For some years now, the NME Radar tour has been bringing much hyped, and occasionally a few tripe, bands to the masses. Now, it seems that the live outing is not simply enough to contain their top tips for the year and so for the first time, an album featuring 20 of the mag’s fave artists and tracks has been released.
It’s a nice idea were it not for the fact that the NME, once a pinnacle of music journalism, acts mostly as a randomly oscillating hype chart tipping bands for the top one minute and then appearing to hate them the next. Still, let’s try and appreciate the effort.
A mixed bag, albeit one with a load of female voices, and how many of these artists will stand the test of time is questionable. Will we remember Darwin Deez in five years time? Probably not. And to be honest, forgetting him by next week would be a pleasure. But who says longevity has to be the answer? Fun for the moment is just as valid as anything else.
Sonic sludge is the predominant sense on the album although it occasionally produces some sparkling tracks. Fans of ambient, female-fronted dream pop will find plenty here to get excited about. Summer Camp have a quirky She & Him vibe while the drowned noise of Best Coast layers simple guitar and sweet harmonies to create a summery garage sound. And if The Joy Formidable had just allowed their music to speak for itself instead of tagging ‘Greyhounds in the Slips’ with unnecessary retching and giggling then everything would have been just right.
Two songs flash like beacons of goodness above the rest. Creepily captivating, ‘Night’ by Wisconsin lass, Zola Jesus, is three minutes and thiry-eight seconds of glorious gothic perfection, and sits comfortably beside Warpaint’s equally chilling offering. The eerie electronica of ‘Elephant’ speaks of a band with huge potential to create engaging atmospheric sounds. Pity they’ve both been shoved in at the end of the album.
So yeah, perhaps not the goldmine of music glory we could hope for, but plenty to sink our teeth in to for now.