The xx, Frank Ocean, Night Works
The xx – Angels
The best artists are the ones that you can believe in fully. It’s like, how Jack White isn’t anything but the über-controlling guitar-shredding Willy Wonka of garage-rock. It’s why Lady Gaga can’t wear jeans or why Madonna never says sorry (even about releasing an album titled ‘MDNA’). The xx have got that magic, too. You really can imagine them staying up late, watching VCRs and whispering to someone that they’re crushing on them hard. Or being frozen with desire. Or making it better “with the lights turned off”. Their sharp all-black uniforms are so instantly recognisable that the website Hipster Runoff went as far as dedicating a post to the first time Oliver Sim swapped a black shirt for one with a bit of red on. New track ‘Angels’, then, a free download from second LP ‘Coexist’, builds on their myth. The perfect follow-on from their debut (and lead into the loved-up tone of this one), Romy spools heart-melting lyrics like “[i]they would be as in love with you as I am[/i]” and “[i]I think I’m ready, as long as you’re with me[/i]”, while Jamie shows that he’s still as good at making sparse, reverberating, soul-rattling beats as he is making clubs bump with his steel-pan-heavy solo records. As recent gigs prove, when a beauty like this sits next to new richer, deeper productions, it makes for an even more hero-worship-inspiring kind of WOW.
The Vaccines – ‘Teenage Icon’
“[i]I’m no teenage icon/I’m no Frankie Avalon/I’m nobody’s hero[/i]”. If ‘No Hope’ was a slow burn, on ‘Teenage Icon’ The Vaccines are blasting right back to their anthemic best. A three-minute belter that will launch a thousand beers when it lands in festival tents this summer.
Gunning For Tamar – ‘Dark Sky Tourism’
As well as being brilliantly named, Oxford four-piece Gunning For Tamar don’t half pack a wallop. This new single sounds like early Biffy Clyro wrestling with a bulked-up Future Of The Left. Discordant, full of energy and verve and supremely catchy – this lot are going to rule.
Delphic – ‘Good Life’
Delphic haven’t quite become the new New Order in the two and a half years since their debut was released. But this taste of their second album, an official Olympics song, is stirring enough to soundtrack a slo-mo of the pained expression of a long-distance runner as London raindrops cascade elegantly off his forehead.
Night Works – ‘The Eveningtime’
Produced by Metronomy’s Joe Mount (an old mucker of Mr Gabriel Stebbing), ‘The Eveningtime’ has the detached, intense vibe of the former’s ‘Corrine’, but the creepily enticing hook of “It looks like you own the eveningtime” is all original Night Works.
Frank Ocean feat Tyler, The Creator – ‘Golden Girl’
Another reason to buy a physical copy of ‘Channel Orange’ (looking at you, streaming cheapskates) comes in this long-awaited ‘bonus’ collaboration between Frank and OF’s most notorious. Ocean praises a 24-carat lover and Tyler shows he’s a softie really, praising GOLDEN girls and suggesting they listen to, um, Michael Bolton.
Chelsea Light Moving – ‘Groovy & Linda’
With cries of “Don’t shoot – we are your children!”, Thurston Moore’s new band take on the grizzly subject of two late-’60s East Village hippies whose dreams of peace and love (man!) ended in a shooting. It is, as you’d expect, a bloody distorted guitar jam that will keep Sonic Youth fans more than satisfied.
How To Dress Well – ‘Cold Nites’
This taster from Tom Krell’s up-and-coming second album ‘Total Loss’, written with fellow traveller Forest Swords, confirms Krell’s mastery of a singular strain of sadface avant-R&B – a blend of lonely falsetto, twinkling pizzicato strings and sleepy boom-clap that slips down like a pill in your drink.
Tame Impala – ‘Apocalypse Dreams’
Wow, there really is no let up in the flow of potent psychedelic brilliance from Australia at the minute. No sooner have we waved goodbye to Pond, and Impala (featuring two of Pond) are back and as mind-bending as ever. And look below, there’s more coming still!
Melody’s Echo Chamber – ‘Endless Shore’
Wow, there really is no let up in the flow of po… Ah, shit, already done that. Melody’s Echo Chamber then, featuring a real-deal French chanteuse called Melody and Kevin Parker from Tame Impala gear up for the release of their debut album with this – a swirling, chopped-up slice of lilting heaven.