And so, it is that time of the week again. The time when we realise to our massive chagrin that the fleeting ecstasy of the weekend is once again fizzling out and in a matter of hours we will be back out into the grey misery of Monday morning for another week of toil and drudge. But fear not! Because although God might take our weekend every Monday with his left hand, at the same time he gives us new singles with his right hand! And butter my arse, there’s some real crackers this week.
Manic Street Preachers
Postcards From a Young Man
I expend on average about a thousand words a year telling Muso’s Guide readers exactly why Manic Street Preachers are the most important band ever, so let me warn you, you shouldn’t expect balance from me on this subject. Postcards is one of the highlights of the album of the same name, and it’s a glorious throwback to the late 1990s when the band shifted records by the shitload. It’s a swaying, swooning slice of enormous guitar pop, on which James Dean Bradfield sounds more energised than he has in years, in spite of (or perhaps because of) the slightly bitter nostalgic bent of the Wire’s lyrics. It’s quite obviously single of the week, but then I would say that, wouldn’t I?
Neat Little Rows
Everyone likes Elbow these days don’t they? They’re like a band of Dave Grohls, a bunch of proper decent pub blokes, who also happen to make brilliant records. Neat Little Rows sounds pretty much exactly how you would expect an Elbow lead single to sound. It doesn’t start off like that, though, because for the first minute you’re a bit concerned that they couldn’t come up with their own song and instead have decided to completely plagiarise Zebra by Beach House, but then the piano starts twinkling and Garvey’s whiskied howl cranks up a gear and you’re back in the safe and comforting heartland of classic Elbow. Neat Little Rows may not be in any way surprising, but its predictability takes nothing away from how nice it is to have Elbow back.
Sleep Forever was, for me, one of 2010’s finest albums but it never quite seemed to get the universal adulation that it deserved. Exactly why Crocodiles feel the need to release opening track Mirrors now eludes me, but screw it, it’s a brilliant song which calls to mind the best moments of The Secret Machines’ early career. It’s about the pinnacle of Crocodiles’ noise-gaze endeavours, easing its way in gently with a hypnotic, snaking melody ushering in the crunching chords which carry off the rest of the song into a sea of beautiful echoey confusion. Massively enjoyable stuff.
Belle and Sebastian
I Want the World to Stop
In exactly the same way that you know exactly what to expect from an Elbow single, B&S have long since ceased to surprise us when they knock out a lovely single. They are are one of indieland’s great comforting constants, and unless you’re made of granite, their deftness with an upbeat melody should be sufficient to lift you out of a miserable Monday mood. Typically, I Want the World to Stop is a beautifully crafted sliver of chirpy pop, which sees Stuart pondering “sheets of milky winter disorder” and a “grey adorable city by the docks”, and still making the whole thing sound utterly idyllic.
I’ll be honest, this is my first experience of Dutch Uncles. It’s pretty nice, all told. I won’t pretend not to be a smidge disturbed by the chap in the wedding dress in the video, but hey, his guests seem to be enjoying themselves by the end. The song is another bit of sugary indie pop fun, and although this particular week there’s a danger of it being overshadowed by the titans of the genre, the nagging catchiness of the chorus sees it alright. Face In is a great example the type of pop music that is one of the few things we Englishers do better than anybody else in the world.
Those Dancing Days
Can’t Find Entrance
Well, we might as well finish off with more twee pop since that’s the route the singles schedulers seem to be taking us this week. Those Dancing Days have become consummate pros in the field, and I can give you a sneaky exclusive that their new album is excellent. Can’t Find Entrance is pretty representative of the breakneck speed at which the whole thing proceeds, rattling by in a blur of guitar, organ and little-girl lost vocals. In another week, this might have been single of the week, but, well, I’d already given that to the Manics before I’d even seen what other singles were out.