Single reviews – 27 May
As the sun comes out, here is a bumper bundle of songs released into the charts this week – reviewed by Philip Lickley
The Ting Tings- ’Hit Me Down Sonny’
Buy: Hit Me Down Sonny
A worthy release from their under heard new album, though the main instrumental hook sounds like they’ve ripped off the opening titles from Futurama. One of the best tracks on the album it marches with determination through riffs on the playground ‘liar liar’ chant, references to Speedy Gonzales, and a catchy chorus and some memorable instrumental highlights throughout the piece. It’s not comparable to any of the singles from the first album but it’s not a bad cut for the band, with an attractive swagger and marching drum.
Alexandra Burke – ’Let It Go’
Buy: Let It Go
With a familiar-sounding keyboard riff that sounds like it’s being played with one finger and looped, ‘Let It Go’ is the second single from her upcoming Heartbreak On Hold album. Very similar in sound to ‘Elephant’ but without the distinctive chorus, this is standard club fodder. It’s not an unenjoyable record but there’s nothing to make it stand out from the crowd of identikit rnb hits, sounding like a souped up version of ‘You Make Me Wanna’ by JLS. I admire her for trying a change of direction but sadly I want to give her a sat nav to help her get back on track to records like ‘Bad Boys’ and ‘Start Without You’.
Chiddy Bang feat. Icona Pop – ’Mind Your Manners’
Buy: Mind Your Manners (Feat. Icona Pop)
The second single from his Breakfast album, ‘Mind Your Manners’ is a meal you could skip without much loss. The high-pitched kid-sung chorus isn’t half bad but does dangle into the box of irritating, especially when it’s looped in the song’s dying moments, but the rap verses are nothing special and have very little bite. It’s taken almost a year to reach these shores and, to be honest, it’s not really been worth the wait. There’s a fun feel to it but it gets very annoying, very quickly thanks to the saccharine secondary vocals scattered throughout the three-and-a-half minutes.
Gary Barlow & The Commonwealth Band – ’Sing’
Buy: Sing EP
Written by Barlow and Andrew Lloyd-Webber and reputed to feature Prince Harry on tambourine (no, I’m not making this up), this is the official song for the Queen’s diamond jubilee. Featuring over 200 singers and musicians from all over the world, including the Military Wives choir, it’s thankfully a hundred times better than his ‘The Collective’ single from last November. Featuring a memorable chorus that builds throughout the song, a simple and beautiful piano riff and young choir combination at the start, and even managing time to slot in some bagpipes and a Kenyan group, both singing and playing panpipes, it is very much in the style of classic Take That but avoids becoming too saccharine. All the different elements that change throughout the song never sound separate and it flows beautifully, pulling in all manner of elements from across the globe. A very enjoyable 60th anniversary present for her Majesty.
Karima Francis – ’Wherever I Go’
Buy: Wherever I Go
Hailing from Blackpool, she sadly isn’t a rock artist so I can’t make a poor pun. What I can say, though, is that she has recorded a touching ballad backed with a pleasant, flowing backing tune. The acoustic guitar sections match her vocals well and the song builds to a powerful ending and her voice shows off its strength. That said, the song isn’t particularly revolutionary lyrically or thematically but what is there sounds great and this Tracey Chapman-sounding singer should do well, but not too sure about this example of her material.
Lawson – ’When She Was Mine
Buy: When She Was Mine
Ticking all the boxes of indie / rock, this debut single from Lawson is a catchy slice of pop rock with all the staples of singing about lost love, a short guitar solo and a charismatic front man. It doesn’t really do anything unexpected over its running time but it’s reassuring to hear a new band who can deliver well-written lyrics with a laid back chorus that makes you enjoy a record, with an added hooky end that gives the track a boost in the closing minute.
The Maccabees – Went Away
Buy: Went Away
The third cut from their latest album, ‘Went Away’ is dominated by its repeating drum pattern and ethereal vocals of Orlando Weeks at the start before becoming decidedly more unusual and experimental. It’s a song that you can listen to but not really take in. The experience of listening is fun while it lasts but there’s nothing really amongst the jumble of vocals and instruments that really sticks with you and it just feels like four minutes of audio rather than an actual song.
Martin Solveig – ’The Night Out’
Buy: The Night Out
The fifth single from Martin Solveig’s most recent album, will ‘The Night Out’ be the song to overtake ‘Hello’ as his best and most pop-culture invading hit? Well, no is the answer, but that doesn’t mean this is a bad release. All the elements of his style are there with a ‘Hey Baby’ hook that sticks with you but it doesn’t have the overall catchiness of his breakthrough hit. That said there is a welcome guitar riff and synth line hiding under the production and the chorus is fun and buzzing. A safe, pleasant summer hit for those BBQ playlists.
Paul Weller – ’When Your Garden’s Overgrown’
Buy: When Your Garden’s Overgrown
The third release from his chart topping Sonic Kicks album, it’s no ‘That Dangerous Age’, his previous single, lacking the top production of that song. Mixing elements of synth together with Weller’s growly sleepy vocals, it’s not a particular exciting release and, at times, sounds a little messy, as if the producer has tried to throw too much in at once. The chorus does stand up a little from the rest of the track but it’s not a particularly strong release from the former Jam frontman.
Rihanna – ’Where Have You Been’
Buy: Where Have You Been
Another month and another Rihanna release, this time with ‘Where Have You Been’. Calvin Harris’ presence on the tracks production is obvious with its nods towards ‘We Found Love’. It starts off promisingly as the elements build up towards the crescendo of another classic Rihanna pop / rnb hit but eventually it just descends into a mash-up of club clichés. The simple repetition of the title works and the verses are strong, but the frequent breaks into instrumental sections make this single seem muddy and confused as if lots of things are being thrown into the production to see which ones work. Not a bad follow-up but certainly not one of RiRi’s strongest tracks and continues her down the path of becoming a tad too repetitive.
Rudimental feat. John Newman – ’Feel The Love’
Buy: Feel The Love (Feat. John Newman)
With Newman on vocals, ‘Feel The Love’ is an easy-going song with calming vocals that appear at odds with the frantic backing; it’s like it wants to be a big club hit but the singer wants to sound more indie. Throwing in a brass breakdown certainly adds to the tune and there are some surprisingly good changes of style in the song. It’s a slow grower and becomes more enjoyable after its first few listens but perhaps outstays its welcome as it runs out of things to say.
Ultravox – Brilliant
The title track from their new album after reforming in 2009 will naturally lead to the obvious “it’s OK, but certainly not Brilliant”. After a promising, classic Ultravox-sounding riff, you find out that the genius of tracks such as ‘Vienna’ or ‘The Voice’ to name two songs isn’t really present and Midge’s dreary, pondering vocals get over-powered by the synth noise. There are some inspired lyrics scattered around the track but the end product is confused and wishy-washy. Disappointing.
Wretch 32 feat. Ed Sheeran – ’Hush Little Baby’
Buy: Hush Little Baby
Taking the lullaby as a starting point, but certainly not being as integral to the song as Eminem’s ‘Mockingbird’ was, this matchup of Wretch 32 and Ed Sheeran vocals is a great balance. Sheeran’s choruses are great when stripped back and add to the overall emotional feel to the record. The mix of piano with Wretch 32’s rapping and Sheeran’s vocals carries the song and though it thinks itself more touching and heartfelt than it actually is, it’s much more credible than your average rap record.