Bjork, Nicola Roberts, Jamie XX
1. Bjork – ‘Crystalline’
With Radiohead delivering their albums by electronic carrier pigeon and Kaiser Chiefs turning their fans into label bosses, Björk has gone one step further with her forthcoming seventh album, ‘Biophilia’, packaging it in a way that actually aims to enhance the listening experience. As well as being released normally, ‘Biophilia’ will be the first ever “app album”, created for the iPad and featuring individual, fully interactive apps for each of its 10 songs. If this all sounds a bit Tomorrow’s World, it’s important to consider that one track, ‘Virus’, is a love song between the titular organism and a cell, the conclusion being that love literally kills. Oh, and in the app the cells mouth along to the chorus.
In terms of musical direction, information has been scarce – until last week when a 30-second clip emerged of Björk driving from Keflavik Airport to Reykjavik, listening to the first single ‘Crystalline’ in her car. More delicate and twinkling than the crunchy beats of 2007’s ‘Volta’, it glides along on a calm swirl of beats you’d want to describe as ‘crystalline’ had she not got there first, that voice soaring, “It’s the sparkle you calm, when you conquer anxiety”. With ‘Björk –esque’ rivalling ‘sounds like Kate Bush’ in the kooky-female-singer-cliché shorthand stakes, it’s grand to have the original back at last
Michael Cragg, writer
2. Florence + The Machine – Not Fade Away
Flo has her way with this Buddy Holly original, reeling in the histrionic hollers for a husky shuffle that detonates a controlled blues explosion. Laced with Bourbon Street-worthy, boozy jazz parps and some scattergun drums, it’s something of a return to her own roots, as well as Buddy’s.
3. Beyonce – ‘Love On Top’
True enough, the sophisticated (whisper it, slightly dull) ‘4’ album sees Beyoncé largely vacate her position as the token choice for people who’d probably rather be listening to indie. But while she’s reverted to a classic template, she’s still prone to moments of genius like this low-slung cut, which mainlines peak-period Mary J Blige.
Dan Martin, writer
4. Jamie XX – ‘Beat For’
Jamie really isn’t getting the hang of this ‘time off’ lark. Having remixed the late Gil Scott-Heron, Adele and everyone else in between, finally his first solo single drops. Backing the already familiar ‘Far Nearer’, ‘Beat For’ is precise, ghostly and sinister in the extreme, proving that the day job isn’t too far from his thoughts.
Paul Stokes, Associate Editor
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5. Kasabian – ‘Switchblade Smiles’
Taking nods from ‘Where Did All The Love Go?’ and Portishead at their most violent, Kasabian return, sounding as brilliantly pugnacious as ‘XTRMNTR’-era Primal Scream in the middle of an Afghan war zone. Serge’s choked vocals are even funnier than his “Dream!”s on ‘Shoot The Runner’ too.
Jamie Fullerton, News Editor
6.Mellowhype – April 27th
Odd Future man Hodgy Beats dropped this on his Tumblr a few days back, and everything about the old-school flow and love-letter lyrics are as nonchalant
as the release method. Slick but trippy, this sounds like hip-hop falling down
Mike Williams, Deputy Editor
7. Nicola Roberts – ‘Porcelain Heart’
First she name-dropped Major Lazer as a major reference, then she sought songwriting tips from Joe Metronomy (see our interview with the pair on page 28), but the actual moment we knew Nicola was the Girl for us? Three minutes, 11 seconds into this B-side when she hits that key change.
Krissi Murison, Editor
8. Bat For Lashes – ‘Oh Yeah’
Debuted at Sydney’s Vivid Live festival, Natasha Khan’s rather sexy new oriental R&B number has a languid, smouldering slink that’s not a million miles from the glowing grace of Dirty Projectors’ ‘Stillness Is The Move’, with what will hopefully be cataclysmic, ‘Umbrella’-style beats when we hear its final form.
Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor
9. Slow Club – ‘Two Cousins’
With the opening number from their new album, the lo-fi folk pair are back with another endearing, ramshackle singalong, replete with extra drums. As Charles and Rebecca yell, “HOLD ON TO WHERE YOU’RE FROM”, you can practically hear the echoing hordes scream it back.
Abby Tayleure, writer
10. Jens Lekman – ‘Cowboy Boots’
Gothenburg’s wryest son had better hurry up and release the EP he keeps mentioning – all these gorgeous teasers are making our wannabe-Swedish hearts palpitate. Here Jens is in uncharacteristically dejected mode, wishing for his dreams to bring him some shoes that walk “anywhere but back to you”. Aww Jens, we’ll make it all better…
Laura Snapes, Assistant Reviews Editor
This article originally appeared in the June 18th issue of NME