The Singles Jukebox
No Biscuits for Ludacris



and so, after two weeks that could best be described as ‘meh’, the UK Jukebox types stumbled out of the wilderness to find themselves greeted by no less than fifteen—yes, fifteen—new releases. Of course, this didn’t necessarily make their task any easier, as they found themselves in a land of ‘Poochie music’, prosthetic noses, blonde red-heads and those blokes that used to be in Suede sounding like… well, Suede. Once they reached their destination, though, they knew they would be richly rewarded. But before all that, Rooster are back. Erm…


Rooster – You’re So Right For Me
[2.40]


Alex Van Vliet: Bliss Magazine’s answer to Reef deliver another cheerily meaningless slice of “my bird is well fit” white-man funk.
[2]

Tom Ewing: "I lost my faith in my fellow man"—TOO RIGHT MATE. No, alright, this is harmless revivalist fun and nothing a bit of roll-on wouldn't cure. For some reason I was under the impression that Rooster were some kind of Busted-esque guitar boy band, when actually they're Reef II. I'm easy either way.
[5]

Paul Scott: Whoever first had the idea that the combination of a riff older than Babylon and a voice like a buffalo on heat was in some sense a good idea should be severely reprimanded. There is an episode of The Simpsons where upon seeing the Ramones Mr Burns orders a minion to "Have the Rolling Stones shot." This makes me wish the same on Led Zeppelin.
[0]

John Seroff: Who ordered the second coming of Damn Yankees? I'm demanding a recount, seriously and NOW; one trend that we can't let go unchecked is the resurgence of mindless, power-chord, "FREEBIRD!" Southern rock, especially when it's coming out of BRITAIN. Puh-leeze! For what it's worth, this isn't quite as offensive as it should be; it's less nauseating and more silly. That's a strange, small victory for (god help us, they named themselves) "Rooster" that owes more to their cribbing from Clapton; I'd SWEAR I'd heard that guitar riff somewhere before...
[4]

Alex Macpherson: They've nicked the riff wholesale from 'Move Over' by the Spice Girls! Note for fucking note, right there! "Move over, yeah, don't do it over, yeah yeah, cos it's over, yeah yeah yeah"! They even keep in the "yeah yeah" bit! Of course their knack for hitting on exactly what dogshit would sound like in aural form ruins it, but the audacity is unbelievable. I witnessed a very funny Rooster-related incident when I attended CD:UK the other week, by the way. Harassed-looking ITV woman interrogates queue of kids as to whether they are fans of the band. Teenage girl screams "YESSS!" like she's just won the lottery. Look of relief floods over ITV female's face—until the girl's expression changes to a mixture of utter contempt and "what, you thought I was serious?", and she sneers "Noooo, of course not." The kids are truly alright.
[0]

Fergal O’Reilly: I did try to think of one of those witty putdowns that acts as a rebuttal to the title, but the best I could manage was "Rooster, One Day I Will Cut You".
[0]


Battle – Isabelle
[3.15]


Joe Macare: Have you ever been to one of those gigs above a pub where you can't help but wince in pained sympathy as a quite likeable band string one cliché after another with embarrassing results? Well, 'Isabelle' starts out okay for the first 30 seconds or so and then runs into real trouble, and even a burst of creditable guitar heroics can't save it.
[3]

Tom Ewing: My wife's name is Isabel. I can thus say with pretty much total confidence that there has never ever been a remotely good record called "Isabel", "Isabelle", "Isobel" or any variant. This is actually only the second worst "Isabelle" record I've ever heard, which given that it's on Fierce Panda is a blessing of sorts. Scrawny, incompetent, tedious—almost impossible to see who could enjoy this.
[0]

David Jones: Okay, so I called for an end to post-punk revivalists last week. I’m now open to all charges of hypocrisy but I really like this. Granted, Battle have turned up rather late to the (Bloc) party. But they used to be called The Killing Moon which, aside from being a far better name, indicates that they have a degree of awareness about their founding fathers which stretches beyond the last Interpol single. Sounds slightly unfinished but there’s potential here in spades. Oh, and a parting cheap shot. I’ve heard Robert Smith wants his guitar back, boys.
[7]

Doug Robertson: By the sounds of this track, the only battling this lot get involved with is of the dice-rolling, Dungeons and Dragons kind. It does get slightly more aggressive towards the end of the track, but by then my interest had long waned. Adequate.
[5]

Abby McDonald: Yawn. Entirely redundant style rip-off alert! They could have been a little more imaginative in finding a band to imitate. I mean, Razorlight in general don’t exactly burn the world down on a regular basis, so why attempt to ape them in a ‘pushing the ‘repetitive sparse rock and strangely familiar riff game a little too far’ manner? I’m all for lack of originality, but had they tried a little more unconventional mimicry, say, a personal ode to Gwen Stefani, then I might have been impressed.
[1]

Mike Atkinson:“Isabelle, you know me Isabelle, please don’t te-e-e-ell, on me.” Sorry, but that’s such a risibly crap way of starting a song that I can’t get very far beyond it. Lads! Have you ever had one of those auto-erotic episodes where you realise too late that you’re not actually in the mood at all, but you’re not going to give up either, and so you screw your eyes together and speed the action right up, in the hope that by simulating the frenzy of passion you’ll somehow fool your nervous system into thinking it’s genuine? No, me neither. But listening to this over-wrought but under-thought indie-boy bluster, I am at least afforded some sort of insight as to what it might feel like.
[4]


Mortiis – Decadent & Desperate
[3.62]


Abby McDonald: Oo, time for some black metal with absolutely no redeeming melodic or vocal features! White noise blares, chunky guitar chugs, the obligatory middle ‘scale down for inaudible vocal chant loop’ does just what it says on the tin. Yet after sitting through Athlete, Mortiis are suddenly my new best friends! I mean, there’s actual energy and pace to this; the perfect soundtrack to that bit in a Vin Diesel movie when he’s attempting to save the world with only a never ending supply of ammo and some REALLY BIG EXPLOSIONS.
[5]

David Jones: Hang on, this is metal over drum ‘n bass and I quite like it. The trick must just be to be as silly as possible, and there really is nothing sillier than a pasty Norwegian wearing a rubber nose.
[7]

Paul Scott: More fun than a man dressed as a troll shouting over dodgy industrial metal has any right to be, though obviously loses points for the lack of visual element as the lack of prancing troll makes it simply dodgy industrial metal, which is rather less exciting.
[5]

Alex Macpherson: Funny, but not as funny as Cradle Of Filth. Though I've just been to the Mortiis website and they look like they're dressed up as characters from the Lord Of The Sodding Rings. Orcs, maybe? That makes them slightly funnier, but they still can't compete with a band who call their songs things like 'Scorched Earth Erotica (Original Demo(n) Version)'.
[3]

Joe Macare: Turns out I don't love all Goths. What with the ridiculous monster make-up, pointless bad spelling and general air of portentous pomposity, it's incredibly tempting to believe that this is a work of satirical genius, a sustained joke. But no—Mortiis isn't a parody, Mortiis is beyond parody, and beyond bad.
[0]

Alex Van Vliet: I freely admit my ignorance about metal, but I still think this is fucking awful.
[1]


Black Rock ft. Debra Andrews – Bluewater
[4.00]


Doug Robertson: More faceless by numbers dance, but they haven’t even gone to the trouble of including a half remembered 80’s sample. What are they thinking? This’ll never sell!
[3]

Jessica Popper: This would be good with a bit more oomph but at the moment it's far too chilled out for me. What's the point of dance music you can't dance to? That's something I've never understood. But then, I am a dancing queen, young and sweet, only seventeen...
[3]

Mike Atkinson: I know the weather’s been picking up a bit recently, but isn’t it still a bit early to be releasing sun-drenched Ibiza Anthems? Or maybe this is just designed to get you in a suitably anticipatory frame of mind, before you make that trip to the travel agents. Going anywhere nice this year?
[5]

Tom Ewing: Follow up to global smash "Lakeside Thurrock" this waffles on about the weather, like a lot of British filter-house in fact. Hello clouds! Hello sky! Saved from anonymity by Debra Andrew's staunch refusal to sing with any force whatsoever. I find the mimsy results quite charming but will my milk-and-water preferences play with the wider public? At the end Black Rock discover a 'growl' button on their machines and the score goes up a notch.
[6]

Joe Macare: Joe's partner, who knows more about this kind of music than he does, says: “Rather like the wife of Judge Jules this woman's voice has been over-produced to the point where you know, without a shadow of a doubt, that she can't perform live. I feel sympathy for her.”
[3]

Edward Oculicz: Goes absolutely nowhere, but in a rather obvious and pleasing fashion. Light and unobtrusive, hard to imagine dancing to it, mind.
[5]


Athlete – Half Light
[4.17]


Alex Van Vliet: True story: two years ago my sister met a group of boys in a bar in Edinburgh who told her they were in a band called Athlete. She didn’t believe them because they seemed too boring to be in a band. Unfortunately for the music scene at large, they actually are.
[4]

Doug Robertson: Realising that they’ve only got another month before Coldplay return to empty the wallets of people who listen to Virgin Radio and, as such, don’t actually like music, Athlete swiftly release another single in the hope of topping up their pension fund. And they do think seriously about their pension fund, by the way, they’re that sort of band.
[5]

Alex Macpherson: I've only just realised how ironic Athlete's name is, given how sluggish, lazy and flat-out fucking unhealthy their music is. Listening to this is like being lobotomised: the overwhelming lack of ambition is enough to cauterise anyone's brain cells. This must surely be the only reason they sell, come to think of it. Aargh, I think I've just uncovered a CONSPIRACY.
[0]

Jessica Popper: I have recently realised that I tend to judge indie bands on how they act on Popworld and it's not a bad theory as so far I've given the thumbs up to Athlete, who seemed lovely (although perhaps too nice to be pop stars?) and a firm thumbs down to Razorlight, which needs no explanation. Luckily Athlete's new song is also very lovely—without a doubt their best so far. I'm not about to buy their album cos I still find the singer's voice a bit irritating but on this song it works very well.
[8]

Fergal O’Reilly: I'm beginning to hope indie stops being so damnably chart-apt, as I think I'm in danger of running out of ways to express mild exasperation at nice, unadventurous songs like this. Plodding chuggy major chord gentle anthemic unimaginative oops shot my whole critical vocabulary etc; virtually indistinguishable from Feeder's last single (and that Snow Patrol one that got them famous), aside from having Joel Pott singing, complete with irritating pause, after. Each, word, vocal, manneriiiiiiismmms. Not great.
[2]

Mike Atkinson: Oh, Athlete: I came not to praise but to bury you, with your shining-eyed Christian-rock sincerity, and your I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-Coldplay one-chord guitar chops, and your corporate-indie latter-day-Travis don’t-rock-the-boat nice-to-be-niceness, and your encapsulation of everything I thought I opposed with every fibre of my being... but then, BUT THEN, you have the bare-faced TEMERITY to come out with this thoughtfully crafted, deftly honed little gem of a single, with all sorts of pleasing little twists and turns and counterpoints and dissonances and smile-inducing moments along the way, and before you know it I’ve crossed this sort of invisible line and I find myself LOVING it, quite despite myself, and I can ABSOLUTELY picture this as soundtracking this year’s six-the-evening second-stage-at-Glastonbury defining moment that will see your album in the Top Five within the week, and... well... do NOT let this happen again, or there will be CONSEQUENCES, do you hear?
[9]


Destiny’s Child – Girl
[4.50]


Edward Oculicz: Beyonce is releasing three albums next year, and they are all going to sound like this, because up-tempo songs are certainly no fun at all, are they? Making it a single does not mean it's not filler.
[0]

Alex Van Vliet: This song perfectly captures those maliciously competitive friendships where you’re secretly always wishing pain and misery on the other. “Don’t try and convince us you’re happy… I can tell he’s been lying!” crow Beyoncé and Michelle, breaking what spirit remains in poor, donkey-faced Kelly.
[5]

Abby McDonald: So, they have to sully the good name of our dearly-departed SATC with their tawdry video pastiche, and it’s not even a halfway decent song to boot! Shame on them! The combination of green tropical hued pants-suits and the endless droning of ‘Girl Girl Girl!’ is too much for me. Make it stop!
[1]

Mike Atkinson: After two distressingly shit singles in a row, DC stage a welcome and spectacular return to form with this deliciously melodic, eminently believable, sisters-stand-together, take-it-from-me-he’s-a-bastard, you-KNOW-you-deserve-better, have-another-bite-of-cheesecake-and-let-it-all-out-girlfriend co-counselling session. Yes, of COURSE they’re all sitting round a lunch table in a swishy metropolitan eatery in the video, in an overt homage to Sex And The City. What did you expect? Burger King?
[8]

Alex Macpherson: When I first heard this, it was just part of the blur of blah which is Destiny Fulfilled from track 3 on. I'm feeling slightly more kindly to it these days, though. Sure, Beyoncé totally oversings everything she goes near, and it's generally the least convincing claim to female solidarity in the history of the gender divide. But Kelly fucking nails her verse, Michelle's understated softness is perfectly suited to her words of comfort, and that guitar phrase is as gentle and sweet as a lullaby.
[7]

Paul Scott: Like drowning in syrup whilst being read self help platitudes. By Vanessa Feltz.
[1]


Raw Bud vs. Roni Size ft. Sweetie Irie – Rise Up! (Punk Rock Anti Mix)
[4.92]


David Jones: Anyone remember the re-release of Orbital’s ‘Satan’ with Metallica riffing on top of it? Anyone remember when The Prodigy and Rage Against The Machine used to collaborate onstage? Exactly.
[4]

Edward Oculicz: Sounds like I've played about six other songs at once. Exciting, for what it's worth.
[7]

Joe Macare: Music for video games about snowboarding, in association with Pepsi Max. Poochie music.
[4]

John Seroff:More angry black men chanting loudly on breakbeatpunk tracks, please; it works! While I can't imagine how this would play in the club (perhaps as a "Get off the floor, you gits!" last call?), it's just perfect for running smack on into the big bruiser who's been muscling the club all night. At the very least, it's good video game music.
[7]

Mike Atkinson: Raw ragga toasting (from Sweetie Irie) PLUS clattering junglist drum patterns PLUS squalling rock guitar thrash EQUALS—well, one unholy racket if I’m being honest. “Ten out of ten for sheer exuberance and energy”, as my jolly old music teacher might have said in one of his more charitable moods—but I’m deducting five points for the recuperative Nurofen afterwards. One question remains: who exactly is this being aimed at? The thrash-rockers will take against the ragga; the junglists and ragga-heads will take against the thrash-rock; so who’s left standing?
[5]

Tom Ewing: If it had taken me until adulthood to work out that "Rise", "wise" and "size" rhymed I hope I wouldn't sound quite so pleased with myself. Sounds like Asian Dub Foundation duetting with their dads. Oi, oi, that's your lot.
[4]


The Tears – Refugees
[5.62]


Joe Macare: Auuuuwwwwoooooowwwww. I don't know how I'm supposed to feel about the fact that to all extents and purposes one of the bands that helped define my teenage years has reformed—because no offence to the rhythm sections, but the differences between this and a Suede record are pretty inconsequential. It's reassuring that Brett Anderson has gone back to singing like Brett Anderson after whatever the hell he thought he was doing circa A New Morning. It's reassuring that Bernard Butler may never make another solo record. I suppose I should also be reassured that surprisingly, this isn't literally about refugees (although a M.I.A. collabo can't be far off, right?). Anyway, I hope it isn't just nostalgia speaking when I tell you this is swoon-inducing and gorgeous and hopeless romantic... But I might be wrong.
[9]

John Seroff: Having never listened to Suede, I'm approaching "Refugees" with no baggage and no expectations; fans of the band may not appreciate my lack of reverence, but I can't say as I hear anything too special here. I appreciate the fact that the lead seems to be trying desperately to duck a mopey tone and the sweeping strings blend nicely with the vast guitars, but all-in-all this doesn't strike with much more force than a soap opera theme song. It has a bit more of a heartbeat than your average arena anthem but, despite obvious attempts to the contrary, this remains fairly cold. This is perhaps fitting; "Refugees" sounds as if it's been kept in the icebox since '97 and has only now been brought out to thaw.
[5]

Mike Atkinson: One of the great qualities of those early Suede singles was a sense of necessity—that somehow, they had to be made. There’s a sense of necessity here, too—but it stems not from youthful urgency, but from a tangible sense of mid-life desperation. For what else is there left for Anderson and Butler to do, other than stage that longed-for reunion, with its attendant promise of a return (for all concerned) to the glory days of 1993? Thus it is that “Refugees” dutifully reprises all the key elements of the classic Suede sound, in a proficient, workmanlike manner. And yes: Anderson hits the usual notes, and Butler trots out some of his characteristically tasty licks, and there’s a suitably anthemic quality to the proceedings—but I just don’t buy any of it, not for one moment. This is a pragmatic re-marriage of convenience, between two people who have merely swallowed hard and formed an acceptable working accommodation with each other—but without that crucial synergy, borne out of tension and friction, that has fuelled some of this country’s greatest songwriting partnerships, The Tears are doomed merely to create elegant but hollow facsimiles of their shared past.
[6]

Tom Ewing: Now call me foolish but I could have sworn that I read Brett Anderson promising in the newspapers that his lyrics now were going to be, well, less Brett-ish. But what's this? "Let's take to the streets / You and I we're life's refugees". Very much the sound of two men rediscovering their comfort zone, and yours if you liked that kind of thing. He does like his treble, doesn't he?
[4]

David Jones: This is just old bloody Suede, isn’t it? As though the band had been enveloped by magma in May 1994, just preceding the moment when Bernard Butler told Brett Anderson he was “a fucking cunt” and one of the most thrilling musical partnerships of the nineteen nineties never spoke to one another again. It’s a charred relic that perfectly documents all of old Suede’s faults: those cringing rhymes like “freaks/streets” or “refugees/leaves”, the melodrama, the sheer fucking preposterousness of it all. But then Butler starts twisting that incredibly familiar counterpoint from under those vocals and it suddenly feels as though their brand of suburban stargazing has been much missed. I was utterly convinced I was going to hate this—some things should stay buried. But when I picked up the Observer Music Monthly this morning I was equally convinced that the new albums from Oasis and Damon Albarn weren’t going to have received five star reviews either. The world has gone clattering mad. Confoundingly there’s life yet in these old dogs, these old men, these old stars.
[8]

Jessica Popper: My mum (G4's no.1 fan) thinks this is "quite nice". I suppose this must be a good sign in terms of record sales—G4 have sold millions with an album simply of covers! But really it's not going to do their credibility any good at all and I get the feeling that might be more important to The Tears. Let's just hope none of their new 40-something female fan base buy The Dears by mistake. That might not work out so well.
[5]


Ludacris – Number One Spot
[5.67]


Tom Ewing: We can only dream. Curious Austin Powers tribute finds Luda fat with a queeny charisma, his swagger transcending the gimmick.
[8]

Fergal O’Reilly: Good line in 'I'm better than you at everything' posturing ("you disagree/take the Tyson approach and bite me"), though the references to "shagging" deflate the machismo a bit. Also, deploying a sample that consists entirely of looping the first note of the flute riff from that Austin Powers theme song has slightly maddening results. Still, he sounds like he's having fun and it's quite infectious.
[7]

Edward Oculicz:For someone who's so talented and who can be incredibly funny and entertaining, his stinkers really do stink. Who wanted to hear that Arling & Cameron ditty (the most annoying bit of it at that) repeated over and over again?
[1]

Abby McDonald: Just the kind of infectious and obnoxious thing that requires immediate stripper-style dancing. Ahem. Chunky and loud and incessantly demanding with that little Austin whistle reverberating around my brain. Bring it!
[6]

John Seroff: While an erstwhile hate for the entire Austin Powers franchise prevents me from watching the "Yeah, Baby!" abortion of a video, I find myself obsessively drawn to "Number One Spot". No surprise there; you just can't damage Quincy's "Soul Bossa Nova". Luda and DJ Green Lantern make the most of it; Green Lantern tosses big beats over the bird whistles and trumpets and Luda makes the flow look easy by referencing Dora the Explorer, Bill O'Reilly, Ice-T and Mike Tyson... and that's just the first verse! If he's shooting for number one, I'm convinced.
[8]

Doug Robertson: Not only is this referencing Austin Powers at least 5 years too late, but the sample was also used to far better effect in the Dream Warriors’ ‘My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style’. The number one spot probably shouldn’t worry about getting Ludacris’ favourite biscuits in, as if this is the best he can come up with, he’s unlikely to be dropping in for a visit.
[4]


Lindsay Lohan – Over
[6.25]


Doug Robertson: Despite Lindsay being—if you trust the views of FHM readers, that is, and there’s many reasons why you shouldn’t—81 places above Hilary Duff in the sexiness stakes, Hilary still pisses all over the Lohan from a great height—something else there for the FHM readers—when it comes to the world of teen-girl-pop-rock. Unless the CD comes with a free poster, it’s hard to know who’d care enough to buy this.
[4]

Alex Macpherson: Oh no, Lindsay, no! Bad choice of lead single! When you have moody Avril-esque gems such as 'Nobody Til You', glam-pop stompers like 'Speak', the fragmented nihilism of 'Disconnected' and above all the coke-addled paranoia of 'Rumors' (Britney's 'Overprotected' with the fear factor ratcheted up to 100) on your marvellous debut album, kicking your UK career off like this—with an adequate-but-average number which is only mid-tempo as a compromise between wanting to be sensitive and wanting to rock out—is simply not on. Sack your managers, Lindsay, and hire me: I'll choose better singles for you, and show you how to have a really good time over here too. We'd make such a good fag-and-hag tag team to pursue McFly.
[7]

Joe Macare: This is one for when you need to wallow in your heartache and angst—I suppose in that respect it's like Bright Eyes, except for people who actually have some experience of human emotions and relationships. La Lohan knows that she'll get through this, that the post-break-up misery won't last, but that doesn't make it any easier at the time, does it? This is one for rainy days when you need to shut yourself in your room with a gallon of alcohol and the saddest records you own.
[8]

Paul Scott: It begins much too weedily but the chorus hits a rather becoming note of pseudo-gothic teenage histrionics that's rather like all those Avril songs that aren't ‘Sk8r Boi’ or ‘Complicated’. The perfect soundtrack to door slamming and cries of "no one understands me!"
[6]

John Seroff:"Over" has been milked for all it's worth and will no doubt be the song of choice for many a prom's last dance; it might as well be packed on as the b-side for "Pomp and Circumstance". All false bombastic grandeur and tearjerking high-school poetry aside ("my tears are turning into time"?), I'm loathe to admit, but I think I like it. Such an admission comes at a great price: hipness, any hope of writing for Pitchfork and my own self respect go straight down the drain if I raise a shaky hand in affirmation. Even so, I've looked into my heart and, god help me, it's been on repeat for a half-hour and I'm even actually looking forward to that high note. Well done, Popbot #7,485; well done. I suppose the real kudos belongs to the production crew, whoever wheeled Lindsay onto her spot and then tweaked her voice for maximum power on the shamefully addictive chorus; these brainwashers have fed me recycled music and somehow got me to bite. God help me if Kanye ever hears this; I'm not sure I could handle the indignity of singing along to the Rockafella remix of "Tell me -- that it's -- HOVA!" And yet...
[8]

Abby McDonald: Blonde? Blonde!? Did the fake tan and Christian Slater semen somehow seep into her bloodstream and start attacking her few remaining neural connections? And this, a song that is robbed of all attraction without the visual prompts of her ‘fuck me now please!’ stiletto boots and wanton caravan destruction. Dear God. “My tears are turning into time”/”You’re the heart that I call home”. I love the girl, I really do. I mean, I sat through ‘Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen’ for the sake of her jail-bait self, but this is testing the limits of my tabloid-trash love with its dull arrangements, insipid lyricism and bland vocal performance.
[5]


Bloc Party – Banquet
[6.25]


Alex Van Vliet: All in—the massively improbable hype from that section of the music press, the inevitable underwhelming album, the enormous temptation to rubbish a band on that basis—this song is pretty special, no?
[9]

Alex Macpherson: Stop trying to hit those high notes. You sound like you've been kicked in the nuts. Stop flailing around in such an undignified mess. You're invading my personal space. Stop shouting at me. You've got nothing to say.
[1]

Paul Scott: This song hits like a punch in the kidneys and for over 3 minutes barely lets up. The guitar part echoes and shimmers before exploding like the best post rock Most of all though it's Kele's vocals, the way you can feel every syllable, the way his voice cracks, the uncertainty and hesitancy a million miles away from the cocksure popinjays of most modern "indie" groups. Bloc Party are the only band who seem to have any inclination to face this confusing world head on and, with Kele now muttering about making Grime albums, who knows where they will head next...
[9]

Fergal O’Reilly: Pounding motorik drums great; aimless duelling skronk guitars and wailing not so good. Convincingly soars free of its rubbish riff-trading direction on the chorus though; the drums start skittering a bit more, the guitars settle into a pretty, minimal little pattern and the way Kele's voice descends on the "to feel her underneath/turning into my soul" line is probably my favourite vocal hook of theirs. After that it seems to run out of ideas and wander off a bit, but points for doing it in the first place.
[7]

Edward Oculicz: I like the beat—manages to pick up most of what was apparently good about Franz Ferdinand and their ilk, anyway. That's really about it, aside from that it's a reminder of why I stopped listening to indie, i.e. it's boring.
[4]

Joe Macare: A really nice surprise this—the first evidence I've heard that all the fuss about Bloc Party might not be misplaced. For one thing, you can dance to it. Even better, is has a kind of feverish urgency and intensity to it that suggests desperation. Y'know that moment in the clubbing episode of Spaced where Brian stands up and exclaims “I have to dance!”? Well, I didn't really ever want to dance to Bloc Party, but 'Banquet' makes me feel rather like that.
[8]


Le Tigre – After Dark
[6.38]


Alex Macpherson: I wish I could pinpoint exactly what it is about Le Tigre which leaves me cold. They tick pretty much every box I'm traditionally a sucker for: sloganeering, shouting electro-feminist rioting which straddles the line between dumb and sharp with ease. But there's something crucial missing; maybe the didacticism, the way it feels like I'm being lectured to dance because it'd be a political statement, the way Kathleen Hanna seems determined to elicit a very specific reaction on the part of the listener. But authorial authority just isn't radical, Kathleen.
[5]

Tom Ewing: It's hard to think of any other punk rock legend who's devoted the best part of a decade to learning how to make mid-80s Europop. Except the hundreds who did it in the real mid-80s, of course. Anyway, I love Europop and this obliquely aggressive single has more drive than any other alternative I can spot this week. In a just world, "It's A Mystery" to the Bravery's "Planet Earth".
[9]

Edward Oculicz: Until the vocals came in, I thought I was going to have to re-evaluate my opinion on Le Tigre. They've certainly found the funk, but they should have left it alone rather than mumbling all over it. Some proper yelling and yowling would have made it work—it's not sure what it wants to be. Rock? Disco? Indie? Pick a side, girlfriend.
[5]

David Jones: There have been some great Le Tigre records but this is the blandest piece of electropop since, er, last week’s Nine Inch Nails single. Yeah I’m sure if I listened to the lyrics it would reveal some kind of biting satirical message but if this is really the best hook they can hang it on then I can’t be bothered.
[5]

Joe Macare: Kathleen Hanna has a crush! Songs about crushes are obviously almost always great, but much rarer are songs which manage to blur the lines between the social and the sexual, admiration and lust, participation and voyeurism, right-on feminist DIY culture solidarity and Alex/Marissa from The OC. Especially when they have a keyboard part which sounds like a cross between 'Take On Me' and 'Uptown Top Ranking'. Question: what does Ad Rock make of it all? Answer: who cares, the short arse hasn't made a record this good since 1986.
[10]

Mike Atkinson: Never mind all this talk of early 1980s revivalism—more and more, I’m picking up strains of early Britpop in the air. Specifically Blur—and in this case, specifically “Girls And Boys”, whose chugging electro-pop dynamic is inescapably evoked throughout. This is slighter and poppier than the shouty didacticism which I know and like the best—and if its a stab at cracking the charts, then it’s doomed to failure—but having seen them play possibly the best small club gig I have ever witnessed, I can still forgive Le Tigre just about anything.
[6]


Clor – Love + Pain
[6.67]


Tom Ewing: Gawky new wave which will make some anthologist very happy in fifteen years time.
[4]

Jessica Popper: I get the feeling this supposed to be rubbish, but they have failed because it's actually quite ace and catchy! The remix was definitely better though—we should have reviewed that.
[6]

Paul Scott: A musical mongrel this, bursting with far to many ideas; herky jerky Devoism's, crazed Futureheads style vocal build ups and incongruously pretty piano lines slam into each other from all angles in a haphazard but rather endearing manner. Maybe a bit to close to a number of dodgy late 90's Evening Session stalwarts (Regular Fries! Lo-Fidelity All-stars!) but none the worse for it really.
[7]

Alex Macpherson: Also-rans from whatever indie 'movement' Franz Ferdinand are part of buy Casio keyboard. The singer launches into each verse like he's throwing up. Even the way the riffs go very endearingly manic for a few seconds around the three-minute mark can't redeem it.
[3]

Abby McDonald: Oh god I love this song. I love it immediately and with such utter devotion and fierce pride that never shall we be parted. We’ll have a cutely kitsch wedding involving obscure comic book quotations and then honeymoon on a remote Canadian island, picnicking under redwoods with Orangina and cupcakes. Seriously, the squiggly simplicity and electro intro bounce meander into your bloodstream with infectious joy. Then the heavier layered musings give you a sugar rush blissout, before circling back over itself in some divine never-ending transcendent experience! I sigh, I swoon.
[10]

John Seroff: Say now, what the hell is this? Wonderfully new-wave vocals, driving rhythm guitar and wet, funky discobass make for a tremendous and enjoyable cut; if this isn't headed straight to an iPod ad next month, somebody has dropped the ball. If Bowie was produced by Giorgio Moroder, we might've gotten something like this. It's that good.
[9]


Helen Love – Debbie Loves Joey
[6.77]


Tom Ewing: The victim from "Rip Her To Shreds" writes slash fiction, a quarter-century late.
[2]

Jessica Popper: This is the first I've heard of Helen Love but I wish it wasn't cos this is seriously brilliant! It's the story of some 80s teens pretending to be Debbie Harry and Joey Ramone. The lyrics are impossibly ace and so is the whole sparkly little punk-pop tune. I love it and I am off to find out everything about her right now!
[10]

Doug Robertson:Helen Love, the lo-fi Girls Aloud, are back! And this, like every single thing they’ve ever recorded, is ace. They seem to be constantly working to refine their style until they reach a nugget of pure pop perfection and with every release they come closer and closer to achieving that aim. This track bubbles over with happiness, glitter, love, excitement, energy and pretty much every positive adjective you can think of. If you don’t find yourself being overcome with feelings of effervescent joy on listening to this then you might as well check yourself into your local mortuary as, quite frankly, you’re already dead.
[10]

John Seroff: RIPOFF ALERT: This song bears a more than passing resemblance to the obscure Cub track "New York City", famously covered by They Might Be Giants. That caveat aside, this is catchy pop-punk and well worth anyone's time.
[7]

Fergal O’Reilly: Jaunty punk-flavoured indie-bubblegum about teenage punk-love. I felt an odd chill just after typing that. It is reasonably catchy (it sounds quite like an above-average Famous American Teen Rocker Girl song until the Posh English Girl vocals arrive), but so damnably twee. Indie-pop often feels like a sort of shambling half-breed of indie and pop, like trying to crossbreed a ferret with an octopus and ending up with a sickening furry-tentacled aberration that just lurches along trying to convince you to kill it via the medium of the plaintitive stare. Or, perhaps more accurately, it's just that the pop element's never convincingly pop enough, which just leaves you with raised eyebrows and goddamn cutesy lyrics.
[4]

Paul Scott: A tale of love bites, punk rock and most beautifully "getting pissed in the park" that combined with Helen's less than pop idol vocals and 10p production values taps into something a million times more evocative and human than any number of Top 100 shows. This blissful trawl through teenage nostalgia is the imaginary soundtrack to every adolescent snog you ever had. The anti ‘How Soon Is Now’, if you will.
[9] (Editor’s note: “Debbie Loves Joey” is the lead track off Helen Love’s six-track EP entitled Bubblegum Killers. Which may or may not be in shops now. Just so’s you know, like.)


Snoop Dogg ft. Justin Timberlake – Signs
[7.25]


Alex Van Vliet: In which Justin delivers the least convincing “Don’t Fuck With Me” in the history of popular music.
[4]

Mike Atkinson:Ooh, Justin says “fuck”! Every single time I hear the opening bars of this sharp, sassy, slinky, sexy, immaculately funky piece of star-spangled disco-pop heaven, the sun comes out and the world instantly feels like a better place. Having been all over everywhere for the past God knows how many weeks, this already feels like a huge hit—and if it doesn’t dislodge Tony Christie after six weeks at Number One, then nothing else will.
[10]

Abby McDonald: Not impressed. It’s dreary and full of macho posturing with none of the energy or originality that could sell it to me. Yes, we get that JT thinks himself a playa. Yes, we know that the Dogg wants to tie us down and invite five of his entourage to force a consent signature. But do they have to convey this information in such an insipid form?
[3]

Alex Macpherson: And it's like everything in the world just fell into place. Snoop's delivering another drawling, knee-weakening performance. Justin's telling Cupid not to fuck with him, and you know he's thinking about Britney. Venus and Serena are in the, er, Wimbledon Arena, even if they're getting beaten down by the Russian Revolution these days. That doesn't matter. Everyone's reprising 'Rock Your Body', but that's fine because it was so heart-stoppingly good, and in any case 'Signs' will forever be associated with summer '05. The sun's blazing, the sunglasses have been donned. Are you telling me this is a sign?
[10]

John Seroff: Who, in their wildest dreams, would've imagined that in the chocolate and peanut butter mix of Snoop and Justin, Timberlake would turn out to be the chocolate? What business does anyone whose adolescence was spent fronting a boy-band have channeling the spirit of Michael Jackson? Don't answer that. Regardless, 9 out of 10 moms agree: it's Justin's (and, not incidentally, Charlie "You-Dropped-A-Bomb-On-Me" Wilson) choruses that carry this song; Tha' Doggfather only barely maintains his hold on the track with the occasional clever turn of phrase ("Venus/And Serena/At the Wimbledon/Arena" more or less justifies his presence). Representing what MUST be the apex of Neptunes production, "Signs" tinkling melody evokes Fiji (TM) water trickling over diamonds; the bass line is concise and striking; the horns provide an excellent organic counterpoint for Wilson to play off of... it's a hit. A great, big, beautiful, Summer hit with an undeniable sing-along chorus. Unapologetically, I love it. The helicopta's got cam-e-ras! What's not to love?
[9]

Joe Macare: Although Snoop gets first billing here, the main accomplishment of 'Signs' is to get me absolutely fiending for a new Justin Timberlake album. Maybe it's because Justin's sounding better than ever—listen to the little “where the helicopters got cameras” bit and tell me wrong!—or maybe it's because the flawless Neptunes production is a clear omen that they are back to their best (woah, remember what that's like?). I don't wan to sell Snoop short though as he does contribute that great line about watching the tennis. There is nothing wrong with this record. Just remember, those of you who've watched the video: fixing boxing matches is never okay.
[10]


By: UK Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-04-25
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