This week the Prodigy are back back BACK, but we are blithely ignoring their return because Sky Larkin, Mike Bones and Magic Arm have records out. Observant readers may be able to glean from the following reviews that I am both in a good mood (having moved all my possessions from one home to another, without breaking a thing) and a bad mood (having hurt my leg in the process, with the result that I now have what I am calling ‘Fat Girl’s Knee’).
Now, I bid you to enjoy your weeks and – as ever – to spend those pennies wisely.
Single of the Week!
Magic Arm – ‘Widths and Heights’ (Switchflicker / Peacefrog)
I am a sucker for vocals stuck up on the highest, unreachable shelf of the mix, and - especially on Marc Rigelsford’s b-side ‘The Ballad of Melody Nelson’ - they are inescapably, righteously beau, turned right up and crystalline. This is to my mind, by far the most fulfilled three minuter this week, being Beta Band shuffly and with the clear intentions of a man who is (quite rightly) sure of himself. There’s no unnecessary layer of fashionable electronic sauce, the tune (god forbid we should have one) isn’t buried underneath fizzes and splashes and fuzz and mess. I think it takes a natural sort of confidence to leave things as they are, to have the melody shine as it does on ‘Widths and Heights’, which is, not to put to fine a point on it, ridiculously pleasant.
Son of Dave – ‘Ain’t Going to Nike Town’ (Kartel)
Beck-o-like folker Son of Dave might not be going to Nike Town, but I want those new hi-tops with the gold swoosh on them and I will have ten pairs, especially and specifically if it will piss him off. So yes, I am irked by the MESSAGE in this record, finding things like Chris Martin’s homemade, fair trade bleating and Son of Dave’s worthiness irksome in the extreme. In case you are missing Dave’s sledgehammer obviosity, consumerism is VERY BAD and he is therefore A COOL GUY because he does not buy branded sportswear. The thing is, it’s not like I want to spend my money at Primark (and I shall tell you now, fashion martyr that I am, I don’t) – more the fact that I cannot bear preaching on my record player, where I like things to revolve around love, joy, sex, hatred and anger. I want to read about evil capitalists in the newspapers, not in songs as insufferably smug as this one. I wouldn’t mind, but it’s not even good. ‘Hey man, why so uptight?’ I FUCKING WANT TO BE UPTIGHT YOU UNBEARABLE HIPPY. NOW FUCK OFF. (Etc).
Dead Kids - ‘Snakes’ (Sparrow’s Tear Records)
Do you know, young Mike from Dead Kids emailed a few weeks back, and he was all condolences about the sad demise of my previous web-home. Naturally I was all ‘Thanks for being so kind’, and then – email villain and operator that he clearly is - he replied to say he didn’t really mean a word. So I told him what I shall repeat to you now, that if he would ruddy dare be rude to me - however charmingly - I would with a quite clear conscience slag off his pop record. Trouble is, despite some better instincts about novelty, mannered/shouty vocals and silliness, I rather like these Dead Kids, betraying as they do Supergrass-levels of stadium-style tomfoolery and the sort of guileless enthusiasm most bands are too cool and nervous to display. I am reminded of that terrible line in Point Break when Gary Busey proclaims rookie Keanu to be ‘young, dumb and full of come’ and that despite it’s outright daftness, such notions did not make that film (or this record) any less entertaining.
Fenech-Soler - ‘The Cult Of Romance’ (Vulture)
Gosh, this is all over the place. But because my knowledge of musical production is limited to a fruitless fiddle in garage band (twice) and a disastrous spell in a heavy metal band aged 16 (musical differences, readers, musical differences), neither you nor Fenech Soler need pay any heed to the following theory. Which is that ‘The Cult of Romance’ sounds like it is bits of songs cobbled together. And it is all disorder. It doesn’t even seem sequenced properly (remember, everyone, I don’t really know what ‘sequenced’ means). The beats, the melodies and strands crash against each other like two very good jigsaw puzzles mixed up in the same box, and it is almost as if Fenech-Soler have got distracted at some point and thought, ‘Ah, that’ll do’ because it is oddly mixed, it is fighting itself. Perhaps their mum called them in for tea, perhaps it is on purpose and I am too dim to fathom it. All that said, when we get to the chorus, this is absolutely glorious, with (quite literally) church bells on.
Mike Bones – ‘Today the World is Worthy of My Loathing’ (Vice)
Young Mr. Bones once told us on The Lipster that he would put ‘Mike Bones, Pop Star: Emotionally Damaged But Good In Bed’ on his business card, and he was by all accounts a rather amusing cove. So we will take ‘Today the World is Worthy of My Loathing’ – the sort of title bleak Vonnegut boys and Plath-clutching girls will scrawl on their arms in amateur tattoo sessions – with a pinch of salt. Because despite appearances, this is not a wingey drearfest, but a Marquee Moon-y excursion into…oh no, hang on, it _is_ a wingey drearfest. But it is a drearfest alleviated by the Television-y bits, which are ambitious and not so noodly you want to heave. You should also get this for the b-side, which sees Alexis Hot Chip smear his bewitching melancholy over Mike’s previous single ‘What I Have Left’.
Datarock – ‘Give It Up EP’ (Nettwerk)
Datarock - like a post-punk Gillian McKeith with an internet degree in rangy basslines and tinny hi-hats - want to ‘hook you up with an enema’ and advise you not to stop ‘till you get enough’. And though this is a record filled with one lyrical steal after another (‘live and let die’ / ‘spread out your wings and fly’), this line about the enema has stuck, even though it does not even make sense. Yes, I am feeling literal today, but surely the point of an 80s enema would be to expel the angular modishness rather than assimilate it - and I imagine it should hurt. This sounds a little bit Spandau in the lead vocals and a little bit Depeche in the chanty backing ones, and even a little bit ‘You Spin Me Round’ overall. And although it is perfectly inoffensive, I should prefer to see more Ben Goldacre-style elegant planning going into its production, so that it sounds more like Datarock themselves, rather than a gazillion component influences.
Sky Larkin – 'Antibodies' (Wichita)
While Datarock want to shove things up your bottom and flush the nasties out, Sky Larkin, today’s biology freshmen, want to talk about ‘Antibodies’. And there’s something rather naïve and fresh about this, with its Sebadoh-sounding minor key slants and some peachily alliterative lines about ‘sentiment stretched over sediment and soil’ and ‘lines repeated, steps retraced’. The good news is that the Larkins have managed to re-introduce and master two key tricks of indie rock circa 1991. The first is that they’ve promoted their lead guitarist to chief melody-maker rather than having him languish as a backing tracker. And the second is that precipice-chorus thing, where it all stop-starts and tumbles in a pleasingly syncopated fashion, making their tune all the more fun to sing and dance to. The bad news is that this is also released on a C90 cassingle – a format I refuse to believe is due a resurrection.