Brandon Flowers, Kid Cudi, of Montreal
The sounds rattling round the skulls of the NME staff this week
1. Brandon Flowers – ‘Crossfire’
Having shrugged off, for now, the manacles of his day job with The Killers, we might have expected Brandon Flowers to indulge his experimental side on debut album ‘Flamingo’. Alas, he’s not gone glo-fi, or unleashed a volley of bludgeoning Megadeth covers. In fact it’s not immediately clear why he needed to go solo at all, because lead single ‘Crossfire’ would have nestled neatly on ‘Sam’s Town’. Turning back the clock on the upbeat, ‘Club Tropicana’ sheen of ‘Day And Age’, Brandon’s back in stubble-chinned, earnest mode. Synths are out. Stern-faced emoting is in. Again. Meanwhile, his new press shot finds him gazing jut-jawed into the middle distance like a man who’s never worn a feathery epaulette in his life. It’s more enjoyable than it sounds. And lyrically, this renewed seriousness brings out the best in him.
He’s learned Springsteen’s trick of combining sweet domestic detail (“Watching your dress as you turn down the light”) with gospel-inspired, Biblical breast-beating about angels and devils and fiery arrows. What does it all mean? Chuff all, of course, but only a flint-hearted bastard could fail to be moved by the way ‘Crossfire’’s chorus glides and swoops. Brandon has a genius for this kind of slick FM pop, and he’s perfected the formula here.
[Luke Lewis, Deputy Editor, NME.COM]
2. Kid Cudi – ‘REVOFEV’
The first single from ‘Man On The Moon II: The Legend Of Mr Rager’ heralds the return of the smoothest voice in rap. “Somehow I feel OK”, sings the ever-analytical Cudi over this chilled-out, Plain Pat-produced track. So do we after having it on repeat for two hours.
[Abby Tayleure, writer]
3. Bjork/Dirty Projectors – ‘All We Are’
Books and whales: strange portents can bring people together. Asked to collaborate for a bookshop charity gig last May, this pairing whipped up ‘Mount Wittenberg Orca’, a mini-opera inspired by Projector Amber Coffman’s sighting of a family of whales off the California coast. They’ve now committed it to disc, and this closing track, a gently tumbling kaleidoscope of harmonies, ends with a surprising lyrical echo of Nirvana’s ‘All Apologies’.
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[Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor]
4. Salem – ‘King Night’
So what’s happened to Salem in the three years it’s taken them to complete their debut album? Well, judging by its title track, the gloopy black serum they’ve been necking – containing all earthly degradation and suffering – has transformed them into gigantic doomsday juggernauts, here to flatten all existence. Time well spent, then.
[Jaimie Hodgson, New Music Editor]
5. Bat For Lashes/Beck – ‘Let’s Get Lost’
So the new Twilight film’s coming out and everyone is getting really excited – except people who think that being able to act in films is important. For such folk, the makers of said vampire flick have ensured that the soundtrack is boss. This duet between everyone’s favourite Scientologist Beck and beguiling homegrown temptress Natasha Khan is as harrowing as the film’s thespian skills will be.
[Ash Dosanjh, Assistant Reviews Editor]
6. of Montreal – ‘Coquet Coquette’
Of course, Kevin Barnes’ freakshow collective sit so squarely in the bizarre corner of life that you can never know what they’ll pull out of the bag, but even by their surprising standards we never expected them to turn into Muse. But hey, it works. [Tim Chester, Assistant Editor, NME.com]
7. Tame Impala – ‘Solitude Is Bliss’
It’s rare to hear something so influenced by the ’60s ‘Nuggets’ compilations done so well. Perth natives Tame Impala’s blend of schizoid drums, phase-heavy guitar freakery and impressively cut-up vocals is almost too-perfect a summation of those lost classics.
[Matt Wilkinson, News Reporter]
8. Violens – ‘Acid Reign’
This sounds like the title music for an ’80s Brat Pack film in which Judd Nelson
is torn between a career on Wall Street and his real passion, his neo-goth band. The film climaxes with him storming out of a dinner with his jerk-off boss, running to the big gig he almost abandoned, smashing out this supremely produced, Interpol-meets-Human League song, and finally winning over messed-up rich girl Molly Ringwald.
[Martin Robinson, Deputy Editor]
9. LCD Soundsystem – ‘You Wanted A Hit (Soulwax Remix)’
Once, James Murphy was surfing with “someone in a famous band” who wondered if he would be doing “hits” on LCD’s third album. ‘You Wanted A Hit’ was Murphy’s own musical ‘I don’t think so’, but it actually turned out pretty catchy. Now Soulwax have remixed it, leaving it all pumped-up and radio friendly. Careful what you don’t wish for, James…
[Paul Stokes, Associate Editor]
10. Best Coast – ‘Boyfriend’
More polished than the early seven-inches that garnered so much attention, this is simple “ahhh”-laden alterna-pop heaven. As the summer really starts to hit its stride, the woozy, dreamy Ramones-gone-shoegaze shtick of this band makes more sense. Being called Best Coast is unlikely to hurt, either.
[Hamish MacBain, Assistant Editor]