Righty-ho, in order to ensure that everyone actually pays attention whilst reading this column, we're going to set a series of three questions, the answers to which are hidden, deep inside the prose below.
Answer all three and win a prize*:
A) Who is ever spritely pop-princess Kylie Minogue now the same age as?
B) What do famous footballer Andy Cole and famous Death Cab For Cutie-er Ben Gibbard have in common?
C) How much Lana Del Rey is too much Lana Del Rey?
* Please note prize is a self-administered sense of smug satisfaction at a job well done. Prize has no monetary value. Although your soul will be forever indebted.
TRACK OF THE WEEK: This Many Boyfriends - Number One
Oh, this is just ridiculously sweet. You may take one listen and think 'scruffy indie band, singer sounds like Morrissey, they obviously love The Wedding Present' and move on. Which is all kind of true, but This Many Boyfriends have a heart and personality that distinguishes them from any number of generic indie boys and girls with guitars.
Because TMB prove that guitar pop isn't dead, it just needs a bit of a cuddle. Number One is impossibly cute without ever being cloying. Any song that begins with the line "the first time I wrote you a letter was on the back of a cheap newsletter" deserves to find a place in your heart, especially when combined with a chorus that you'll find yourself humming for days afterwards.
It's a throwback to the days when indie meant unassuming, modest young men like Orange Juice and Lloyd Cole, rather than stadium filling behemoths like The Vaccines. Buy this song and make the long winter months seem a bit more comforting.
Lana Del Rey - Ride
She's back. Yet, let's face it, she never really went away. Whether it be staring down awkwardly from every bus stop in a H&M dress, featuring in bizarre celebrity coupling rumours with Axl Rose or being the subject of increasingly tiresome 'she's not authentic, man' blog articles, Lana Del Rey has been impossible to escape from during 2012.
Now, in a move that may well infuriate some, her record company are repackaging and re-releasing her debut with new artwork and eight new songs. It's a move that didn't do Lady Gaga any harm a few years ago, although if Ride is anything to go by, they would have benefited by including some slightly better songs.
It sounds exactly what you'd expect a Lana Del Rey song to sound like - hazy, dreamy and sultry, with whispered lyrics about "full-time daddies", "dying young" and "feeling like I'm fucking crazy". Mention of a red dress and a bad boyfriend, we'd have house in a game of LDR Lingo Bingo. Yet there's not much of a memorable melody to speak of, and it lacks the battered, soulful glamour of her best material. It does, however, sound like a barrel being scraped, and as undoubtedly talented as Lana is we'd like a bit of a break from her now, thanks very much.
Tracey Thorn - In The Cold Cold Night
The summer may have only just disappeared, but we already have mince pies in the shops. Yes, Christmas is on its way (honestly), and that can only mean one thing - a plethora of festively themed albums are on their way.
Ordinarily, this would be a revolting prospect. Yet when Tracey Thorn announces plans to release a one, you can't help but be pleased. One of the best voices of her generation, the thought of the former Everything But The Girl singer taking on both modern and classic Christmas tunes is one to warm the heart.
Even better, the first track to come from Tinsels And Lights isn't even a proper Christmas song. Instead, it's a cover version of a White Stripes album track (yes, not particularly festive then, but it is only October). Thorn takes the stripped down original, adds some beats and speeds up the track a bit and, as they say on The X Factor, really makes the song her own. We'd even warrant it's better than the original.
Kylie Minogue - Flower
Here's a frightening pop fact for you. Kylie Minogue is now the same age as her Neighbours colleague Anne Charleston was when she was cast to play Madge in Neighbours. While you take that on board, and sit quietly contemplating your own mortality, have a listen to Flower, the first fruits of Kylie's forthcoming 'orchestral' album.
Recorded at Abbey Road Studios with the full shebang, the album features radical reworkings of some of her biggest hits together with this little ditty, which was originally written for X, but failed to make the cut. It's a pleasant enough ballad, but never really goes anywhere enough to make a real impression.
Anyway, it's the full orchestral version of I Should Be So Lucky that we're really looking forward to...
Benjamin Gibbard - Teardrop Windows
Ben Gibbard (sorry, BENJAMIN Gibbard as he now wishes to be known) seems to have placed Death Cab For Cutie on a bit of a hiatus, and released a solo album, no doubt throwing himself into his work after his recent marriage split with everyone's favourite Manic Dream Pixie Girl, Zooey Deschanel.
Anyone expecting to hear downbeat meditations on failed relationships will be disappointed by Teardrop Windows though. It's pretty much exactly what you'd expect a Death Cab For Cutie solo project to sound like - Gibbard's plaintive vocals enlivening what's really a pretty bog standard bit of Americana.
It's more of a natural progression from Codes & Keys than the band's heyday of Plans and Transatlaticsm, and as such will probably only appeal to hardcore DCFC fans rather than any newbies. And, therefore, it leaves one a bit underwhelmed.
Coves - Wicked Game
Let's face it anyone who doesn't like Wicked Game is not the sort of person you want to be sharing a cab with. Or adopting a child with. Or performing the role of character witness in your current high court trial.
Coves agree. We assume, given they've covered it. Although, they are giving it away for free. So perhaps they don't. Who can tell? It's a minefield of bluff and double-bluff and insinuation and suggestion and meaning within meaning. Within meaning.
But setting aside the bands own opinion on matters, this is a lovely take on Chris Isaak finest (only?) hour. Woozy and drugged such it marches to ponderous crawl, it drifts in, grabs your heart and then very, very, slowly, melts away.
Vitalic - Stamina
We looked up the dictionary definition of banger and it said: 'a person or thing that bangs'. Mentions of Vitalic, zero. Which proves, what do dictionaries know? Nothing. NOTHING we tell you. Apart from not being a place to go should you need inspiration.
Anyway, despite the lack of backing from Messrs Webster and Oxford English, we're pretty sure Stamina is a banger. Well, at the start it sounds a bit like a microwave going wrong, and then it sounds like someone blowing a raspberry into a foghorn, and then it sounds a bit like Kernkraft 400, but overall, it definitely seems like it could be a banger.
From Vitalic's new album, Rave Age, out this week, and while not subtle, but it is poundingly memorable and strangely moreish.