The Singles Jukebox
A Right Bunch Of Blunts



week 19 of the filthy popist enclave sees Roll Deep taking shit back to the 1980’s, Roisin Murphy making Matthew Herbert fun, Bloc Party rendering Jessica Popper drowsy, and Lee Ryan making Fergal O’Reilly want to piss in a jar. There’s also reassuringly unspectacular returns for Maximo Park and Hot Hot Heat, Louis XIV, and Adam Green attempting to out-knob each other, and Heather Small attempting to jolly things along by howling.

Firstly, however, this acoustic guitar’s crap, let’s slash the seats.


Stephen Fretwell – Emily
[1.70]


Alex Macpherson: It is with some satisfaction - the only satisfaction which could possibly ensue after hearing this song - that I can now put James Blunt's name to use in its proper context as rhyming slang. As in, "Stephen Fretwell, he's a right James Blunt, isn't he?"
[1]

Paul Scott: Fretwell is being marketed as “the songwriter’s songwriter”. The advertisements for his album feature plaudits from such songwriting luminaries as KT Tunstall and Snow Patrol. It’s hard to express quite how boring this is. Something really needs to be done about these Radio 2 play list hogging, album chart shagging fun loving drips, because one James Blunt is too much as it is.
[1]

David Jones: Songs named after girls, eh? When heartbroken, why can’t these fuckers just do the same thing as any normal person: go to a pub alone, drink far too much of whatever liquid they find least palatable and then set about the smallest person on the premises with a broken bottle on any improbable pretext. That’s nature’s way. It’s less self-indulgent and causes far less widespread suffering than this cathartic slothwank.
[0]

Joe Macare: This reminds a little bit of the band Sunhouse, who hail from the same godforsaken part of the Midlands that I do. Because they hail from there, I always thought Sunhouse could be forgiven for sounding quite so miserable and exhausted. It turns out that Stephen Fretwell is from Scunthorpe, so I guess the same rule ought to apply... Well, maybe I can forgive him for being miserable and exhausted. I'm not sure I can forgive 'Emily'. The song, that is. Emily the girl? Oh, I can forgive her. I'm sure she didn't do anything wrong. Except maybe have a boyfriend who wasn't Stephen Fretwell.
[2]

Alex Linsdell: I don’t even know what to say about this kind of thing anymore. His instrumentation deficit is not the problem, the sloppiness and lack of discipline is. No supertight coiled-spring this. It’s not grey. It is brown. I quite like brown, for t-shirts, maybe even trousers, at a push. I would not wear a pair of brown trousers that were all fly and no leg, the leg is the important part, it’s the bit you wear. And I will not listen to a record that has the audacity to be all acoustic mewlings and no thrust. Except for the few times that I listened to this one.
[0]


Heather Small - Proud
[2.33]


Alex Linsdell: This record seemed to be a limp wet rag of a thing first time around, but now it is a tingly, hairs-on-neck widescreen behemoth. It has a shuffly ominous intro. The workmanlike first verse is left to simmer impatiently, before bubbling over and sweeping upwards into a chorus of gleaming molten gold. This chorus gets a blunt axe in the skull halfway through and splits into a second, mightier segment of chorus. Choirs of celestia-paramedics hasten it to the highest outpatient heights and dab gleefully at its wounds. They clap and affirm and testify! yeah! and belt out healing slabs of blissful comfort and succour. They might be being quite sarcastic, it’s so unexpectedly moving that you assume that they’ve made an easily manipulated puppet of you and your critical faculties. But they seem like such glorious and excellent and nice people that you can scarcely believe this of them. Even of Heather. She’s not as nasal as she was. And “Elegant Slumming” is a perfectly splendid album, mostly. Maybe she has been misjudged. This is a completely fantastic record.
[8]

David Jones: This is one of those records that you never hear on the radio, that you never hear coming out of people’s open windows or leaking from their iPod headphones on the tube. It’s not the kind of music volitional human beings would ever take it upon themselves to listen to. It’s one of those records that only gets played in enclosed and difficult-to-leave spaces like the coat queue in nightclubs or the hold music for call centres when the fuckers know you’re too desperate to hang up. If it were possible to lock somebody in a phone box, and that phone box had piped music running on a loop, it would be playing this song. It’s an audible stimulator for anxiety attacks. The lyrical content was put together by a team of advertising executives, wasn’t it? Wasn’t it? If you find yourself uplifted by this, dear reader, I should warn you that you are somehow living in an inconceivable heart of some sort of abyss. “The only way is up” simply because you have absolutely no place further to plummet. I truly, truly despise this record.
[0]

Joe Macare: Bob Geldof is coming to your house. He has brought with him Bono, Richard Curtis, and the entire cast and production crew responsible for those 'Give Blood' adverts (you know, the ones that imply its worth it because you might save the life of a celebrity or a celebrity's family member and then they will be your fwend). Bob tells you that you must do your bit, so long as that does not involve criticising those in power or carrying out any kind of serious in-depth analysis of the causes of global poverty, violence and injustive. This is the song that is playing as he walks through your front door. Now more than ever, I urge you to beat him soundly and throw him into the road.
[0]

Jessica Popper: Is this really the only inspirational song in existence? It wasn't even a big hit the first time it came out, only reaching no.16. I just don't get why she is brought out again and again to sing this at sporting events. Is she sleeping with the head of BBC sports or something? Ew, no, don't want to think about that!
[3]

Dom Passantino: OK, so, yes, it is completely indefensible shit, but it’s not as bad as M People’s cover of “Itchycoo Park” is it?
[2]


Lee Ryan – Army Of Lovers
[2.78]


Paul Scott: A barely human former member of Blue channelling mid 80’s Elton John into such a radio friendly package has no right to be this painless.
[6]

Joe Macare: I used to actually quite like Blue, a boy band whom it would be generous to describe as more than the sum of their parts. Their parts, you see, were four men of various types of detestability: Smug Detestable Pretty Boy Blue, Poor Man's Dane Bowers (How Detestable Is THAT?) Blue, and son on. Lee Ryan was Floppy Detestable Simpleton Blue. He made some comments about the relative importance of human and elephant lives, post 9/11, which did not, shall we say, demonstrate a Chomsky-ish level of insight into world affairs (although he could give Christopher Hitchins a run for this money on current form). Anyway, 'Army Of Lovers': it's a preposterous ballad, overblown and treacly, but not preposterous enough to be any fun.
[1]

Alex Macpherson: Lee Ryan is the village idiot of pop, blessed with much more than you'd expect at first glance. Good looks in search of a non-repulsive personality, a technically breathtaking voice in search of a half-decent song to sing. This isn't it, which makes him a shell of a popstar in search of a point.
[4]

Doug Robertson: Oh, if only this was an Army of Lovers track called Lee Ryan, that would probably be something very special indeed. Alas, it’s not, it’s Lee from Blue deciding to inflict his musical vision on the world and, if this is his vision, it can only be assumed that he suffers from really bad cataracts. Lee is, of course, famed for not always engaging his brain before he opens his mouth and saying some remarkably stupid things. Unfortunately it seems that rather than being a personality trait, it’s actually an infectious disease as that’s the only explanation for a record executive failing to engage his brain, opening his mouth and saying “A Lee Ryan solo single! What a good idea!”
[1]

Fergal O’Reilly: Sweet mother of merciful Christ above, this is insipid. I don't think anything remotely interesting happens in the entire thing, in fact it may challenge Heather Small and, more disturbingly, that Arcade Fire Michael Buble one to be the most ploddingly uneventful single I've heard this year. With Lee's irritating voice and the artlessly sentimental slobber of the lyrics it manages the feat of being both incredibly dull and extremely annoying. This is based on three listens; I will be spending the rest of the summer obsessively avoiding a fourth like a sort of popist Howard Hughes. Jars of piss and three foot fingernails: better than Lee Ryan.
[0]


Louis XIV – God Killed The Queen
[3.20]


Alex Macpherson: Oh great, it's the new Jet.
[0]

Dom Passantino: Do you have a lacklustre post-Killers indie-rock 80s revivalism track that bears an uncanny resemblance to the Kings of Leon trying to have another hit? Worried that it’s totally inconsequential and has absolutely nothing at all to lift it above the mire? Why not try randomly adding the words “God killed the Queen” to the song, despite it having nothing at all to do with deities or regicide up until that point. These four marks are solely for the disinterested bluegrass ending.
[4]

Edward Ocuclicz: A jerky, spastic-elastic workout with just enough in the way of hand-claps, slower bits not very much fun, but mercifully short, about three different songs glued not very convincingly together but strangely infectious. The Vines probably thought they sounded a bit like this, and might have if they'd sounded as unhinged as they looked.
[7]

Paul Scott: A pastiche of a pastiche, Jack White joins The Hives for a gambol through the retro rock rule book. Nothing wrong with that in principle, but the lack of tune, charm or panache is a convincingly leaden argument for the proposition that rock is dead.
[2]

David Jones: Remember the Datsuns? Exactly.
[5]


Bloc Party - Pioneers
[4.40]


David Jones:“Don’t stick your bloody head. In The. Jaws. Of The. Beast”. Yes it’s melodramatic, silly and takes itself far too seriously. But now the hype’s died down a little it is at least clear that Bloc Party are earnest, and willing to throw more musical curveballs than other zeit-indie posers like Franz Ferdinand or Razorlight or whoever. Then again, they used to be one of the few bands who released proper “singles”. As in, songs that stood up on their own and brightened up the radio whenever they were on. Now they’re joining the rest of this week’s indie throng by just putting out album tracks wherever required.
[6]

Edward Ocuclicz: At some point in the near future, record labels are going to realise that despite the voluminous press, nobody bloody likes this kind of tripe which is why it sells bloody nothing. Their last single at least had a vaguely engaging beat, this has nothing! It chugs along in a competent fashion, the singer's voice continues to be awful, and if there's something that sticks - a point of rhythmic interest, a hook or something to break the tedium - it's not apparent to me.
[3]

Dom Passantino: You see, in my day, the Bloc Party would have been correctly termed “perennial support act”, and every time you went to see a good band play in a venue over 500 capacity, you’d have to sit through this ball-less neuter-rock. We live in sick, sick times.
[2]

Paul Scott: Sweaty palms and denial. Watching everything going wrong and not knowing what to do. Keeping your head down and trying not to worry. Panic rising and vomit caught in the back of your throat. Thurston Moore once described his guitar sound as “distress signals”. Bloc Party’s complete musical output to date sounds like a series of distress signals. (OK, ‘Little Thoughts’ was rather jolly, but I’m going somewhere with this) Guitar lines razor wire tense, drums that pound like a 4 am panic attack and almost choral backing vocals that sound a note of almost apocalyptic unease. They utilise Radiohead’s trick of speaking in the fractured soundbite speak favoured by politicians and media types but Kele Okereke wrings more humanity from these words than Thom Yorke’s tiresome misanthropy ever could. Never has anyone sang “It’s all under control” and sounded less believable. The subtext is clear; we all know who these modern “Pioneers” imposing their vision of manifest destiny on a world that doesn’t need or want to be “tamed” are. A frightened, fractured Ball of Confusion for a post everything generation caught in endless sound bites, restless, relentless, cathartic, perfect.
[10]

Jessica Popper: Bloc Party's name is so misleading. If you played this at a party it would be empty by the time the song ended. Well, either that or everyone would have fallen asleep.
[3]


Hot Hot Heat – Middle Of Nowhere
[4.90]


Dom Passantino: You know when you walk past your old school, and out of the corner of your eye you catch a glimpse of your old English teacher from ten years ago, and then for a moment you’re surprised, and then kind of heartened, and then you remember that you didn’t actually like them in the first place, and then you realise that you won’t like them now? Holding a conversation with him would be like listening to “Middle of Nowhere”.
[3]

David Jones: Two things that must stop, before the very concept of musical invention is stifled to death, forever. 1) Jerky post-punk numbers. I’ve given Hot Hot Heat a lot of slack before because I thought they were better than most of their peers, but their influences have been shoved down our throats for three years now, and it really is time we moved on. 2) The “profound” rock paradox. To ‘Definitely Maybe’ and ‘The End Has No End’ we can now add HHH’s “I’m just consistently inconsistent”. Please stop.
[4]

Fergal O’Reilly: Agreeable summery jangle with a pretty great chorus; I think it's all in the first chord change, that one always gets me. Not entirely sold on the strained vocals, unsurprisingly, or the nagging fear that him out of Trail Of Dead's going to pop up and start shouting "IT'S OKAY! I'M A SAINT! I FORGAVE! YOUR MISTAKES!" or similar, but I can't really begrudge them a tune this catchy; it's bit like a less raucous version of "Flagpole Sitta" by Harvey Danger, and y'know, that was pretty cool, wasn't it?
[7]

Alex Linsdell: There’s a moment right at the ‘crown’
[start of chorus] of this record during which HHH channel the spirit of “SFTYSR”-era Dexys to heartwhirling, grin-inducing effect. They do it again halfway through the chorus, and at no point elsewhere. Not that the rest is not amiable enough to survive on its own merits; there is debauched top-end plinkery during the intro and some deliciously drunken pluckery during the ‘bridge’. These are the points at which the guitars
[boo! grrrr!] drop out a bit, creating space to breath and gambol happily amidst these delicate embellishments. But only very fleetingly. And here, torn between their elusive raindrop of genius and the lumbering don’t-care of spectacular ordinariness, is where we must leave HHH.
[5]

Joe Macare: So why don't you like stuff like this, they ask. Or why can't you at least be a little kinder to bands like Hot Hot Heat? They're not doing any harm, are they? Well, no, I suppose not, I say. It's just not really my cup of- But why not? Isn't 'Middle Of Nowhere' just as much pop music as your beloved Kelly Clarkson? Well, yes. Yes it is. I'm glad you can see that, it's very important in terms of the big picture. But I'm afraid it's just not as good pop music. Hey, I tell you what though, I do like that one song, that 'Mr Brightside'! I know that's not by Hot Hot Heat. Hot Hot Heat don't have such a punchable singer. It's all swings and roundabouts, really.
[5]


Maximo Park – Going Missing
[5.20]


Jessica Popper:"Grafitti" showed signs of promise, and here they are, back with an entire good song! It's really catchy and I think this band are about to be huge.
[7]

Alex Macpherson: How much longer? How much fucking longer do we have to endure these fucking limp, lifeless dregs scraped from the bottom of the Britpop barrel? I have never heard a pop singer sound so unexcited about singing the main hook as this guy.
[0]

Alex Linsdell: Maximo Park are on Warp so it is in their contract that they have to be a pretty bally blithering electronic proposition above all else. So the first verse scampers handsomely atop a fizzing slab of synthy anonymity. It’s nice; it doesn’t last, by the chorus it is lost. But they’ve proved their austere electro credentials to me, hell yeah! Said MaxParkFundamentals are re-established VERY faintly at 1:12
[start of second verse!] and again at 3:09
[start of end!]. I like this about it, in all other respects it is remarkably easy to do what the MaxPark guy commands of us and “Forget it! Forget it! Forget it!” You are merely a hop and a skip from Autechrehood, MaxPark! I mean that from the heart.
[2]

Fergal O’Reilly: I want to like Maximo Park more than I do, they just seem to have Pop Ambitions (oh, good afternoon, can of incredibly boring worms) they can't quite fulfil; the aimless, tinny guitar intro almost put me to sleep after a mere five seconds and they lose further points for falling into the annoying Nu-Britpop habit of taunting you with smart detuned synthnoise and then burying it under a load of sludgey powerchords at the first opportunity. It does return here and there, but ends up like an unwelcome chat show guest who remembers he forgot to plug his book and feebly tries to interject in proceedings intermittently. In this case it turns out said guest was the only interesting one on the show and should have been given more time.
[5]

David Jones: Another week, another Maximo Park single. And very much a third single it is too: same poignant doomed romance, same zeitgeisty sound but none of the verve or sparkle that made the earlier ones worthwhile. Very MOR, in fact. They’re still the strangest signing Warp have ever made, though. The LP’s on sale in fucking Sainsburys. If all that moohlah’s bankrolling some enormous scheme for the next Boards of Canada record then they can have a few extra points. Otherwise…
[5]


Adam Green - Carolina
[5.30]


Dom Passantino: When I say that Adam Green is the male Nellie McKay, nobody seems to agree with me. But they’ve both got that short attention span singer-songwriter thing going on, an almost childlike attitude to sexuality [Green sings “vagina” with a little bit too much of a raised eyebrow here], a need to shoehorn as much culture into their songs as will fit [“Doestovsky, Fab Moretti”], a barely concealed amusement verging on disgust for the opposite gender, and, let’s face it, both of them, you would. Oh, yeah, and they’re both awesome .
[10]

Paul Scott: Estranged from his Moldy Peaches partner Kimya Dawson it clear who supplied the emotional intimacy that made the Peaches so special. A mix of sub Vice magazine smut and kitschy easy listening performed by an emotionally retarded smart arse. Cos everybody hates a smart arse. Especially a smug one who thinks it’s all such a laugh and the cheap puns and sleaze will get lost in this mush.
[3]

Edward Ocuclicz: I have never knowingly heard a single Moldy Peaches song. Nonetheless, it's not necessary to have done so to praise something this jaunty and likeable - even the vulgarity is delivered with a wink that makes the use of "vagina" as a rhyme for "Carolina" work as droll rather than offensive. The song itself being pitched halfway between folk and lounge doesn't hurt either. The marching drums over the end seal the deal.
[8]

Doug Robertson: On the one hand, the Moldy Peaches have done some lovely little bits of music. On the other, they generally ruin them by being unable to resist throwing in a puerile lyric for no other reason than to demonstrate that, despite appearances to the contrary, they are, in fact, 12. Adam’s solo work is no different, here he shows us that he's worked out that “Carolina” rhymes with “vagina”, - something we guess isn’t pointed out in the average rhyming dictionary – but the tune is pretty decent, so we’ll give it a 6 and pretend that the whole sorry affair of the lyric just never happened.
[6]

Alex Macpherson: It's a sex record for and by people who aren't very good at sex, and who consequently feel the need to constantly talk about it. But they are also keen to pile on the toilet humour and bad jokes, as if they constantly need to remind us that they don't care that they haven't had a shag for nine months - not proper wit, oh no, that would veer dangerously close to admitting just how seriously they take the whole business. Thus, references to Adam Green's cocksack (ugh, dude, I don't care!) and a dreadful sneery vocal which demonstrates just how necessary it is that Green's next sexual partner mutilates his genitalia. We've got a while to wait, I expect.
[0]


Daddy Yankee - Gasolina
[5.60]


Dom Passantino: This sounds like Manu Chao beating his wife. Except worse.
[0]

Alex Linsdell: Straddling the previously uncharted Sean Paul/Cuban Boys axis comes Daddy Yankee, and he has ants! in his pants! Or perhaps Mexican jumping beans! Oh yes! this is a spicy itch of a thing. In fact after several plays it seems to cunningly blend “Milkshake” and “Trick Me” pretty ingeniously; the starkfizz’n’subsidiarybeat combo makes this pretty hot stuff! yeah! and enjoyable too, no doubt, with the frantic happy hardcore interludes periodically adding sass too. Ouch! Crumbs! It’s so great that respectable quantities of modern pop music sound like this, really.
[6]

Edward Ocuclicz: A hateful, repetitive ride through the fires of Hell. Naggingly catchy in much the same way a lot of ghastly pop music is, without at least the redeeming feature of being good-naturedly thick and cheery. Makes me want to single-handedly dismiss the entire genre of reggaeton out-of-hand.
[0]

Fergal O’Reilly: Superbly intense intro gives way to bewildering-but-fun rapidfire call and response. No idea what's actually being said other than the maddeningly elongated "gaso-liii-na" hook, but that's part of the fun really.
[8]

Alex Macpherson: HOT. Hot like the the sweat running down your back after dancing nonstop for seven hours, hot like al fresco sex with buff strangers on a sweltering summer night, hot like the sun burning down so goddamn hard it sets the ground alight. 'Gasolina' is electrifying and insatiable: a monster rampaging across dancefloors in search of new bodies to take over, never satusfied, always needing more. You want more too? Check the Lil Jon remix: single of the fucking year.
[10]


Rilo Kiley – It’s A Hit
[6.00]


Edward Ocuclicz: A twinging, tingling, chiming and sashaying lovely ending with some nicely placed trumpets, spoiled quite a bit by having to wade through three-and-a-half minutes of perfectly pleasant but hugely uninteresting indie gubbins to get to it.
[5]

Alex Macpherson: You call this a hit? You call this lame, unassuming, scared-of-melody indie-jangle a hit? It's all so polite and mannered. I've already forgotten what it sounds like, and it's still playing.
[4]

Joe Macare: I know this may be bad form but I ought to mention that the new Rilo Kiley album features another song, which may have been or may be a single in future, called 'Portions For Foxes', and that it is my new favourite song of the summer. 'It's A Hit' has its own charms, though. Rilo Kiley know the importance of a well-used horn section. They also know that clever lyrics don't mean much if you don't have excellent phrasing to go with them. The comparison that springs to mind is The New Pornographers, especially those songs with Neko Case on vocals, although Jenny Lewis is a little more wry and detached and less joyous, on this song at least. And hey, it's all meta and shit! More importantly: it's meta without being shit. That's quite an achievement in this day and age.
[10]

Fergal O’Reilly: Nice without ever doing anything hugely exciting, and there's a vague air of smugness to the vocals that I can find grating depending on the mood I'm in. Currently though, there's sun streaming through the window, and a pretty voice singing "any asshole can open a museum" over trumpets and twiddly guitar bits is sufficient to elicit a satisfied grunt; your mileage may vary collossally.
[7]

Doug Robertson: It’s quite clear from television, newspapers and, umm, Ladytron that the minute you’re older than 21 you’re past it and should start thinking about your pension, funeral and how fantastic the concept of trousers with an elasticated waist are. I’m in my mid-twenties, so have started to accept that, like it or not, I’m in my salad days and that life from now on is just a downward spiral towards death and despair. I have, however, done my best to avoid the more obvious signs of old age, such as wearing trousers at nipple height, spending half my income on lottery tickets and male pattern baldness, so it’s come as quite a shock to discover on listening to this track that one of these signs has snuck up behind us and taken us entirely by surprise: I’m beginning to quite like country-esque music, and this song is an absolutely gorgeous example of the genre. Jenny Lewis, has a voice of which dreams are made of, and the horns, which kick in about half way through the track, would raise a smile on the face of even the most cynical person. If this is what old age is like then I’m firmly looking forward to my dotage.
[7]


Roll Deep – The Avenue
[6.67]


Dom Passantino: Based around a jack of The Maisonettes’ 1982 bubblegum Northern Soul one-hit-wonder “Heartache Avenue”… actually, I can’t remember what Roll Deep do on this track. They possibly do that weird yelping thing that grime sorts like to pass off as rapping. The sample just
[deservedly] swamps the entire thing. Selling out rarely sounded as fantastic.
[9]

Paul Scott: Reduced to guest rap status in their own single, Roll Deep rap an instantly forgettable series of bon mots and sweet nothing over an attention grabbing sample. It’s sort of fun but the air of pointless surrounding it hard to shake. Why not just re-release the original?
[4]

Jessica Popper: This song would be great without the rap. They should have just re-released the original.
[2]

Alex Macpherson: I was all prepared to give this a mediocre mark and a slating to express my disappointment at the grime crew which produced Dizzee and Wiley attempting to cross over with a song essentially consisting of the most ungainly, tinny Maisonettes sample ever on continuous loop, completely drowning out their own forgettable MCing. Then the London heatwave began again, and I found I couldn't stop listening to it: when I woke up to get me going, on the bus, strolling down the street. It still sounds completely lazy and tossed-off, of course, but that is of course exactly the right attitude to take in weather so hot.
[8]

Joe Macare: At first I was inclined to write this off as an interesting failure: interesting because it melds r&b, pop and grime in a way that doesn't sound like anything I've heard anyone else do, and certainly doesn't sound like anything else I've heard Roll Deep do. A failure because it's slightly awkward: the members who rap here (Wiley excepted) don't sound too comfortable over this material. Ghostface Killah has done similar things relatively recently in terms of rhyming over huge chunks of old soul songs with very little adjustment, but he carried it off more convincingly. Still, 'The Avenue' is a grower: after a few listens, you notice the way that the music sounds in part like the theme tune for a Saturday morning kids' TV show about giant fighting robots. That's when you're not singing along to the chorus and learning to love the slightly awkward, almost DIY feel. There are about half a dozen better songs on the Roll Deep album, but this'll do for now.
[8]


Roisin Murphy – If We’re In Love
[7.60]


Doug Robertson: Roisin’s voice is one of the precious gems of pop and should, for the benefit of future generations, probably be removed from her throat and preserved in a cabinet in the British Museum so that others can enjoy it’s beauty. It’s a testament to its powers that it can turn this rather lacklustre backing track into something that’s almost special. You can tell that she’s pretty much coasting on this - not quite lying back and thinking of England, more lying back and thinking of the money - but even a lazy Roisin is better than we deserve, even if you can’t help but wonder how good this track would have been if she’d truly let herself go.
[6]

Alex Linsdell: The unshackling of Roisin from the her previous popvehicle is not, as hoped, going to result in her elevation to Gwennish-realms of global superstardom
[or even Sophie Ellis Bextor-ish ‘local’ achievements] but this frees her up to pirouette ‘difficult’-artiste-wards straight into the eminently suitable arms of Matthew Herbert and join him in the act of drizzling clockwork midsummer all over the R.Murphy blankcanvas. Sonically it may not be a conventional singer-songwriterly endeavour
[there is joy and colour, there are not guitars], it is more slippery and elusive than even the more esoteric Moloko moments but remains perfectly verse-chorus linear. Like “Chewing Gum” before it, “If We’re In Love” attains total satisfaction by bravely eschewing the failsafe notion of BPM being directly proportional to listener glee. It springs and lopes falteringly, it is more cautious than that record and less instantly dazzling. But there is perhaps even more going on here. There is gently parping coffeebreak brass instead of grinding jobsworth string-section clay; there are intricate onionlayers of formless sonic technicolour clattering and squelching and rumbling in perfect harmony; it jerkily unfurls, all corners and elbows, but is in no way awkward or difficult. Smoooth. There are rueful lyrics delivered with total warmth and self-assurance, angst is for self-doubters and Roisin is not this. Mechanics disguised so convincingly as Organics that you can’t see the bolts.
[10]

Paul Scott: As beguiling and alien as ‘Sing It Back’ was all those years ago before over familiarity blunted its strangeness. A stuttering beat and the faintest flutter of trumpets make a suitably minimal setting for Murphy’s breathless vocals. Never reaching a real crescendo, resolution remains tantalisingly out of reach. Like the sun rising on a the white sands of an almost empty Balearic beach, you might just be on another planet.
[7]

Edward Ocuclicz: Has a groove like disco lights in broad daylight. Alternately desirous, longing and poetically beautiful, and a perfect delivery - sweet and soulful without oversweetening the mix. It sounds like being in love feels - the anticipation of the touch and its fulfilment all in one pop song. Astonishing.
[10]

Fergal O’Reilly: There aren't a great many things that sound nicer than Roisin's voice, and she's on pretty great form here, breathily cooing vaguely mystical stuff over a melange of trumpets and oddball strangled bleeps. The entire section where she slowly sings, as if she has all the time in the world, "in the bitter cold of December there's not a joy in this whole world as lovely as the bird that flew away" is quite stunning, and the whole thing just has a marvelously serene, otherworldy air to it. It's probably going to chart at about 76, isn't it? Shit.
[9]


Sway – Up Your Speed
[7.63]


Doug Robertson: Seemingly based around the bassline to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘The Chain’, the old theme tune to the BBC’s Formula 1 coverage, this ultimately disappoints due to not actually featuring a rap by Murray Walker. Despite this glaring omission, this is a likeable track. Unfortunately there’s not enough colour and variety to keep our interest from waning after the first minute or so.
[5]

Edward Ocuclicz: Menacing and claustrophobic in equal measure - scattering beeps and beats add to the tension that drips from the vocals, but not as fantastic as that sounds. File it alongside Roots Manuva with "slightly odd rap that makes you think and tremble", though not quite the equal of "Too Cold", it's still an oddly compelling track.
[7]

Dom Passantino: The real proof that grime is just a subsection of British rap and not a totally new genre is that the grimeists are more than happy to carry the torch of Brit-hop’s distinguishing characteristic: releasing an album that sells bugger all copies and then complaining about how “forces” conspired against you. It’s a short hop from Hijack to Kano. Anyway, “Up Your Speed” is one of about 632 reasons why Sway deserves to and will rise above all this crap. Bredda’s got charisma for days, flows like he gives a fuck, and he’s not been rendered irrelevant by six months of style magazine fellatio like some of his contemporaries. UK urban track of the year, no question.
[10]

Alex Macpherson: The music's terrific: rapid-fire beats and menacing guitar buzz, the kind of shit you can imagine that Tricky would've been doing now if he'd put down the weed. What sells this, though, what makes the boy Sway so special, is personality: he's charming, funny, confident, delivering his lines with smooth aplomb like he's trying to chat up the entire nation. Up your speed, he demands, and right there you just feel a lift lift lift taking you to the next level. Give in.
[9]

Paul Scott: The music from UK TV’s motor racing coverage forms the backbone of this track but here it’s crucially relocated - these aren’t the gaudy cheap thrills of Formula One but the illicit pleasures of the cruise. Alloy wheels, exhausts with the circumference of a dustbin, sub woofers the size of a family fridge and very bored girlfriends; never before has teens doing donuts in provincial car parks sounded so beguiling. But despite jettisoning some of his trademark wit and perhaps overdoing it with the guest stars it is still Sway at the wheel; creator and catalyst calling out the most idiosyncratic list of British locales in a pop song since Panic (Colchester, Derby) to “Up your speed”. Part attempt to galvanise every nascent talent, part challenge to be met. This is a rallying cry, a statement of intent and most of all an atmospheric, tense, uniquely British and incredibly effective remould of modern Hip Hop archetypes.
[10]


By: UK Stylus Staff
Published on: 2005-07-18
Comments (19)
 

 
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