Wednesday, 25 January 2012

New for 2012: The Critics' Choice

The battle to be the first to identify the potential stars of the next twelve months seems to intensify with each passing year. Websites, magazines and commentators have been putting together their lists of tips for 2012 and there are so many “ones to watch”, it’s difficult not to feel swamped by it all.

So, No Ripcord have looked through the myriad lists and picked ten artists who are attracted a particularly large amount of attention. We’ve got the low-down on what you need to know, who you need to look out for, and who’s so terrible they must have close friends and relatives in high places.

Azealia Banks
In a sentence: Not particularly shy 20-year-old female MC from Harlem who took the music world by storm late in 2011.
Tipped by: Pretty much everyone, from us (naturally), to the The BBC, GQ Magazine, NME, The Guardian and probably your own grandmother
The verdict: You’re going to be a hearing a lot about Azealia Banks in 2012. Along with Lana Del Rey, she practically owned the latter part of 2011, generating an incredible amount of buzz from very few tracks. Again, like Del Rey, the backlash will likely hit before we even see the debut album. It’s difficult to fathom just how the hype has built up to the extent it has, but there’s no denying there’s something a bit special about Azealia. The filthy rhymes may be attention-grabbing, but she’s got a fantastic flow, and she’s obviously got a great ear if the tracks she’s been rapping over are anything to go by. Give it a few months, and Azealia will be the most famous Banks since the family in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Fact of the day: Azealia attended LaGuardia High School, alma mater of Liza Minelli, Al Pacino and Nicki Minaj
File alongside: Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliott
Label: Currently none [since publication, she's signed to Universal]
Available music: Key tracks 212 and Liquorice are available on Azealia’s Soundcloud page.

Trailer Trash Tracys
In a sentence: Swirly, ethereal dream pop that combines layers of reverb with drum machines and otherworldly vocals.
Tipped by: The Guardian, Stereogum and HMV
The verdict: Although there’s nothing inherently wrong with the music of Trailer Trash Tracys, there’s not an awful lot to separate it from the crowd. Shoegaze-indebted chillwave has been a prominent sound already throughout 2011 and there’s nothing to suggest that TTT won’t join the legion of bands who disappeared without trace (ha!) after releasing their debut album (here’s looking at you, Austra and I Break Horses). Perfectly adequate, but it doesn’t suggest a brave new dawn for 2012.
Fact of the day: While recording their debut album, Ester, TTT tuned their instruments to the solfeggio scale, which you probably know as do-re-mi-fah-so-la-ti-do.
File alongside: School of Seven Bells, Pale Saints, Beach House
Label: Double Six
Available music: Double A-side single You Wish You Were Red / Engelhardt’s Arizona was released in December 2011. Debut album, Ester, hit the shops on 9th January this year.

Charli XCX
In a sentence: Internet-savvy teenage ice queen singing tales of love and loss over chilly beats and arctic soundscapes.
Tipped by: Pitchfork, Popjustice and us (hooray!)
The verdict: Imagine if Marina & The Diamonds stopped being such a solipsist and focussed on making great pop records instead. The music of Charli XCX is flecked with touches of 80s goth and industrial, which really helps to give some weight to it, but it goes beyond the standard tropes of witch-house. She’s been around for a while, and perhaps her sound isn’t quite fully formed yet, but she could well be a breakthrough star of the coming year.
Fact of the day: Charli was playing London clubs at the age of 14, and put out an album five years ago, financed by her parents.
File alongside: Austra, Robyn, Zola Jesus
Label: This Is Music
Available music: A free download of recent single, Nuclear Seasons, is available at Expect a new album sometime in the spring.

The Minutes
In a sentence: Straight-up rock three-piece from Dublin who have been making great waves in their homeland and are now looking to take on the rest of the world.
Tipped by: The Guardian, NME
The verdict: The Minutes are the kind of band that have always existed and will forever continue to exist. Their sound is a very basic, slightly bluesy rock and roll which has been tried and tested many times before. They’re a throwback in a world of dubstep and R&B crossovers, but there’s always a market for meat and potatoes rock, and with Tribes hotly tipped this coming year too, maybe this kind of music could make a comeback in 2012. The New New Rock Revolution, if you will.
Fact of the day: Debut album, Marcata, was voted Irish Album of 2011 by Irish music site, Goldenplec, beating acts such as Lisa Hannigan, Cashier No. 9 and As I Watch You From Afar.
File alongside: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, The Black Keys, Jet
Label: Model Citizen Records
Available music: Marcata is already available throughout Europe, and will be released in the UK on 30th January. No word as yet on a release in other territories.

Lianne La Havas
In a sentence: Honey-vocalled, London-based singer-songwriter whose delicate torch songs saw her support Bon Iver on a recent tour
Tipped by: The BBC, HMV, The Observer, Fader
The verdict: Despite ticking all the boxes that would indicate her music would be an introspective bore-fest, La Havas’ marriage of folk and soul is a real thing of wonder. There’s a lightness of touch to the arrangements, shades of smoky jazz in the percussion, and a real intimacy to her vocal delivery. She’s clearly grabbing the ears of the great and good too – as well as touring with Bon Iver, her recent EP sees her duet with folkie Willy Mason. An unexpected delight; gorgeous, captivating stuff.
Fact of the day: Despite not having yet released an album, La Havas actually signed her major label record deal back in 2009.
File alongside: Laura Marling, Erykah Badu, Emmy the Great
Label: Warner Brothers
Available music: EP Lost & Found is out now and fully worth your time and money. A debut full-length is pencilled in for this spring.

Woman’s Hour
In a sentence: Afropop and shoegaze are welded together by Cumbrian quartet now making waves in their new home of London
Tipped by: The Guardian, NME, Loud & Quiet
The verdict: A very modern band, they seem to have assimilated all of the most prevalent sub-genres of the last three of four years into their sound. However, they still seem to create something which stands out. So, you have the finger-picking of hi-life next to the fuzzy reverb of shoegaze, the studied minimalism of post-dubstep alongside the lush synths of chillwave. This might read like Woman’s Hour have been focus-grouped by a team of insufferable hipsters, but there’s a warmth and addictive quality to the songs.
Fact of the day: Recent single, Jenni, was written about Jenni Murray, host of the Radio 4 show from which the band take their name.
File alongside: Warpaint, The xx, Vampire Weekend
Label: Dirty Bingo
Available music: Double A-side single, Jenni / Human, was released in December 2011.

Ren Harvieu
In a sentence: Lancastrian lass whose big voice and 60s fixation belie her tender years
Tipped by: Mojo, The BBC, The Guardian, The Sun, The Daily Mirror
The verdict: In a post-Adele world there was always going to be a spate of young, female singers doing soul-tinged tracks. However, Ren Harvieu goes way beyond the Miss Adkins' emotional wrangling by creating tracks full of soaring strings and doe-eyed soul, meaning she has more in common with classic vocalists like Dusty Springfield. The arrangements recall Burt Bacharach and Scott Walker, so perhaps Ren Harvieu can finish what Alex Turner side-project, The Last Shadow Puppets, started. If she can grab the attention of supermarket shoppers and casual music buyers, her record could sell by the bucketload.
Fact of the day: Harvieu was due to perform at Glastonbury and record with Nas last year, but her career was put on hold when she broke her spine.
File alongside: Dusty Springfield, Candie Payne, Nancy Sinatra
Label: Island
Available music: Single, Through The Night, was released on 23rd January and can also be streamed through Ren’s Soundcloud page.

All The Young
In a sentence: The swaggering four-piece who see Definitely Maybe as a musical Year Zero that aren’t Viva Brother
Tipped by: The Guardian, HMV, The Fly
The verdict: Despite a tour slot with Morrissey, All The Young represent all that is turgid and stale in modern, alternative music. Even if you’re a big fan of the Britpop sound, your heart will sink upon hearing the stodgy, lad-rock of All The Young. They’ve already been releasing singles on a major label and it will come as no surprise that their recent press shot shows one of their number wearing sunglasses indoors. Expect Radio 1 to be singing their praises any time soon – all hail the landfill indie revival!
Fact of the day: As well as the Mozfather, All The Young have supported both The Courteeners and The Wombats in the past year. Be still, my beating heart.
File alongside: Viva Brother, Oasis, The Courteeners, the recycling bin
Label: Warner Brothers
Available music: Singles (The First Time, Welcome Home, Quiet Night In) and a live EP are available. An album is expected in 2012. Don’t say you haven’t been warned though.

In a sentence: Alt. rock quartet with stadium-sized ambitions, fresh from a gig playing the Occupy London camp at St. Paul’s.
Tipped by: The Guardian, HMV, XFM
The verdict: Of all the artists on this list, fiN are the most likely to be huge, as in, arena-filling, million-selling huge. Like musical magpies, fiN have picked all the bits that work from some of the biggest British guitar bands of the last twenty years. There are the angular guitars of Bends-era Radiohead, the sheer scale of the songs from Muse, and the pop hooks of The Kooks. It’s all very impressive stuff, if not a little on the clinical and slick side. You’ll probably see a Q Magazine cover within the year, which will use the word “anthem” very liberally.
Fact of the day: After only a dozen gigs, fiN were invited to support Incubus on their recent tour.
File alongside: Hope Of The States, U2, Razorlight
Label: Artisan Records
Available music: Double A-side single, The Artisan / It Changes Everything was released in October. New single (another double-A), Everybody Dies Alone / Rapture, hits the shops on 30th January.

In a sentence: Brooklyn boy/girl group who combine indie, R&B and disco influences to make left-of-centre, danceable pop
Tipped by: The BBC, Time Out, The Guardian, Stereogum
The verdict: Friends put a very up-to-date twist on the kind of combination that’s been attempted many times before. It’s indie music you can dance to, but in the way these things are going, there are hints of chillwave and the downcast R&B of The Weeknd in there too. What sets it apart though, is the funk basslines and the influence of disco that permeates their tight, twitchy tunes. Clearly a group with an appreciation of a wide range of music, Friends sound like a band who can do a lot of good things in the coming year.
Fact of the day: Recent B-side, My Boo, is a cover of a 1996 track from Ghost Town DJs
File alongside: CSS, Black Kids, Friendly Fires
Label: Lucky Number
Available music: Singles, I’m His Girl and Friend Crush, are available to download now; the 7”s have already sold out.

Unsurprisingly, there’s some great talent out there as well as some pretty tedious music. Of the good stuff, the variety is pleasing, and it’s great to see so many artists looking far and wide for their influences. A lot of this is merely the continuation of trends seen in 2011, but there are some extremely promising acts on the verge of breaking through who we’ll hopefully be hearing great things from in the coming twelve months.

On the flipside, more than one of the bands above deal in regressive, unimaginative rock, and it’s disheartening that there’s still a market for this kind of music, as well as the fact it still gets industry tastemakers excited. It seems that despite the advances made over the years and the amount of music available, leather jackets, sunglasses and an arrogant swagger will still get you further than your talent should permit.

Azealia Banks is almost certain to be huge in 2012; with the hype surrounding her and the amount of column inches she’s already generated, it’s practically a given. Of the rest, fiN seem the most likely to be headlining festivals and marrying supermodels in the coming years, despite their insipid arena rock. However, no need to feel down, as Lianne La Havas, Woman’s Hour and Friends will hopefully ensure that 2012 remains in safe hands.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The Singles Bar - 09/01/2012

Now everyone’s back at work and we’re in the second week of January, you’d think we’d be in full swing down here at the Singles Bar. However, the tumbleweed of the Christmas chart battle blows past, the glowing cigarette ends of 2011 still smoulder in the pop ashtray and the lorry delivering a fresh of batch of tunes for 2012 seems to have been held up in roadworks somewhere on the outskirts of Droitwich. Before I stretch this Singles-Bar-being-an-actual-bar metaphor to breaking point, it’s probably best for everyone if I just get on with it. So…

The Carpels – Bears

And we kick off this week with an intricate afrobeat riff. Until the vocals come in, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is the return of Foals, though Foals would never sing about “hoodies on the loose”. Actually it would have been better if the vocals hadn’t come in at all, because while the overlapping riffs and taut drumming of Bears is great post-punk fun, the post-Doherty, half-growled, half-lolling singing is irritating, and relegates The Carpels a rung or two on the band ladder. So, instead of being an idiosyncratic, interesting next-big-thing group, they’re a run-of-the-mill, indistinguishable indie band with some above-average riffing. 6/10

FOE – Cold Hard Rock

So, will FOE be friend or… well, you know (Editor’s note: needs work). Listening to Cold Hard Rock, it sounds as if FOE are the house band for the inside of Tim Burton’s head. There’s a fuzzy, foreboding synth line and spooky bells repeatedly playing a slightly discordant motif. It’s trashy, gothic and intriguing, even if the big, anthemic chorus is a little reminiscent of Evanescence and Paramore. Cold Hard Rock is a little like metal kindergarten; if the kids lap up this unthreatening yet slightly spooky slice of grinding pop, they might progress onto the harder stuff at a later age. Despite the fact I’ve just likened FOE to a gateway drug, this isn’t a bad effort at all. 7/10

Black Veil Brides – Fallen Angels

Taking of “woo, spooky” music, this must be the most gothic artist/track title combination I’ve seen in many a (full) moon. There’s something very Def Leppard about Black Veil Brides, though they’re a lot more “metal” than Sheffield’s finest, with crunching riffs and widdly-widdly, fretboard-mangling, look-at-me solos a-go-go. There’s a half-decent melody or two trying to get out of this song, but they're buried in a sludgy, glam-rock mix; you can practically see the teenagers making the devil’s horn hand sign as this song plays. It’s not offensively bad – actually, it’s better than you’d expect from a band whose guitarist goes by the nom de rock of Jinxx – but it’s still the overblown, KISS-aping nonsense most boys (and it’s pretty much only boys who’ll like this) have grown out of by the age of twelve. 3/10

Gabrielle Aplin – Home

Thanks, John Lewis. No, really, thanks a bunch. Ever since Ellie Goulding’s devoid-of-personality cover of Elton John’s Your Song appeared on their Christmas 2010 advertising campaign, there’s been a spate of whey-faced, over-earnest, singing teenage girls who dress like they’ve escaped from a Victorian costume drama. So, following the aforementioned Goulding, we’ve had Birdy, Slow Moving Millie, Charlene Soraia and now Gabrielle Aplin, whose new single is bland, insipid, and several other words that mean bland and insipid. Oh, of course, there’s nothing wrong with it per se, it’s just that the slightly whispered vocals, finger-picked accompaniment and string-laden crescendo have been done to death a million times, and we’re left with the female Matt Cardle – great. 2/10

Air – Seven Stars

I don’t know, you wait ages for an Air song, and then two come along at once. Well, if you count “three weeks apart” as “at once”. Like previous single, Parade, it might come as something of a shock for those who still see Air as the band who do Moon Safari; it’s got a tubthumping bass drum line, slightly woozy, harmonious vocals and the kind of space-age noises that used to crop up in Dubstar singles from the late 90s. Actually, it’s so space-age that about halfway through, the track almost comes to a halt and a mission control countdown begins. There are shades of Sigur Rós in the way Seven Stars carefully builds into a controlled climax, and the overall effect is lovely, if not overly arresting. The upcoming Air album, Le Voyage Dans Le Lune, will certainly be one to watch out for in 2012. 7/10

AU – Solid Gold

They’re called AU, their track’s called Solid Gold… chemistry pun alert! Anyway, there’s something very odd at work here - in fact, the vocals and instrumentation appear to be from two completely different songs. Despite all this, it just about hangs together and kind of works. There’s some experimental, Sleigh Bells stuff happening here, a little Architecture In Helsinki there, a very incongruous, skronky sax solo in the middle. In fact, I’ve not the faintest idea what’s going on– is it indie pop? Is it free jazz? Is it oompah? In reality, it could be all three. I pride myself on being able to write about music, what it sounds like and how it makes us feel, but this one’s got me completely stumped. It’s damn good though. 8/10 – SINGLE OF THE WEEK

Tribes – When We Were Children

Do you find Kasabian a bit too musically progressive? Are you baffled as to why One Night Only haven’t been as commercially successful as predicted? Do you miss King Adora, even though you were repulsed by their suggestions of androgyny, because rock music’s for PROPER BLOKES, right? Is your idea of a good night out drinking copious amounts of European lager and leering at women? Do you think Nuts Magazine is “well funny”? Do you use the word “gay” as an insult? Do you think that Fearne Cotton is a brilliant DJ (even though she’s a BIRD, yeah)? Do you think Andy Gray and Richard Keys were hard done by? Do you use the word “banter” unironically? Do you think feminists are “probably lesbians anyway”? Do you think Tim Lovejoy is “a ledge”? Do you think jokes about rape are humourous? Is your idea of cool, rock n’ roll rebellion wearing a leather jacket? Do you think that “Dave Cameron’s got some pretty decent ideas, really”? Are you instantly suspicious of anyone with a university degree or who doesn’t come from your hometown? Do you not really see the point of foreign travel? Do you not see the point of books? Do you communicate with your friends in text speak? Have you ever joined a Facebook group entitled “Jeremy Clarkson for Prime Minister”? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to over half of the above, then congratulations! Your new favourite band has arrived! Now, step away from the computer and promise me you’ll never procreate. 0/10

Nicola Roberts – Yo-Yo

Now, regular readers of The Singles Bar (yes, both of them) will know of my fondness for the music of Ms. Roberts and my continued surprise at her lack of chart success. Obviously, Yo-Yo is precisely amazing and should be number 1 in the charts for a month at least, but it’s probably not the best choice for third single from a struggling album. It’s a mid-tempo, electro-charged track that’s clever and catchy, but if you weren’t won over by the first two singles (Beat Of My Drum and Lucky Day, as if you needed reminding) then Yo-Yo is unlikely to change your mind. If I were choosing Nicola Roberts’ next single (which would require a fairly unlikely sequence of events), I’d stop picking this kind of track and choose something unexpected. So either head-turning, confessional ballad, Sticks + Stones, or jaw-dropping, profanity-laden club banger, Gladiator. Nicola Roberts, you are right and it’s everyone else who is wrong, but you’ve got to change your tack to make them realise. 7/10

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Attention Seekers

The latest issue of rather fine music and fashion magazine, Clash, is out on 5th January. Turn, if you will, to page 66 and you'll see a two-page article on the best and worst gimmicks in music history, written by me.

I'm not reproducing the article here for rights reasons and that, but if it gets published on the Clash website, expect to see a link in due course.

My first publication as a writer in a national music magazine - hooray!

The Singles Bar - 02/01/12

As The Singles Bar creaks open after a well-earned break and the fog of New Year’s Eve begins to lift, what are we left with? Well, it’s 2012 as you’ve probably noticed, which means business as usual (unless you’re Mayan, in which case, best start flogging your stuff on eBay fairly soon). The opening week of the year is a chance for acts to steal a march on a stagnating singles chart and for new, hotly-tipped acts to finally break through into the mainstream. Fret not though, there are also a host of people releasing the same old rubbish too. Happy New Year!

JLS – Do You Feel What I Feel?

It seems poor old JLS have slightly lost their way of late. After the insipid ballad, Take A Chance On Me, they’ve returned with the inevitable club-style “banger”. However, it sounds like a poor replica of some of the group’s better efforts (Eyes Wide Shut, Beat Again) and passes without too much incident. JLS are one of the more successful X Factor alumni and churn out the odd good track now and then, but two poor efforts in a row mean that the alarm bells should be ringing. In the dog-eat-dog world of pop, their next single really could be make or break. 3/10

S.C.U.M – Faith Unfolds

You can just imagine the conversation. “Mum, we’ve formed a band.” “How exciting – what are you called?” “We’re called S.C.U.M.” “That’s nice dear, would you like some mashed potato?” With a name like that, you’re expecting some kind of assault on the eardrums. Instead, Faith Unfolds sounds like a downtempo Placebo who have been given a new keyboard for Christmas. Apparently, S.C.U.M claim to be not influenced by any other groups at all, which is fairly laughable considering this track sounds like about a million other ones you’ve already heard. It must be some kind of incredible coincidence. 4/10

Mark Lanegan Band – The Gravedigger’s Song

It’s been a long while now since Lanegan has released a record without the assistance of the gossamer-light vocals of Isobel Campbell. The Gravedigger’s Song is the kind of track that’s definitely more suited to just his voice, as it’s all lumbering low end and menace. There’s a brooding scuzziness to the song that complements Lanegan’s threatening, throaty growl rather well, and there are signs of an electronic influence creeping into his work. Although Lanegan/Campbell collaborations offer a bit more light and shade than the full-on gravelly assault of Lanegan himself, this is a pretty damn fine return. 7/10

Various Cruelties – Great Unknown

There’s something rather unappealing about such a will-this-do? band name as Various Cruelties. That said, Great Unknown starts off intriguingly, with pretty, almost cheap-sounding keyboards and vocals that pitch up somewhere between Plan B and Maverick Sabre. Sadly, the chorus is fairly standard rock-by-numbers which doesn’t do much to quicken the heart rate. Various Cruelties claim to make “shabby Motown pop”, and there’s one word in that description that doesn’t seem to belong at all. I certainly can’t hear an ounce of Marvin Gaye et al on Great Unknown, and it sounds like a trick to get people talking about them, which I will NOT be falling for. Oh… 5/10

Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again

Michael Kiwanuka is on the BBC’s Sound of 2012 longlist, and Home Again is all over the radio, so there’s a decent chance he’s going to making a few quid in the coming twelve months. On the evidence of Home Again he certainly deserves to, and it’s a beautiful, tender acoustic ballad framed by his wonderfully rich voice and a smattering of strings. He’s the kind of artist who’s so clearly got “it”, you wonder why he’s not a household name already. Home Again has been produced wonderfully – it’s not over-egged at all – and the gospel influences get a chance to come through. But it’s that voice that’s the star; understated, exceptionally clear and capable of displaying emotion almost effortlessly. Remember where you heard of him first (unless you’d heard of him before reading this, in which case just pretend you heard of him first here). 8/10

Bombay Bicycle Club – Leave It

Bombay Bicycle Club are an interesting proposition. Adored in some quarters and roundly ignored in others, they seem to have changed style altogether with each passing album without so much as a round of applause from many critics. Leave It showcases a band who have firmly got to grips with being part of the furniture in the indie scene – there’s a good melody, a big chorus and bits for people to sing along with. It’s a little on the average side, but there’s a little bit of afropop creeping in around the edges, which sets it apart from your standard four-to-the-floor hitmakers. BBC should probably be bigger than they are, but not on this evidence… if that makes sense, which it probably doesn’t. 6/10

The Maccabees – Pelican

And speaking of standard four-to-the-floor hitmakers, here’s The Maccabees, a band whose appeal – the sublime Toothpaste Kisses aside – completely mystifies me. Anyway, they’re back with a new album, Given To The Wild, and Pelican is its lead single. It appears that three years away hasn’t changed their musical palette whatsoever, as Pelican could easily have come off their last record, the disappointing Wall Of Arms. There’s some choppy guitar, some two-part harmonies, some bits you think you’ve heard before but actually haven’t and an overwhelming sense of indifference (Can you be overwhelmed by indifference? I’m saying yes). It’s the same as it ever was; the NME will get excited about this, no-one else will really care and somehow, the world will continue to spin on its axis. 4/10

Rihanna – You Da One

We’re not even 48 hours into 2012, and already Rihanna’s releasing yet another track. I’m starting to believe that she can’t be just one person due to the sheer amount of music she puts out. She can’t have had a holiday since she was in school. But, I digress. You Da One is the opening track from last year’s Talk That Talk LP, and one of the better songs on that album. It’s relatively slow for a Rihanna track, but it still fizzes with energy and is underpinned with sparingly utilised bass. There’s also a glitchy, dubstep-inspired bridge which gives You Da One a little edge and saves it from being too fluffy. Not the best thing she’s ever put out, but still the kind of track a million wannabes would commit murder to be able to put their name to. 7/10

Taio Cruz – Troublemaker

Taio Cruz’s real first name is actually Jacob, which has completely shattered my ideas of him. Actually, that’s not entirely true, because hit single, Dynamite, aside, he’s one of those singers that’s indistinguishable from a plethora of others. Troublemaker was released in France in August 2011 but don’t worry, everyone, we haven’t missed too much. It’s Guetta-esque house pop with some Euro-dance tomfoolery in the chorus and lyrics generated from the big book of dull pop clichés (“I throw my hands up”; “I love the way you dance, it makes me crazy”; “Let’s take it to the top, push it to the limit”). If Mr. Cruz informs me Troublemaker is actually a scathing diatribe on the behaviour of government officials during the Biafran War then I might revise my opinion but for the moment, I think this is a load of old toss. 1/10

The 2 Bears – Work

See, Jacob, this is how you do house-infused pop music. The 2 Bears (Raf Rundell and Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard) follow up last year’s sublime Bear Hug with this great track. Imagine, if you will, that Ian Dury had been born about 40 years later and spent his formative years in Pacha. Then, you might have some idea of what Work sounds like. OK, the lyrics aren’t exactly vintage, acerbic Dury, but the half-talked vocals replete with glottal stops are here, and they’re joined by a nodding dance beat which is impossible to ignore. Even better, about 20 seconds from the end, the whole thing climaxes with an incredibly fun, fuzzy bass breakdown. More of this sort of thing, please. 8/10 – SINGLE OF THE WEEK