Hello and welcome to a new edition of DiS Does Singles that’s brought to you by the wi-fi in a ropey Frankfurt hostel. Nevermind our miserly existence, there’s plenty of brand new tunes to be listening to.
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart have (sort of) written a song for everyone’s favourite popstar, Hookworms are back with a vengeance after their non-existent hiatus, and Jessie Ware has restored our faith in her. Also Woman’s Hour, Fear Of Men and Deptford Goth continue to do magnificent things.
As for Single of the Week? That belongs to the peerless Perfume Genius.
Single of the Week
Grid (Turnstile Music)
The sight of Perfume Genius gone badass is such a joyous thing.
Here’s guy who used to bare his soul from behind a keyboard, standing tall and sashaying right up in your face. Not in a fairytale way, where all his substance issues and anxieties are suddenly erased, but with a total grip on reality. The burdens that once weighed Mike Hadreas down onto a bar stool, with his eyes directed at the black and white keys below, have been channeled into something transformative.
If you thought ‘Queen’ was confrontational, then wait until the heaving wails of ‘Grid’ catch you off-guard. Whereas Too Bright’s first single took aim at a concept, gay panic, this new offering trains its sight on Hadreas himself. His fears and failings are uncontrollable, boiling over from a subdued electronic squelch into something shrill and nasty.
“I know you want me, baby sometimes,” simpers the slick-haired singer as his own warbling is enveloped by the screams of someone else. “Maybe baby. You were right.”
‘Grid’ isn’t about acceptance, though. Its strobe-heavy video shows Perfume Genius bruised, bloodied and unbowed. As the Seattle-based singer flexes his thin biceps, he’s already embraced his inadequacies - the rest of the song sees him revel in them. And so the clip climaxes with a banquet at which is the main course, a veritable pig’s head at the table’s centre.
In order for Hadreas to celebrate himself, he has exposed himself. How else can you critique that other than to stand up and applaud?
DiS Meets Perfume Genius - an in-depth chat with Mike Hadreas
Best of the rest
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
Poison Touch (Fierce Panda)
When we spoke to Kip Berman a few months ago, Taylor Swift was the main topic of discussion. Apparently Days Of Abandon was half-written with the 'Love Story' singer in mind, and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's frontman would kill for a full-on collaboration. Until that unlikely happening, there's 'Poison Touch' to make of with and that's just fine by us.
'Kelly' was by far and away our favourite song from Days..., so the prospect of another track fronted by A Sunny Day In Glasgow's Jen Goma can only be a good thing. This later offering comes from the expanded version of Pains'... third record and it's a bittersweet doozy. All lithe guitar chords and lovestruck sentiment, it's a break-up song for anyone who's dated and been dumped by an arsehole. Like all the best pop music then, it's got pretty much universal appeal.
If you'd usually pass on Berman's indie purism, then 'Poison Touch' strays far enough from that formula to reconsider. It's hardly a Top 40 smash in waiting, but you've never heard Pains... be so accessible. Whatever your opinion on winter knitwear and the Glaswegian art-school scene circa 1981-96, this is a song to fall head over heels for.
On Leaving (Weird World)
Having scooped DiS' Album Of The Year 2013 and Neptune Prize 2013 with their debut LP, Pearl Mystic, we'd could say there's no pressure on Hookworms' follow-up. That would be an outright lie, however. Due for release on Domino's sister label, Weird World, The Hum is a breakthrough LP in the making - as long as its songs are up to scratch.
If ‘On Leaving’s epic, psychedelic sprawl is anything to go by, we can all rest easy. A sort of sequel to ‘On Returning’ from the band’s Too Pure single last year, it writhes forward in grandiose swells of feedback-drenched malevolence. Such is its sonic intensity, we’d advise a sit down and some quiet time once you’re done with the track. Just to purge yourself of the sensory assault.
Or you could just acquiesce and press play again. That creeping organ riff, will stay with you like a shrapnel wound.
Kind Of… Sometimes… Maybe (PMR/Island)
At the rate that Jessie Ware keeps churning out new songs from Tough Love you'd think she was making a living off her YouTube channel. Alas, Google pays a pittance per play and there are still three weeks to go until the neo-soul singer's second record drops.
Despite our total adoration for Devotion, we've not been overly convinced by the songs from its follow up. With The Invisible's Dave Okumu making way for a production duo of Julio Bashmore and Two Inch Punch (a.k.a. Benzel), Jessie seems have made an assertive play for mainstream success - as is her want. If we had to assign a colour to the Ed Sheeran co-write 'Say You Love Me', that colour would be 'bleurgh'.
Thankfully, 'Kind Of… Sometimes… Maybe' is a lot better. It's a collaboration with scissor kick supremo Miguel and revolves around an oh so sultry chorus. "Do I get lonely at all?... / Oh kind of, sometimes, maybe," coos Ware, and we're filled with hope for what not be a terrible album.
Oh Jessie. Why must you toy with our heartstings so?
In Stillness We Remain (Secretly Canadian)
Look, the Woman's Hour album has been out for ages now. You should already know and cherish 'In Stillness We Remain' like a sibling, new Wes Anderson movie or unexpected tax rebate. The only reason it's in here is for us to implore you to listen to In Stillness We Remain.
Go. Away with you. Vamoosh!
You've already heard it?
Excellent. Three gold stars to you.
Fear Of Men
Sleeper (Kanine Records)
It's been a vintage year for bands with jangling guitars and fragile self-esteem levels. Brighton's Fear Of Men plough an even more moribund furrow than Alvvays and TOPS, but don't feel too bad for them - they're exceedingly good at it. Their debut album, Loom, is a desolate mix of tremolo mumblings and misery-laden lyrics, so why wouldn't you want to catch the three-piece live as they tour the UK this month?
In case you need any further persuading, they've transformed Ty Segall's formerly acoustic 'Sleeper' into a trembling thing of harmonised wonder. One good turn deserves another, grab yourself a ticket.
Two Hearts (37 Adventures)
Frank Ocean's 'LoveCrime' is a great song. Deptford Goth's 'Two Hearts' is a great song. We're not saying they're the same song. Just that they both do a supreme trade in stompy piano riffs.
Playlist: Best songs of 2014… so far
Also released this week
The Boxer Rebellion - Always (The Boxer Rebellion) Charlotte OC - Strange (Polydor) Dee Sada - Bells and Ships and Songs (Tip Top Recordings) Dolomite Minor - Talk Like An Aztec (self-released) Dralms - Crushed Pleats/ Divisions of Labour (Full Time Hobby) Friend Within - The Label (He Loves You) Hollie April - Together Alone (self-released) In-Flight Safety - Animals (Conehead) Janet Devlin - Creatures of the Night (Insomnia Music) Kongos - Come With Me Now (Epic Records) Lia Pamina - How Come I (Elephant Records) Marine Life - Fool Of A Kind (Elephant Records) Mary Joanna & The Southern Electrikk - Wasted (Mexican Bedroom) Nick Mulvey - Cucurucu (Fiction) Shift K3Y - I Know (Columbia Records) The Ting Tings - Do It Again (Finca Records) The Vaselines - High Tide Low Tide (Rosary Music) Weezer - Back To The Shack (Island Records) We Were Promised Jetpacks - I Keep It Composed (FatCat Records)