Beat Of My Drum
Nicola Roberts may not be an ex-X Factor judge, drunk, Irish or, er, Kimberly, but, with ‘Beat Of My Drum’, she’s easily made The Best Song By A Member Of Girls Aloud Outside Of Girls Aloud. This Diplo-produced earworm originally emerged digitally a few weeks ago but, for some reason, it’s only getting a physical release now. So while that’s unlikely to send the song back up the charts where it belongs, it’s still the best thing released this week. Her album, Cinderella’s Eyes, is coming at the end of September but, for now, just enjoy the sight of Nicola dancing on top of a stack of speakers in a furry jumper dress.
If you’re sitting at home right now, saying to yourself: “Well I quite like the Vaccines and everything, but I wish there was another band with someone related to one of the Horrors in it”. Well, look no further – S.C.U.M.’s bassist, Huw Webb, is the brother of Rhys ‘Spider’ Webb. It would seem that the band share more than just parents – the layered guitars on ‘Amber Hands’ owe an awful lot to the same touchstones that have been cited for The Horrors’ latest effort. It feels like an awful lot of bluster to represent the meaning that the band clearly believes to be present in their – but I think I’ll be sitting out the Simple Minds/early U2 revival to be honest.
Time To Dance
Tricky’s seemingly not been able to make a statement quite as complete and original as his debut, 1995’s Maxinquaye, but this year’s Mixed Race is strong. Its short, understated tracks speak of a confidence that he can continue to plough his own particular furrow – the triphop that he and his contemporaries produced in the mid-nineties is due another moment in the chillwave sun that it clearly influenced. Tricky’s sound has always been murkier, less naïve and, with tracks of the quality of ‘Time To Dance’ scattered all through Mixed Race, he may be an outside shot for the Mercury shortlist this week.
Let England Shake
Speaking of the Mercury prize, if Polly Harvey’s Let England Shake isn’t nominated then music writers all over the country will probably riot. The album’s title track gets a single release this week, and it sounds as stunning on its own as it does on record. With its haunted fairground melody and lifting from ‘Istanbul (Not Constantinople)’, it has the air not so much of a ballad of loss, but more of change and doubt.
In recent months, Ford And Lopatin and John Maus have given us albums that mine the gaudy, synthy side of the ‘80s for inspiration. Sun Airway’s Nocturne Of The Exploded Crystal Chandelier mixes similar touchstones with the more expansive soundscape of Animal Collective – while Ford And Lopatin and Maus can sound a little claustrophobic at times, Sun Airway are reaching for other worlds. ‘Wild Palms’ takes a little while to get going, but by the end it’s as gorgeous a slice of synth pop as you’re likely to hear.
In a post-Mumford world, us listeners are likely to be confronted with more and more music of that ilk, and the artists themselves – particularly when they come with anthemic, multi-voiced choruses as Ben Howard does – are going to have to suffer repeated comparisons to the West London quartet. Howard’s ‘The Wolves’ feels like a cut above the usual folk fare, with his more complex, jazzy arrangements (in contrast to the more straightforward approach of someone like Ed Sheeran, who, even before releasing an album, already feels ubiquitous) approaching someone like Tim Buckley or Kathryn Williams.