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Tracks of 2011: May – August



Brett Anderson(This is Part 2 of a three-part tracks feature. Read Part 1 here.)

May. June. July. August. The summer months. We drank cider in the fields. We skipped barefoot amongst the fields. We went swimming in the old swimmin’ hole. You know. The one next to the fields.

Ok, that’s mostly bollocks.

We did go to some fields – for Glastonbury. And we drink some cider – at Glastonbury. But our skipping was limited and our feet remained covered. And we’ve not been allowed back to the old swimmin’ hole since the whole running, bombing and heavy-petting, three-strikes-and-yer-out incident back in ’05.

But we did keep on listening. And here is the best of what we heard.

May

SBTRKT – Wildfire

What we said then: This is the hottest record in the world. Officially. And not in a Willow Smith‘s Decadent Hype Machine way, more in a hey-that’s-a-bloody-great-tune way. So quaint and old fashioned, right? We know.

While we’re also sure that Wildfire is little short of electro-genius, we have been experiencing a few pronunciation issues.

“Have you heard the hottest record in the world yet?” we’ve been asking befuddled strangers, creasing their suede jacket sleeves with our increasingly clammy hands. “It’s called Wildfire, and it’s by… Sbot Rocket? Seb Track Two? Sob Trick It?” Nah, we always knew that it’s pronounced “subtract”. For sure.

What we say now: Easily the most enduring track on what proved to be a pretty good self-titled debut, Wildfire is refusing to budge from the year-end playlists soundtracking festive fun here in the Tracks office (read: bedsit).

We’ve still no idea what the gist of Wildfire is, of course, but if such blunt confusion can’t stop us enjoying the work of Lars Von Trier, it certainly won’t stop us lolling suggestively to the best song to emerge from May 2011. Quite an accolade, that.

Honourable Mentions…

Justice – Civilization

We seem to remember Justice reassuring us that they were our friends, and that we’d “never be alone again”. But that wasn’t the case when we were caught short at the Camden Crawl and had to beg passers-by for a spare pair of slacks, was it?

We’re not averse to forgiving and forgetting, though, and it’s just as well: Civilisation is a full-blooded uppercut that channels early Daft Punk in delivering a knock-out blow to all and sundry.

Dry The River – No Rest

Dry The River may have just cracked it as their exploits outstrip the accompanying PR huff-and-puff: a debut single sold out on pre-order, a string of jam-packed London shows and sudden leap up to larger venues. Follow-up single No Rest comes ahead of a highly anticipated debut album, and channels the influences cited by a band of diverse characters; elements of Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and even a little At The Drive-In are all present and correct. No wonder we can’t get near them.

Dishonourable Discharge…

Tinchy Stryder and Dappy – Spaceship

Spaceship sees the pint-sized pair emerge from some sunny abode, climb aboard two supercars and start brag-rapping with barely comprehensible flights of fancy that read like a bad GCSE poetry project. A real casserole of nonsense, this. Guaranteed chart-topper.

June

Nicola Roberts Dance To The Beat Of My Drum

What we said then:The Diplo-assisted Dance To The Beat Of My Drum is the most magnificently bonkers post-Girls Aloud output yet. Except for St. Trinians 2: The Legend Of Fritton’s Gold. Ok, maybe even including that.

It’s like M.I.A eating raspberry lace in a sweet shop with Kate Bush. Or Sleigh Bells having high tea in the Ritz after a Pygmalion style makeover. Brilliant.

What we say now:It’s still brilliant. In fact, Nicola has been responsible for three of our favourite singles of the entire year and this is still probably the best of them.

Ok, it didn’t have a bit where she makes a noise like a cat, as per Lucky Day, or a video with a yo-yo, as per, err, Yo-yo but it was still amazing enough that Madonna deemed it the next zeitgeisty wave for her next (attempt) to surf back to relevance, and grasped onto it tight, with her weird, sinewy arms.

And you know you’re doing something right if Madge is trying to nick your ideas.

Honourable Mentions…

Riz MC All Of You

All Of You is impossible to ignore. A deceptively sweet vocal tone clashes wildly against a bassline which make speakers shudder with fear and lyrics which drip with scarily sinister intent.

It’s like a 21st Century update of Every Breath You Take. Only not shit.

Mirrors – Look At Me

“Look at me / Look how love has changed the man I used to be.” So true, Mirrors. So true. Our love handles were half this size this time last year. No, really. Well, okay; marginally smaller.

Still, what better way to sooth our souls than to slip some sultry synth stylings on the speakers and slither suggestively, stopping simply to sup sweet sarsaparilla to sustain the serpentine swagger? Simply sensational stuff.

Dishonourable Discharge…

Hard-Fi Good For Nothing

Good For Nothing is a predictable return from a predictable band who do predictable things such that their audience can listen to precisely what they were predicting before hitting the town and going predictably laaarge.

This is more than a bit Danny Dyer. With particular emphasis on the dire.

July

New Look – The Ballad

What we said then: To be young, gifted and Canuck. A heady combination that has seen the likes of Michael Buble and, um, Bill Shatner leave their mark on pop like a body check into the boards, onlookers flinging their Big Gulps into the air at the sheer thrill of the sight.

A stunning, stirring spectacular, it builds effortlessly into a keys crescendo pay-off so beautiful that the term “highly anticipated” barely seems to capture the promise implied of the imminent New Look long player. Besides, the deal is sealed with liberal use of cloud-sized dry ice plumes. What’s not to like?

What we say now: Look, the proof is in the pudding. New Look’s LP went on to score a near-perfect four-and-a-half stars out of five – that’s nine out of ten in old money! – led all the way by The Ballad’s trail blazing magnificence.

If 2011 was the year of the boy-girl electro-duo – which certainly isn’t an inaccurate description – then New Look sit pretty at the top of the pile.

Honourable Mentions…

Yuck – Shook Down

A mosaic of genitalia. It isn’t often you get to say that – at least it isn’t often you get to say it and it not be the sort of outburst that gets you, at best, a funny look; and at worst, committed. So thanks Yuck for creating this video. Which features mosaics of genitalia, painfully suggestive cuts between crotches and very sharp looking knives, and some of the most enthusiastic fruit eating ever committed to tape.

M83 – Midnight City

Lead single Midnight City renders M83’s directionless noisesmithery as little more than a distant memory, its Kate Bush-esque synth stabs pointing towards an altogether more exciting direction. Either that or he was curious to know what would happen if he squeezed some kittens. We always knew he had it in him.

Dishonourable Discharge…

David Guetta feat. Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj – Where Them Girls At

There’s something in the predatory sentiment displayed that makes you uneasy enough to call all of the girls you know and suggest a panic room might be a good investment, and there’s something so astonishingly bad about this brand of lowest common denominator eurodiscopap to make you entirely question whether there is any point in listening to any form of recorded sound ever again.

  1. August

Best Coast Our Deal

What we said then: When will the members of teenage street gangs learn, the path of true love never runs smoothly. Even before you’ve chosen someone who decides to communicate via the medium of graffiti, picking the most inappropriate moment to answer a simple question in way that provokes ambiguity at the precise moment where a monosyllabic answer would have saved everyone a whole lot of hospital bills.

Anyway, that’s the video. Directed by Drew Barrymore no less. The song is a delight, a swooning 50s surf-rock lullaby, that leaves you a blubbering emotional wreck.

What we say now: We still maintain that grand romantic gesture that forms the basis of this video is more a grand gesture of abject stupidity, but that’s probably because we’re withered and dead inside. An emotionless dried up husk of a human.

But even we know that the song is a thing of such soaring beauty that it makes you long for the tender touch of that special someone. Sniff.

Best Coast

Honourable Mentions…

Charlotte Gainsbourg – Terrible Angels

It would seem we’ve taught Ms Gainsbourg a thing or two about cool. Aimlessly wandering the streets at night; dancing in an abandoned multi-storey car park; carelessly mown down by a passing black Mercedes? All in a musicOMH weeknight get-together, mon cher.

But kudos to Charlie regardless, because Terrible Angels is a real electro hotdog of a humdinger; its nifty portmanteau of Feist and Goldfrapp punching adrenaline into the beguiling-yet-restrained IRM LP formula.

Brett Anderson – Brittle Heart

Maybe, maybe it’s the clothes we wear; the tasteless bracelets and the dye in our hair. Maybe it’s our kookiness. Or maybe, maybe it’s our nowhere towns, our nothing places and our cellophane sounds. Maybe it’s our looseness. But we’re trash, you and me…

This, on the other hand, is not trash. In fact, it’s abso-bloody-lutely lovely. Taken from a forthcoming fourth solo album and a return to the Suede sound that scored much of the nineties, Brett Anderson’s Brittle Heart makes us feel warm all over. And really old, too, the beautiful sod.

Dishonourable Discharge…

The Kooks Is It Me

“Is it me / Is it you”, Luke Kook emotes painfully, like a whining teenager mistaking the expulsion of kidney stones for profundity, completely steadfast in the belief that if he doesn’t go to this party his life will be over.

This sounds like a poor man’s Razorlight. Current Razorlight, we mean. Which given that the active incarnation of Razorlight are doing a pretty fair impersonation of a poor man’s Razorlight, makes The Kooks strangely appropriate for these austere times.

(This is Part 2 of a three-part tracks feature. Read Part 1 here.)


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