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Released: December 1996

The pinnacle of the Manics' blockbuster phase, 'Australia' sounded grandiose and full of confidence - no wonder it got hammered on the radio for months - but lyrically it was the opposite: full of paranoia and self-doubt. Nicky Wire wrote it about the aftermath of Richey Edwards' disappearance, wanting to escape, get as far away from home as possible. It's a biting evocation of personal collapse ("My cheeks are...

 
 
 

Released: August 2007

They’re not normally noted for their emotionalism, Crystal Castles, so much as for their shrieking, bleeping, sulking and bottling. Compare, though, the original track on HEALTH’s debut album with Ethan Kath’s reworked version and it's amazing how it subtly smoothes a jagged, brutalist and tortured thing into a melancholy, gently blooping and squelching, 8-bit mooch of some beauty, bringing the soft fear in...

 
 
 

Released: March 2003

“You-oo… are.” You are what? “And nothing else compares.” Compares to what? Chris Martin’s lyrics might be maddeningly vague, but that’s what makes Coldplay songs so moving to so many people. Since they mean nothing, they can mean everything. And ‘Clocks’ is the sound of the band finding their voice in heroic style. After the tentative, polite sound of ‘Parachutes’, ‘Clocks’ was...

 
 
 

Released: July 2004

And so Mozzer’s retro lad fetish reached its apogee with this swinging track from ‘You Are The Quarry’. He may be in love with the glamour of the gunpowder, but he’s also familiar with the rulebook of the street; the shocking non-emotionality of it all. He assesses, gimlet-eyed, the sharp-suited, Brylcreemed situation, as if these gangsters were some latter day Robin Hoods. Alain Whyte gives Morrissey his...

 
 
 

Released: November 2007

A stately waltz that belies the dark shade of the lyrics; a troubled dalliance with a self-obsessed nihilist. Marling’s as subtly cryptic as ever. There are allusions to mental illness and the breakdown of religious faith, as well as drug addiction, but things are left deliciously open ended. There are subtle sonic touches, with the sparse piano chords, the brush of drums and the sole cello that add to the sense...

 
 
 

Released: December 2008

Post-'Silent Shout', many wondered out loud as to where The Knife would go next. To conceptual opera, it turned out, but as a solo artist, Karin Andersson went further into the dark, petrol-coloured altitudes hinted at on 'Silent Shout' with Fever Ray. 'If I Had A Heart' sounded ritualistic and unrelenting, with malevolence seeping out of every pore. It called to mind zombies, death cults and the Tin Man from...

 
 
 

Released: September 2008

Are we human? Are we dancer? We’ll probably never know. At the time, the lyrics confused all of us, yet we still sang along as if we knew what the devil he was on about. Despite the song’s slightly maddening grammatical flaw and B. Flo’s bizarre feather-encrusted jacket that spawned out of this era, this was a tune. In fact, we loved it so much that Mr. Flowers earned a spot in the Top Ten of our annual Cool...

 
 
 

Released: April 2002

The first single from 'Heathen Chemistry' combines all the hard rock bluster of early Oasis with the forays into mysticism that marked Oasis 2.0. Forget the lazy video, or those nagging Stereophonics comparisons that have haunted the track over the years (ie that it sounds like 'Same Size Feet'), this is classic Oasis songwriting at its best. Awarded a spot at the top of the charts (their sixth to do so) for a...

 
 
 

Released: April 2007

Hopefully people won’t want to kill us” - the words of Yannis Philippakis, contrary-bastard-in-chief of Foals, breaking the news that their most beloved early track wouldn't get near their debut album. At the time, it seemed foolish. In hindsight, it was shrewd. While it might sit awkwardly in Foals' cannon (imagine the surly buggers letting one of their tunes be used on Skins now), 'Hummer'...

 
 
 

Released: March 2001

Sneaky, stoned and cracking with an urban-ish nonchalance, the Gorillaz's opening shot grooved with appropriate nursery rhyme/theme tune simplicity, setting the scene of this band of cartoon characters to doodle into development and arch knowingly into the spotlight. This and Del The Funkee Homosapien’s rap suggested a world of brave new possibilities, not least of all for Damon Albarn, who has managed a...

 
 
 
 
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