by / March 20th, 2011 /

Top Story: Singles Of The Week


Nero – ‘Guilt’ (MTA Records)

It’s becoming obvious that there are a bunch of producers / writers / musicians and vocalists from the dubstep scene who aren’t obsessed with staying ‘true to the underground sound’ and who are capable of charting while still knocking out an amazing tune that can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand at the end at the flick of a switch, or twiddle of a fader, or however it is they cook these concoctions up. Londoners Daniel Stephens and Joe Ray go under the name NERO, their new single is the latest product of their basement labour and is the darkest, toughest single in the pile this week. Full of big build ups and all puffed up on its own drama and with completely unsubtle, wailing vocals over the top, this deserves to go huge because it is, to put it bluntly, sublimely flipping excellent.

Patrick Wolf – ‘The City’ (Mercury)

Ruddy heck, what a racket. Despite bouncing along merrily, warbly-voiced Patrick Wolf’s latest platter is hard to love – and not because it has a whopping great saxophone on it. In fact I’d see that as a plus point. The problem is the song doesn’t quite soar where it needs to; promises much but ultimately feels insubstantial. This is disappointing really because Wolf has been a pop-star-in-waiting for what seems like an eternity. It rather makes you wonder whether after failing to have a hit for so long, the poor lad has given up trying. The chorus includes the lyric “top of the morning”, so perhaps it’s a tilt at the not-especially-coveted post-St Patrick’s Day chart. Is it worth it? One thinks not. Pah.

George Michael – ‘True Faith’ (Sony)

The video for ‘Outside’ aside, George Michael doesn’t usually ‘do’ funny, so it’s a surprise that he was chosen to make this year’s Comic Relief single . And whereas the charity’s singles in years gone by have been unfunny despite themselves this is deliberately a rather sombre affair (The Wanted have also chipped in with an equally mirth-free Comic Relief single of their own), which limps along at about a half-a-mile an hour. The original version of this song (which is all about Doing Drugs) was of course recorded by one of the funniest pop groups in history, New Order. To his credit George doesn’t do a straightforward cover and opts to put his voice through a creepy vocodery filter. If that sounds up your street you may wish to drive into the shops and purchase a copy (ho ho!).

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – ‘Belong’ (Slumberland)

Being a group who are deeply in love with the past, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart’s latest nugget of studied indie rock waves its influences in your face and the resulting noise would not sound out of place on an Indie Top 20 compilation from 1992. Because I am old, it makes me nostalgic for baggy, The Word and The Boo Radley’s Everything’s Alright Forever; and because I am possibly showing signs of early onset dementia, I happen to think that this is A Good Thing. But as it’s sparkly and melodic in all the right ways I’m sure the current generation of indie kids will also take this single to their hearts. Nice work, The Pains!

Ladytron – ‘Ace Of Hz’ (Nettwerk)

As any fool knows, it is standard industry practice to chuck a lightweight piece of filler on to the end of your career-spanning best of album, but ‘Ace Of Hz’ (which can be found on comp Ladytron 00-10) bucks that trend by actually being thoroughly deserving of its place among The ‘Tron’s finest offerings, being a sort of cross between ‘Seventeen’, ‘Destroy Everything You Touch’ and ‘Evil’. It’s not as scuzzy and rocky as their last Velocifero album was, but is instead a hooky electro single that gets under your skin after a couple of listens and is just a remix away from being a dancefloor smash. It still won’t be a hit of course but hey, that’s showbiz.

Guillemots – ‘The Basket’ (Polydor)

It was nice to see Fyfe Dangerfield reaching the Top 10 on his tod recently (he must have experienced the bends, reaching such dizzy heights) but despite all the hype that surrounded them when they started releasing records in 2006, the Mercury Prize-losing Guillemots are yet to have a proper hit. ‘The Basket’ is buzzy and uplifting and is generally a big bag of ideas stuffed into a small space – just like the majority of the band’s previous releases. It’s actually dead good but that string of number one hits will have to wait.

Ellie Goulding – ‘Lights’ (Polydor)

Flimsy pop fare from the much-touted singer who hasn’t done anything of much use since ‘Under The Sheets’ unless you count that one with Tinie Tempah, and let’s face it Tinie Tempah could sing The Frames’ back catalogue and make it sound good. Still, when she performed it on The Alan Tichmarsh show the other day all the grannies in the audience tapped their feet with something approaching enthusiasm, so someone somewhere will like it. However, while it isn’t terrible exactly, it is one big yawn. A blast of boredom. It could probably stun an approaching angry bear at fifteen paces. Zzzzzzzzzz…

The Vaccines – ‘If You Wanna’ (Columbia)

The Vaccines were probably doomed the moment the music press fingered them as an “important” development in the history of modern indie rock. Is there a worse word in all of pop music criticism than the term “important”? It hardly sets the pulse racing does it? “Hey, listen to this deep ‘n’ meaningful record by Elbow – they’re turning into a really IMPORTANT band…” The Vaccines are a silly, fun rock group with snappy tunes that don’t necessarily linger long in the memory but that’s OK. For example ‘If You Wanna’ is not earth-shattering, but it rattles along nicely. It may not, in fact, be IMPORTANT, but rattling along nicely will do for now.

The Young Knives – ‘Love My Name’ (Transgressive Records)

So here’s the first quirky single to be taken from The Young Knives’ new album. FASCINATING POP FACT: The Young Knives’ bass player is monikered (aherm) The House Of Lords. He therefore helps The Young Knives to scoop this week’s Group Member With The Best Handle award from under Fyfe Dangerfield of Guillemots’ nose. Mind you, I can’t help but feel that having a bass player called The House Of Lords is the most interesting thing about The Young Knives.

Anna Calvi – ‘Blackout’ (Domino)

You can see why so many people have taken to Anna Calvi. The staff at Vogue magazine love her because she’s such an “individual” and really “broody’ and “intense” and she likes swanning about in flamenco dresses and being a bit of a “clothes horse” or something. Vocally, she’s not unlike PJ Harvey, and with Her Doominess in the limelight once again with the recent Let England Shake album you might wonder whether the world needs another really broody and intense singer at this precise moment, but ‘Blackout’ in its own right is fairly alright and what is known in the business as “a grower”.