This Week's Singles Reviewed - 14 March 2011
Arcade Fire, Guillemots and Patrick Wolf
The NME verdict on the singles released in the UK today.
Arcade Fire – ‘City With No Children’
I don’t know about you, but I’m still celebrating the triumph of seeing this lot at the Brit Awards. Not the winning, you understand, I’m talking about Win Butler going up to the podium and introducing his band as THE Arcade Fire. Win Butler did. He did that. That means you can now officially poke a pedant in the eye the next time they tuttingly insist that it’s just Arcade Fire. This song is full of handclaps, slurpy bass, chiming guitars, and some kind of drone made out of human throats. It somehow sounds complete and also incomplete, like the ghost of a Springsteen blue collar anthem.
Guillemots – ‘The Basket’
Guillemots, on the other hand, do not have the definite article in their name. Actually, they don’t even have much of the definite article in their sound either; they’re reliably all over the shop, even when they’re at their most direct and lapel-grabbing. ‘The Basket’ is awash with boom and rumble and howl, with Fyfe taking the time to desperately explain that he’s “a backstroke swimmer, for sure,” because “everybody’s too busy with those baskets of veg.” It’s not immediately clear what any of this means, or even if he actually does sing “veg”, but that’s just part of the charm. And not even a hint of Billy Joel this time around, for which we should all be very grateful.
Patrick Wolf – ‘The City’
Once upon a time, the brilliant thing about Patrick Wolf was that he was a kind of ideal pop star for indie fans. Someone with tons of personality, musical talent, charisma and that crucial aura of otherness that makes for a compelling performer. He was, effectively, a circus-raised Lady Gaga – with less budget, fewer designers and more folky twiddles. But now he’s toning down the otherness, abandoning the square-peggery just as everyone else is ramping it up, and that feels like a mild shame. ‘The City’ is all huff puff and eagerness in a time of frost and hauteur. He’s still only one empirically wonderful, unbeatable pop song away from getting everything he so transparently wants, mind.
Oh Land – ‘Wolf and I’
Right now, musicians of all stripes are driving themselves mad trying to make their work sound like the olden days. It could be 1940s Harlem, it could be 1980s London, it could even be 19th Century Somerset – what counts is the verisimilitude. Oh Land, by contrast, are mixing up wetsuit-snug Andrews Sisters harmonies with throbbing modern electronica AND olden-daysy instruments like harmoniums and glockenspiels in an alluring musical magpie’s nest of pure drama. It sounds like a curdling dream, and that’s ALWAYS a good thing.
Crystal Fighters – ‘At Home’
Oh band names, BAND NAMES, why must you let me down like this? People are going to come at a song by a band called Crystal Fighters with certain sonic expectations, surely? Something a bit fighty, perhaps, a bit crystalline, would that be so hard? Instead we’ve got the verses from ‘Yellow’, given a bit of a melodic dogshake and sung by the couple from the Match.Com advert. She likes old movies, and ukuleles, and big chuntering choral harmonies. He likes boomy bass and native American chanting. It’s not considered the best chanting, but that’s just him (that’s just him).
George Michael – ‘True Faith’
George may claim to be doing this for the greater good, but what kind of charitable action involves bringing a drunk and abusive Auto-Tune box into the studio, in order to garnish one of New Order’s very nicest songs with thick layers of robotic horrible? It’s like having a sponsored dog-kick. As such, I demand that you listen to this song by BRAIDS instead – which is also a little wayward in execution, but in a far more sonically enjoyable fashion – and then donate your money to whichever charity you see fit.
Other songs you can buy:
About Group – ‘You’re No Good’
Alex Turner – ‘Submarine EP’
Alexi Murdoch – ‘Some Day Soon’
Asa – ‘Be My Man’
Brave Irene – ‘Brave Irene EP’
The Bullitts – ‘Close Your Eyes’
Chipmunk feat. Keri Hilson – ‘In The Air’
Connan Mockasin – ‘Forever Dolphin Love’
The Crookes – ‘Godless Girl’
Cut Copy – ‘Sun God’
The Deer Tracks – ‘The Archer Trilogy pt.1’
Duffy – ‘My Boy’
Emin – ‘Obvious’
The Feeling – ‘Set My World On Fire’
Flats – ‘Never Again’
Grinderman – ‘Palaces Of Montezuma’
Henrik B feat. Christian Älvestam – ‘Now And Forever’
Ironik feat. McLean – ‘Killed Me’
Lady Gaga – ‘Born This Way’
Ladytron – ‘Ace Of Hz’
Maroon 5 – ‘Never Gonna Leave This Bed’
Mother Mother – ‘Simply Simple’
N-Dubz – ‘Morning Star’
Nicole Scherzinger – ‘Don’t Hold Your Breath’
OK – ‘Lego’
Panda Bear – ‘Surfers Hymn’
Parade – ‘Louder’
Paul Morrell feat. Mutya Buena – ‘Give Me Love’
Plain White Ts – ‘1, 2, 3, 4’
The Prison Library – ‘Out of Sight / Your Sun Will Explode’
Roddy Woomble – ‘Roll Along’
Royalty – ‘Royalty EP’
Shontelle – ‘Perfect Nightmare’
Sissy & The Blisters – ‘We Are The Others’
Skunk Anansie – ‘You Saved Me’
Static Revenger & Richard Vission starring Luciana – ‘I Like That’
Syd Matters – ‘River Sister’
Tame Impala – ‘Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind’
Toploader – ‘Never Stop Wondering’
The Wanted – ‘Gold Forever’