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 (04/06/12)
The Vaccines, SBTRKT, The National
The Vaccines - 'No Hope'
Coming a mere year and two months after their first album, what is, by definition, The Vaccines’ comeback song hardly feels like a comeback at all. This band are not about ‘starving their audience’ for maximum marketing impact. They’re about loading up, setting the crosshairs, firing out their next bullet, then reloading ASAP. This is a good thing. And anyway, ‘No Hope’, the first song from their second album, doesn’t need a metaphorical drum roll to herald it. It’s got a pretty damn urgent ‘Brianstorm’-recalling real one of its own that soon gives way to the most Strokesy thing they’ve done since, well, Albert Hammond Jr produced their B-side ‘Tiger Blood’ last year. Justin Young’s testicles seem to be getting a touch bigger too – while the vocals on the first album were smeared with a slight rub of reverb haze, here he’s springwater-clear. “I don’t care about anyone else, when I haven’t got my own life figured out”, he sings, his confidence undermining the lyrics somewhat. It’s not quite going to land straight into The Vaccines’ top drawer, but if ‘No Hope’ is an early indication of whether they can follow-up their acclaimed debut, we’re not worried for a second. And in a couple more seconds, we’re likely to hear the sound of their next reload.
Lil Wayne - 'Goulish'
Sound the diss-track siren! In the blue corner, Clipse’s Pusha T, who had a pop at Lil Wayne on last week’s ‘Exodus 23:1’. In the red corner, Weezy, who starts ‘Goulish’ with a simple “Fuck Pusha T”. It’s not amazing (90 seconds, piano plonk, whiffs of viciousness), but rappers getting aggy is what makes hip-hop fun.
Fixers - 'Who Says Boys'
As swathes of shimmering electro give way to a proper pop chorus, you quickly realise that, like Friendly Fires before them, these Oxford scamps should only release records in the summer. Which is something of a conundrum given Fixers’ year-long mission to graduate from the buzz band class of 2011.
Bobby Womack feat Lana Del Rey - 'Dayglo Reflection'
Damon Albarn and Bobby Womack make an undoubtedly enticing ensemble, but throwing LDR into the mix justifiably raises a few eyebrows. Not to worry though – she’s actually the star of the show, easily matching Bobby’s bruised croon with a classy, peerlessly enticing vocal over one of Damon’s best melodies since his Blur heyday.
SBTRKT - 'Gamelena'
Popping up on his SoundCloud with a casual “Something new… Just thought I’d share”, ‘Gamelena’ shows the producer on a slightly more elusive tangent. Full of swirling samples and deadened beats (and no guest vocals), it’s perhaps not his finest moment but, as a work in progress, we’re willing to cut it some slack.
Antony Hegarty - 'Rise'
Antony Hegarty wrote ‘Rise’ about preserving the coral reef, in a move that’s brought him close to soundtracking The Blue Planet. Its beautiful string accompaniments are as delicately emotional as Nemo trying to swim his way back home, while Hegarty’s operatic vocals are a force of nature in themselves.
Modeselektor feat Tom Yorke - 'All Buttons In'
Lordy, Thom Yorke’s gone all gritpop! Big choruses, lyrics about the time he got sozzled on cheap booze and… oh no, sorry. He’s still in pesky avant-garde mode here, allowing Modeselektor to chop up his disembodied voice so it sounds like black magic chanting flitting in and out of focus atop cracking static.
The National - 'The Rains Of Castamere'
You don’t have to be a boggle-eyed fantasy nut to be drawn in by Matt Berninger’s dreamy growl on ‘… Castamere’, taken from the epically popular TV show Game Of Thrones. Awash with medieval strings and rousing horns, it’s a welcome distraction for those awaiting the follow-up to ‘High Violet’.
Cheatahs - 'Coared'
With former members of Male Bonding and Weird Dreams among their number, this London fuzz-machine assemble Yuckish, Lemonheads-ish slacker melodies. Chunky, chugging riffs bustle into a sunny heart of guitar-jangle, and all is right with the world. As they sing, “don’t you doubt it anymore”.
Plan B - 'Lost My Way'
The second cut from Ben Drew’s looming grimfest ‘Ill Manors’ doesn’t pack the same rage-fuelled wallop as the title track, with a groove-led bassline and a chorus made for daytime radio, but lyrically it’s still absolutely seething. Full of despair, drugs, prison and pain, we’re a long way from Strickland Banks here.
This article originally appeared in the June 9th issue of NME
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