Singles & Downloads
The trouble with being trendy and much touted is that, at some point, you’ve got to produce the goods. Indie ugly mugs The Cribs singularly fail to do so with ‘I’m a Realist’ (Wichita) •, a tuneless, insipid, po-faced sub-Razorlight jangle. Ditto for Young Knives’ ‘Up All Night’ (Transgressive) ••, which is a tedious, shouty new wave shuffle, like Futureheads on autopilot.
Much more inventive are Goldfrapp, who return in yet another incarnation, having ditched the electro-glam perv-sex for nu-folk on ‘A&E’ (Mute) •••, Alison’s sumptuous and intimate vocal carrying the whole thing off with aplomb.
‘Inventive’ is not an accusation to level at Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds on the evidence of ‘Dig, Lazarus, Dig!’ (Mute) ••, a trudgingly boring slab of pub-rock dressed up as clever-clever death-angst, but really just a derivative and lacklustre 12-bar boogie.
Next up, Duffy, the latest in the conveyor belt of feisty women singer-songwriters, except she’s actually pretty boring. ‘Mercy’ (A&M) •• aims for Motown sass and sparkle, but falls way short, all the vocal huffing and puffing in the world not lifting it out of the ordinary.
Kathryn Williams and Neill MacColl fare much better on ‘Come With Me’ (Caw) •••, a simple but effective piece of plaintive folk which trundles sweetly along in a lovey-dovey way without descending into schmaltzy sentimentality.
All of which paves the way for a head-to-head for Single of the Fortnight. Just shaded into runner-up spot is Canadian rapper Cadence Weapon whose ‘In Search of the Youth Crew’ (Big Dada) •••• combines edgy, underground rap worthy of Roots Manuva with a slick dancefloor-filling beat, as if cLOUDDEAD woke up one day and decided to sound like Deee-Lite.
But even better is ‘Time to Pretend’ (Columbia) •••• by MGMT, who are trendy and much touted, but also well worthy of the hype on this showing. Despite spouting some terrible new age mumbo-jumbo, the Brooklyn duo produce a thrilling racket, blending the fragile heart of Flaming Lips with the lo-fi weirdness of Beck and the triumphant melodies of The Polyphonic Spree, all in four sprightly, enigmatic minutes. Doug Johnstone