SINGLE OF THE WEEK
Bloc Party – ‘Mercury’ (Wichita)
Fair play to Bloc Party for distancing themselves further from the sound that established their reputation on Silent Alarm (and that was subsequently copied by dozens of other acts) with a single that, much like preceding release ‘Flux’, does its very best to throw off the shackles of expectations amongst the purely indie-rock-minded community, the same individuals who yearn for a return to the likes of ‘Helicopter’. The London foursome don’t completely reach the heady heights of their own ambitions with the stutter-beat, horns-assisted and echo-drenched ‘Mercury’, but as a signal of intent for what’s to come it is pretty appetite-whetting, and an indication that Bloc Party’s Kid A could well emerge as album three. By keeping their fanbase playing a stylistic guessing game they may alienate their firmest followers of old, but there’s a real, honest hunger within this band for progress. They’re not there yet, at their desired goal, but ‘Mercury’ serves as proof that they’re on the right path.
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ALSO OUT TODAY
Heatbreak – ‘We’re Back’ (Lex)
Oddly engaging throwback electro with metal posturing (see the band live, seriously), Heartbreak’s out-the-blocks album-preceding single ‘We’re Back’ is a cranium-throbbing number that mixes LCD Soundsystem-style pulsations with Depeche Mode, circa Violator, overtones of gloomy goth-isms. We’re not wholly sold yet on the duo’s longevity, but right now this retro-tinged bouncer makes us think of marching Roman Centurions dressed up in Tron gear for some reason. So hot right… then?
The Music – ‘Spike’ (Polydor)
With Primal Scream back in recent weeks, too, does anyone need also-returning The Music? ‘The Spike’ finds the forgotten four-piece on dials-set-to-epic form, but ultimately screaming themselves hoarse to an audience of no one. It’s fine, its structure sound and execution decent… it’s completely forgettable, in other words. See ya, The Music. Your fifteen finished some years ago.
Broken Records – ‘Slow Parade’ (Fandango)
While Edinburgh-based collective Broken Records must be bored to tears of comparisons to Arcade Fire, there really is something about the heartstring-plucking splendour of tracks like this, their second single ‘proper’, that recalls the all-conquering Canadians. It’s modest with its grace, restrained where it could soar skyward, and ultimately the better for its underplayed elegance. A stirring reminder why this band could yet be so, so special in the near future.
Video: Broken Records, ‘Slow Parade’ (live at Rockness 2008)
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Go Audio – ‘She Left Me’ (Epic)
Emo-lite diluted to the consistency of a really runny… and there’s where we’ll pop a full stop on that line of imagery. Just know this: bands like Go Audio are harmless pre-teen rock fodder that the kids that comprise their target market will grow out of soon enough. They make Fightstar sound like Meshuggah.
Red Light Company – ‘Meccano’ (Lavolta)
Standard-issue indie-rock apparently designed solely for Xfm daytime rotation, this single doesn’t sell Red Light Company in a particularly positive fashion – if you’ve albums by Delays, Guillemots and Keane then you’ve all the music you need of this nature. Meccano may encourage creativity in the young, but this quintet clearly stuck to action toys as kids, playing out stories they saw on television in their bedrooms. There’s nothing here that can’t be summarised as ‘so so’.
Esser – ‘Headlock’ (Transgressive)
Sassy, boisterous pop from former Ladyfuzz man Esser that isn’t exactly the stuff that careers are founded upon, but nevertheless slithers and writhes playfully like some sort of solo venture based on the quasi-proggy tones of Late Of The Pier and the ‘80s magic of Mystery Jets. Club NME venues around the country are no doubt going crazy to this single right now; if not, then soon, as it seems tailored well to short-attention-span kids at the perceived cutting edge of indie cool.
Video: Esser, ‘Headlock’
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Cats In Paris – ‘Castle Walls’ (Akoustik Anarkhy)
Peculiar and perky alt-pop from a peculiarly named band that, ultimately, leaves the listener feeling a little peculiar. Fans of Deerhoof and Munch Munch should check this lot out, if they’ve not already, as Cats In Paris’ senses-dizzying assault is dripping in avant-garde tendencies sure to hook those demanding subversive sidesteps in their seven-inches with ease. Still packs a melodic punch, though, which promises much for their Courtcase 2000 long-player.
Haunts – ‘Live Fast Die Young’ (Black Records)
Londoners doing for !!!-lite indie-dance what Friendly Fires are doing for slightly more symphonic !!!-lite indie-dance, Haunts’ ‘Live Fast Die Young’ no doubt sounds great sandwiched between something like CSS and the above-reviewed Esser on the land’s indie-centric dancefloors, but without such context this feels completely flaccid, just another high-energy toe-tapper to forget seconds after it has ended. Oh, and how much cowbell is too much cowbell? This much.
Is it good? Is it awful? We still can’t tell, and what is that noise in the background, yelping away while Ashcroft bangs on and on about what love is? A tightening of the stomach and drying of the throat in our experience, and neither sensation is felt during the duration of this comeback single. Album four, Forth, will give us a clearer picture of The Verve’s place in 2008’s marketplace; until then, the jury’s out based on this little evidence. Seriously… is that a Fraggle?
Video: The Verve, ‘Love Is Noise’
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