Track Reviews

Track Reviews: 29 October – 4 November 2012

This weeks tracks column, with Holy Ghost!, Christopher Owens and Jedward amongst those desperate for attention.

TRACK OF THE WEEK: Holy Ghost! – It Gets Dark
This new track from DFA signees Holy Ghost! was originally available only as a limited edition 12-inch, but is now available to all. Those familiar with last year’s excellent self-titled album will know what to expect: propulsive synths and an arms-aloft chorus that’s just the right side of eighties-indebted cheesiness.

It Gets Dark is only five minutes long but it has scale and expansiveness. The third quarter of the track is especially thrilling, featuring a high-pitched synth noise that recalls DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince‘s Summertime (probably unintentional) and a sweeping breakdown-and-build-up that feels tailor-made for ‘the club’ (probably intentional).

And, as this is a Soundcloud link, one’s enjoyment of It Gets Dark can be improved immeasurably by following the accompanying listener comments. Of the aforementioned middle eight, one ‘Lo-Fi Terrorist’ writes, “FEELS LIKE AN EIGHTIES LOVE MAKING BEACH DROWN IN SYNTHS” (sic). Quite.

Chromatics – Looking For Love
Kill For Love, Chromatics’ album from earlier this year, was frustrating for fans of concision: buried among its 90-minute sprawl was a perfect 10-track synth-pop album, but you had to trawl through a lot of lengthy instrumentals to find it.

We only mention it because this version of Looking For Love, taken from the forthcoming After Dark II compilation, which features the best Italo-Disco revivalists, is 17 minutes long. Something which suggests that Chromatics haven’t got any better at editing themselves.

But no matter. If you want a perfect encapsulation of the Chromatics’ aesthetic Looking For Love should do the trick. Vocalist Ruth Radelet sings the titular refrain over and over again like a supermodel on quaaludes, while the music burbles away repetitively in the background. Yet these seemingly second-rate components combine to create something hypnotic and irresistibly decadent.

Christopher Owens – Here We Go
Christopher Owens is the former frontman of San Franciscan indie outfit Girls. Owens’ announcement earlier this year that he was ‘leaving’ Girls was a curious one given that, to all intents and purposes, he was Girls: he wrote the songs and his sad-sack demeanour defined the band’s image.

Here We Go is the first track released from Owens’ debut solo album Lysandre, due out in January and to add to the sense of confusion, it sounds exactly like Girls, specifically Girls at their lushest and most laidback.

It’s also rather lovely, and continues Owens’ knack of matching over-sharing, slightly icky lyrics (“Tongue in my ear, hair in my mouth”) with beautiful music, which here includes hello-birds-hello-trees harmonica and flute embellishments pretty enough to pierce through the most slate-grey of weather.

DaVinci – Nothin Finna Stop Me
Nothin Finna Stop Me is a track from San Francisco rapper DaVinci’s forthcoming second album The MOEna Lisa (out next month). It’s an irresistible, luxurious hip-hop track. Well, it’s ‘irresistible’ provided the listener can put up with a lyric sheet containing what Simon Bates in his video certificate days would have referred to as ‘adult themes’ and ‘strong language’.

Profanity at delicious odds with the beauty of the music, which comprises a brassy soul sample looped expertly by Alabama production team Block Beattaz.

Much fun can be had from matching the profanely triumphant words to whatever personal challenges the listener is facing that day. All together now: “And if I die today I feel I still won / And if I had a bag full of fucks, I couldn’t give you one”. Yeah, take that, Geoff from Accounts!

Sylver Tongue – Something Big
Sylver Tongue is the nom de plume of ex-Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley. It’s unclear why Hatherley’s chosen to ditch her own name for this new project: despite Something Big’s increased reliance on keyboards and other things that aren’t guitars, it’s still identifiably a Charlotte Hatherley single (and besides, her own solo career became increasingly less meat ‘n’ potatoes indie rock as it wore on).

Maybe Hatherley was getting fed up with being perennially ignored by both press and public, despite all three of her solo albums being pretty good. And Something Big’s nagging hook shows that Hatherley hasn’t lost her knack for composing earworms.

The song’s artwork and video suggest a future far, far away. Yet the sound of Something Big is most redolent of, er, 2009, specifically when Little Boots mined similar musical territory. Still, it’s a decent effort from an underrated songwriter.

Jedward – Skyfall
To use an old adage beloved of dullards, a truly good song will still sound good even when performed on an acoustic guitar and without any other musical embellishments. Whoever came up with that test clearly didn’t foresee the eventuality of said acoustic version being performed by Jedward.

But here we are. The artists formerly known as John & Edward have covered Adele’s Bond theme and – disappointment on toast – it fails to reach the industrial-strength level of shitness one might have hoped for.

Instead, it’s merely mediocre. John/Edward’s acoustic guitar attains grade one-level competency, and John/Edward’s vocals have improved from their The X Factor days. Which is, admittedly, praise so faint that it requires a forensics expert to detect it. A career highlight for Jedward, then.

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