Singles review

The XX, Angels:

It’s probably a regressive way to begin (and an even more regressive way to think), but generally speaking, anything with the word ‘Angel’ in it is probably a bit shit. Think about it, Angel Delight; Angels by Robbie Williams; One of Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girls being named “Angel” after Stefani’s debut album, “Love. Angel. Music. Baby.” Yep, as pop-culture diagnoses go, it’s clear that ‘Angel’ is interchangeable with either, ‘Total Rubbish’ or ‘What The Bloody Hell is THIS?’

Fortunately however, The XX’s new single, Angels, is neither rubbish nor some awful, pink powdered dessert concoction.

Opening with an electric guitar, a subdued plucking of strings carries Romy Madley Croft’s voice like a treadmill threatening to slow to a stop. Each chorus is bracketed with a pause, giving the song an almost chapter-in-a-book feel as it charts its terrain, pauses and starts all over again.

It’s very much an XX tune except more crafted and far from monotonous. Whether the same can be said about their new album waits to be seen however.

Bloc Party, Octopus:

I’m beginning to think music writers are more affected by ‘Second Album Syndrome’ than musicians are. It’s like some kind of journalistic Tourette’s; “Can you discuss the new second album?”– TWITCH! “Was there a lot of pressure for your second album to be as commercially successful as the first? — TWITCH! “Did you worry that your second album might alienate fans? — TWITCH!

Of course everyone knows that third albums are where it starts to go awry. And awry it went for Bloc Party. While “Intimacy” boasted some great songs like “Talons” and “Signs”, the album was radically different and incredibly weak when compared to its siblings, “A Weekend in The City” and “Silent Alarm”. Thriving from the electronic wave that swept across music in the late 2000s, the album was gimmicky and a bit mundane.

That said, I’ve always maintained faith in Bloc Party and waved the Bloc Party flag whenever I could. And apparently, it’s been worth it. The new single is an absolute cracker!

Brimming and bubbling over with energy, it’s as if the guys cooked the tune in vodka and now that tune is raring to go out dancing and slosh some lager and wiggle its double-clef bum to a catalogue of Brit-pop hits. Admittedly, the lyrics are a bit weak, the chorus ending with a chant of “I don’t know why I feel like crying, Well come on, come on, Say come on, come on.”

Not exactly Paul Simon but I’ll continue to wave the flag.

Two Door Cinema Club, Sleep Alone:

Two Door Cinema Club are releasing their second album soon — TWITCH!

The new single, Sleep Alone, was previewed on BBC1 last night, and made available for free-download for a 24 hour period on the group’s website. It’s a typical enough Two Door Cinema Club song: kicking off with a catchy drumbeat, the chorus is where the fun’s at while the lyrics serve to cushion the aforementioned pop climax.

Once it’s sound-tracked every ad on television, I’m sure the tune will have truly welded itself into my brain, but currently it doesn’t seem to have the hooks that “Come Back Home” and “This is The Life” did. Then again, “This is The Life” essentially had no lyrics, except ‘This is The Life’ being sung over, and over again. Time will tell, I suppose.

Singles and songs review

Scissor Sisters

Scissor Sisters, Magic Hour

Best in Me

 

Best in Me might not be a single (yet), but its laid-back attitude, which perhaps sounds a little pedestrian on first listening, is so even-tempered and chilled that it’s like floating in a swimming pool before ducking under the water and swirling around in circles, only to emerge for a towel and Tahiti cocktail. The song’s reprise, which comes with coos of “You take what’s good and make it better,” is an apt description of what makes this song so great: it’s the sound we all associate with the five-set but polished, stripped back and above all, better. By blending Shears’ catchy falsetto with the band’s easy-to-listen-to electronics, the Sisters have managed to devise an easy-to-stomach dance floor ballad that comes minus any overindulgent, melodramatic choruses.

Maybe it’ll never make its way into the singles totem but in the song’s own words, “May not hear it on MTV, no big deal, fine by me.”

Alt-J (∆), An Awesome Wave,

Matilda

Presumably hitting ‘alt-j’ on your Mac computer sends an instant, automated message with the subject line “CODE NERD” to a 24-hour hotline dedicated to those who spend too much time exploring Apple keyboard functions. It also, for the record, makes a triangle symbol not unlike this one: ∆.

Bringing their Steve-Jobs brand of nerd to music, Alt-J’s single Matilda sees the group quoting English folkster, Johnny Flynn – a chap also known for quoting- over a medley of strings and an undercurrent of tip-tapping drums, all the while declaring, This is from Matilda. Initially I thought this song sounded a little like a Gotye-Elliot Smith regurgiation but on second-take, well, I had to do a double-take and concede that it was actually very good. Damn you, oh sour, reluctant praise.