This week’s single releases – 17 February
Andy Grammer – ‘Keep Your Head Up’
Buy: Keep Your Head Up
I really enjoyed 2011’s ‘Fine By Me’ and this re-release of his first single and debut album opener is another fun track – but one that lacks the same gorgeous hook that graced ‘Fine By Me’. That said, it’s a very summery track and has feel-good running all the way through it. With shades of ‘Fine By Me’ in its sound, it’s difficult to listen to this without a smile on your face. A great slice of feel-good pop.
Drake – ‘Started From The Bottom’
Buy: Started From the Bottom
This is the first single from Drake’s upcoming third album and continues his singles that haven’t particularly impressed me. Based around an overly repetitive riff that is only memorable because it is repeated so many times and sticks in your head because of that, it includes lots of unnecessary explicit content in lieu of any good ideas and quickly runs out of any momentum. A tedious, uninspiring record that sounds like the most boring football chant you’ve ever heard put to a bass-beat.
Joe Cocker – ‘Fire It Up’
Buy: Fire It Up
The titular track from Cocker’s newest album, ‘Fire It Up’ is quite a soulful addition to his back catalogue, with his voice not as gruff as I remember it. Production-wise it is pretty straight forward, with Cocker’s voice and those of his backing singers keeping the track going. It’s not the most exciting record he’s ever released but it’s a pleasing feel-good record with a chorus filled with gusto, it builds up its power as its elements come together as the record reaches its conclusion, though I’m not sure about the croaking wail at the end! ‘Fire It Up’ proves Cocker has still got it, well worth a listen.
Kate Nash – ‘3am’
Nash’s first single from her March-released ‘Girl Talk’ album is much more accomplished than her previous big hits and it sounds like she’s finally decided to sing rather than talk through the records. Fast-paced and unrelenting, ‘3am’ boasts a catchy style and feels like a grower. Though lacking any breathing space as if she’s rattling through a long sheet of lyrics, it’s a jaunty, enjoyable piece of indie-pop with a pretty good chorus. A welcome, if not massively strong, comeback from Nash and sounds promising for her new album.
Marina and the Diamonds – ‘E.V.O.L.’
Available for free from her website as part of a Valentine’s Day promo, we get another track from Diamandis literally days after her latest single. In a reversal of ‘love’ in a way I’m sure someone must have done before, this is unmistakably her sound, with echoes of quite a few of her previous tracks, so there is a lack of originality over its four minutes. That said, it’s another stomper of a track, though a little bit darker than her usual material. The chorus is pretty catchy and thoroughly singable but the rest merges too much into her previous catalogue, though as a fan it’s nice to hear something fresh from Marina and it’s a great piece of pop.
Miss 600 – ‘Hello’
‘Miss 600’ are a group that I’ve enjoyed since I first heard ‘Twist’. Under-rated and lacking the exposure they should have, ‘Hello’ is another track very much in the same vein as their debut and ‘Typically Me’: perky but with a very similar sound. Fusing jazz with pop to create a neat sound this, though, is my least favourite of their three songs so far due to less of a graspable hook or concept, but is still a jaunty single even if the backing appears too repetitive. Their album out on the 25th Feb is a must buy for me.
One Direction – ‘One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks) (Comic Relief)’
Buy: One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks)
I do hope one year they’ll release a ‘Comic Relief’ song that isn’t a cover, but until then we get a scratchy guitar-cover of the Blondie stalking-classic, mixed in with the Undertones ‘Teenage Kicks’. Now I embrace the concept of the mash-up, it’s almost up there with Jedward’s ‘Under Pressure’ and ‘Ice Ice Baby’ as a spot-on concept even if the song was dubious, but the record comes across as a lacklustre karaoke cover. The chorus, especially when it merges with both songs, really works but otherwise, once you’ve got past the fun opening, in the verses, it’s off. It’s for charity so put your hand in your pocket for it, but I’d hope for better. Not a patch on the original. Plus, it’s out this week – where’s the official video?
Sinead O’Connor – ‘4th And Vine’
Buy: 4th & Vine
O’Connor’s brand new single ‘4th and Vine’ took me by surprise. I was expecting a gloomier track than what we get here; I somehow expected Sinead to produce something less happy than this. With a retro-feel and an upbeat production, it’s quite folky in its approach but it does feel like a relentless stream of lyrics without a notable chorus, and some of the lyrics feel a tad derivative and simple, such as her listing off her make-up arrangements and plans for marriage. It’s great to hear O’Connor back but I can take or leave this track as it seems to trundle along without any real sense of purpose or tune.
Theme Park – ‘Tonight’
Now this is more like it. Soulful, 70s sounding and as smooth as an otter in a car wash, as Lee Mack would say. With a laid-back cool feel, this sounds like it’s come out of a previous decade. With echoes of MGMT and that sound of stripped-back laid-back indie, it might be a little straight-forward and lacking any major lighters-out moments, but it’s a great four minutes of relaxing chill-out indie pop that sounds like the best song that Barry White never recorded.
Two Door Cinema Club – ‘Next Year’
Buy: Next Year
The third single from their ‘Beacon’ album, ‘Next Year’ is the first one of their songs that I’ve fully enjoyed. With some speedy interesting guitar work and a well-constructed chorus, this keeps you involved for its length, with its mixture of synth, ELO-style effects and singable moments that builds well. Worth a listen and a bit of a grower.
Tyler James feat. Kano – ‘Worry About You’
Buy: Worry About You [Explicit]
The second single from his single album, James’ ‘Worry About You’ is a falsetto ode with additional rap vocals from Kano. Nicely produced, it has a memorable, multi-layered chorus and a well-created musical track, and pretty much flows along boyband-style and introduces its elements gradually. Kano’s work adds a little variety into the record and kicks it off well, but it remains a little middle-of-the-road but does grow with each listen and shows its magic soon after.