into gear. There’s something very Amy Winehouse about the backing track of the song, yet it still remains full of soul; modern soul.

Next comes single and theme to Sky Sports Premier League, ‘Stop This Flame’, an uptempo song with an almost locomotive backing track met by a wonderfully intoxicating vocal in the chorus.

Some of the highlights of the album include: ‘Tell Me Something I Don’t Know’ – an enchanting track with its catchy chorus and the introduction of a brass section towards the end, make it a truly captivating listen; ‘Not Your Muse’ is a beautiful song with its shimmering guitars and ever-evolving, almost chaotic backing track; and ‘Love Is Back’ is another Amy Winehouse-vibed tune that’s upbeat and just a real joy to listen to.

‘Beloved’ is also a beautifully written and intriguing track – it has real Hawaiian vibes to it and in places it’s like the soundtrack to an old romantic film with its string section. There are some seriously powerful falsetto vocals too.

This is a strong debut album, that the more you listen to it, the more you can appreciate just how beautifully crafted and intricate it is.

Unfortunately, ‘A Kiss’, like the first two tracks on the album, is also a somewhat forgettable song that had me reaching for the skip button. However, ‘The Promise’ is beautiful with bird song interwoven throughout.

Of course there’s ‘A Little Love’ which was written and recorded specifically for the John Lewis and Waitrose Christmas advertising campaign, spreading the message of positivity to “give a little love”. She is in fact the first artist to be commissioned to write and perform an original song for the ad, marking another milestone in her unparalleled ascent.

The album draws to a cute close with the acoustic-led ‘Some Goodbyes Come With Hellos’, the perfect closing song for the album.

About the album, Celeste herself said, “Not Your Muse is the power I found when I felt powerless…In making this album I have allowed myself to arrive at a place where I feel empowered, fiercely wide-eyed and fulfilled. I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved on my debut album and to be in this position, after the year that has been, I feel nothing but gratitude and excitement.”

Having already achieved the double win of BBC Sound of 2020 and the BRITS Rising Star Award, Celeste has already had some career-defining moments that look set to make her a household name.

This is a strong debut album, that the more you listen to it, the more you can appreciate just how beautifully crafted and intricate it is. It can’t be helped but draw comparisons to Amy Winehouse throughout her debut due to her modern take on soul and occasionally similar style, but somehow, Celeste has created a modern masterpiece that I’m sure will be played on repeat, by many, for years to come.

Rating
4


‘Not Your Muse’ is out now on Polydor and can be downloaded from iTunes – https://music.apple.com/gb/album/not-your-muse-deluxe/1544501544


Not Your Muse on Spotify

Love Is Back (Official Video)

Stop This Flame (Official Video)


We hope you’ve enjoyed our review! What do you think of this soulful singer songwriter’s debut album? Are you as much of a fan as us? What would you rate it out of 5? Please leave your thoughts in a comment or via our social media.


Enjoyed this? Check out some of our other reviews here:

Muzik Speaks Album Reviews


Matt – Muzik Speaks
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