Abel Tesfaye's dark, twisted album is at odds with the glossy pop world he's been thrust into
This Week's Singles Reviewed (03/11/12)
Breton, A*M*E, Swim Deep
Breton – ‘Population Density’
Synths that buzz-buzz-buzz like a car engine kicking into life; a sneering vocal so arch it can’t un-raise its eyebrow; a weird, disconcertingly loopy time-signature that’s been lifted straight outta Jack Barnett from These New Puritans’ noggin: Breton have this wonky art-rock patter well practised, eh? The naysayers may have them pegged as spods, but if this slo-mo, limb-jerking goodness is born out of smarts, then everyone else should swot up pronto.
The Wanted – ‘I Found You’
Are people so starved of charismatic eye-candy nowadays that girls actually lust after The Wanted? This gaggle of gormless, grinning and dull chimps? “I found you in a river of pure emotion,” they simper on ‘I Found You’, in falsettos so uncomfortable it’s like helium’s been injected directly into their scrotums.
Luke Bingham ft Sway – ‘Gemini’
And the winner of this week’s Most Misplaced Smugness gong is one Mr Luke Bingham, who gurns through his latest video with such self-satisfaction you’d think he’d penned ‘Purple Rain’. He hasn’t, of course. He’s written ‘Gemini’, a mish-mash of nasty misogyny and synthetic, chart-molesting pap. Sway, at least, has the decency to sound embarrassed.
A*M*E – ‘Play The Game Boy’
You used to bloody love your Game Boy, didn’t you? Wearing out your thumbs, battling away on Pokémon. Sadly, those memories are about to be tarnished by A*M*E, who has her eyes set on emulating Nicki Minaj but forgets to include the things that actually make NM fun – namely being a garishly batshit-mental cartoon character made real – and just plumps for oodles of buzzing and teeth-grindingly irksome beats.
Disclosure – ‘Latch’
It’s all James Blake’s fault, this. Yeah, he’s talented and possesses the finest cheekbones in south London, but his dubstep-for-your-mum shtick is why Disclosure and their ilk think pop music should be ‘classy’ and ‘sophisticated’, all big empty caverns of sparse beats, plinky-plonky sounds and softly-softly vocals that should only be heard soundtracking a tender shagging scene on Hollyoaks Later.
Swim Deep – ‘Honey’
The best bits of the Birmingham mob’s latest cut have the pull of a star-spangled whirlpool that’ll suck you back into the late ’80s. Trouble is all the lavish arrangements in the world can’t disguise that, come the chorus, Austin Williams starts mewing like a sex phone line operator, forlornly feigning enthusiasm as she goads someone closer to a sticky climax. But hey, that’s a minor quibble, right?
The Cavan teenagers attack album two with abandon, largely at the expense of quality
A still-vital John Lydon rages towards retirement on a saucy, scuzzy new album
10 Tracks You Need To Hear This Week (26/8/2015)
Oxford's finest flit between gnarly rock and frustrating slickness on an often-brilliant fourth album