Fever Ray, Antony and the Johnsons, The Shins
The sounds rattling round the skulls of the NME staff this week
1. Fever Ray – ‘Mercy Street’
Peter Gabriel isn’t an influence you hear thrown around much these days, unless you’re talking about Empire Of The Sun’s taste in headgear. When Karin Dreijer Andersson started playing this track from his era-defining 1986 art-pop album ‘So’ as a live cover, then, you might have been forgiven for being a little baffled. Don’t be afraid, dear reader – there’s nothing to be scared of other than the quite remarkably disturbing new press shot above. The song itself, now polished up for a proper release, makes the most perfect sense from the minute it creeps in your ears. The spacious and chilly atmospherics of Gabriel’s Daniel Lanois-produced record and Dreijer’s own hiss-and-click-filled electrogoth fright-fests make cosy, creepy bedfellows, the original beefed up by a crisp, hard pulsing beat.
You can see, too, why Gabriel’s lyrical tribute to graphically confessional American poet Anne Sexton would ring true to Andersson, whose own lyrics as Fever Ray excel in intimate, feminist, often bleak evocations of the everyday – boredom, exhaustion and dishwasher tablets – or as ‘Mercy Street’ has it, “She pictures the broken glass, she pictures the steam/She pictures a soul with no leak at the seam”. With the future of Fever Ray uncertain beyond her much-to-be-longed-for UK dates next month, we’re revelling to an almost sinful degree in the sonic lushness of this sweet surprise while we still can.
[Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor]
2. Antony And The Johnsons – ‘Thank You For Your Love’
If you’re the kind of soulless robot that can glide through 2005 heartbreaker ‘Fistful Of Love’ without blubbing, stop reading now. For the rest of you humans, this is the sequel. Swapping domestic abuse for genuine affection, life is much rosier round Antony’s gaff these days.
[Mike Williams, writer]
3. Friendly Fires – ‘Stay Here’
The next move for St Alban’s finest post-debut album is their first DJ mix, which is a collaboration with Toronto house crew Azari & III. And on it, sandwiched in-between some right ol’ bangers, is this brand new FF tune, which fuses a classic house beat with a fine Ed MacFarlane vocal.
[Hamish MacBain, Assistant Editor]
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4. Wild Beasts – ‘Through The Iron Gate’
A fine tale of brittle, Alan Bennett-esque drudgery set in the sodden farmyard. A typically Wild Beasts-ish way to celebrate their none-more-deserved Mercury nomination on their new EP.
[Matt Wilkinson, News Reporter]
5. The Shins – ‘Goodbye Girl’
The Shins are back! Well, frontman James Mercer is, with this Squeeze cover for Levi’s Pioneer Sessions, having picked it out as a song that’s most inspired him. And when you hear his own rendition, it’s hard not to be a little inspired yourself.
[Ash Dosanjh, writer]
6. Clare Maguire – ‘Strangest Thing’
In the hands of Leona and Cowell’s production syrup-mongerers, ‘Strangest Thing’ would’ve been some gross chick-flick moment of self-discovery. Operatic-lunged Maguire and producer Fraser T Smith, however, shy away from easy indulgence with spare, purposefully awkward production that emphasises the hiccuppy uncertainty of her strange warbling.
[Laura Snapes, Assistant Reviews Editor]
7. Teengirl Fantasy – ‘Cheaters’
Teengirl Fantasy are a dance duo based in New York who… no wait, come back… they’re not twats, probably, and this single is pretty good, sounding like a disco classic re-recorded by a Basset Hound. It’s sleepy, dreamy, but with a pulsating beat that’s hungry for a bone.
[Martin Robinson, Deputy Editor]
8. The Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club – ‘A Biting Wind Followed By An Occasional Drift Of Snow (Was No Way To Cure A Hangover)’
As the nursery rhyme xylophone morphs into screeching vocals and squealing guitars, it’s clear the Cardiff act are getting even darker with their third album. This song certainly isn’t one to listen to the day after too many ciders.
[Abby Tayleure, writer]
9. E Gold – ‘Separate Our Hearts’
I bet you never realised that Kylie’s ‘Slow’ was for all intent and purposes a cover version of a rare euro disco nugget recorded by a 17-year-old Latvian waitress in 1980. But on hearing this devastatingly lush gust of blue-lit cocktail symphonics, that’s the only explanation.
[Jaimie Hodgson, New Music Editor]
10. Summer Camp – ‘Jake Ryan’
A twinkly, sighing tribute to the jock from the John Hughes movie Sixteen Candles, this track from the duo’s ‘Young’ EP proves that music that’s notionally twee can still pack an emotional punch – aided by the fact that singer Elizabeth Sankey has a voice that could cause goosebumps at 100 paces.
[Luke Lewis, Deputy Editor, NME.COM]