Track Reviews

Track Reviews: 16-22 July 2012

When over the weekend we heard a fragment of a headline that said someone had pulled the plug on Paul McCartney, we assumed that Heather Mills had managed to break into the nursing home. But no.

When over the weekend we heard a faint echo of the new single from Night Works (and more on that below) on a quiet radio in a distant room, we couldn’t help but mouth “Roxanne?”.

Listening carefully, it seems, is more important now than ever before. So, pull up a pew, cancel all appointments, close all ancillary windows. This requires focus.

Night Works – The Eveningtime
Normally, ex-members of bands just disappear into the ether. Cowed by their mistake, the fact they backed the wrong horse, chose the wrong path, made sure that they would prove that school careers advisor absolutely correct. They really would amount to nothing.

But ex-Metronomy man Gabriel Stebbing may well be the ex-member who proves the rule. Produced by Joseph Mount and released under the guise of Night Works, The Eveningtime is an odd, offbeat number which every time you think you’ve worked out, funks off in another direction.

It’s a grower. One that nags you into listening to it repeatedly, until it becomes difficult to shift. Just don’t ask him to put on the red light.

Bloc Party – Octopus
If you’d missed the big news of the last six months, Kele Okereke has been voted the sexiest man in indie rock. Which is a big accolade. The sort of thing that can lead you to talking in the third person: “The sexiest man in indie-rock thinks that we should produce an album which just consists of me, reading from my new autobiography ‘How To Be Truly Sexy In A World Which Hates Truly Sexy People’.”

We’re probably just lucky it was awarded after they had actually recorded their first new material in about four years. Octopus is the first fruit to be plucked from the vines of the new album (Four, due out 20th August), and it’s a frantic, jarring, clanging throwback to the angular days of Silent Alarm.

Although Kele sounds a bit calmer. Perhaps that’s a serenity that can only come with true sexiness.

Ellie Goulding feat Tinie Tempah – Hanging On
Oh, Ellie. A smash hit debut album, a wildly popular cover of Elton John‘s Your Song and a set at the wedding reception of Wills and Kate. Where do we go from here?

In something of a new direction, apparently: rope in Tinie Tempah, crank up the grimey touches and ditch the Kate Nash comparisons in favour of toned-down Robyn. The result? A new boyfriend in the form of Skrillex and a new single in the form of Hanging On… which is actually a cover of an Active Child track.

A cover which turns the string-drenched solemnity of the original into something far more icy and smooth, with a slightly incongruous verse from Mr Tempah. The subtext of which is that being an impeccably well-dressed rap SUPERSTAR clearly doesn’t pay, and the big money is in pharmaceutical tie-ins.

Beth Orton – Something More Beautiful
Beth Orton’s new album has taken longer to construct than the Olympic Village. But you know, you can’t rush these things. And realistically, there’s only one of these things we’re going to look back on in six months’ time and not be horrifically embarrassed about.

Something More Beautiful is heart-swooningly lovely. A stark, desolate piano line winds its way through delicate sweeps of drums and twiddles of guitars, before breaking its way into a series of delightfully subtle crescendos.

Mothlite – Seeing In The Dark
Daniel O’Sullivan has struck gold with sophomore album Dark Age, an LP that has garnished more praise in 2012 than you could shake Robert Smith‘s wild hair at.

As a salubrious spiritual successor to dark wave’s well-trodden path, Seeing In The Dark’s smart, organic elements gently carom off one another to tremendous effect, like Japan‘s less paranoid moments combined with the creepy irresistibility of Air‘s The Virgin Suicides soundtrack. One to cherish, this.

Noisettes – That Girl
The Dum Dum Girls, She & Him et al have met with success when playing the retro card, and ’50s Americana is showing no sign of relinquishing its status as flavour of the month. Just ask Noisettes (as in Noisette Triangles, right?), whose best moments to date have had a certain Frankie Valli quality about them.

That Girl takes the approach to another level. In fact, it sounds like a long lost fugitive from the Grease soundtrack. Which, to our ears, is no bad thing.

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