1. MIA – ‘Born Free’
Deployed without warning, ‘Born Free’ and its accompanying brutally graphic 11-minute Romain Gavras (director of Justice’s infamous ‘Stress’ clip) film are a battering ram splintering down the doors of MIA’s third album campaign. World, you have been warned.
2. Mystery Jets – ‘Flash A Hungry Smile’
First taster from the Jets’ newie then, and one of the catchiest things they’ve done yet. “Have you heard the birds and bees/Have all caught STDs?“, guitarist Will Rees coos, before begging, “Darling please/I wanna see you on your knees“.
3. The Drums – ‘Forever And Ever, Amen’
Arguments over which song on The Drums’ album is best has seen plenty of NME staff blood spilt recently (OK, well, coffee at least). And while the ultimate answer is ‘Book Of Stories’, ‘Forever And Ever, Amen’’s woody gallop and pleasingly bass-less synth breeze is a name that has cropped up as many times as we’ve had to call the carpet cleaners.
4. Devlin feat. Giggs – ‘Shot Music’
UK rap is changing. Finally, artists are being allowed to release the same undiluted street music that made them exciting in the first place, rather than cartoonifying for some non-existent ‘urban-MOR’ demographic. A prime case in point, Essex boy Devlin plays the rabbity Joe Pesci psycho to Giggs’ slow-mo De Niro in GoodFellas Goes To Dagenham.
5. Small Black – ‘Despicable Dogs’
New Order powered by fairground Wurlitzers… My Bloody Valentine re-imagined by minimalists… weighty touchstones inform the lead track on Small Black’s new EP, but there’s something intangibly unique as Josh Kolenik’s understated vocals float in on drum machines and hypnotic organs. Special stuff.
6. Ganglians –‘Candy Girl’
When Grizzly Bear-gone-West Coast troupe Ganglians describe their music as “pure naïve headphone acid pop to drive to”, they’re probably referring to top-down, dust-stirring gallivanting into the Nevada desert, but that doesn’t mean their twinkling ditties can’t be enjoyed at top volume while bumper-to-bumper on the A34 in Newbury.
7. Christina Aguilera – ‘Not Myself Tonight’
This Polow Da Don-produced (keep an ear out for his trademark 1-2-3-4 intro) comeback shows Aggy, in her own words, “in rare form”. More ‘Blackout’-era Britney than our gal Gaga, Xtina’s definitely back and, bizarrely, she’s clearly feeling more like her old self than ever.
8. Hurts – ‘Better Than Love’
People always bang on about how Hurts echo ’80s synth-pop, but there’s still something heroically now about the Radar Tour stars’ new single. Thunderously melodic and machine-tooled, it’ll be blaring from every suburban car stereo come May. Just as well it’s brilliant, then.
9. Foals – ‘Spanish Sahara (live in session)’
When Foals decided to record a session for NME Radio we knew it was gonna be good. But nothing could have prepared us for the emotional whirlwind this stripped-down version of ‘Spanish Sahara’ put us through when we first heard it. Yannis Philippakis’ fragile vocal leaves you with the heebie-jeebies as he claims, “I’m the ghost in the back of your head”. Haunting stuff.
10. HEALTH – ‘USA Boys’
HEALTH’s chase for humankind’s first ever Doomsday Number One continues with the sole ‘new’ track from their forthcoming remix album ‘Disco 2’. The synths on this one panic like the pulse of an imminent victim; ‘USA Boys’ is a murder-eyed blood ballad forcing club and noise together at gunpoint. That’s no glitterball spinning – it’s a mace.