Single of the month: Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks’ ‘Senator’

Single of the month: Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks’ ‘Senator’

James Morrison feat. Jessie J, Erasure, Kelly Rowland, Vaccines and more also reviewed

At last, the collaboration we’ve all been waiting for! Yes, it’s James Morrison feat. Jessie J ‘Up’ (Island) ●● and it’s astonishing that they’ve come up with a lump of saccharine X-Factor duet fodder and not the greatest song you’ve ever heard. What went wrong? For this issue’s pop fix, then, we’ll need to turn to Erasure ‘Be With You’ (Mute) ●●●, a reasonably efficient club chart track while being no ‘Victim of Love’, and Kelly Rowland ‘Down For Whatever’ (Universal Republic) ●●●, a muscular slab of Rihanna-style commercial dancefloor wobble coming to a boy racer’s bass bin near you soon.

Meanwhile, somewhere in indieland, if you liquidised The Jesus & Mary Chain and diluted it with nine parts Coldplay you’d end up with Vaccines ‘Wetsuit’ (Sony) ●●. Much more satisfying guitar anthems can be found elsewhere on a fraction of the hype, for example the summery buzz set against a wash of fuzzy guitar that is Big Deal ‘Distant Neighbourhood’ (Mute) ●●● and the frayed comedown country of First Aid Kit ‘The Lion’s Roar’ (Wichita) ●●●.

So to Single of the Month, and it’s a tough choice from a wide field. Will it be the wistfully enduring alternative country twang of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy ‘Quail & Dumplings’ (Domino) ●●●●, which is blessed with a raw and yearning guitar solo late in its life? Or the sleek, soulful ambient house electronica of Junior Boys ‘You’ll Improve Me’ (Domino) ●●●●, lent an altogether different feel by the dense, claustrophobic bass of Caribou’s lead-off mix? Nope, instead it’s a gold, silver and bronze treble for the same label, with the top prize going to the effervescent, unforgettable pop lines of Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks’ ‘Senator’ (Domino) ●●●●.

James Morrison - Up ft. Jessie J

Erasure - Be With You

Kelly Rowland - Down For Whatever ft. The WAVs

The Vaccines - Wetsuit

Big Deal - Distant Neighborhood

First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy 'Quail and Dumplings'

Junior Boys - You'll Improve Me

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks - 'Senator'

James Morrison

Post-Blunt, radio-friendly MOR troubadour, with a beautifully warm soul voice.

The Vaccines, Frankie & the Heartstrings and Howler

Over-14s show. Short, sharp indie garage tunes from this London-based quartet, who are one of the breakthrough bands of the year. Plus support from characterful up-and-comers.

The Vaccines

Short, sharp garagey indie rock from these indie saviours.

Bonnie Prince Billy

Folk-rock from Louisville-based singer-songwriter William Oldham.

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