Abel Tesfaye's dark, twisted album is at odds with the glossy pop world he's been thrust into
10 Tracks You Have To Hear This Week (12/05/12)
Beach Boys, Girls, Regina Spektor
The Beach Boys - 'That’s Why God Made The Radio'
There are several ways a track can be important. There are new bands who offer up something so mindblowing you can’t help but sift them out of the rabble (say the Arctic Monkeys’ ‘I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor’ moment). There are established acts who suddenly throw up a game-changer that shows they’re in it for the long haul (for example ‘Sea Within A Sea’ by The Horrors). There are returning heroes who quash any doubts with a song so vital it reminds you why you loved them in the first place (oh go on then, ‘Fool’s Day’ by Blur). And then there’s ‘That’s Why God Made The Radio’ – The Beach Boys’ first new release in 16 years. And it’s none of these things. It’s just The Beach Boys – one of the best bands in history – and that’s good enough for us. Full of gently lilting guitars, the band’s legendarily sweet harmonies and lyrics about cars, music and falling in love, it’s as obvious as you can get. If you pumped the recipe for The Beach Boys into a computer it would chuck out this song. But Christ, would you want anything else? Can you even imagine how awful a modern reinvention of a band of legends and, let’s face it, pensioners, would be? True, ‘That’s Why God Made…’ isn’t going to set the world on fire but, hey, The Beach Boys have already done that.
Chief Keef - 'I Don’t Like' (Kanye West Remix)
Never one to miss a hip-hop bandwagon, Kanye hops aboard fast-rising 16-year-old US rap rascal Chief Keef’s YouTube smash and drops some typically bonkers verses about being crucified like Jesus and, er, found dead like Michael Jackson. Standard stuff from ’Ye, then – but also pretty incendiary.
Bobby Womack - 'The Bravest Man In The Universe'
And so it begins – the project to turn legendary 68-year-old soul/R&B singer Bobby Womack into a modern concern. Damon Albarn and XL boss Richard Russell (the man behind Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘I’m New Here’ in 2010) co-produce, showcasing Womack’s rich vocal over minimal, affecting piano and electronics. So far, so good.
2 Chainz - 'No Lie' (feat Drake)
You may have thought that Drake was the ladies’ man of rap, but here he is, playing second fiddle to the silver-tongued 2 Chainz. “I take your girl and kidnap her/Beat her to my mattress” he spits on this filthy taster from his forthcoming LP ‘Based On A TRU Story’. He’ll be on Take Me Out before you know it.
The Temper Trap - 'Trembling Hands'
The Aussie five-piece promised that their second self-titled effort would be full of synth and sadness, and they weren’t lying. ‘Trembling Hands’ is all glossy keyboards, epic crescendos and lyrics of lovelorn desperation. Weirdly enough, it also sounds a lot like Crowded House…
Girls - 'Back To London'
If there’s a line more indie-cringe than “Back to London, back to you, back to Vivian Girls and Micachu” we’re yet to hear it, but Christopher Owens’ deftly fingerpicked new ode to our fair capital is a beautiful little thing. Next week: ‘I Lost My Heart To A Boris Bike’.
Regina Spektor - 'Small Town Moon'
Another super-polished taster from ‘What We Saw From The Cheap Seats’ that starts with tinkling pianos and adds electronic handclaps and things like that. It’s great, and it also clocks in at three minutes and three seconds exactly, which is the holy grail of pop song lengths.
Drop Out Venus - 'Love In Vein'
New Cross newcomers Drop Out Venus’ debut arrives on a whisper and ends with a hurricane, its buzzsaw guitars recalling everything from Bowie’s ‘Five Years’ to lo-fi Jack White. They’re “junk jazz” apparently, though to us this seems more like some long-lost classic from 1972 (a good thing!).
Twin Shadow - 'Five Seconds'
This synth-stomping return from Twin Shadow (AKA George Lewis Jr) proves that ‘Confess’, the Brooklynite’s forthcoming new album, should be every bit as brilliant as 2010 debut ‘Forget’. This teaser – four frantic minutes of ’80s-indebted pop perfection, smooth-crooning vocals and Richter-scale hooks – more than whets the appetite.
MIA - 'Come Walk With Me'
A crazed, uncompromising slice of dancehall-meets-Rednex in this cowpunk/reggaeton hybrid which
ignites in a bread trail of bonkers snaps, beats and a dizzying vocal. Could it be MIA’s most bonkers move since ‘Bird Flu’? Quite possibly...
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