SINGLE OF THE WEEK
Nicola Roberts – ‘Beat Of My Drum’ (Polydor)
Always the most interesting one in Girls Aloud, Nicola Roberts isn’t daft. Fully aware that the best pop music takes risks (and Girls Aloud took lots of risks), she has drafted in Diplo and Dimitri Tokovoi to produce her debut solo single, and the result is demented and delightful in equal measure. While some will be drawn to the clever, self-referential lyric (“Don’t it make your heart go ‘wow’/ How I turned the whole thing round”), what elevates ‘Beat Of My Drum’ above all the rest of this week’s singles is its off-the-leash wildness. Possessing all of the wit and ingenuity of Annie or Robyn at their best, this is a clattering, walloping, thrashing-about sort of record, and if one were to emulate its dance routine a la ‘Biology’ in one’s living room it would involve lots of elbows a-kimbo, limb-flailing, furniture destroying chaos. ‘Beat Of My Drum’ might not get to number one but it IS the best single of 2011 so far.
Ronika – ‘Forget Yourself’/ ‘Wiyoo’ (Record Shop)
Pop Music 2011 – girls are everywhere. Charli XCX, Sunday Girl, CocknBullKid, Ronika… Why are chaps so comparatively useless at pop these days? Who are these ladies? Where have they all sprung from? Nottingham native Ronika makes amazing futurepop on an apparently non-existent budget. And bur-limey she knows what she’s doing. ‘Forget Yourself’ has the electro squelch of Shannon’s ‘Let The Music Play’ or Joyce Sims’ ‘All In All’. ‘Flipside ‘Wiyoo’ (pronounced “why you”) is even better. Remember how good the last Roisin Murphy album was? This one’s in a similar vein. Brill. Completely brill. THIS close to Single Of The Week. File under: The Future Of Pop.
Katy B – ‘Easy Please Me’ (Columbia/Rise)
And so to Katy B, who has surveyed the contemporary pop scene, calmly put her cup of tea to one side and said “I think I’ll show them how it’s done for a while”. Katy makes this pop lark look like a right doddle. She doesn’t give a damn about playing the game; doing the Paul O’Grady Show, soft releases, street teaming, viral marketing and all of that kerfuffle. Instead the rest of pop has had to catch up with her – she oozes insouciant cool and ‘Easy Please Me’ is just another great pop song in her arsenal, having the endearing quality of being the sort of tune that lodges itself firmly in your nut for instant recall at any available opportunity. You won’t need an iPod.
Example – ‘Changed The Way You Kiss Me’ (Data/Mos)
Example comes lumbering into view with another wibbly synth tune. ‘Changed The Way You Kiss Me’ is typical of his pounding house-y fare and while it’s not as obviously tops as ‘Kickstarts’ it is still destined to be spun on Spin108.3 from here to eternity. He can’t decide whether he’s a singer or a rapper so he sort of does both and neither at the same time, but he does so rather well. Example is a likeable chap, he doesn’t take himself too seriously and he can write a tune. A ‘winning formula’, one suspects.
Emmy The Great – ‘Iris’ (Close Harbour)
Some singles are tough, confident things that grab you by the lapels and force you to pay attention (not literally, thankfully, that would be a world gone mad). Others are quiet timid, coy affairs that sit in the corner pleasantly hoping you’ll take notice. ‘Iris’ is the latter sort of record but that’s not to discredit the thing. Emmy The Great has been building a small but devoted audience of admirers and one listen to ‘Iris’ should be enough for you to join their club. An understated pop stoater, readers.
Cults – ‘Abducted’ (Itno/Columbia)
It’s the dynamic duo they’re all calling the next Lee & Nancy! Jangly boy-girl twee-pop for wallflowers in other words, but stay tuned because while this admittedly takes a while to get going, when it does it’s just the kind of song to set toes tapping, heads nodding and the heart soaring. There are enough tempo changes and girl-group references to keep things from going pear-shaped before the end and there’s no doubt that as indie-pop tickets go it’s quite intriguing.
The Naked & Famous – ‘Girls Like You’ (Fiction)
Another release from The Naked & Famous, which will go down a treat with the fans who hold their album in high regard, but ‘Girls Like You’ lacks the punch to convert anyone else. Vaguely ‘anthemic’ (that word again – gah!) but ultimately a bit depressing alt-pop with a bit of guitar riffing, a bit of electronic stuff chucked in, and the potential to “sound really amazing in a festival setting” etc. Fine. But there’s an AWFUL LOT of this sort of stuff about at the moment. It may work in the context of the album but for cheese’s sake STOP BEING BORING EVERYONE! We’ve all got work to be getting on with. Yes your songs have an ‘anthemic’ quality. But anthems are the most boring songs in the world. Make proper pop music. Be witty. Show off a bit of panache, elan, style. Do ANYTHING.
The Vaccines – ‘All In White’ (Columbia)
There are better things elsewhere on their album, but ‘All In White’ – a slow paced, slow burner – is a let down. It’s just boring. Boring, boring, boring. If this is your first exposure to The Vaccines you will wonder what on earth all the fuss is about. This is exactly the kind of thing The Vaccines are not good at. Stop it at once, The Vaccines.
Are You Still Here? Corner Part 1!
The View – ‘Sunday’ (Columbia)
They’re back! Despite popular demand! An absolute must for people who think music should be dull, ‘timeless’ and earnest!
Are You Still Here? Corner Part 2!
Peter, Bjorn & John – ‘May Seem Macabre’ (Cooking Vinyl)
If you think you’re getting a positive review off me, lads, you can whistle for it.
Are You Still Here? Corner Part 3!
R.E.M. – ‘All The Best’/ ‘It Happened Today’ (Warner Brothers)
R.E.M. – ‘All The Best’/ ‘It Happened Today’ (Warner Brothers)
Not in your case it didn’t, R.E.M. It happened about 20 years ago.
ALSO RELEASED THIS WEEK:
All The Young – ‘Welcome Home’ (Warner), Alter Bridge – ‘Wonderful Life’ (Roadrunner), Avenged Sevenfold – ‘So Far Away’ (Warner Brothers), Sophie Ellis-Bextor – ‘Starlight’ (EBGB’s), Caro Emerald – ‘Stuck’ (Dramatico), Romance – ‘Who Do You Love’ (Polydor), Marcus Foster – ‘Rushes & Reeds’ (Communion/Geffen), Ben Howard – ‘The Wolves’ (Island), Benjamin Francis Leftwich – ‘Box Of Stones’ (Dirty Hit), Jess Mills – ‘Live For What I Die For’ (Island), Naughty Boy – ‘F**Kery’ (Virgin), Panic! At The Disco – ‘Ready To Go (Get Me Out Of My Mind)’ (Decaydance/Fueled By Ramen), Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends – ‘No Hopers, Jokers & Rogues’ (Island), Simple Plan featuring Rivers Cuomo – ‘Can’t Keep My Hands Off You’ (Atlantic), Tribes – ‘We Were Children EP’ (Island), The Wombats – ‘Techno Fan’ (14th Floor/Atlantic), Wonderland – ‘Starlight’ (Mercury), Zac Brown Band – ‘Free’ (Atlantic)