Bands, sit down now. PRs, look the other way. It’s the weekly NME verdict on the latest singles. Hold tight…
White Lies – ‘Holy Ghost’ (Fiction)
I have an ambition. I want to sit down with the members of White Lies, the lyrics to this song, and one question: “What ARE you on about?” Over a melodramatic backwash of broiling synth’n’fuzz bass, Harry hisses about goose-pimples vanishing like “some out-of-date acid”, and “Jesus strangers” as strange as haloes in stained-glass. Which sounds deep, but if there is even the slightest chance that this song is just a load of old fooey dressed up in cool similes then I think someone should go and find out. Sir, sir, my hand was up first!
Foo Fighters – ‘Walk’ (RCA)
There are times when admitting that the Foos can be properly amazing feels like you’re letting down your own mighty standards of excellence. And yet – that plangent fourth chord in the chorus, the spiralling joy-guitars in the middle eight; the bit where Dave starts barking “I never wanna die!” like he’s finally been let off the lead and fancies a caper in the dandelions – these are all very persuasive things indeed. Just don’t tell myself I said so, OK?
Crystal Stilts – ‘Shake The Shackles’ (Fortuna POP!)
There they go, the serious people, taking their angular chord changes, muffled strumming and gritted teeth out for a lonely walk on a tempestuous night, with only the sound of a life-weakened man intoning something dour at the bottom of a nearby well for company. It’s a pestilential parade, but don’t feel too sorry for them. They like it out there, scraping their feet, hugging the shadows and pretending not to hope that the drummer remembered to bring a flask of soup for later.
Hard-Fi – ‘Good For Nothing’ (Atlantic)
Sheesh, what is this, Frequently Disappointing But Worthy Band Comes (Relatively) Good week? Should I have worn a ribbon? This, if I’m not mistaken, is the sound of Hard-Fi listening to a lot of Rihanna, Beyonce and Jay-Z and burping meaty Clash guitars all over their dirty nursery rhymes and breezeblock beats. And it’s actually rather grand. Yes, Richard Archer still sings like he is sneering at his own sneer, and yes, it’s probably one for your dad, but still, not bad.
The Wombats – ‘Techno Fan’ (Warner)
Is there such a thing as the ecstatic release of moaning? That’s the emotion this song seems to capture. Murph turns his vinegary eye to the tricky interpersonal politics of a night on the tiles, and seems pleased to have come back with a happy song about being irritated and thwarted, when all he wants is to be carried away by the music. And it does a perfect job, in a way, because that’s exactly how I feel right now.
Spector – ‘Never Fade Away’ (Luv Luv Luv)
This might not sound like much at first, but everyone needs a good hymn from time to time. Sonically, it has that ‘Straight To Hell’ ghostly holiness to it, albeit in a less transcendent, and more podgily robotic form. And it’s always nice to hear someone’s impassioned wail being echoed back to them in pitchshifted sarcasm: it undercuts all of that the earnestness nicely. Save it for a rainy day, and who knows, it could be just the ticket.
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This column also appeared in the June 18th issue of NME magazine