The Singles Jukebox
Gross Bastardisation Of The 80s



eh, it’s not been a particularly good week. Insert your own joke about Omarion getting served here.




Omarion – O
[3.00]


Jessica Popper: Calling a song "O" is just an excuse for lots of pointless wailing when he runs out of ideas for lyrics, which he does here after the first verse.
[2]

Tom Ewing: One of the very few moments of satisfaction on this worst of weekends has been seeing Omarion revealed to the world as a simpleton and a wanker. Not that I'd ever even heard of Omarion before he made his request for fans to pray for his unharmed self, but his notoriety allows me to put "O" in sharper critical focus. O, apparently, is what a woman will scream when Omarion gives her loving - if you're unable to follow his subtle code, it stands for orgasm (Omarion has several "big Os" of his own to distribute where he will, maybe into a rolled-up sock). O, though, is also the shape the human mouth makes when it's deep in a yawn - a fairly polite response to this fumbling grope at lover's R&B.
[2]

Paul Scott: Completely nondescript R&B slow jam thing, differentiated only by curious lyrics where our protagonist gets strange pleasures from hearing his lady friend say “O” during intercourse, which would be fine if he and his melismatic friends didn’t have to be so gosh darn syrupy sincere when telling us about his bedroom antics.
[4]

Edward Oculicz: I would like to come out and declare that I am in favour or orgasms, and considerate sexual partners, which Omarion is claiming to be. What I am not in favour of are things that take forever to get to the point without being enjoyable at the same time, and that applies to this song.
[5]

Joe Macare: There are many reasons to have little or no time for Omarion, and I have confidence that one or more of my fellow reviewers will have detailed what is now the most well-known reason. However, perhaps a more important reason is that this song is like being snotted on by a man with a bad cold and an enormous ego. Is this what people who hate R&B think all R&B sounds like, or even what they hear every time they listen to an R&B song? Whatever, it deserves an inevitable, big, round...
[0]


Bright Eyes – Gold Mine Gutted
[3.14]


Edward Oculicz: In which Conor Oberst has added some cheap Robert Smithisms to his repertoire, but maintained his pattern of writing precious but worthless indie drivel that seems twice as long as it is and defies traditional wisdom by being even worse in practice than it is in theory.
[0]

David Jones: Getting through a whole Bright Eyes album in one go is always a struggle: a drone of meandering country and frustratingly undercooked melodies. If the boy (and what a pretty boy, frankly) released fewer records and laboured over them a bit more then he might come up with more songs like ‘Gold Mine Gutted’, his one bone fide classic. He also scores points for Dylanesque romanticisation: “It was Don DeLillo, whiskey neat, And a blinking midnight clock / Speakers on a TV stand / Just a turntable to watch”.
[8]

Tom Ewing: It's ‘Drive’! It's ‘Drive’! It's fucking ‘Drive’ by the fucking Cars with an indie tool talking over the top. About Dom DeLillo! Wow. This is the first time I've ever properly listened to Bright Eyes and it's awesomely bad, "Hooded sweatshirt walks!" Oh the constipated pain of it all! What makes him so atrocious is the tremble he puts in his voice on every line - the whole song is wobbling and trembling like a big bleating jelly. It's so ridiculous and self-regarding it's almost disgusting.
[0]

Paul Scott: A fuzzed electronic background reins in the worst excesses of Conner Oberst’s trademark nasal vocalising, and in what must be a personal record only once does his inclination to whine rather than sing get the better of him. Fragile within the beautifully blunted sonics a solitary melody line serves as chorus, twinkling briefly like begotten jewels in the desolate landscape suggested by the title but made real by the music. Slightly morbid (“we hurry to out deaths” indeed) lyrics speak of heartbreak but are low enough in the mix to emotionally connect but avoid overwrought “emo” displays. Like The Postal Service bleached of all their cloying sentimentality, this is how it feels to have a lingering hangover on a perfect summer day.
[8]

Joe Macare: Taking shots at Bright Eyes at this stage feels a little superfluous, doesn't it? Pointing out that Conor Oberst is a petulant, solipsistic whiner is a bit like slamming Tony Blair for being, oh, you know, the fucking Antichrist... Actually, forget it, both those things are still very worthwhile, 'cos there's still so many people getting in print saying otherwise. He really does have a dreadful voice – so fucking mannered and melodramatic, so obviously straining for significance. (Oberst, that is, although it does apply to Blair too.) And the lyrics! “We hurry to our death...” Plus the production is dreadful and clunky. How can one man seem so simultaneously adolescent and old, combining the worst of both ages?
[0]

Doug Robertson: The thing about Bright Eyes is, that for all the good stuff he’s released - and there’s a lot - he could probably do with realising that he doesn’t have to actually release every single little thing he’s recorded. Quality control is not a bad thing. The main problem with there being so much stuff of his out there is it’s beginning to become clear that, while his work rate might be quite prolific, he seems to be running out of ideas. Perhaps it’s because there is such a wealth of material out there that the evolution between tracks is clear, or perhaps that’s just being kind and he really is just shuffling his music around, putting the tracks together in a slightly different order and hoping no-one notices.
[6]


Queens Of The Stone Age – In My Head
[5.67]


Edward Oculicz: I always find QOTSA to be most effective when they take the intensity, as far as the loudness of the guitars goes, down a notch, and settle into a nice, hypnotic groove like they do on here to nicely unsettling effect.
[7]

Doug Robertson: Well, it’s alright if you like that sort of thing, and at least the Queens have a pounding energy which makes them more interesting than most of their contemporaries, but despite the fact that it’s an oily, sludgy mess, there’s nothing in it which actually ignites and sets your pulse rating.
[5]

Joe Macare: In which Josh Homme disappoints me once again. Seriously, Josh, Mr Homme, dude, I know everything I write about Queens Of The Stone Age is very much in the same vein (please do something as good as 'Millionaire' again, PS love yr girlfriend), but if you'll raise your game then so will I. The biggest problem with 'In My Head' is that it shares far too many attributes (I won't say 'qualities', it'd just confuse matters) with Bright Eyes: it's a song drenched in self-pity, which fails to lift itself out of the tedious quagmire that that implies. Don't get me wrong, there are great songs about self-pity, and this is a better song than 'Gold Mine Gutted'. But self-pity can make a merely average song seem three times its length, and average is all this is.
[5]

Tom Ewing: QOTSA are a great loss to pop music. Their bubblegrunge singles nearly always motor along on fine hooks, they obviously know how to produce and sculpt sounds, and then they kill the momentum with all that hokey riffing and drawling. They should give Josh Homme some kind of lifetime tuff rock dude achievement award and then give him a nice comfortable office where he can write this kind of stuff for Lindsay Lohan and Kelly Clarkson.
[6]

Dom Passantino: QOTSA go indie-pop! Perhaps imagine a world where the average Sarah Records release was Liz from Sweet Valley High, this would be Jess SVH. Of course, Josh Homme does his best to ruin the track by droning the hell over it and threatening to turn the guitars into rock music at any second, but, you know, slap a cute girl with a Miffy backpack on it, perhaps a few handclaps, give them a gig supporting The Softies… maybe we could grow to love them?
[7]


213 – Groupie Luv
[5.71]


David Jones: G-funk was the most over-exposed subgenre of the nineties, and if these three can’t rejuvenate it then it deserves to stay buried. The portamento synth line that (under)powers ‘Groupie Luv’ might have been a cast-off from the last Eminem album, which was itself an album of cast-offs. And one-dimensional pimp schtick isn’t worth much without a bassline to drive it along. Matters are compounded here by references to two far funnier, bouncier classics: Warren G’s ‘Regulate’ and Ludacris’s ‘Area Codes’.
[2]

Dom Passantino:“Warren G in the house tonight looking for some groupie love.” As an image of romance and enticement, it’s right up there with Saskia’s bangle handjob on Maxwell. Anyway, thankfully Snoop isn’t too busy solving world debt to hate women for a few minutes, and his close personal friends Nate Dogg and Warren G are on board for some whole “95 back for the 05” malarkey, a harkback to those precious moments during the West Coast Wars when they’d gone loc for the afternoon, came back, parked the car, put some Tesco Finest apple and pork sausages on the BBQ, opened a nice Shiraz, and dropped this on the stereo.
[9]

Paul Scott: Berating the trio for their causal, if rather boring misogyny would seem pointless but Snoop is clearly on auto pilot, his appearance lacking the invention and humour of his recent cameos. Whilst it doesn’t exactly sound dated it does reek of yesterday’s men attempting to prove that the last ten years have not been spent in a fog of pungent smoke; unfortunately, the way this squelches rather than bounces along doesn’t seem to support this claim.
[3]

Doug Robertson: This is very Gonzales-esque, though we don’t think that he’d write something quite as, well, blue as this paean to girls of dubious virtue and their backstage antics. Snoop’s involved, though, fresh from having saved Africa by swearing like a motherfucking trooper at teatime on the BBC at last week’s Live 8 ‘event’. It’s good stuff though, but possibly not one to play when your grandparents are round for dinner.
[7]

Joe Macare: Squelch, squelch, squelch goes the beat. Lech, lech, lech go Snoop and his friends. The squelching is good nine times out of ten. The lechery is something you have to grit your teeth and ignore in favour of the beat, six or seven times out of ten. The other times are divided more or less evenly between the artists who can make their lechery seem funny and cool through sheer wit and charisma (hello, Ludacris), and the times when the beat just isn't good enough to distract you from the lameness of the lechery. 'Groupie Luv' falls into that last category. There's something kinda pathetic about it, really.
[6]


Clor – Outlines
[6.13]


Paul Scott: Blur have built up a formidable back catalogue, bursting with sparkly guitar pop tunes and a sometimes rather wayward inventiveness, so it’s not that surprising a new generation of bands are raiding this body of work for ideas. What is rather surprising is that Clor seem to be basing their career around perfecting an imitation of the pallid electro funking intro to ‘Music Is My Radar’.
[4]

Joe Macare: Reminds me of nothing so much as Hefner, if their attempt to incorporate electro elements into their sound had resulted in music you might actually dance to (a bit), and of course without the trademark sleazy and geographically specific lyrics. That'll do, on balance. I can see the “Each! Of! Us! Is special, in our own way” refrain really growing on me. I can see the whole thing growing on me, actually.
[7]

Tom Ewing: It's a lot more sympathetic to talk about bands playing dress-up and let's pretend than to hand-stamp them with a dismissive "RETRO". I might listen to Clor and think "Numan" but I'm 32 and half-pickled in music: I see the similarities before the differences, that's not something to be proud of. See, if I can wave away new bands with a checklist of influences, it makes my own youth, my own bands seem more special. But whatever Clor have been listening to, this isn't method acting - something awkward and clever of their own pokes through, something younger and keener ears than mine might be able to actually name.
[7]

Dom Passantino: Bringing back far too strong memories of listening to the Evening Session before I (or Steve Lamacq for that matter) had ever touched a boob back in 1998, and all of those chancer indie acts who had a few keyboards and a castrated frontman that were legion at that time. Did Dweeb sound like this? I have a strong feeling that they did. If not them, then Silver Sun.
[3]

Edward Oculicz: The verses in this are fantastic - skittering and angular, which promise fantastic things. The chorus is a letdown, boasting the same excellent sonics, even building on them in texture, but there's no bloody tune of note to take it where it badly wants to go.
[6]


Deep Dish – Say Hello
[6.43]


Joe Macare: 'Flashdance' by Deep Dish was an absolute corker of a single that never seemed to get the props it deserved: sort of house noir, except there was probably another term for it that I don't know and now I look stupid again. Anyway, 'Say Hello' isn't quite up there, but in a fairly mediocre week it stands out as an affecting lament for alienation in public places. There may be all kinds of reasons for me finding this affecting that have nothing to do with the record, but what the hell, you can never really separate the context from the music, as we all know, right?
[8]

Doug Robertson: It’s about as memorable as a quiet night in having a cup of tea and watching a Channel 4 show about houses, and it’s only about half as exciting.
[4]

Edward Oculicz: Boring not-dance music that is "atmospheric" in the bad sense of the word, i.e. it's a bit wet and airy. Does not make you want to strut around like a badass (despite being the complete opposite) like "Flashdance" did. Completely devoid of point, and indeed, merit.
[3]

Tom Ewing: Deep Dish are still using the proprietary crunch that seduced me all those years ago with "Hideaway", letting the beat hit a luxurious microsecond longer than they have to. But "Hideaway" was defiant and this is bruised, a mess of regrets and shapeless dread. "That moment passed me by without bothering to say hello." The song is built on wandering piano and a low, aching strum - it's a dance music reply to Coldplay, if you like, but these abstractions bite far deeper and do not comfortably resolve.
[10]

Jessica Popper: I loved ‘Flashdance’ so I was expecting something equally fun and feisty for the follow-up, so this is quite disappointing. The "saaay hello" bit is actually quite annoying, although the verses are much better. It has grown on me a bit, but it's still pretty dull.
[6]


Field Music – You Can Decide
[6.43]


Doug Robertson: This is either really good, or the theme tune to a slightly dodgy American sitcom, I can’t decide (arf!). Either way it’s a slightly retro, but still quite refreshing sounding piece of plinky plonk piano led indie. As it’s a sunny morning, let’s think positive happy thoughts, assume that it is really good, give it the benefit of the doubt and a…
[7]

David Jones: I don’t have anything against imitation seventies soft rock, but I can’t see the point of recreating it this straightforwardly either. Ben Folds Five used to do something far more vibrant, not to mention personal, with a similar set of influences (Elton John, Emerson, Lake and Palmer etc) and right now you’d be better off with retro pop magpies like the Magic Numbers.
[5]

Edward Oculicz: A perfectly-structured, awfully pleasant piece of indie-ish pop with some lovely backing vocal action that leaves absolutely no impression whatsoever but is utterly charming for the entirety of its duration, which at 2:19 seems perfect for what it does.
[7]

Paul Scott: Like a distant ripple from the impact of herky jerky merchants such as The Futureheads and Franz Ferdinand, Field Music takes the rhythms, dynamics and multi layered vocal mannerisms but instead of boiling them up cool it all down. Instead of making things harder and faster they slow it all down, letting the sound spread out and throwing handclaps and trilling piano into the spaces. Though lacking somewhat in urgency, if not enthusiasm, it’s rather charming without ever seeming like it’s really trying.
[6]

Tom Ewing: Field Music build their spindly song built out of a half-dozen gawkily attractive hooks, assembling them thoughtfully into something quite charming. The tilt from verse to instrumental reminds me of XTC circa Drums And Wires, but Field Music don't try and poke or yelp you out of indecision, they use modesty and reason. Shyness is nice, sometimes.
[8]


Freeform Five – Electromagnetic
[7.25]


Jessica Popper: I am a massive fan of Freeform Five - their album was quite possibly my favourite of last year. It has surprised me how long they are taking to conquer the charts, because they have all the ingredients necessary to be a huge success and they are very much deserving of it. This is one of their poppiest tracks and a very good choice for the single, but still they aren't getting any press or air play, so it looks like their breakthrough is still not here. I just hope they don't give up.
[10]

Tom Ewing: These geekbots are sparky and imaginative, but there's something off-puttingly pert about the vocals, something knowingly nerdy. Balanced against are a couple of good Princely lines - "You shock me when you keep your panties on!" - and for sure this is the kind of fun I think new bands should be having.
[7]

Doug Robertson: Sounding like the Scissor Sisters being put in charge of Playboy, this is another sleazy slice of pop. Indeed, for a genre that doesn’t seem to chart that well, there seems to be a hell of a lot of it about, but when the quality mark remains this high, this can only be a good thing. Of course if, as I suspect, this trend continues and in ten years time every band is making records of this kind, we might all be getting a bit fed up of it. Mind you, if the sleaze levels continue to rise at the same rate everyone’ll be too busy shagging to actually bother making any records so it’ll all be academic in the end.
[8]

Joe Macare: Are sex and sexual obsession entirely different things? In the sense that wanting somebody can actually be a sensation that's actually discrete and distinct from getting them, and has its own unique pleasures? This is the kind of question that 'Electromagnetic' raises in my mind, together with unrelated questions like “didn't the Freeform Five album come out more than a year ago?” and “when will the rest of the world catch up with Fluxblog?” Ah, who cares. Best thing out this week, electropop for Susie Bright fans, what more can I say?
[9]


Inaya Day – Nasty Girl
[7.50]


Dom Passantino: The increasing Hed Kandi-fication of chart dance is a disturbing trend, mainly because it means that the return to the top 40 of the vocalist from Mousse T’s “Horny” is treated as a good idea. Doomed to soundtrack trendy vodka launches from now until… September? October at a push.
[3]

Jessica Popper: In his usual small-minded, patronising manner, Scott Mills has named this "the gay song" and has been playing it plentifully for the past month or so. It has put me off the song a little bit, as on first listen I loved it, but I'm still a fan and it's nice to see some true pop music troubling the charts.
[9]

Doug Robertson: Now this is seven shades of brilliance. A massive disco stomp that demands your attention from the moment the first chorus explodes through the speakers, it shimmys, it sparkles, it struts and it does all sorts of other things beginning with the letter ‘s’. All this record needs to be perfect is to have some sort of attachment which fires a cloud of glitter at the listener as the record reaches its conclusion. Even with this glaring omission, however, this record’s still getting a fully deserved…
[10]

Tom Ewing: Gross bastardisation of the 80s cult hit to be sure, but sod it, I only even remember Vanity 6 because I'm a music geek. Mixers Riffs and Rays provide a Jacko-tweaked backdrop to Inaya Day's belt-it-out performance, and the smells of sun oil and alcopops permeate. Supremely professional and truly enthusiastic all at once - there is nothing behind the curtain here, no artistry, just cheap anaesthetic entertainment which will make a lot of people happier for five minutes. Me gratefully included.
[9]

Joe Macare: Gloriously simple and efficient, a simple formula followed with perfect precision: take well-known Michael Jackson sample, add in sexual propositions, ramp up the D-I-S-C-O factor to 11. I'd say “you can't go wrong with that”, but the fact is that a lot of people have. This is a pretty good companion to the Freeform Five single – together, they might get you dancing even when you least feel like it.
[8]


By: UK Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-07-11
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