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It’s been threatening to happen for a few years, and now it finally has. I have become a Singles Person. This means the album is dead to me. And also that when I see those headline-baiting, Industry think pieces about WHAT THIS ALL MEANS, a little part of my brain goes ‘Yes, but it is dead. I mean, with ten quid burning a hole in your pocket, why would you have this – which granted, is all very well…
…when you could have this?
Anyway. What follows is a rather personal - and hopefully honest - reflection of the sevens I’ve enjoyed the most this year. Keen-eyed readers will notice how certain records have been bumped from runner-up status to the upper echelons. To which all I can say is, I looked at the playcount stats. They do not lie.
It’s also worth pointing out that some singles simply passed the ultimate test, which involves my bike. Because since moving out of The Londons earlier this year, I have become a keen cyclist – I mean I took apart two bikes and done them up and everything (see how they gleam in the main picture above.) So each week, I go out armed with a pod playlist and a notebook, and I like to see which records will get me up that last, steep hill that marks Nearly Home. Anything that gets me up the hill in second gear (I’ve only got three) is automatically good. And anything that I SING OUT LOUD, while STILL IN SECOND GEAR, while going UP THE HILL has to be taken very seriously indeed. There weren’t many of those – let’s not be greedy - but I thought this seemed pretty unarguable, as reviewing criteria go.
Now, let us jump in with feet first - un-proud, and un-cautious - because that is the best way. For some reason I have decided to class these singles by how far I 'would go' with them if they were a person, and other than that they are in no particular order. Do forgive me, I know not what I do. Or at least - I do, but I sort of can't help myself.
THE SINGLES I WANTED TO HOLD HANDS WITH
The Good Natured - ‘Your Body Is A Machine’
If you’re looking for a new poster girl for indie pop, Miss Sarah McIntosh might be just the very thing. And not just because she hails, like I, from the only county with a Royal prefix. But also because she happens to write wicked good tunes, what all sound everso completely different.
Seeland - ‘Captured’
A twinkly steam train of a pop song, with a chorus as warm as homemade soup on a wintry day. Except you don’t have to do the cooking. ‘Captured’ really is quite disarmingly perky.
Muse - ‘Uprising’
The first thing to say is it sounds like a glam reversioning of the original Doctor Who theme. The second is that they’ve managed to make the guitars do the vocals on the bit where it goes ‘So COME ON!’ And that sort of re-appropriation for some reason reminds me of the bit in When Harry Met Sally where Billy Crystal’s pal claims he made ‘a woman miaow.’ I have also found ‘Uprising’ very good for trying on clothes when you are getting ready to go out. And would much rather that this had been our eff-you Christmas chart-topper - rather than the embarrassment that is RATM. Also, it is about the recession and how bad and nasty The Man is, without being at all insufferable.
Bibio - ‘The Palm Of Your Wave (Bibio Remix)’
from ‘Maybe They Appear in Graveyards EP’
Let’s ignore the whiff of onanism that wafts into being when someone remixes themselves. And concentrate instead on how ‘The Palm Of Your Wave’ sounds so very much like a Marie Celeste merry-go-round of dead-eyed horses in the spookiest of fairgrounds. Also, Ambivalence Avenue is only four pounds and seventy four pence on iTunes at the moment – so you really are quite literally a bit of a silly if you don’t buy it.
Golden Silvers - ‘Please Venus’
Golden Silvers’ lead singing man sounds like Eeyore if Gruff Rhys had been his Daddy. And the chorus on ‘Please Venus’ is a bona fide, actual joy of barbershoppery, love-gone-shonky sadness and wibble synths. And it’s about love aches - like all the best songs.
Nice Nice ‘One Hit’
A lovely big mess of a thing. And so damnably, irrepressibly noisy and clattering, one cannot help but feel they are right when they proclaim this world to be ‘too intense’. Even if they have made it more so with this single.
Dogtanion - ‘Heavy Talk’
Anyone who names their band after a cartoon I watched when I was wee gets an automatic free hall pass from me. And though ‘Heavy Talk’ is a plinky plonky dispatch postmarked in red ink from The Londons, the ridiculous repetition of the word ‘really’ on the chorus are _so_ daft, you sort of want to ruffle this single’s hair and give it a squeaky toy. You certainly wouldn’t put it outside in a kennel, is what I am saying.
Bastila - ‘Ghosts’
‘Ghosts’ sort of wafts into being, sounding rather like Ry Cooder’s Paris, Texas soundtrack. And then off it goes, all wavering lead guitars and looking only at the floor; where a poster of Mark Gardener beams back. It’s lovely.
Tiny Masters Of Today - ‘Real Good’
As I may have mentioned, any song with a Johnny as a protagonist is automatically elevated into a higher echelon of pop. And though these Tiny Masters are tinny as all hell, this still sounds like what you would want to hear were you sipping a milkshake in the best - and youngest-staffed - diner in all of Americky.
Mirrors - ‘Look At Me’
One, got a bit of a pash on Mirrors’ lead singer. Two, ‘Look At Me’ – with its doom synths and slivers of Beloved-style lovelorn histrionics, is like, totally under-loved. I found it again in December and basically played it and tickled it and played it - until it looked vaguely frightened and screamed the safe word. And then I ignored our sensible and pre-agreed sex rules and PLAYED IT AGAIN.
Poppy & The Jezebels - ‘Rhubarb & Custard’
There’s something deliciously old-fashioned about ‘Rhubarb & Custard’ – it rather reminds me of the naïve, enthusiastic, very British and decidedly regional (um, no offence) indie of the very early 90s. And with its lyrics about ‘everything awkward’ it is power girl-pop that evokes a sort of teenage delirium.
God Help The Girl - ‘Funny Little Frog’
Mr. Murdoch – i.e. the good indie one, not the one what fell off his yacht - must get tiresomely bored of we divvy writers telling erryone how perfect and intelligent his pop is. Thing is, ‘Funny Little Frog’ really is yet more proof heaped upon evidence with confirmation on top, that he hasn’t lost any of his clever. It’s a gloriously broken sort of single – with all the accomplished orchestration you might expect. I sort of feel a bit spoilt when I listen to it, if you know that feeling.
Real Estate - ‘Fake Blues’
Real Estate popped onto my radar in July and all-a-sudden I thought they might have all the answers. The probably don’t, but ‘Fake Blues’ is so wonderfully minor key, unassuming and understated, one feels as if it is only fair to pash off with its jangle - if only to make it feel better about itself.
Kap Bambino - ‘Batcaves: Deadtheme’
I said this was like an A-level composition and I really do hope Kap Bambino do not want to punch my face in for saying so. All I meant was that it has retained all the sweet simplicity of early creative endeavour, with all the unpolished charm and enthusiasm that implies.
Speech Debelle - ‘Better Days’
Loath though I am to repeat myself, I was quietly pleased with the idea that this was a ‘perfect shoulder shrug of a single’. Boredom and disaffection are damnably difficult things to capture on record if you are keen to retain a single’s listenability - and yet with Micachu on board, Ms. Debelle does a grand, grand job.
Windmill - ‘Big Boom’
There were some wonderfully high-concept singles which made my weary heart do back-flips this year - and ‘Big Boom’ was probably my favourite and my best. It’s about the Epcot Center, and hope for the future, and how things are never quite as exciting as you expect. And then you get to 2010 and it still takes five hours to make music happen on your Mum’s iPod - when really there should be robots to do it by now, who could do the washing up at the same time and drive you to the pub in special hover cars. Something like that.
Late Of The Pier - ‘Blueberry’
When my Mum saw the handsome faces of LOTP on YouTube, she was drawn to exclaim what ‘nice young men’ they looked. When I explained how they come from Nottingham, she said ‘That explains it’ because this is the very same bit of Northshire she comes from. Thing is, even if they are in real life utter shits - shagshagshagging the girls and dropdropdropping them two minutes later – it doesn’t matter. Because they make records like ‘Blueberry’ and also other ones that sound nothing like it, and all of them are good. They got range, as I believe the hip-hoppers would have it.
Plugs - ‘All Them Witches’
Like Frankmusik, this was one of the bitterest pop records of 2009 – dealing as it does with girls and avenging them for How Evil They Can Be. This makes it slightly odd that I listened it as many times as I did. Anyone would think I liked it or something.
Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - ‘Bournemouth’
TEED have some of the best artwork it was my pleasure to set my eyes on this year. And it is on Greco-Roman - who could probably release a single on the under-loved format of Astroturf, whereupon I would proclaim it chocolate for my ears. ‘Bournemouth’ has rainbow synths that sound like music rejected for Super Mario Galaxy because it was just too grin-inducing - and incidentally, you will get no higher praise from me.
Race Horses - ‘Cake’
Welshers Race Horses not only wrote a concept EP about the dangers of wanting to be a self-sufficient, survivalist bore like Bear Grylls – they also wrote this. It is about not wanting to do the sex because you want to do cake baking instead. Now, I’m not sure I really believe this of any man - but it is a lovely idea for a pop record.
North Atlantic Oscillation - ‘Cell Count’
I said it was 'rock that was Space, and yet not Space Rock' - and I think by that I meant that 'Cell Count' has a delicious sort of scope, and a wonderfully wide-screen, open-skied sort of approach. It's also really quite ridiculously booming - while at the same managing to retain a pleasingly non-dread prettiness.
Blitzen Trapper - ‘Black River Killer’
‘Black River Killer’ is not about space invaders or rice paper sweets. It is doom twang about a girl who got deaded by someone dastardly. And though I will admit that this sort of Americana is not something I find myself yearning for very often - when I do, I listen to Blitzen Trapper. Lush, it is.
Darwin Deez - ‘Constellations’
Don't let the idea of a man wearing a girl's headband and singing about stars put you off 'Constellations'. Because it's a swirling, dancing little monkey of an indie pop tune that is the very definition of the word 'skippy'. Yum.
Randan Discotheque - ‘Daily Record 1993’
Another concept record, except this one takes the headlines from a copy of the Daily Record from, um, 1993 – and trills along talking about how quickly we forget about ephemeric news trivia – whether it be football managers or people what kill people. It takes a skip-load of confidence and not a little skill to pull off an idea like this, and I want to buy Randan Discotheque a glass of booze for sending me their seven.
We Are Enfant Terrible - ‘Eagles Don't Sparkle’
The two best things about this single are the bouncing, rangy bassline and the bit at the end where it sounds like computers placed perilously close to radiators that are on full blast with no thought for the environmental or running costs. I also rather like all the whirrs on it.
Lucky Elephant - ‘Edgar’
‘Music for ice-cream parlours’ is what I said - and I stick by that, however horrendously twee it may sound. ‘Edgar’ is one of the prettiest and twinkliest things, like, ever.
Modernaire - ‘Faites Vos Jeux’
I don’t know what it is about charmingly naïve vocals that sound like they were recorded by sixth-form Senior Prefects at a girls’ schools that I like so very well. Although I think I may have answered my own question there. I should also tell you how ‘Faites Vos Jeux’ is a song with a plot like a 1970s adaptation of a Poirot mystery – with casinos and Monte Carlo AND EVERYTHING.
Rose Elinor Dougall - ‘Fallen Over’
‘Fallen Over’ is about falling in love – do you see? And if you replace love scars with knee bruises, you get some top class lyrics and a single that sees Rose finally casting off her polka dot, A-line dress and leaving it in the washing up basket – if not actually doing a dance on top of it in muddy boots.
The Detachments - ‘The Flowers That Fell’
Doom, doom, doom – the Joy Division-hearkening-types I did not feel uncomfortable appreciating. Although it did throw me into paroxysms of doubt about Double Standards - because I know I’ve rejected singles on the basis that they are too similar to the source material a few times this year. I never did promise to be consistent though, so it is alright.
Rebolledo - ‘Guerrero’
Really good. Good for ‘jumping’ and ‘bobbing’ and Spring bouncing and bouncing on the bed – although let’s face it, there’s very little that isn’t good for that when you are four years old. Because that is what my nephew said when I played 'Guerrero' to him. As for me, I will tell you how it has ACTUAL NONSENSE FOREIGN on it. [Lord, one does hope that it is not an actual language - but then we have had such larks toying with ironic xenophobia this year, have we not?]
tUnE-yArDs - ‘Hatari’
Sort of takes your breath away, does Merrill. And I feel like I am the least-well-disposed person to review her - because one should probably be serious - and not a mong - when reviewing records this remarkable.
The Gossip - ‘Heavy Cross’
I liked it as much, if not more than ‘Standing In The Way Of Control’. Which – let’s face it – makes me the sort of person who doesn’t just jump on bandwagons, but also fails to even spot them the first time they trot by. It is good though.
Girls - ‘Hellhole Ratrace’
Even if he does sound like Elvis Costello and yet look like the sort of Americans with super-long hair I drooled over at 17, they still made a record that was both whisky-bar singalong and killmenow sad. Wistful.
Wave Machines - ‘I Go I Go I Go’
Wave Machines are in the hinterland between pop and indie, and not in a Scouting For Girls sort of way. Don’t be dismissing them because they sound too fun for you, is what I am saying.
Débruit (Civil Music) - ‘I'm Goin’ Wit You’
This is the bit where I cheat and tell you in an exclusive (i.e. not exclusive) fashion, how Débruit’s next EP is single of the week whenever it comes out in the new year. His name alludes to ‘cut glass’ and this is the most apt name I have come across in a while - because funk this sharp and clattering and everybody-stand-still-till-I’ve-been-round-with-the-hoover, is very, very rare indeed.
La Roux - ‘I'm Not Your Toy’
This is a 2008 record for me because I am an internet ponce and that is when I (KILLMENOW) got the album sampler. That doesn’t stop it from having the best steel drums of 2009 on it, though.
Gablé - ‘Purée Hip Hop’
Like many things this year, this was both deeply odd, deeply French and yet - at the very same time - so very deeply inventive.
Wild Beasts - ‘All The King’s Men’
In principle, all those songs about bumming and having the smell of man juice on your fingers should be so far up my alley it is almost vulgar / vaguely painful. Unfortunately the theatrics and falsetto sort of got in the way. At least until ‘All The King’s Men’ came along, and then I ‘got’ Wild Beasts, sort of.
Frankmusik - ‘3 Little Words’
It’s a nasty song with a nasty sentiment, and I would normally avoidavoidavoid That Sort Of Thing. Lucky for Our Frank, ‘3 Little Words’ sounds heavenly, and really I should be grown up enough to be able to stand a love song that is a) bitter and b) not actually about love.
Black Daniel - ‘Look Away Sancho’
Any song about girls so attractive they make men ‘want to beg’ is alright with me. And this is heaps, simply HEAPS of larks – all noisy shouting and barreling drums and drunkenness.
Allo, Darlin' - ‘The Polaroid Song’
I hesitate to mention how fans of Pains of Being Pure At Heart would do well to follow the movements of Allo, Darlin’. I hesitate, but I mention it anyway. Lazy.
Wave Machines - ‘Punk Spirit’
It’s about wondering where your naughty has gone. And I identify with that notion because a) it is a strangely poignant single after the rank fun of ‘I Go I Go I Go’ and also because b) I am Well Old.
Ane Brun - ‘The Puzzle’
Once you’ve already got Karen Dreijer in your life, you wonder how many more wispy nutbags you might actually need. But you should make room for Ms Brun, because ‘The Puzzle’ is so very wibbly and utterly delightful.
Gold Panda - ‘Quitter's Raga’
He is a favourite in these parts and so naturally I got sent countless emails telling me in advance how good he were. And because I am a contrary idiot, I very nearly took against him before I had even listened. This, of course, would have been very foolish. Because anyone who manages to approach music in a kitchen sink sort of way - and yet who wields their editing skills like a box-fresh Sabatier - is deserving of all the superlative-laden emails my inbox can handle.
Fever Ray - ‘Seven’
The one on which Karen Dreijer revealed she was a tricksy playing teasing thing who had been joking all along. Or so I surmised after hearing the lyric about ‘dishwasher tablets’ - which makes me smile every time I play ‘Seven’. This lyric also acts – at least, for me - as a calming tonic for all her Scary. And Karen has such a very lot of scary. I, meanwhile, am the sort of wuss who nearly walked out of Paranormal Activity / very definitely watched half of it between my fingers, so I needed that lyric. Do you see?
Crystal Stilts - ‘Love Is A Wave’
Do you know, this was recorded in a caravan site toilet block in North Wales. And that is why it sounds so very, very muddy and so very, very good.
Jon Hopkins - ‘Seven Gulps Of Air’
It sounds like a cutlery drawer and has what sounds like ping-pong balls as percussion. And yet it is NOT an annoying ‘soundscape’ (incidentally ‘soundscape’ is #765 in my list of Dread Words. You know, since you are asking - and even if you are not.)
O'Spada - ‘Time’
Like I said, I don’t think anyone over the age of 18 should dance in public to this enormously shiny bit of Shalimar-style pop-funk. But that won’t stop me from making a twat of myself in my bedroom mirror when it comes on.
The Pastels & Tenniscoats - ‘Vivid Youth’
My first band t-shirt was Teenage Fanclub’s ‘Teenage Fanclub T-shirt’ – and if my Mum has thrown it away I will very definitely have to bury her under the patio. Despite this uncommonly unfair and unnecessary reference to matricide, let me tell you how ‘Vivid Youth’ appeals to the bit of me that still wants to wear that t-shirt. And go out with a boy who has the ‘curtains’ hairstyle. Ah, Youth.
Anti-Pop Consortium - ‘Volcano’
I didn’t expect Anti-Pop Consortium to make an ‘Everybody (Backstreet’s Back’ –style boyband single. But I happen to think they did, which is ten kinds of amazing because no boyband has ever had anyone as good as Beans in it. EXCEPT – WHEEEEEEEEE – IT HAS NOW.
Get Shakes - ‘Love / Hate’
They remind me of !!!. Which obviously means they are brilliant.
Fanfarlo - ‘The Walls Are Coming Down’
Good Wendy: ‘Don’t mention Beirut or the Arcade Fire’ / Bad Wendy: ‘I should NEVER. God, you’re annoying.’ And do you know, it would be nice if both these Wendys would just SHATTIT, because ‘The Walls Are Coming Down’ really is quite glorious.
The Chap - ‘Well Done You’
A whole song conjured from office appraisal wank-speak is a stroke of great wit and wisdom. So really it is more ‘Well Done The Chaps’.
Avi Buffalo - ‘What's In It For’
One of those records on which it is perfectly acceptable for the vocals to become a little bit strained and screechy, Avi is new and hot-right-now (ick). And ‘What’s In It For’ is a pop-wonder about what are you going to get out of a love affair. Which is quite a sensible thing to be asking, because falling in love really is very dangerous - just like what it says in Twilight.
Riton & Primary 1 - ‘Who's There’
Initially dismissed as daft - when in fact the daft one was – as ever – me. Absurdly fun.
Magic Arm - ‘Widths & Heights’
Beautifully produced with the vocals – in fact everything – turned up crispily high, ‘Widths & Heights’ is shambling pop that really and actually - and in all honesty - is worthy of the Betas. It shuffles along everso nicely.
Oliver Koletski & Roland Clark - ‘Yes We Can’
It’s about Obama, so really this should be dread enough to prompt us all to tell Row-land and Oliver to go hang. And yet – perhaps I have more goodwill to spare than I thought - it works. A proper, arms-in-the-air, is-it-me-or-is-anything-possible, oh-no-hang-on-that-is-just-the-MDMA-tawking, old-fashioned house ANTHEM.
The Phenomenal Handclap Band - ‘15 To 20’
I’m not sure quite what it is about the lyric ‘All that money / Still riding the bus’ that amuses me so much. But it does, and although the word ‘sassy’ is hatefully misused, it is perfect to describe what the handclaps are doing on this, my favourite of their songs. Also, they have white tambourines in the shape of doves – again, please can someone tell me NOW where these can be gotted.
SINGLES I PROPER PASHED ON, RILLY QUITE HARD - EVEN WHEN THEY SAID NO, AND ALSO EVEN THOUGH NO MEANS NO
Breakage feat. Newham Generals - ‘Hard’
Not being funny or nothing, but I really do want ‘I’m deep pan / You’re thin crust’ on a t-shirt – so if someone can make that happen soon, that would be great. Also, them bits near the beginning where he does the vocals as a sort of guttural, impenetrable, sneer – well, they proper take my breath away. It’s like they’ve contorted language and given up on consonants altogether; as if Proper Pronounciation were not nearly damning enough when you need to give one of your rhyming opponents a proper slagging.
Toro Y Moi - ‘Blessa’
I hope I won't put anyone off by mentioning Animal Collective. But really it should be _me_ what is annoyed at the prospect of a musician who sounds so very like what they done on MPP. And yet, the only response I have to 'Blessa' is a giddy sort of joy. ALBUM OUT NEXT YEAR AND DO YOU KNOW I AM QUITE EXCITED ABOUT IT.
Meursault - ‘William Henry Miller Pt.1’
There aren’t nearly enough songs written about religious devotion that sound this feverishly uplifting. And especially not ones that begin with a Phil Spector Wall Of Sound. Also, they are right clever.
Dinosaur Pile- Up - ‘This Season’
The only bit of revivalled grunge I think I – hateful phrase – ‘bought into’ – and I recently met someone who pashed on Screaming Trees like what I did as a nipper and they liked it also, so that is two yesses from The Olds. Top larks.
Simian Mobile Disco - ‘Audacity Of Huge’
‘I got that tennis wear, just for play’ is a saucy seaside postcard of a lyric. And oddly that doesn’t stop this being the cleverest, smartest bit of synth pop I heard all year. Hilarious and intelligent - like all the best boyfriends – it is a whole shopping list of boastfulness and ‘How can it be that you don’t you love me, when I am so very, very brills?’ – a sentiment I could not possibly admit to concurring with. [Concurs quietly to herself anyway.]
Toddla T Feat. Hervé & Serocee - ‘Shake It’
I have had an amusing (well, I thought so) correspondence with Our Esteemed Editor about the absence of Toddla T’s long player from our DiS End of Year list. Weirdly no one responded - which is a blurry great shame because ‘Shake It’ is hilaire, not least the bit where Serocee goes ‘She, she / She look good when she’s ANGREEEEEEE / BUT she too fiees-ty’ and also because it makes me think about boys who think girls look hot when they are mad.
Kelpe - ‘The Blankout Agreement’
I really do hope you won’t think me odd when I tell you that this accompanied me on a short obsessional splurge of night bike rides - where I dared myself to cycle through the darkest of my new-town parks with only some shit Halford bike-lights for company. Oh, okay, I had Kelpe along for the ride too – and it was this song that made this rank, pointlessly dangerous flirtation with danger worthwhile - and strangely enjoyable.
Robyn And Röyksopp - ‘The Girl & The Robot’
Lord, I have played this thing. And I love how it is about waiting for someone to come home and them being boringly tied up with their boring job. It’s almost as if, post-‘With Every Heartbeat’ – we have been spoilt, and failed to appreciate just how good and rare pop music like this is.
Drums Of Death - ‘Got Yr Thing’
I’m not joking when I say Colin Bailey reminds me of a sort of warehouse rave-based Adam Ant. He’s certainly as larksome - and the bit on ‘Got Yr. Thing’ where it goes ‘Make it, bake it, SHAKE IT’ makes me feel right cheeky, even though I do not know what it means.
Maps - ‘I Dream Of Crystal’
I had no idea people had a problem with James’ plainness and ordinariness of voice until I started reading the reviews for Turning The Mind. And I’m a little perplexed, because his plainness and (AIIIEEEE) real-ness is precisely what I like about him. He sounds like any of the Man-boys I know in actual real life - had they made a record allegedly about taking godless amounts of naughty liveners and then wondering why your relationship falls apart. I won’t tell you he means it, or that you need to be a grown up with a good few cracks in your heart to appreciate this because that would be nauseating. But I will tell you ‘I Dream Of Crystal’ rings true for me, and gosh-and-darn-it, I may even have to use the word ‘atmospheric’ to describe it.
Paul White - ‘Hustle (Bullion Remix)’
If Paul White had released ‘Ultra Violet’ as a single, believe me it would be in this list and very near the top, because doing a hip-hop reversioning of the Clockwork Orange OST is a stroke of amazingness. As it is, we have the Bullion remix of ‘Hustle’ which incidentally is a Pairing From Heaven, as Bullion (oh man, I heart he) and Paul pool their collective beaty brains for a delirious bit of chop-hop. It sort of frightens me how talented they both are.
Florence & The Machine - ‘Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)’
Best thing on an album that was Too Much Treacle for some. I happen to not care about the album because I have been given a carte what is white to only worry about singles. And the whole lush-overload argument – despite long nails and a pocketful of karabiners - is not able to gain purchase on the lush-overload-appreciating part of my brain. So there.
Matt And Kim - ‘Lessons Learned’
Wicked good video, wicked good Call To Have Fun single. AND it’s got a New Wave beat it isn’t afraid to employ in the hope of trying to get you to ‘stay up all night’.
School Of Seven Bells - ‘Iamundernodisguise’
Blah blah, wispy, dreamy, ethereal, whatevs. It’s MZN though, whichever woeful clichés we ‘writers’ use to describe it.
Ortolan - ‘I'll See You There’
Sign up for the Sounds Familyre mail-out now if you have not already. Ortolan are merely the tip of their particular iceberg of warm and fuzzy, askancely odd greatness. I called them ‘alt-pop Brontë sisters’ and - as in many things, apart from those what matter - I was right.
Miike Snow - ‘Burial (Benny Blanco Remix Feat. Neon Hitch)’
Miike Snow is not a man called Mike with too many i’s, but two Swedes what made one of the more gorgeous and inventive pop records released this year. This mix of ‘Burial’ has Rock Spanked on it. This should mean it is brilliant, and lo, it really does and is.
Banjo Or Freakout - ‘Left It Alone’
‘Left It Alone’ has got the hummiest, warmest, clangiest brass punctuating its dreaminess. AND it’s a record that sounds Christmassy - like The Walkmen’s 148th Street – even though it is resolutely not about anything to do with Jesus’ birthday. Listening to it is a little like drowning in Autumn and whisky – or falling into a Euphonium’s big end and finding that you rather like the sensation.
SINGLES I SORT OF HAD TO SEX UP A LITTLE BIT
Micachu - ‘Golden Phone’
Golden Phone is one of those records that doesn’t sound like anyone or anything else. And really, Jewellery should have won the Mercury Prize. But unlike some things that have epithets like ‘experimental’ (AIIIEEEEE), ‘art-school’ (SPARE ME) or ‘avant-garde’ (PLEASE MAKE IT STOP) attributed to them, there is nothing on ‘Golden Phone’ that makes me want to do a sick-in-mouth. In fact, quite the opposite is true - because I want to search out Mica Levi and plant a massive snog on her (genius) face. For to say ‘Thank you’ – and also because she uses boredom sighs as musical punctuation.
Mistabishi - ‘Printer Jam’
When I listen to ‘Printer Jam’ I like to imagine Mr. Bishi and the moment he happened upon the idea for this record what is made up of dot matrix printer noises. I like to think he just thought ‘Fuck it, LET’S DO THIS THING’. I also want to make my ‘Everybody in the house say Epson!’ joke again. Again.
Django Django - ‘Storm'
I want MASSIVE things to happen for Django Django, because otherwise there is no justice (and even though we know there is not.) ‘Storm’ is one of the most pleasurably inventive and deliciously funked-up singles of the whole year, and it is hella larks to sing to, too.
Sibrydion - ‘Femme Mental'
‘I met a girl not long ago / with a smile like Bridget Bardot’ begin Sibrydion, and lord knows, I begin to wish I was a boy when I listen to this record, with thrimpty million tales of woman-related woe. And I’ve known boys what are determined to pursue wrong ‘uns, as if bitchiness was some sort of shorthand for them being wild under the duvet. The thing is, ‘Femme Mental’ is so good, and so very twangy, it really actually does make me want to go gay and go out with A Sort just so that I can sing along to ‘Femme Mental’ and really mean it. Even though – as this song tells us - pursuing nutty tarts almost always ends in tears. And not hers.
Beyoncé - ‘Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)'
It wouldn't kill Sony to let me embed it, would it? Apparently it would, so go here.
If anyone ever asks you out on a date to see Bouncy, you really must GO. I spent two hours giggling in her presence because she was so frickin’ mind-blowing, and then I killed myself because there is no point being a woman if you are not her. Also, while I am here, can I just say how TERRIFICALLY BORED I am when humourless types say this song is anti-feminist. Because – and I once wrote for the Guardian’s Women’s Page, so I should know – this song is about NOT WASTING YOUR TIME with commitment-allergic DICKHEADS. This is good advice, you knee-jerking fucknuts.
St Vincent - ‘Marrow’
So very scratchy, ‘Marrow’ sounds like a particularly nasty graze - and even though it is the sort of record to make you ruffle your brow, you really don’t mind at all. I wish I was her, basically. Her or Bouncy, I don’t mind which.
Mstrkrft Feat. John Legend - ‘Heartbreaker’
If you lived in The Shire you would almost definitely have seen me out on my bike bellowing this as loud as I possibly could. Quite literally my favorite pop record (apart from Bouncy - who doesn’t count anyway because she is so very many leagues above habsolutely everyone else.)
Florence & The Machine - ‘You Got The Love (Xx Remix)’
If you can bury your boring hatred of Florence and your indifference to the XX, this you will enjoy. I love the living shit out of it, and the dullness of the vocals on what is essentially a bleeding-heart, Wake The Town And Tell The People, dancefloor love song. I also love the marimbas, and anyway Florence is hardly on it at all so like, please do try to get over the boring hatred what I mentioned just a sentence ago. Also.2, I managed to shoe-horn in a joke about Peter Ustinov when I reviewed it and this amused me everso quite a really bit. (I know this is not attractive.)
Gonjasufi - ‘Candylane’
Don’t expect to get any sense out of Gonjasufi on Twitter, because it’s kind of like he fell asleep on the +++ and >>> keys. ‘Candylane’ however, is still enormously, head-spinningly rude and squelchy - and it’s only the beginning because this was merely his debut on Warp. Yay.
Thom Yorke - ‘Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses’
The sort of song that makes you feel utterly invincible – not least when you are trying to navigate a provincial shopping centre filled with Primark-be-bagged idiotholes and you really just want all this pointless buying of stuffs to end. This is - in all seriousness - the CRISPIEST single I’ve heard all year, and those marching snares sort of make my brain melt.
Everything Everything - ‘My Keys, Your Boyfriend’
‘It’s like the A4 paper taking over the guillotine’ is utterly my favourite lyric of all 2009. Serious. And the video is amaze, and I fancy them, and ‘My Keys, Your Boyfriend’ is such a wonderfully complicated thing, and the bit in the video where they do the aforementioned lyric while dressed as security guards makes my tummy go all funny, and they are clever, and they are THINKING ABOUT THIS and they are fun and it just blows my mind how brilliant they are. Everything about Everything Everything is surprising and careful and odd and yet still resolutely pop.
Dave I.D. - ‘Why Weren't The Messages Sent’
The sort of record that induces that I-am-in-a-film feeling, and also the angriest single I heard this year. It goes without saying that I want Dave I.D. to be rich as Croesus (I don’t know who Croesus is, readers) because anything this propulsive makes him deserving of all the world’s monies.
Grizzly Bear - ‘Two Weeks’
Perfect, is what this is. Just PERFECT.
First Aid Kit - ‘Hard Believer’
I probably said far too many times this year that a record made me cry. But this one topped them all for sheer boo-hooery - with its lines about ‘Love is tough, time is rough’ (I IDENTIFIED, OKAY?). And maybe you are one of those wise-after-the-blackness, knowing types who you think that once you’ve had your heartbroken once it’ll never be quite that bad again. So I take no pleasure in telling you how I thought this too, but it turned out I was quite, quite wrong. But when and if it happens – and lord knows, I hope it doesn’t - let me tell you, songs like ‘Hard Believer’ make everything alright again.
Yeti Lane - ‘Lonesome George’
The album’s out at the end of January and it is every bit as wondrous as ‘Lonesome George’ – which is an uncommonly sadface drone pop record that hums along and made me feel worried for the emotional health of its creators. Lovely - if that word has not been drained of all effectiveness, through overuse.
Stornoway - ‘Zorbing’
I’m not sure anything else I heard in 2009 was as romantic as ‘Zorbing’ - even though it is named after a Pepsi-Max (i.e. massively twatty) wacky sport. And it is the harmonies that sound like a hymnal which really winded me and left me feeling much less cynical about The Musics. Yes, it is Stornoway’s lack of cynicism that marks them out as Good Peoples and I sort of want to throw a street party in honour of their lovely single.
Fuck Buttons - ‘Surf Solar’ [NOT THE POINTLESSLY DREAD SINGLE ‘EDIT’ THOUGH]
You should probably go here, where I wrote something about quick shags versus slow fucks. And even though that is quite rude and dread and utterly against my dwindling principles, I was rather pleased with it. Don’t hate on me, readers.
The Hundred In The Hands - ‘Dressed In Dresden’
One of the most under-sung singles of the year, Pure Groove re-released ‘Dressed In Dresden’ with its clever lyrics about Stalingrad and its winningly cute lady-vocals and I thank them heartily for doing so. You really should try to get hold of it, because its ability to induce pleasure does not never, ever wear out.
Mariachi El Bronx - ‘Cell Mates’
I shall probably get struck off for using a picture of The Three Amigos to illustrate a review of this record. But I am fairly sure The Bronx’s collective tongues were wedged quite firmly in their cheeks when they decided to do a Mehican concept album. And yet, there is nothing novelty about it. The levels of yearning on ‘Cell Mates’ have gone past Bella ‘n’ Edward, surpassed Cathy ‘n’ Cliff and ended up sharing a cup of tea with Elizabeth ‘n’ Darcy. It is HEAVEN.
Wolf Gang - ‘Pieces Of You’
Even though this has in-principle-rather-dread wacka-wacka guitars, and because it also has such confident levels of pomp, I could not not love it. Let’s face it, there’s no point me pretending I don’t like a bit of ELO and ‘Pieces of You’ pushes the same brash buttons, even though it doesn’t sound like them.
AND 3 SINGLES I WOULD HAVE MARRIED & HAD BAIRNS WITH IN A HEARTBEAT. OR, ‘I CAN'T HELP IT AND DO FEEL FREE TO IGNORE ME, IT'S JUST THAT I LOVE ANIMAL COLLECTIVE MORE THAN MY MUM’
Animal Collective - ‘Graze’
If those flutes weren’t on it, and if the AC’s hadn’t combined these flutes with their lyrics about wondering where all the comfort had gone, I would not love this as much. But they did, and I do. Go here, for a longer rant.
Animal Collective - ‘My Girls’
I didn’t get to write about ‘My Girls’ - so I will just say that it has been an almighty comfort. Mainly because I have spent a whole year boring anyone within spitting distance about how much I want and need a ‘home’ after 10 years of spaffing all my money up the wall on ‘flats’ in ‘London’. And because wanting a home is different to wanting enough cash to buy a 350k wank pad in Notting bloody Hill. Still not entirely sure what adobe slats are, though.
Animal Collective - ‘Brother Sport’
Go here for why it is so very brills. Of course, it’s a lot sadder than it sounds, and therein lies its particular genius.
Any Other Business
May I point you in the direction of a Spotify playlist which has quite a lot of the above singles on it. You will find it here.
I am on Twitter here. You know, if you can be arsed.
If you want to send me your single, have a look at my DiS profile, where there are some bossy instructions.
All this year’s singles columns can be found on one handy page here. Some of them are not annoying.
And, one last textual spaff. Because I did just want to say an entirely genuine, non-caveated thank you to anyone who read the singles, made a comment or twitted at me. You really are all quite lovely and it really has been my pleasure.
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- Behind The Screens: DiS meets This Is My Jam
- ATP Animal Collective: the very belated DiS review
- In Photos: Primavera Sound Festival 2011 @ Parc del Forum, Barcelona
- Primavera 2011: the DiS review