New releases 10th March 2008

by MV

Single of the Week: Mystery Jets – Young Love
While the Mystery Jets had a couple of standout moments on their debut, this single sees them re-emerging as an almost entirely different band. The base materials are nothing special: it’s a middling guitar band with a straightforward love song, and a female guest vocalist. But somehow it all turns into gold, and it’s one of the sweetest, catchiest, most immovable little songs I’ve heard in a long time. It’s tempting to attribute its power solely to Laura Marling’s star turn in the second verse. But though Laura’s lovely vocals certainly help, there’s more to it than that. It sounds standard, but the repeated shimmering fade-in guitar licks elevate an ok tune into something spine-tingling and brilliant.

A couple more good songs and some other crap if you click ‘Read more’ below…

Neon Neon – I Lust U
If the Mystery Jets tracked hadn’t floored me with its unexpected brilliance, this collaboration between the Super Furries’ Gruff Rhys and electronica merchants Boom Bip would probably have edged single of the week. Great, almost cheesy, 80s-style synth-pop with guest vocals from Cate le Bon. Better than anything SFA have done since ‘Rings Around the World’, at least.

Ida Maria – Stella
I heard this on the radio a few months back and was immediately struck by the feeling that I’d heard this song before. I don’t think I had, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a criticism. Ida Maria is a Norwegian singer who fronts a band bearing her name, and makes music that sounds like a lot of different things in a lot of different places. Here, there’s a touch of the angst-pop vocals of Hole, something of the laid-back breeziness of the Strokes, and a whole lot of tune. While not sounding like anything new, it’s instantly loveable and I’m already looking forward to hearing more.

British Sea Power – No Lucifer
Following the excellent ‘Waving Flags’ we get to see the slightly creepier, weirder side of Sea Power with this latest offering from their third album. Shying away from the anthemic Arcade Fire stylings of the preceding single, instead offering Big Daddy ‘Easy! Easy!’ chants and oblique, unintelligible lyrics, capped with one of the weirdest videos you’ll see all year. Still utterly brilliant, then, but an anti-pop single, rather than a pop single, if you catch my drift.

Foals – Cassius
I generally want to hate Foals, for various reasons I won’t go into here, and thus far I’ve succeeded pretty well. Unfortunately this new single seems to be rather good. It’s infectious, pacy, tune-packed, and addictive. What can you do?

Elbow – Grounds For Divorce
Guy Garvey’s undoubtably an affable chap and his band make music it’s hard to hate. Some might add that it’s also hard to love. They’ve been improving album by album though, and this first taste of newie The Seldom Seen Kid is stirring, anthemic indie-rock with a heart. More straightforwardly tuneful than anything they’ve done to date, and all the more likeable for it.

Johnny Flynn – Leftovers
Mr. Flynn and his band the Sussex Wit have recently been out on tour with Jack Penate, but don’t let that put you off. This is far more interesting stuff, drawing on older-school folk influences and carving a really nice tune out of them. File somewhere between Kid Harpoon and Laura Marling, in the ‘singer-songwriters sounding a bit out of step in a rather pleasing manner’ section.

The Wave Pictures – I Love You Like A Mad Man (7”)
Features a video directed by ex-Hefner frontman Darren Hayman, which is pretty apt. Sounding not unlike the classic indie-poppers, the lyrical obsessions are also pretty closely matched. Not everyone’s cup of tea, it’ll fill the gap for a certain group of sex, wine and fags obsessed indiepop fans.

Leona Lewis – Better In Time
Sport Relief single, so you can’t knock it too much. There’s rather too much emoting and vocal wibbling going on here, but there’s no denying she’s got a great voice, and this is a strong pop tune, with a touch of the old school power-ballad about it, airbrushed with some crisp, powerful production. Better than you’d expect.

Fischerspooner – Danse En France
Casey Spooner and Warren Fischer like to style themselves as multi-talented performance artists, these days, rather than simply ‘a band.’ While recent single ‘The Best Revenge’ was more of the sample old-school Fischerspooner, Danse in France is something altogether difference. Clearly designed to accompany performance pieces, it’s a sleazy piece of Burlesque theatre that owes little to anything going on in comtemporary pop and more to old porn soundtracks. Different, at least.

The Futureheads – The Beginning Of The Twist
Ah, the Futureheads. A couple of thrilling EPs, a big-selling cover… but a couple of underwhelming albums later it’s starting to sound a bit stale. This isn’t a bad song, not at all, in fact it’s pretty catchy and far better than most newer bands in their field. It’s just… it probably wouldn’t hurt to hear something that sounded a bit more fresh from these guys. Here’s hoping the third album has more to offer.

Seasick Steve – Cut My Wings
Not exactly top pop, but you’ve got to admire modern-day Mississippi Bluesman Seasick Steve. Just watch the video, nothing else to say.

Siouxsie – About To Happen
Pretty good for an old-timer. Franz-style big guitar riffing, with a really good tune on top of it that would shame modern day imitators. Decent.

Teenagers- Love No
Not entirely sure this is working for me. French band who sing/talk in English over fairly dull two-chord indie. The talky bits have a worrying tendency to sound like Flight of the Conchords. But I don’t think they’re joking. Hmm.

Hard-Fi – I Shall Overcome
It’s easy to mock Hard-Fi, but their first album did contain a couple of bona fide classics in ‘Living for the Weekend’ and ‘Hard to Beat.’ Unfortunately, the second has far less in the way of pop thrills, and far more in the way of stodgy going-nowhere dirges like this. Best avoided.

Passenger – Table For One
Even though I’m rushing through these few weeks’ releases and generally skipping the bad stuff, I had to pass comment on this. Not just bland, but actively, offensively bland in a way that would put James Blunt to shame. I suppose this a warning to avoid, public service if you will.

This week’s ‘Move Along, Nothing to Say Here’ section…
Eight Legs – Freaking Out The Neighbours (A bit like a witless Art Brut)
Johnny Foreigner – Our Bipolar Friends (7”)
Kids In Glass Houses – Easy Tiger (7”)
Old Romantic Killer Band – You Dont Know How To Love (Good name, less good song)
Red Jumpsuit Apparatus – Face Down
T-Pain – Churchyou (Sorry, not for me)
Timbaland feat Keri Hilson & Nicole Scherzinger – Scream (pedestrian by his usual standards)