29 November 2008

MMVIII: songs

Vampire Weekend - A-Punk
As previously mentioned, "A-Punk" is pretty much the song of the summer, possibly even the year. The song that brought the band to a much, much wider audience than they would have reached had they become permanent residents of the blogosphere (I'm looking at you, Black Kids). A hit at with indie disco regulars, the chavvy ringtone crew, the Tesco mums and pretty much everyone, despite none of them having a clue what is being said throughout. the infectious "Hey hey hey hey!" chorus means the song latches onto your memory and doesn't let go. An antidote to the current hard times from the anti-Strokes, who are even more brilliant.

Keane - Spiralling
Well this was a surprise. Keane; the purveyors of banal, bland, inoffensive, piss-poor piano pop come out with a heavily 80s influenced monster of a choon, basslines and a riff that Franz Ferdinand would be proud of. Although not representative of the album as a whole, it's a song for the clubs, and for house parties, yet like "A-Punk", has pretty universal appeal. Still can't stand them though.

Hot Chip - Ready For The Floor
Starts of as typical Hot Chip and develops into the perfect pop song. Melodious, dreamy, yet definitely danceable. Alexis Taylor's vocals are dreamy and gentle, just on the right side of twee; a direct contrast to the clunky beats and funky synths behind. Add to that a scattering of guitar and a chorus that grows and grows on you, deserving to be heard by everyone.

Glasvegas - Flowers & Football Tops
For any band, it takes some confidence to put a song of four and a half minutes on your debut album, as this is the one thing that can make or break your career. But to have an almost 7 minute song as the opener of your album, and the first minute and 17 seconds of that as just feedback and noise takes cajones the size of the moon. That's what Glasvegas did in "F&FT". Based on the racial murder of a Glasgow schoolboy, the song goes through the heartbreak of losing a son, with a Spector-ish "Wall of Sound" and James Allan's unmistakable Glaswegian brogue. But it's the last two minutes where the song really turns epic. The drums stop and the feedback continues into "You Are My Sunshine" which cannot be described in word without sounding like hyperbole. But it definitely lives up to hype.

Friendly Fires - Paris
A few years ago, Franz Ferdinand were making the dancefloor seems like the greatest invention ever. Fast forward to now and a different FF are doing the exact same, but not with guitars; with cowbells, plenty of drums, and wave after wave of synth. This band is Friendly Fires. Three lads from St. Albans making a combination of shoegaze, disco and dance may not sound too appealing, but on "Paris", they show that it's a damn good idea. Romantic as can be in it's lyrics ("Every night, we can watch the stars/They'll be out for us") with a wall of noise not entirely dissimilar to Glasvegas, but much more lush and softer. It's as perfect a song can get, like a smoother, cooler brother of "Ready For The Floor"

Late Of The Pier - Heartbeat
LOTP have been described in many ways. From "the future of new rave" to "making Hadouken! look good", nothing really seems to suit them. Trying to pigeonhole them is as hard as trying to keep Pete Doherty off smack or getting Jordan to keep her clothes on, and this is no more evident than on their last and best single. Starting off sounding like a long lost Killers track with a megaton of synth, it suddenly moves into "Paranoid Android" territory and then straight into a manic chorus mix of Klaxons and The Strokes. By the end of the song, we've gone through MGMT, Radiohead, RATM and end on a Muse style rock-out. Genius.

Kings Of Leon - Sex On Fire
You can't deny how good this song actually is. It may not have too much hidden meaning and isn't exactly pushing any musical boundaries, but it has possibly the most bizzare chorus of any Number One of recent times (I'm just guessing here, but actual sex on fire must hurt. A lot). It's a simple slice of stadium rock, something to dance badly to at eighteenths, to bellow with mates whilst walking home from a night out, to "headbang" to in your room while noone's around.

The Teenagers - Homecoming
Not something you'd want to listen to around anyone who's offended easily. Fifteen utterances of "naughty" words, most of them pretty strong. Starting off almost like Joy Division, "Homecoming" quickly changes into sleazy Gallic mode with a pretty simple story; boy meets girl, girl falls in love with boy, boy only wants her for sex, boy and girl get it on, boy leaves. I suppose it could be described as most teenage lads dream really....well maybe not most....*ahem*. Anyway, it's basically a slightly cynical, slightly bitter, very dirty take on 21st Century relationships. Either that or just a chance to say some rude words in a pop song

Elbow - One Day Like This
Mercury Prize winners or not, this is still a brilliant song, Elbow's first big hit after 18 years as a band. The swirling strings, the dashings of piano every now and again, and Guy Garvey's brilliant lyrics ("Kiss me like we die tonight...") all combine to make a modern-day "Hey Jude"...well almost. A gospel added to the coda gives the song an almost hymn-like feel. It's something that's perfect for the festival crowds and will be a classic in years to come.

White Lies - Death.
In 2009 White Lies will be big. Actually scrap that, they're big now. Well in terms of their sound anyways. Sonically huge. A brooding bassline that Peter Hook will kicking himself for not thinking up, the crunch of guitar that aren't "angular" or "arty" for the first time in 4 years, a quivering string section, drums pounded to within an inch of their life. These are the ingredients to one of the best songs of the year, the exact opposite to the bright and breezy "A-Punk". "Death" unashamedly has its roots firmly in the 80s, but is also definitely now. By the end of next year, White Lies will be on everyones lips.

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