After the torrent of superlatives doled out to Animal Collective last time, I will admit to toddler-high expectations for this week’s singles. I thought it could only be a hopeless, pleather jacket shop-bought sort of rockness and disappointment; a glass of warm Lambrini served in Styrofoam compared to last week’s vintage bubbles in cut glass. [OH SHUT UP, WENDY.] But it turns out there are a few surprises, one of which * exclusively * reveals THE COLD HARD TRUTH about the XX. Oh yes, it do.
One more thing, because – as ever - I need to do a quick get-out clause before we begin. You see, I make no apologies for the number of pointless diversionary tangents / rank preponderence of brackets in this thing. I mean, I do want to say sorry, but only one of those half-hearted ‘I’m sorry if that upset you but I’m not really sorry for what I did’ sort of sorries. Like the kind you grudgingly dole out after a mahoosive row with your dearest; when you would just like the barneying to be over, but don't actually regret any of your naughty. Does that make sense? I do hope so.
Single Of The Week!
Florence & The Machine - ‘You Got The Love (XX remix)’ (Island)
It’s Tess Daly’s favourite tune! And I once saw a pre-fame picture of her in an ancient copy of Mixmag! And she looked like she was having a bangin’ good time! In a club! So perhaps she would know! [I’ll stop now.] In any event, over-the-top face-pullers who stand behind geriatrics such as she are of no interest today, because I have uncovered something much more interesting. Something that proves definitively that the XX are not actually the cute, shy and lovely sorts we have been led to believe. Because there is a noisal signpost on this record which says more than this now-trio ever will in an interview - and let’s face it, they’re not exactly Peter Ustinov after three post-cheese course brandies as it is. (Peter Ustinov joke for you there). ANYWAY. What I want to do is to draw your attention not to the lovely marimbas* that recall Hans Zimmer’s ‘Beach Song’ (which are worth drawing your attention to, as they are very Very) but alert you to the massive SHHHH noise that happens at 4:04 in. Alex goes 'SSHHHHH', and do you know what he goes 'SHHHHH' right before? I will tell you. It is Florence! He is actually telling Florence to shut her mahoosive she’s-the-new-kate-bush-oh-no-she-isn’t-but-she-does-climb-the-speaker-stacks-CAREFUL-NOW gob. And I swear it’s intentional, because I keep going back to it and it is very definitely there. Librarian tell-off noises are quite un-XX things when you think about it, not least when you consider the fact that they've seen fit to re-record all the vocals anyway - washing Flo’s (lovely) Titianality almost entirely out of it. Now, I am not one of the Flo haters (I'm not mad about her either, but I'm certainly not going to get my knickers in a twist about it), but I do find it uncommonly amusing that the XX - having been asked to lend their cool to her ubiquity - have then told her, on record, to PIPE BLOODY DOWN in front of the whole world. Luckily it also sounds just peachy, not least the descending, throbby bass.
[*They better be marimbas. Because it took me HALF AN HOUR to check that on the supposably, so-called, information super-highway. Super B-road more like, readers!]
The Miserable Rich - ‘Covers EP’ (Humble Soul)
It goes against all that is right in my admittedly pathetic, Lilliputian world - it is actually against nature (in a GCSE poetry kind of way), that I like The Miserable Rich's cover of 'Golden Brown' as much as I do. To support such claims, I give you my treasured seven of the original version - a song I dived into headfirst at the age of twelve without remembering to take an extra big breath. You know, whatever else The Stranglers got up to, you can’t not allow them this - their finest, most magnificent and headily autumnal hour - even if it is about filthy skag (do you see? It says ‘brown’ in the title.) And however drearily shootmenow, post-modern Top Tens have become, I am going to tell you here and now that ‘Golden Brown’ is in my Ultimate, Now That’s What I Call Goodest Ever. Now is where I tell you what they have done with it, and it is this: they have done it like a particularly gusto-driven, wedding [no offence] string quartet, and slapped a thousand particularly good handclaps on it - driving me to ponder if handclaps are ever a bad thing. As for the others, there’s a lovely cover of Pixies’ ‘Gigantic’ (which sounds – in a good way - a bit like Devendra pretending to be Fat Jack), a literally plucky attempt at Iggy Pop’s ‘Shades’ which reworks it as a 1950s bobby-soxing ballad (a Good Idea), and sadly a quite awful go at Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’. Which we will forgive them, as three out of four good and non-irritating covers is quite some feat in our post-Whiley world. Limited 10” or ‘download’, I am told. Listen here.
Little Boots - ‘Earthquakes (Gold Panda remix)’ (679 / Atlantic)
Gold Panda’s ‘Quitter’s Raga’ is already comfortably nestled having a big mug of cup-a-soup in my end of year fun forty - and I happen to like Victoria Hesketh even if, and this is a minor quibble, she does not look quite as comfortable as I fear she should in her videos. So there was no indie hipster conundrum for me when I saw this, and I was not all ‘Ick, how shit is she!’ while also thinking ‘Oh no, but I should like it, for how good is him!’. I suspect it shan't be quite so simple for some of you, but them’s the breaks when you have a ‘hot’ 'dance' 'thing' and a pop starlet in need of thrimpty remixes to cater for all ‘markets’. Anyway I’ll save you the bother of that particular dilemma'd cul-de-sac, cause in the end this is not all that intesting. Sorry. It’s here, should you not trust my judgement, and let’s face it, you probably should not.
Arctic Monkeys – ‘Cornerstone’ (Domino)
I don’t know about you, but the habsolute last thing I want to imagine when I am listening to records is a T4 presenter. All that vile, unstudied casuality (by which I mean, I am willing to bet they go to some sort of Finishing School For Indifference, graduating with a triple-starred-A in Who Gives A Fuck - and yes, I have made this point before, but it bears repeating). It makes me want to rip out my hair, and that is before I tell you how my hair is integral to my ‘thing’ – sort of like Samson, but from a shit newtown / with weedier biceps. Now, I know this is not The Monkeys’ fault, and you can’t control who you fall in love with (this is rubbish by the way, the only people who ever say this are cheating rats) - but it’s wrong that it is lodged in my brain. Especially when ‘Cornerstone’ is so enormously pleasant, with some lovely lyrical references to wicker chairs, elongated lifts home, parrot’s beaks, lettraset and smoke alarms.
Jon Hopkins - ‘Seven Gulps Of Air’ (Domino)
Obviously, Domino are brilliant. And I say that as someone who worked in telly for 7 years where people started sentences with ‘Obviously [insert name of writer/director/ ‘talent’ here] is BRUH-liarnt’ pretty much every time they opened their mouths. Nice people, but as with any media industry a bit - you know - gushy [she says, after last week]. SO. I get my jiffy bags in the morning, and I see Domino’s post-stamp and I think ‘Yes, they are a classy outfit and no mistake, even if I have a problem with Alisdair bloody Roberts and have to say his name emphasizing the ‘d’ which makes me laugh which is a) childish and b) my problem (tho it is a real one - like when you used get the giggles at school and you could not, would not stop. This happened to me at Homefires when I was watching Baby D and I had to leave, though in retrospect it was the highlight of the day and still makes me laugh when I think about it / remind myself I am basically twelve and this is not necessarily a good thing), and Domino have ‘nice packaging’ and ‘good pedigree’ and they ‘mean it’ and after all I am a bloody lucky sod because they send me free records.’ So all that happens, and then I look down at Jon Hopkins’ single and sort of don’t want to listen in case it is like Alis-Dair Roberts AND THEN GUESS WHAT HAPPENS. I am - as ever - monumentally wrong-headed; ill-informed and with gaps in my musical knowledge that gape wide as a canyon. I take no pleasure in revealing how Jon - who has been 'around' since 2001, has entirely passed me by. And it's a super-massive blackhole Muse level of wrongnitude, because I flipping love ‘Seven Gulps of Air’, it is gorgeous. It has what sound like speeded up Japanese people talking and it is wonderfully syncopated and it uses the sound of PING PONG BALLS for percussion. And as far as I am concerned, if ping pong balls are not one of your favourite noises ever you should immediately check your palms for tell-tale hairs. And this single uses them - plus a load of other airy, glottal, delicious cracks and thumps to make a ‘collage’ - but not a wanky one, and in the end however awful I am IT IS GOOD. Listen here.
Peggy Sue - ‘Yo Mama’ (Chess Club)
Despite the fact that I have had an (albeit particularly charming) PR chap bellowing at me most fiercely about this for nearly two months, I did not take against it. [Message to PR people. You are all awe-inducingly, hardworking charmers - but if you send me an email what says ‘Did you get the CD I sent?’ I will send you to Internet Coventry. Possibly even Internet Lubbesthorpe, which is 24.4 miles due East and much more prone to fights at chucking out time.] Anyway it turns out good ol’ Peggy is as charming, clever, admirable and winning as her Mad Men counterpart, though I suspect and hope she is not also harbouring a Catholic guilt baby. ‘Yo Mama’ - despite it’s cuss-y title* - is wonderful, Peggy being blessed with the sort of pipes I would give both my arms for. I mean, she could sing in binary about tax returns and it would still be impossibly beau. Listen here.
*[I don’t like ‘yo mama’ jokes for the very reason they are so incensing. Mums are important, and should never, ever never be slagged off, no matter how much one is being ‘disrespected’. So now you know.]
Marina and the Diamonds – ‘Mowglis Road’ (679 / Warner)
Having not been exactly partial to any of Marina’s previous, I did not have high hopes for ‘Mowgli’s Road’ - even though she has a habit of slamming in references to things that in principle I like (she used my favourite Yoda quote on her Crown Jewels EP! And I had to remind myself she prolly only meant 2nd generation, karate-kicking Yoda, who is wrong beyond all belief). Now we have a reference to the Jungle Book - which apropos of nothing reminds me of my sister and I singing ‘I will go and fetch the war-terrrrr’ for kicks. In case you do not know it is the last song in an otherwise perfect kiddie flick and it is fun to sing if you are not a siren-like village girl and do not want to go and fetch the bloody water while swaying your pre-pubescent hips as if fetching the water is somehow ten kinds of interesting (Mowgli's temptress is the wettest approximation of femininity ever committed to an animation cell in case you are wondering - and I include the pre-makeover Cinderelly in this). Anyway, this has the sort of propulsive, giddy beat that pushes all the wrong buttons in me (stop trying to make me have fun, Marina, I don’t want to), BUT is saved from the bin by a chorus I found myself swinging my toes to. Unfortunately the rest of it is about 210% on the Nutty Tart scale, and the last words she sings are quite literally ‘I want to be cuckoo!’. At least she’s honest about it.
Here are some more brackets:
See, I told you I didn't mean it. Let's just agree to disagree, shall we? Oh right, like that is IT? My friends were right. I mean, you look like a nice person but you're actually the BIGGEST IDIOT I ever met. I don't know what I EVER SAW IN YOU (etc).
Pointless oversharing, do you? Then go to Wendy's Twitter playpark, what is here.