Sometimes refinement isn’t everything. Like when a cup of tea tastes better out of a mug at your mum’s house than out of a bone china cup. Or when all you want is a bacon roll, rather than a tian of salmon with a beetroom foam. We’re all for technical proficiency, fancy pedals and Spector-levels of post-production, but sometimes scrappiness is key. With that in mind, here are NME’s ten awesomely imperfect guitar solos.
10 The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – ‘This Love Is Fucking Right’
Banishing any notions that twee can’t go hard, the Pains yelp ‘this love is fucking right’ before launching in the jangliest solo this side of The Byrds at 2.08. Simplicity is key here, when you’ve got the melody, why mess about with it?
9 Pixies – ‘Wave Of Mutilation’
Black, Deal, Santiago and Lovering. Dream team. So scrappy is the guitar solo in ‘Wave…’ that at first it’s hard to notice, until at 1.37, one ear picks up a keening wail underpinning Frank Black’s vocals. And once you hear it, it’s forever there.
8 The Libertines – ‘Time For Heroes’
A guitar solo that was created to be screeched wildly, pint in the air at a festival. Two melodic lines fuzzily repeated and intertwined from 1.41, edging towards counterpoint, before the vocals blare back in, too excited to hold back, forsaking lyrics for a chanting ‘oh woah’.
7 Nirvana – ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’
What can we say? It comes at 2.33. It’s messy, it’s the vocal line repeated over six strings, and it’s over too quickly. But we wouldn’t change a thing.
6 The Undertones – ‘Teenage Kicks’
About as subtle as a kick in the teeth, the guitar solo in ‘Teenage Kicks’ doesn’t mess about. Set above a backbeat of handclaps at 1.54 it likes what it heard so much the first time, that it then repeats itself. Job done.
If the guitar solo in ‘Time For Heroes’ was made to be shouted at a festival, this one was crafted for the indie disco. With a build-up akin to a car revving its engine, Nick Valensi goes hell for leather at 1.50, driving straight through the feedback for maximum impact.
4 Weezer – ‘El Scorcho’
The guitar solo from ‘El Scorcho’ has all the elements of the track, distilled down. From 2.29, the changes in speed and the references to the ramshackle chorus, to the high-pitched howling and the half-hearted ending, it’s a fly ball that manages to hit a home run.
3 Franz Ferdinand – ‘Take Me Out’
Another dancefloor classic, this. Signalling the change from intro to song proper at 0.55, one of the best solos in indie kicks in. The nimbleness of the notes overshadow the feedback and repetition, instead searing the riff permanently in to your brain.
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2 Yo La Tengo – ‘Little Honda’
This Beach Boys cover extolls the virtues of a simple Honda motorbike. So it’s a simple solo. Except it’s not. Sure, it’s only one-note from 1.24 but by playing with the tension and pitch of his strings, guitarist Ira Kaplan manages to make one note sound better than the whole 7 tone blues scale.
1 Blur – ‘Coffee And TV’
From the frayed guitar tones that open ‘Coffee And TV’ to the chugging riff that jogs through the track, there’s nothing hasty about this track. Fittingly then, the guitar solo that crops up from 2.52 also takes its time. Feedback surrounds Coxon’s fingers as he meanders his way around the fretboard, ending on a final yelp before the chorus kicks back in.