The Singles Jukebox
Spangly Soundscapes



week 4, and our intrepid crew suddenly realise that yes, it was all going a bit too well. Suddenly The Arcade Fire and Dizzee Rascal duetting seemed like pure manna, as they found themselves stranded in an arid wasteland—Bees to the left of them, Bedingfields to the right… for yea, now was the time for them to become acquainted with the infamous ‘bit of a quiet week singles-wise’. Still, Vitalic’s quite good, innee?


Melanie C - Next Best Superstar
[2.38]


Paul Scott: Coming on like the fog horn voiced bastard offspring of Danny McNamara and Avril, the artist formerly known as Sporty Spice unleashes a grisly almost-power ballad that aims to take a pot shot at Pop Idol wannabes but ends up spinning back boomerang fashion. The public display of the sour grapes of washed up pop stars, especially floating in this sort of sonic ditchwater, is unattractive to say the least.
[2]

Fergal O’Reilly: Ooh, overdriven guitars! Swaggering pace! Lyrics that sound like the first efforts of a band of 16 year olds who're vaguely aware they're supposed to be like, angry and cynical n'shit, and so clumsily attack People What Are Fake And Desperate For Fame! The C stands for authentiC! "Cellulite, sell your soul", yeesh. After that it just goes all FM Radio major chord pleasantness (lot of that going round) and is more conventionally rubbish. Towards the end she does some of those histrionic, yowling backing vocals she always did in the Spice Girls, presumably because nobody ever had the heart to tranquilise her in time, and then everything drops out leaving just the guitar riff getting slower until it stops, possibly to make it seem intense and moody and get you to forget all the patently non-moody-rock stuff that happened in the intervening period. I imagine at this point in the video she ought to be staring at the camera and then slowly turning away and walking off. Moodily.
[2]

Joe Macare: Please can we have a moratorium on pop stars releasing songs about how this pop game is a bit of a rum business actually, unless they are from Norway and their name is Annie? The voice of Melanie C can be one of the most annoying sounds known to humanity, so I suppose I should be grateful that she reins it in a bit for most of this song. Still, this is so forgettable that I am now going to actually literally forget it and pretend that she never stopped dressing like Lady Sovereign.
[3]

Peter Parrish: This is not even close to being the worst track this week. Truly, we are living in dark times. In this exciting instalment, Mel takes the time to EXCLUSIVELY REVEAL that her time in the Spice Girls wasn’t all Richard E Grant and stupidly painted buses. Don’t fall for the shiny pop hype, kids—you’ll only end up on the solo scrapheap, churning out chugg-a-chugg-chugg hybrid rock nonsense. Bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, there.
[3]

Edward Oculicz: You’ve got to admire the balls of someone who believes in their own work enough to turn down the obviously lucrative and massively-desired Spice Girls reunion, but where’d she get the idea she had a good voice for guitar pop? Surely someone should tell her if she’s too silly to work it out for herself from the records, the critics and the chart placings.
[3]


Feeder - Feeling A Moment
[3.25]


Mike Atkinson: About twenty-five years ago, the NME ran a major feature on bands whose names ended in the letters “er”, noting with amusement that (with the sole exception of Foreigner) none of them ever achieved any commercial or critical success, and thus establishing a clear link between the “-er” suffix and a particular kind of drearily under-achieving derivativeness. All of which leads me to conclude that, with their inexplicably popular brand of freeze-dried, vacuum-packed shopping-mall stadium-rock, Feeder must be the new Foreigner. It’s an achievement of sorts, right?
[2]

Fergal O’Reilly: Originally titled "Glove of Love". That first big chord is actually quite startling, especially given how drippily uneventful their last single was, but the surprise subsides pretty quickly as it hits its Nice Anthemic Rock stride. As chugging midtempo guitar rock goes, it's pretty well-executed, though, and Grant Nicholas seems to be a much better singer than I'd ever noticed before. It may all be down to a subconscious desire to ruffle his hair. It's unchallenging and predictable and, y'know, not bad.
[6]

Joe Macare: Take it from someone who was unfortunate (or foolish) enough to listen to quite a lot of Christian rock in their early teens: this sounds like Christian rock. Stick it at the end of a Spiderman movie and I might not hate it, but in objective, empirical terms it is a load of old bollocky arse.
[1]

Edward Oculicz: Disliking this when I own two Embrace albums may be hypocritical, but as much as I’m easily swayed by blustery anthemics and clumsy quiet/loud dynamics, this seems just a bit too hollow. Also, that “woo-woo-woo” recurring bit is extremely annoying. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
[4]

Peter Parrish: Look, shut up. In a singles week equivalent to a series of rotting corpses upon picturesque banks of sand, then you’ve got to show a little appreciation for the lone vulture picking at the festering remains. He’s just going about his business, he doesn’t know any better. Congratulations Feeder, you have succeeded in not having any features distinguishable enough to be annoying.
[5]


Natasha Bedingfield - I Bruise Easily
[3.38]


Doug Robertson: The Lady Bedingfield is a mass of contradictions, most notably the fact that she’s a Bedingfield and she’s actually bloody good, but while on her album she happily declares that “If you’re gonna be a singer you’d better be a rock star”, this single is pretty much the opposite of that aim being, as it is, a heartfelt ballad about how, like, she’s been hurt by love in the past and is a bit sensitive, etc, etc. You know the sort of thing. Despite this being a rather lovely little track, it’s hard to know why she’s bothering to release this as, other than showing off her voice and telling the world “Yes, I can actually sing a bit, you know”, it’s all a bit too low key and unassuming to make any sort of impact.
[7]

Paul Scott: Unless Ms Bedingfield is a haemophiliac this maudlin slice of "sophisticated pop", which generally seems to be a short hand for utterly pedestrian, plays around with the most offensively stupid and borderline offensive imagery since Pink's ‘My Vietnam’ debacle. The evil influence of a million Linda Perry productions hang so heavily over this that the daffy if rather irritating charm of ‘These Words’ is completely obliterated.
[1]

Fergal O’Reilly: "My skin is like a map of where my heart has been". OK. Bit weird lyrically in general, with Natasha overemoting and warbling a bit. It's only 4:15 but it feels far too long, possibly because "I bruise easily" is a bit of a stupid thing to repeatedly sing.
[4]

Alex Macpherson: These Bedingfields are masters of the bait-and-switch trick, aren't they? I had such high hopes for both Daniel and Natasha after their respective debut singles (a bit pop, a bit dance, a bit street), but the minute they'd embedingfielded themselves into the public consciousness it was out with anything which could possibly get them into the Urban category at the Brits, and in with the Proper Songs and Proper Instruments and Proper Dull Balladry. It's like they're trying to prove to Daily Mail/Guardian readers how nice and white and middle-class they are, and that they didn't really mean any So Solid Crew collaborations which might have occurred in the past.
[2]

Peter Parrish: A whimsical tale of domestic abuse, played out with the lifeless charm we’ve come to know and love from la famille Bedingfield. I suspect Daniel should make sure his sister hasn’t been replaced by a spooky, plastic Dr Who monster clone, devoid of all emotion and hell-bent on the destruction of civilisation. Of course, were that to be the case, then she wouldn’t bruise at all. And by rights she should have delivered a song named “My Hands Flip Open to Reveal Guns”.
[3]


Elton John - Turn The Lights Out When You Leave
[3.50]


Alex Macpherson: The common theme this week really is "I didn't know they were still releasing music, and that it was actually shifting units! Dear Lord, why?" This song really feels like it's endless, I'm sure I've been listening to it for at least half an hour yet the counter shows I've only got to the two minute mark. Please, make it stop.
[1]

Paul Scott: Another one of those pleasant countryish water colour numbers that Elt has been relying on for the last few years. This is nice enough but where oh where is the ten ton frippery of yore? Maybe it's his age, but for such a brilliantly bitchy figure this instantly forgettable sincerity is really rather unbecoming.
[4]

Mike Atkinson: A deliciously defiant, venomous kiss-off to a no-good ex, served up with an easily rolling pedal-steel-and-honky-tonk saloon-bar swagger, that will unite newly jilted lovers everywhere in squiffily swaying, finger-pointing, ‘see-you-in-court-yer-bashtard’ solidarity. My only quibble is with the gender-restricting reference to the “lacy little dress”—as in every other respect, this song’s natural constituency is a female one.
[8]

Edward Oculicz: Confession time. I actually liked “This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore”, of which this is simply a poor relation, nice piano-twangy bit in the middle notwithstanding.
[4]

Doug Robertson: Elton goes country, a musical direction which has been demanded by virtually no one. Certainly no one with any sort of aural apparatus anyway. It’s hard to believe that this is the same bloke who did ‘Rocket Man’, isn’t it?
[3]


The Others - William
[4.25]


Edward Oculicz: An agreeably buzzy riff and suitably energetic, but… get one new singer, please!
[4]

Joe Macare: Jo Whiley, Steve Lamacq, Jo Whiley, Steve Lamacq! Jo Whiley, Steve Lamacq, Jo Whiley, Steve Lamacq! The utter ridiculousness of this means that it hovers somewhere between “throw it across the room” and “fall over laughing and kind of love it”. I'm leaning towards the latter. I have to admire the gall of a singer who'll drop in a reference to “driving down the freeway” moments after establishing London as his location—no stopping with the Yankee talk for him. The boisterous “ba ba, ba ba ba ba, BOW!” chorus, the idea of chopping out coke in the back seat of a speeding car, the nostalgia for supposedly rebellious schooldays—it's not big and it's not clever (you could even say that 'William', it was really nothing), but somehow it adds up to something rather appealing.
[7]

Fergal O’Reilly: A similarly pleasant, nowt-to-write-home about guitar intro to the British Sea Power single we all went 'ernhhh...' over a couple of weeks back. Whereas that one went on to redeem itself a bit by having some nice breathy vocal hooks here and there and a general sense of otherwordliness, this actually gets much worse almost immediately and never recovers. Telegraphed, mindlessly amiable powerchordery and that twatty singer blathering about his friend William in reprehensibly half-assed fashion. It's possibly supposed to be endearingly ramshackle, but ends up useless moronic shit. Like serious, why-does-this-band-have-a-record-deal shit.
[1]

Paul Scott: I may be alone here, but the fact that this exists makes me intensely happy. With their combination of dim bulb lyrics, tin pot riffing and pseudo revolutionary polemic, far from being anywhere near the dangerous and exciting phenomenon they (and certain sections of the UK music press) think they are The Others fit into a long and noble tradition of bargain bin indie losers. Like Kingmaker, Menswe@r or Terris they are so deliriously, delusionally beautifully rubbish, so completely and utterly doomed to failure that somewhere out there S*M*A*S*H must be smiling proudly as this most thankless of vocations is fulfilled so expertly. Of course, it doesn’t quite scale the dizzy heights of S*M*A*S*H's 1994 classic "(I Want To) Kill Somebody" ("John Major! Virginia Bottomley!"), but then, what does?
[10]

Peter Parrish: You get the sense they’re trying to be all earthy and real, hoping against hope to cast their social eye over the seemingly trivial experience of schoolyard friendship and discover deep and meaningful truths. Instead, the supposedly insightful minutiae comes across as pure, unforgivable laziness, set to a less than inspiring guitar landscape. Remember those cracking good times with your chums? Maybe I would if you’d just pipe down your nauseating faux-nasal whining for a second.
[0]


The Bees - Chicken Payback
[4.38]


Paul Scott: An almost believable sixties soul pastiche that once too often steers itself into dreaded thumbs-aloft-aren't-we-quirky-and-clever terrain and rapidly becomes irritating rather than endearing, especially with The Caesars’ similar but superior ‘Jerk It Out’ coming out in a couple of weeks.
[4]

Mike Atkinson: Sounding exactly like the sort of rare Sixties soul cut that was routinely sampled by Big Beat acts in the late Nineties, this ludicrously infectious piece of animal-based call-and-response bubblegum could well be the best Kids’ Birthday Party floor-filler since “19/2000” by the Gorillaz. (Is there a dance routine? There has to be a dance routine. If not, then someone needs to invent one, quick.) My only concern is for the future welfare of The Bees; this is so far removed from their usual stoner-shuffle-blues repertoire that the assembled menagerie of chickens, camels and monkeys could morph into albatrosses overnight.
[10]

Doug Robertson: A bit more business acumen would have found them releasing this on Easter week to cash in on the higher profile that farmyard fowl enjoy at that time of year. Anyway, this sounds exactly like a late fifties/early sixties track and, given that this is the 21st century, you really do have to wonder what the point of this track is. It does what it does well, but with the Elvis re-releases already clogging up the charts do we really need bands adding to it with their own concoctions?
[5]

Alex Macpherson: I always seem to end up doing these reviews on the Sunday, which invariably means that this is all done while extremely hungover every week. Which is to say that I might well enjoy this better some other time, but right now clattering indie guitar clashes are really not what is needed.
[4]

Edward Oculicz: Bears an amazing resemblance to any number of old songs that you hear played all the time on the radio or when walking past dingy pubs despite their indescribable awfulness.
[1]


Garbage - Why Do You Love Me
[5.13]


Mike Atkinson: “I’m no Barbie doll / I’m not your baby girl”... no Shirley, you’re a GROWN WOMAN OF THIRTY-EIGHT, and all the kohl, slap and mini-dresses in the world aren’t going to change the fact. So instead of trying to pass yourself off as a petulant foot-stamping teen, why not try to nurture a little age-appropriate grace and dignity? Because some of us are still waiting for the proper follow-up to that wonderful debut album, before you were all replaced by the dead-eyed replicants who have been masquerading as you ever since. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that these are state-of-the-art, top-of-the-range replicants; there’s a brutal efficiency at work here, which comes tantalisingly close to being convincing.
[6]

Peter Parrish: Give it up, Garbage. You’ll never be as good as Curve. And yet, you are strangely compelled to keep trying ... gamely plugging away with exactly the same slightly devil-may-care dirty-but-obviously-tweaked-to-perfection-over-a-period-of-many-hours guitar sound as ever. But let’s not get carried away with mistaking admirable persistence for a decent tune.
[4]

Paul Scott: A puzzling question indeed, 'cos this offering from the Placebo with an actual girl lead singer is very hard to love. Lacking the goth pop atmospherics of, say, "Stupid Girl", Shirley Manson seems to strive for towards PJ Harvey's electrifying vocal delivery, but comes off more like The Faders’ mum.
[3]

Edward Oculicz: When shininess and spangly soundscapes are a strength, why bow to tedious rockism and add more guitars? What was always great about Garbage was the arch, brazen thievery from any song or genre you could imagine, mashed together with a strong pop sensibility. Shorn of processing and electro and disco and sex, this is just any old indie rock song you hear once, nod along with and forget.
[5]

Doug Robertson: This is essentially Garbage doing a Garbage song and, as I like Garbage, it gets the thumbs up from me. What’s of far more importance, however, is the fact that Shirley still looks fantastic, despite the fact she’s now heading towards her forties. Either she’s discovered the secret of eternal youth or, as seems far more plausible, there’s a portrait of herself in her attic looking somewhat haggard and aged.
[7]


Kelis ft. Nas - In Public
[6.88]


Peter Parrish: It seems public sex isn’t as thrilling as might have been expected.
[2]

Alex Macpherson: Oh, Kelis, the best woman in the world. Sings the whole song like she's whispering to her boy out of the corner of her mouth - on a crowded bus. The erotic power in knowing how much you're turning someone on, even when they're all like "no, people will see us!", until eventually you scramble their mind so much that, like poor hard Nas, they blurt out lines like: "Pussy in the mouth, that is the question/Like Shakespeare, but my erection is the case here."
[9]

Edward Oculicz: Smutty is often nice, but it’s certainly not here. Ditch Nas, girlfriend, you’re better. It’s funny, though - this actually sounds like naughty, exhibitionist sex until the points at which the lyrics become explicitly sexual. A shame, as the obvious obligatory ballad single “Marathon” is just rotting away doing nothing….
[5]

Joe Macare: Last week, I felt sorry for Nas. This week, I have remembered that if it all gets too much, he can always cry himself to sleep on Kelis', ah, shoulder. 'In Public' is already infamous in some circles for the way Nas filthily reappropriates Shakespeare's most famous couplet, but it also shows Kelis has been reading her Althusser: “don't you want to be a subject?”, she asks. It seems like awfully late in the day to still be releasing singles from Tasty—then again, the warmer months are clearly the best time to enjoy this lazy, sticky ode to al fresco fucking.
[9]

Mike Atkinson: “We can do it over there by all the trees,” breathes Kelis to her husband of almost three months’ standing, in an urgently insistent paean to al fresco jiggery-pokery which is sure to go down well with the steamed-up-windows-in-car-parks brigade. (But all within the context of a mutually supportive relationship based on openness and trust, naturally.) There has always been a fine line between the erotic and the ridiculous—but while the lumbering likes of 50 Cent blunder straight through it, Kelis (“sexy beast”) and “nasty Nas” straddle it with assured ease and control. (Dontcha just love it when married couples give each other pet names? My father used to call my mother “moo-cow”. How times have changed.)
[8]


Vitalic - My Friend Dario
[8.38]


Alex Macpherson: Like the whole of Vitalic's magnificent album, 'My Friend Dario' is ridiculously, gloriously physical drug music: it makes every inch of my skin feel more than alive, on some kind of delirious sensory overload. When the break takes this to yet another level, one which you hadn't thought was even possible until the riff trying to pummel its way through the gap is spun out for so long that the only thing in the whole world of any importance becomes the moment when the beat drops back in, it feels like I'm about to explode. The only way this could be better is if it was ten times as long.
[10]

Mike Atkinson: This is so achingly trendy that I scarcely dare to venture an opinion, lest I misinterpret a sub-nuance along the way and fall flat on my newly unfashionable low-slung arse. (High waists are back; haven’t you heard?) However, the word “motorik” does keep dancing before my eyes for some strange reason. It’s not a word we hear too often these days, is it? Well, let that be my contribution to the group. Dazed and Sleaze, please take note.
[8]

Edward Oculicz: VITALIC OWNS YOUR SORRY ASS, etc. I was going to say this was the best dance single of 2005 so far, but it has guitars in it, so it’s probably also the best rock single of 2005.
[10]

Peter Parrish: What if robots took a little time out from their busy schedule of time-saving subservience and created some music? You may recall Blade Runner and hypothesise about super-cool film noir style antics from the Replicant antagonists. But they were androids, so you’d be semantically inaccurate and I claim your misshapen geek crown. What we have instead is the sound of Twiki from Buck Rogers copulating furiously with a Cylon.
[3]

Fergal O’Reilly: This is genius. I love how Vitalic's beats are always really pounding and relentless but with various little brain-confounding off-time noises skittering away in the background. Here they're initially quite sparse, with an Adult.-like deadpan female vocal over them, but then the chorus brings a massive guitar-like noise repeatedly twisting out a riff that isn't a million miles away from the banjo hook on "Swamp Thing" by the Grid, at which point it's quite deliriously intense. At the breakdown it evolves into something more obviously synthlike and goes into a chord progression so ridiculously catchy I suspect it'll be lodged in some corner of my brain or other until at least May 2008, by which time I fully expect Vitalic to be the president of the universe. TEN.
[10]


By: UK Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-04-04
Comments (3)
 

 
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