Single Reviews – 22 July
The pick of the coming weeks single releases from Philip Lickley…
Ben Howard – ’Old Pine’
Buy: Old Pine
Re-released from last year, this song has five-and-a-half minutes to spend in your company so doesn’t do anything quickly, with a lengthy, relaxing intro but when the lyrics start it doesn’t quite have the same promise as it feels like it starts and stops too much. For fans of Alt-J this has echoes of ‘Breezeblocks’ but doesn’t have the vocal hook to match the calming guitar. It’s a pleasant enough, calming track that’s accomplished instrumentally but nothing that will have you coming back for more. It’s just a tad, well, boring.
B.O.B. feat. Taylor Swift – ’Both Of Us’
Buy: Both Of Us
With a guitar sounding like it’s come straight out of Trumpton, it’s a song of two parts as Swift’s enjoyable country-tinged ballad chorus is shoulder-barged out of the way by a thumping Eminem-sounding rap as if it was once two entirely different songs that were accidentally mashed together. It’s fun enough to hear but lacks that B.O.B. magic we’ve come to expect. Sounding not a million miles from Cover Drive’s ‘Sparks’ but with less emotion – though thankfully a better verse – the lyrics are well written and meaningful but the song can’t match musically.
Cedric Gervais – ’Molly’
The sort of song I could imagine myself making if I could be bothered. It’s basically a clichéd dance track with some text-to-speech vocals thrust over the top of it. If you can think of an expected element of a dance track then you’ll get a bingo full house here. If you’ve heard Knife Party’s ‘Internet Friends’ then you’ll appreciate how much of a parody that is of tracks like this. Cliched and samey, but in another respect catchy in its cheesiness, with only the raunchy video likely to get it airplay.
Clement Marfo and the Front Line – ’Champion’
After the incredible ‘Mayhem’ we are back with ‘Champion’. The sporty, catchy opening belies the not quite as good verse – though the trumpeting is great and they get better as the song progresses – but the chorus, though not up to the power of ‘Mayhem’ has a similar anthem chorus and is immediately singable and full of some hooky backings straight from a Hard-FI record. Perfect for the impending Olympics and full of Rocky-style power, this is well recommended though to be perfectly honest they’ve just adapted the winning formula of their previous hit.
Conor Maynard – ’Vegas Girl’
Buy: Vegas Girl
Emptying the bucket of gambling clichés over a thumping electronic beat, this is a fun enough slice of RnB with shades of NSync with an almost rap-like delivery. With some name dropping and a mildly memorable chorus, it has the elements in place for a catchy pop record and it just about succeeds amongst the Timbaland sounding calls and electronic production. Not too shabby and stays on the right side of cheesy.
Jennifer Lopez feat. Flo Rida and Lil Jon – ’Goin’ In’
Buy: Goin’ In
Taken from her upcoming greatest hits this is certainly a disappointment after her recent interesting hits such as her collaboration with Pitbull and appearance on Will.I.Am’s recent solo single. It’s just a little, well, bland with elements you’ve heard from every other dance tune ever. Sorry, J-Lo, this is too derivative to enjoy.
Joss Stone – ’While You’re Out Looking For Sugar’
Buy: While You’re Out Looking For Sugar
Another soul-cover from her upcoming second, er, soul-cover album, it’s not a particularly revolutionary sound but it’s a well-constructed sound and, though the lyrics do wander around the backing tune a little too much – though that goes with the genre, the sunny vibe from the chorus is great and a top showcase for her voice, plus the story told through the lyrics is worth listening to. More summer-y than the weather.
Keane – ’Sovereign Light Café’
Buy: Sovereign Light Café
The band’s third single from their latest album, but only the second to come to my attention, this is once more classic Keane with their signature sound. It doesn’t drift too far from what you’ve heard before but there’s something warm and enjoyable, and comforting, about their singles like this. Great listen with some excellent drumming, contributing well to the break down. This is what nostalgia sounds like musically.
Lucy Rose – ’Lines’
Lyrically interesting but a little too laid-back and airy for my liking, ‘Lines’ by Lucy Rose is a strange beast with some awkward pace and style changes. I wanted to like it for its style but it’s just a little too distant and confused to be a cohesive piece but there is some good talent there.
Madeon – ’Finale’
After his February release ‘Icarus’ this is another pleasurable slice of house that mixes some great layers with a sense of drama and some interesting-sounding vocals, even if the beginning doesn’t suggest it. It’s not going to revolutionise anything but following ‘Icarus’ it suggests promising things for the French producer. A sort of uptempo Royksopp.
Marina & The Diamonds- ’Power & Control’
Buy: Power & Control
Always destined for a single release after hearing it in place on the album, this second release from ‘Electra Heart’ builds from a low-key verse to a thumping, catchy chorus. Though you could argue it’s a little bit repetitive, the use of stuttering and the haunting piano line make this stand out, plus it’s hard to resist singing along. Another great single from Marina.
Sandern Van Doorn and Mayaeni – ’Nothing Inside’
It takes a while to get going on its journey to the six minute mark and mixes its cut back lyric-heavy sections with all out electronic parts. It’s a track with many faces, all of which are worth hearing, but it’s nothing particularly earth-shattering. If you buy the CD I wouldn’t say there’s ‘Nothing Inside’ but it’s hardly Intel quality. Next time, keep the piano and vocal sections and build a song just around those bits.
Status Quo – ’The Winner (Podium Mix)’
Buy: The Winner (Podium Mix)
Adapted from the song on their Quid Pro Quo album in time for the Olympics, they’ve given it a spruce up with a perky, choral opening and though I think it’s a great, anthemic singer for the summer’s sporting occasion, arguably better than Muse’s attempt, I can’t help feeling that Francis Rossi just sounds bored. It’s not a huge leap from every other Quo single – let’s face it they have a reputation to live down to – but it’s a worthy addition to their discography and captures the mood. (7/10)