Track Reviews

Track Reviews: 26 November – 2 December 2012

Tracks, tracks, glorious tracks. Nothing quite like it for cooling the blood. Although, just to clarify, should your blood be warmer than normal, or should you be experiencing any other symptoms, we do recommend seeing a trained physician.

The press release asks: “How many singers can say that they spent their adolescence touring the world with the likes of Destiny’s Child and Aaron Carter as one quarter of hugely successful, million selling Swedish girl group Play?”.


Is the clue not in the question? Maybe it’s just us. But anyway the high standard of dramatic electro-pop originating from Sweden shows no signs of stopping. Single number two from FAYE is pretty much as immense as single number one, with a chorus that nails outward defiance and inward weeping sensitivity with such ease that it makes you wonder if we can finally retire I Will Survive. (TL)

Frightened Rabbit – Dead Now
Frightened Rabbit, those doyens of the Scottish indie scene, have stepped up a level recently by signing to Atlantic Records. This could be worrying. Believe it or not, there was a time when Snow Patrol made small, intimate, fuzzy little records before they became a by-word for ‘stadium indie’. Hey, The Man, leave our Frightened Rabbit alone!

Going by Dead Now, the first taste of their upcoming album Pedestrian Verse, there’s no need to be concerned. Things may sound upbeat on the surface, but underneath it’s still as reassuringly gloomy as ever in Scott Hutchinson’s world – “I’m dead now, can you hear the relief?” is the cheery refrain to that chorus.

And with the news that the man who redefines the phrase ‘bone dry’, Aidan Moffat, is to guest on Pedestrian Verse it’s clear that we shouldn’t worry too much about Frightened Rabbit getting squashed under the wheels of the mainstream. (JM)

Bonnie Prince Billy – Christmas Eve Can Kill You
It seems to happen every Christmas now. A singer/songwriter releases a Yuletide song about how depressing Christmas is. Malcolm Middleton did it a couple of years ago, and now here’s Will Oldham (duetting with Dawn McCarthy) about Christmas is lonely, horrible and all a bit rubbish really.

However, Christmas Eve Can Kill You is actually an Everly Brothers cover and so it still possesses a warmth and heart that you won’t find in too many other places. Oldham and McCarthy’s voices meld together quite beautifully, and it’s gorgeously produced.

The perfect Christmas song to curl up if it’s snowing outside, and actually not that depressing, if we’re honest. In fact, it’s rather lovely. (JM)

Dragonette – Merry Xmas (Says Your Text Message)
And continuing the theme, another Christmas song and another chance to get to the true spirit of the season. Bitterness. Disappointment. Telling people “thanks a lot, fuck you”. That kind of thing.

And bells. Lots of bells. Dragonette’s festive offering is unbelievably great. It’s like someone took Wham‘s Last Christmas and reworked it with wit, style and modern forms of communication. Oh, and most importantly, subtracted Andrew Ridgeley.

Plus, it’s got a lovely complete arc to it. So by the end there’s a burning, empowering hope. The hope its another twelve months till we have to go through it again, probably. (TL)

Big Deal – Teradactol
Big Deal have grown. Where there once was two (Alice Costelloe and Kacey Underwood) there are now four. They’ve done their bit for the musicians union and hired a bassist and a drummer.

So where there once was delicately spun shoe-gazey numbers, there is now Teradactol. Which gallops where once previously they delicately skipped. It’s a decent way to head, grungier and noisier but still hanging on to that sighing sense of regretful romance which enlivened their debut. (TL)

Pure Bathing Culture – Ivory Coast
Pure Bathing Culture are Daniel Hindman and Sarah Versprille from US alt-folkies Vetiver, and this lead track from their debut self-titled could see a rare instance where a side-project eclipses their parent band.

Ivory Coast is four minutes of dreamy, swoonsome pop that ripples and flows like a heartbroken Beach House. Versprille’s vocals mesh perfectly with the subtly orchestral arrangement, and the whole thing is delivered with a heavy sigh of muted melancholy that hints at something very special (or crushingly sad) to come. (JM)

Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba – Jama ko
In September, Damon Albarn managed the impossible and made a train journey entertaining. Instead of stressed commuters glancing at their watches, Albarn’s train was packed with talented musicians from Africa and The West, resulting in Africa Express criss-crossing the country and hosting collaborations between names like Albarn, Paul Mccartney, Amadou and Marian, Bombay Bicycle Club and Rokia Traore.

Bassekou Kouyate was also part of Africa Express, yet the recording of Jama ko could not have been more of a contrast to the celebratory atmosphere of September. For this track was recorded in Kouyate’s native Mali as the country endured a military coup. Against the political uncertainty and fear, Bassekou recorded this defiant celebration of his people and faith, his celebrated Ngoni ringing out in defiance against possible dictatorship.

The guest vocals by Taj Mahal lift Jama Ko up to another level, making this anthem an infectious and celebratory one, and like much Malian music, almost effortlessly danceable. (JM)

Pitbull featuring Afrojack & The Wanted – Have Some Fun
Here it is. Many have tried, but nobody has come as close as this. Ladies and Gentlemen, the artist known as Pitbull presents, together with his friends Afrojack and The Wanted, the worst song in the history of pop music.

It’s a song that words cannot do justice too. A ‘popstep’ version of Sheryl Crow‘s All I Want To Do, with verses that make 50 Shades Of Grey read like the height of tasteful eroticsm. Sit back and marvel at saucy bon-mots such as “I’m Spanish influenced, that means my tongue is bilingual, ready to play with that spot you tingle”.

Add it to a tune which Will. I. Am. would turn down for being a bit grating some “dubstep” sounds that would have even Skrillex thinking “hold on, is this a bit over the top?” and you have genuinely the worst song ever written. And while it’s become a cliche to wail that “the Mayans were right”, this is the first time a piece of music has made us hope they are. (JM)

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More on Frightened Rabbit
Frightened Rabbit, Laurie Anderson, Arctic Monkeys, Actress… Weekend Reads
Frightened Rabbit – Painting Of A Panic Attack
Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse
Track Reviews: 26 November – 2 December 2012
Frightened Rabbit @ 93 Feet East, London