After the sinister glories of last week’s top pick from Crystal Stilts, this week’s fistful of sevens have in common a tendency to pack their three minutes with rather too many ideas. Which is hardly something to complain about, as the old adage about taking away vs. adding more is less true with records than it is with cooking. With a dizzying surfeit of noises from Passion Pit and Empire of the Sun, this week’s singles might also be evidence of the coming Spring, were a lot of these records not actually available last summer. Something needs to be done about release dates, then, and everyone apart from School of Seven Bells could do with some sort of red-pen-wielding, aural editor.
Single of the Week:
School Of Seven Bells 'Iamundernodisguise' (Full Time Hobby)
After the glorious ‘Half Asleep’ wafted onto our collective stereos sounding very much like the second coming of Heaven or Las Vegas-era Cocteaus, this time around the bewitching Brooklynites layer up their very Vega vocals in between washes of woozy static and some deliciously dubby afrobeats before returning you to the one-note Synth of Doom they being ‘Iamundernodisguise’ with. It’s almost impossible to write a review of SOSB that doesn’t include the word ‘dreamy’ but this one really does whisk you away somewhere rather enchanting before plonking you right back into the thudding grey of your in-tray/empty bank balance/piddling relationship dramas three minutes and 46 seconds later. As the toddling irritant from the Disneyland commercials is wont to say, ‘It’s magical’. Here be a stripped down version of it for Stereogum:
Passion Pit 'Chunk Of Change' EP (Frenchkiss / Columbia)
While Michael Angelakos claims to have put this together as a (boo – how rubbish) belated Valentine for his favourite and best shorty, everyone knows he’s actually slipping an Alvin & the Chipmunks revival in through the back door. The thing is, even if he is some sort of evil, chart-catching Randy Newman, and even if it is brimming with the sort of cover-everything-with-aural-hundreds-and-thousands, giddy exuberance that in usual pop circumstances would get your legs smacked, this is undeniably, irresistibly cheery. Packed with ideas and brimming with all the twinkly tricks and fizzes you can think of (toytown percussion, speedy vocals, skippy synths, kiddie songtitles) – this suffers from First Novel syndrome in so far as there’s almost too much going on. If Angelakos reins it back just a tiny tiny bit, we’ll all be smitten.
Marina And The Diamonds - 'Obsessions/Mowgli's Road' (Neon Gold)
‘My first songs were disgusting, I hated them. If they ever came out I would die!’ quothed Marina to the NME back in January. Now at the grand old age of 20, we get 'Obsessions', in which so many kooky quirks and Spektorish mannerisms are applied to the performance that it’s nigh-on impossible to wade through the treacle to her undeniable way with melody. Having come over all Winner and shouted ‘Calm down Marina, it’s only a single,’ at the stereo, I’ve come to the conclusion that should anyone else care to use any combination of the phrase ‘pass me a cigarette/pills/rope’ as if it’s the last word in dark, I will THKWEAM. Sorry, but this is really quite irritating.
Empire Of The Sun 'Walking On A Dream' (Virgin)
All over the airwaves like a particularly bad outbreak of Aussie sunburn, Empire of the Sun have taken the rather popular 80s fantasy film artwork schtick and run with it like Athena print wolves, fashioning for themselves an image that is one part Fleetwood Mac, two parts MGMT and three parts David Bowie in Labyrinth. And what do you know, it’s a perfectly enjoyable but not-about-to-win-any-prizes-for-originality combination, swimming past your ears with soaring vocals and repetitive electric strums. It’s a bit orange squash compared to the full blown majesty of MGMT’s not-from-concentrate psychedelics, but all rather pleasant. Buy the 7” and get a Sam La More remix which is smothered in Balearic sunshine and flashes of Jean Michel Jarre wibbliness (and if Jarre doesn’t get a revival soon we will eat our keyboard of light), which is sadly not nearly banging enough.
FAKE PROBLEMS 'The Dream Team Rumble In The Jungle' (SideOneDummy)
Do Fake Problems know that they sound exactly like a flannel-shirted Bon Jovi? DOWN WITH THIS SORT OF THING, etc.
Buraka Som Sistema – 'Sound of Kuduro' ft. MIA, DJ Znobia, Puto Prata & Saborosa
It’s slightly unfortunate that Angolans DJ Znobia, Saborosa and Puto Prata haven’t had much of a look-in what with MIA doing her petulant thing all over Sound of Kuduro – a vocal which will either drive you halfway to the nearest home for mentals or jerk you to the floor, depending on whether you succumb to its urgent charms. The aural equivalent of a slap in the face, this is an impossible to ignore, angry avalanche of whoop whoop impromptu rave sound effects, call-to-action alarms and streetside drums which is nothing short of magnificent. With remixes from Drop the Lime, DJ Mehdi and DJ LilJohn (no, not that one) which make Sound of Kuduro sound if anything, even more vital, it’s also worth popping over to DJ Znobia’s Myspace here where he’s mixed Buraka with Fiddy and, of all things, Justin Timberlake. Skills!
The Maccabees 'No Kind Words' (Free download at themaccabees.co.uk)
This rather dark excursion about sticks and stones seems to be massively popular with everyone else in the office, but is not my cup of tea. Still, it costs nothing, so it seems churlish not to mention it’s jangling, gathering pace or nice way with a lyric, mentioning as it does ears that bend and dear friends one should keep closer than enemies.
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