Having been given permission to go off-topic from the big bad bossman (thank you, Sean, you know not what you do), this week’s reviews are united by a disgusting tendency to veer into anecdotal asides like a rep theatre diarist soaked in gin.
Normal service resumed next week.
SINGLE OF THE WEEK!
La Roux – ‘In For The Kill’ (Polydor)
The odd thing about this whole La Roux business - and for once this has nothing to do with the 80s hi-top trainer swoosh of her fringe – is that she sounds, on record, like two voices. One, perfectly pitched, if straining a little, and another, flat as a pancake, adding an oddly wrong, off-kilter cadence to the mix. The thing you realise after seeing her live (quite apart from the rather alarming waifery - girl is tiny) is that these two voices come out of one gob, at once.
The fact that it’s neither production quirkery nor layering tricksiness, and a natural talent, is therefore all the more to be celebrated, it having a remarkably pleasing minor key pitch that lends a melancholy air to what are some pretty heart-breaking but still utterly perky pop songs. Of course, you may well be one of those in the ‘She sings funny’ camp, in which case, I bid you to go gently.
The Rakes – ‘1989’ (V2)
What can I tell you? One summer, in the midst of a heatwave, I found myself in Benicassim. Having thoroughly enjoyed being up to my eyes in cheap speed and supermarket vodka (the charmingly named ‘Rodoff’) the first time round, I wasn’t terribly prepared for the second, when there was a veritable conflagration of ill incident - mostly derived from a swarm of mosquitoes swizzing about the sauna-like canopy under which we camped, a darling little outbreak of heat rash, a unitard of sunburn, a lack of showering facilities likely to trouble the dirtiest bleeder and, of all injustices, a dose of Summer flu.
Anyway, into this unholy mix came a deplorably irritating and corpulent bastard, who, after deigning to pitch up next to us, bellowed to an enthralled set of mates about The Rakes, and how he planned to see them, even if they were on at an 4am. As promised, at around 5am, when I lay shivering in a rather unbecoming pool of sweat, he came back to camp. Pissed as arseholes, he then somehow managed to manipulate his fat fingers into turning up a tinny set of travel speakers, to re-imagine the entire set for our benefit. Unsurprisingly, I now need only to hear two bars of Donohoe et al before being summoned swiftly back to the filing cabinet of misery in my head containing festival experience, and will hate THE FUCKING RAKES forevermore. ‘1989’ has some seriously affected la, la, la’s, and, as some bitchy wag on the messageboard had it, should really have been called 2005.
Dieter Schöön – ‘Mary Jane’ (Headspin Recordings)
It’s fair to say that the best whip crack ever used for musical purposes is the one which punctuates Tom Wait’s 'Jockey Full of Bourbon'. Blues’ fallen angel uses it just 13 times, and each one’s a delicious slap in the face, cutting through the wonky waltz like a menacingly glinty, but rather tantalising knife thrower’s blade. Anyway, on comes ‘Mary Jane’, and it’s got whip cracks and I am all excitement, or at the very least, muffled hi-hats made to sound like whip cracks. But rather than being allowed to breathe for themselves, young Dieter has also seen fit to add a Mariachi brass section, some tinny hi-NRG beats of the sort you would usually hear streaming out of an ASBO hoodlum’s Fiesta, a distorted and faraway synth breakdown, handclaps, AND straining vocals oddly redolent of the Arcade Fire. Charging through the china shop of pop is Dieter, and the results are really not bad.
Keane – ‘Better Than This’ (Island)
Crushes are odd things, creeping up on you with the stealth of a ninja and the grace of a butterfly. Before you know it, you’ve woken the town to tell the people that you love Fat Tom Out Of Keane more than any other man on the face of the planet. And revel in the undisguised disdain of all your nearest and dearest, who are moved only to exclaim ‘But…but…it’s Keane.’ It’s certainly not what I expected to find myself doing last year, but after all, there’s no accounting for taste / you can’t choose who you fall for / love is like a butterfly and a thousand other clichés. Luckily, as with the Indian summer aspect of sudden love, what was once, at its height, a full-on nuclear pash has now dimmed to a distant hum. Anyway, what can I say, I love them, not in an ironic fashion, but at least with the good sense to know that it is something of an blip in what I honestly promise is an otherwise rather healthy roster of iPod interests. This is the (amazing) one with the (amazing) Bowie ‘homage’/rip-off, where (amazing) Tom tells the (amazing) world to ‘get a grip on itself’ – something I shall take to heart while you, unkindly readers, are given full permission to be utterly merciless. Do your worst, I deserve it.
Curses! - The Deep End EP (Institubes)
Something of a last minute reprieve from the above critical suicide, along comes Curses! – Drop The Lime/Luca Venezia’s alter ego. Fond of bass lines which appear to be the aural equivalent of using five packets of jelly to one part water, this is grounded on the Bart B More mix by quite the wobbliest of synths, with LCD’s Nancy Whang on vocals and an overall air of everyone having Too Much Fun in the studio. It’s the sort of thing that leaves the listener in perilous danger of pushing back their desk chair, giving the boss two fingers while doing a poo on the floor and then leaving for a life of carefree, electro-house amusement. A shining disco beacon in this week’s singles sack, Holy Ghost! then get their filthy mitts on the title track, stretch it out for 8 minutes and create something tinged with the sort of doomy Morricone/quasi-Franz riffery which wouldn’t sound out of place on a John Hughes’ soundtrack. Anyway, it’s all fantastically good, so please do remain seated as you can have it for nought pence, here..
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