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

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

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

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

American Will Oldham plays alt folk and country from his latest album, Singer's Grave A Sea Of Tongues.

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