Single Reviews – 1 July
This weeks singles reviewed by guest contributor Philip Lickley.
Andy Grammer – ’Fine By Me’
Buy: Fine By Me
A perky indie breakthrough hit that makes a cheeky nod to George Harrison’s famous cover ‘Got My Mind Set On You’ in its chorus but aside from that it’s an immediately enjoyable track that, though not doing anything particularly revolutionary, is a summer friendly radio pop record with a sing-a-long breakdown and a simple, learnable, chorus book-ended by some quick-paced bouncy verses.
Brandy feat. Chris Brown – ‘Put It Down’
Buy: Put It Down
Not enough tunes open with voice recognition software singing the lyrics, but this new song by Brandy rights that wrong. Channelling Kelly Rowland on this, her first cut from her sixth album, Brandy’s voice does get lost in the heavily over-produced single. Pretty hooky and with Chris Brown sounding refreshingly different or as if he’s parodying Nicki Minaj depending how you look at it, it has its moments but it’s far too schizophrenic in its delivery of different elements that sometimes don’t quite gel as they battle against each other for attention. But it’s a unique sounding track at the moment that grows on you with each listen.
The Darkness – ‘Everybody Have A Good Time’
Buy: Everybody Have A Good Time
A whopping seven years since their last album and single, the camp rockers are back with a brand new single. Taken from upcoming third album Hot Cakes this single is perhaps not the strongest comeback for the band but it captures the feeling of the group perfectly. The verses, with their familiar Darkness sounding drums and Hawkins’ falsetto, are as good as they’ve ever done but the chorus doesn’t quite have the magic of ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ or the second album title track, but you will find yourself singing along to it quite quickly and the guitar solo is great. Thankfully not as bad as Justin’s new facial hair, this should please the band’s old fans and get some new ones. Welcome back The Darkness.
Enter Shikari – ‘Warm Smiles Do Not Make You Welcome Here’
Buy: Warm Smiles Do Not Make You Welcome Here [Explicit]
The fourth single from their A Flash Flood of Colour album is more enjoyable than their previous cut, thankfully, and even if the guitar does sound like one of those old-fashioned PC printers churning out spreadsheets it is a well composed riff. It should do well on radio and is a listenable four minutes of emo-rock that should please the genre fans and the breakdown is a welcome addition – even if they resort to some screamo and off-beat guitars three-minutes in that ruin the great tune they’d been building. It then fades out like they weren’t sure how to end it in the middle of a title-repeating section that salvages the song. Other than the breakdown bit, it’s actually a grower.
The Gossip – ‘Move In The Right Direction’
Buy: Move In The Right Direction
The second single from their fifth album and The Gossip are going from strength to strength with this immediately catchy, poppy track that combines a fast-paced dance beat with Beth Ditto’s top-class vocals. Featuring a great guitar riff section and a cracking electro feel, this is a very strong single from the band with the vocals, instrumentals and backing singing all working in sync and complimenting each other to make this one of the best songs I’ve heard in weeks. It’s just a shame that the song fades out at the end rather than coming back with the chorus, but other than that get it downloaded!
The Lancashire Hotpots – ’The Beer Olympics 2012’
Buy: The Beer Olympics (2012)
It’s perhaps a little cheeky of the band to re-record and re-release a new version of a song from their 2009 second album as a ‘new’ single and track on their sixth album – but it’s well-timed with the Olympics coming this month. A riff on the classic Buck Owens / The Beatles tune ‘Act Naturally’, it doesn’t really do much different to the original but the hilarious lyrics, musical delivery and premise make it a great listen and arguably more stirring than the official Muse song (see next), and certainly much more singable and memorable. With a funny breakdown and enough puns to keep Tim Vine happy it’s a right laugh but if you have the original there’s little point to download this version unless to support the band, which I would recommend of course!
Muse – ’Survival’
Ignore the extended instrumental at the start of the video and skip to the one-minute mark as you don’t get it on the iTunes single download, and then prepare yourself for the first official song of this summer’s Olympics. Refreshingly not referencing space in the song as everything they’ve released recently has, but in all other respects creating a song that sounds so much like Muse it hurts. It combines the familiar Muse sound with a chorus of ‘Oompah Loompah’ chants and stirring victory lyrics. Combining the feel of Freddie Mercury’s ‘Barcelona’‘Innuendo’ as it progresses, it’s a dark track with multiple elements and grows as you listen to it, but I don’t see it particularly matching the feel of victory as it plays over footage of athletes, but more representing their struggle. No change in sound for the Devon lads but it’s not as bad as the internet commentators would make you think even if it does come across as quite dark, pompous and noisy.
Newton Faulkner – ’Clouds’
Newton’s follow-up to ‘Write It On Your Skin’ is not as perky and life-affirming a song, but it’s another smile-inducing song that helps you feel better with a soaring music track and great lyrics. Well worth a listen to put a smile on your face; a beautifully-written relaxing track but maybe struggles with some over-production near the end, though a ear-pleasing chorus helps it along.
Will Young – ’I Just Want A Lover’
Buy: I Just Want A Lover
Not, as you might think from the title, a twist on the Texas track from the opposite perspective, but a throbbing electro single from Young. This fourth single from album Echoes is not as great as ‘Losing Myself’ and ‘Jealousy’ and sits more comfortably on the album as a stand alone single, but there are worse ways to spend three-and-a-half minutes than in the company of this lyrically well written and enjoyable pop sample.