Sufjan Stevens, Robyn, Bruce Springsteen
The sounds rattling round the skulls of the NME staff this week
1. Sufjan Stevens – ‘I Walked’
It’s five years since Sufjan Stevens released his semi-seminal album ‘Illinois’. Which is just about long enough for it to have passed into history as a totem of US indie, rather than something we can realistically expect him to follow up with similar aplomb. Indeed, his 2006 Christmas project aside, its follow-up was 2009’s ‘The BQE’: a soundtrack album about a road, and the recent disappointing EP, ‘All Delighted People’. So it’s with equal parts trepidation and expectation that we await October’s ‘The Age Of Adz’ – his first album of proper songs since.
Those holding out for more of On The Road – envisaging string chest-tugs (thinking about ‘Chicago’ still makes your spine feel like someone’s sprinkled it with sherbet, doesn’t it?) might be disappointed to hear he’s made an electronic album. You know, like Bright Eyes did with ‘Digital Ash In A Digital Urn’… BUT! Going on this, we should hold out hope that Sufjan’s got it in him to make another album so touching it’ll make us forgive his constant wearing of Jerry Seinfeld- style ‘sports pumps’ all over again.
The song is a slow robot shuffle of Vangelis-ish synth burbles, yes, but wait – a choir! And Sufjan’s wide-eyed lip-wibble whisper! And a melody as lovely as a baby rabbit bearing a bouquet of flowers! Phew. Really, this guy could somehow make the noise of a toaster malfunctioning more human and life-affirming than
a birthing video.
[Jamie Fullerton, News Editor]
2. Kurran and the Wolfnotes – ‘Your Four Limbs’
“I love you, but I’m so confused!” is what most folk suffering from heartbreak would like to scream, but Kurran and his Wolfnotes manage to get the bittersweet message across in a more poetic, less psychotic way. Featuring thundering drums and guitars over ice-cream van-style xylophone, it’s a perfect little folk track.
[Abby Tayleure, writer]
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3. Grinderman – ‘Evil (Factory Floor Remix)’
Two of the planet’s nastiest forces collide on this unsettling track. Factory Floor’s post-apocalyptic production sounds like a rave in an abattoir, while Nick Cave chillingly sneers “Who needs my children, my little lamb?” over the top.
[Ben Hewitt, writer]
4. Robyn – ‘Hyperballad (Live Cover)’
Swedes know Björk is a genius. So much so, they’ve just presented her with the esteemed Polar Music Prize. Who better then, to deliver a gorgeous tribute to this glorious single than fellow Scando weirdpop goddess Robyn?
[Emily Mackay, Reviews Editor]
5. Hesta Prynn (Featuring Tim Harrington – ‘Easy Bear’
New York’s finest alt.hip-hop-hottie-puckish-rave-punk returns with this flippin’ amazing danceable, grunge-pop heartbreak duet with Tim Harrington from Les Savy Fav. Hesta Prynn is the cool funny alt.superstar you wish presented the news every night.
[Martin Robinson, Deputy Editor]
6. Bruce Springsteen –‘Save My Love’
An unexpected blast from the Boss’ past. Taken from his 1978 sessions and destined for a forthcoming deluxe reissue of the ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’ album, ‘Save My Love’ contains Springsteen’s stadium swagger, yet also has a raw quality exposing the bare bones of a legend in the making.
[Paul Stokes, Associate Editor]
7. Warpaint – ‘Ashes to Ashes’
So, Warpaint team up with War Child for the new ‘We Were So Turned On’ David Bowie tribute album. The blissed-out LA she-devils add an air of little-girl-lost mystique to his 1980 original, but also twist it from a battle-bruised nursery rhyme into something way more primitive and downright seductive. What’s not to like?!
[Matt Wilkinson, News Reporter]
8. JoJo – ‘In The Dark’
JoJo, the 13-year old tween wonder who set pre-pubescent pulses racing with ‘Leave (Get Out)’ back in 2004 is all grown up, and a potential cred-pop powerhouse. So bassy and breathy it’s like listening to your own heartbeat through expensive headphones, this is what lust sounds like in 2010.
[Mike Williams, writer]
9. Twin Shadow – ‘Slow’
Twin Shadow has hands down the best ’tache/quiff combo of 2010, like a hip NYC version of The Cartoons. He has a promo video where, after an awkward Q&A, a white tee/denim jerk professes a love for “muscle cars”, before summoning the spirit of Arthur Russell.
[Jaimie Hodgson, New Music Editor]
White Hinterland – ‘Icarus (worriedaboutsatan Remix)’
‘Kairos’, Casey Dienel’s second album under the White Hinterland moniker, was criminally underrated. Here, worriedaboutsatan turn ‘Icarus’ into a swirl of delicately flickering IDM and miniature sparkle as Dienel’s voice evaporates into the snowstorm.
[Laura Snapes, Assistant Reviews Editor]