Monday, 29 August 2011

The Singles Bar - 29/8/11

The last Monday in August is a bank holiday in the UK. That means it’s a perfect opportunity for friends, family and loved ones to convene, to enjoy each other’s company and for summer to have one last hoorahbefore the chilly embrace of autumn intervenes. I spent today sitting in my flat, alone, listening to the new singles that have been made available to buy. This probably says more about me than I’d care to admit.
Anyway, here are the tracks and this week, there’s even a Spotify playlist containing them all to accompany the article. Enjoy!
Owl City – Deer In The Headlights
Owl City have certainly attracted their fair share of controversy on these pages, most notably in AndrewBaer’s review of their most recent album. Personally, I find them too bland to get too worked up about, andDeer In The Headlights won’t do anything to change that. It’s a passable effort that starts off sounding like the 90210 theme tune. It’s a bit Postal Service-lite and the lyrics are a little trite, but it’s inoffensive enough to attract lots of fans. Not for me though, oh, and by the way, the animal you’re looking for is a rabbit, not a deer. 4/10
Cults – Go Outside
Only time will tell if Cults make the breakthrough their critical reception predicts, but Go Outside has certainly been getting a lot of airplay in the UK. It’s a very 2011 sounding record, by which I mean there are elements of shoegaze, dream-pop and a kind of ethereal sheen over the whole thing. It has a strong melody, a glockenspiel prettily echoing the vocal line and is exceptionally catchy. The breakdown halfway through is haunting yet it still retains a sunshine feel. Oddly enough, it doesn’t seem to have any verses. What’s it about? Oh, I’ve no idea, going outside probably. 9/10 – SINGLE OF THE WEEK
The Feeling – A Hundred Sinners (Come and Get It)
The Feeling are another act it’s difficult to have strong feelings about either way due to their sheer dullness. Some of the songs from their first record had a tendency to get stuck in your head but this is instantly forgettable and shows a real lack of ambition. Critics seem to find it easy to put the boot into AOR bands (unfairly, in my opinion), but this is a good deal worse than SupertrampELO et al. The most interesting thing about this song was when my listening was interrupted halfway through by a cold caller. Uninspiring, insipid stuff. 2/10
Panic! At The Disco – Let’s Kill Tonight
I really can’t make my mind up about P!ATD. On one hand, they’re attached to that annoying emo movement, but on the other hand, they’ve written one or two decent songs, and I’m prepared to give kudos to any band with punctuation in their name. Let’s Kill Tonight starts promisingly, with healthy daubs ofelectronica, but the chanting chorus is a little flat. In fact, the electro squeals over the chorus sound like a cross between the guitar solo at the end of November Rain and the music to the Mystic Cave zone from Sonic 2 on the MegaDrive (or Genesis, if you’re one of those American types). No mean feat, but this isn’t quite the track it could have been. 6/10
Cover Drive – Lick Ya Down
Some (very) brief research tells me that Cover Drive are a Bajan group who are on the verge of moving to London having signed a deal with PolydorLick Ya Down is an ill-advised attempt to mix Euro house, Caribbean rhythms and airhorns. There are shades of Rihanna, Ke$ha and Nicki Minaj, but Cover Drive never come close to matching any of that illustrious trio. The message of the song appears to be that they are, in fact, going to “lick ya, lick ya down, lick ya, lick ya down, down, down,” which I’m not really sure I’m particularly enthusiastic about. Incidentally, one of Cover Drive performs under the name of Bar-Man, which is apt as it’s sure to be his occupation in the near future. 3/10
Kaiser Chiefs – Man On Mars
You never know quite what you’re going to get with Kaiser Chiefs. Man On Mars starts with an Asian-sounding riff, sure to herald the start of something big, yet it never quite arrives. There are some nice chord changes, a few soaring moments, but the lack of a killer chorus is the song’s Achilles’ heel. It’s difficult to imagine this is the same group who wrote the raucous I Predict A Riot. Completely fine as an album track,Man On Mars is an odd choice of single and unlikely to win the band many new fans. 5/10
Bruno Mars – Marry You
As Bruno Mars is responsible for The Lazy Song – possibly the first song it took less time to write than it does to listen to – my hopes weren’t high for this. Although I like Mars’ description of alcohol as “dancing juice,” Marry You is far from recommended. Despite strong vocals, there’s a lack of spark in the production, and the inclusion of church bells is disappointingly predictable. However, when all’s said and done, Bruno Mars has now released four solo singles, and this is the least murder-inducingly irritating of the lot. 4/10
Theme Park – A Mountain We Love
I don’t know about you, but if I were starting a band, I’d make sure I picked a name which was distinctive and likely to make my group come top in any Google searches. London quartet Theme Park have, however, eschewed such common sense, the scoundrels. A Mountain We Love wastes no time getting started, and is a head-nodding slice of new-wave electro that proudly wears its 80s influences on its sleeve. There are interesting sounds dotted throughout the track (including a kind of synth steel drum) and the twin lead vocals really work well. It could do with being taken up a notch – there’s little change in the song from start to finish – but it’s a pretty damn good effort and certainly worthy of your time. 8/10
Nicole Scherzinger – Wet
On Wet, Nicole Scherzinger sings, “Let’s get a little wet, I like the way you work it,” “If you touch me there, please beware, you can start up a fire” and other not-at-all-disguised sexual innuendos. Actually, to call them innuendos would be to credit the lyrics with some sort of invention, which would be wrong. This depressing slice of porno-pop sounds like a barrel is being scraped, which is apt as it’s the fourth single from her debut album and the well of inspiration looks like it’s run dry (unlike Scherzinger herself, it would appear). Earlier singles like Poison and Don’t Hold Your Breath are infinitely better than this tired attempt at dance. If you’re planning on drinking too much and cavorting with a stranger in the suffocating atmosphere of a club, there are far superior soundtracks. 1/10
Katy B – Witches Brew
I’m a big fan of Katy B and her debut album, On A Mission, but I question the logic of releasing a sixth single from it. Presumably it’s a final promotional push before next week’s Mercury Prize, for which On A Mission has been nominated. From the brilliant punning title onwards, Witches Brew is a fantastic track - a stunning mix of pop and dubstep, with bonkers production and an electrifying chorus. Back in April, Ipredicted that Katy B had made the pop record of 2011 and it’s tracks like Witches Brew that back up such a claim. It’s just a shame that the record’s been spliced apart; half of the tracks are now available as singles. This is an odd one really – a fantastic song, but one that should never really have been a single in the first place. 8/10
Jessie J – Who’s Laughing Now
The answer to the question posed in the title of this track is presumably Island Records, who have seen Jessie J’s album, Who You Are, go double-platinum in the UK. The start of Who’s Laughing Now is similar to Snoop Dogg’s Drop It Like It Hot, but it soon transforms into a grating, solipsistic car-crash of a record.Who’s Laughing Now is smug, whiny, soulless, disposable music, engineered with the sole intention of commerce. It also contains a horrific rap which features the line, “Oh my God, babe, your voice is, like,wow.” I’m a mild-mannered sort and have nothing against Jessie J personally, but I despise everything about her music and everything she stands for in an artistic sense. Thanks to that internet thing, I understand Jessie J performed at the VMAs last night. I’d like to say that, America, on behalf of the UK, I sincerelyapologise. And while we’re on the subject, sorry about Piers Morgan too. 0/10
Ed Sheeran – You Need Me, I Don’t Need You
What is it with UK artists being confrontational and hell-bent on proving their “realness.” There’s the aforementioned Jessie J, Cher Lloyd confronting “haters” on Swagger Jagger and now Ed Sheeran, who’s very keen for us to know he “didn’t go to BRIT School” and, slightly more bafflingly, that he’s “not fake, don’t ever call me Daisy.” If you didn’t hear Daisy Sheeran’s previous single, The A Team, it was an ode to a companion succumbing to drug addiction, sung to the tune of Hey There Delilah with lyrics written by someone who’d ingested a rhyming dictionary. Either that, or the faces of junkies really are “crumbling likepastries.” You Need Me, I Don’t Need You is, if anything, even worse, with its acoustic hip-hop like ananaemic Beck and Daisy going to enormous lengths to prove to the world what a prize chump he really is. There are several candidates for the nadir of this song (and perhaps, all of recorded music), but ladies and gentleman, thank you for reading today and I shall leave you with this, a line which makes me never want to listen to music ever again – “They say I’m up and coming like I’m fucking in an elevator.” 0/10

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