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Friday, September 17, 2004

DURAN DURAN - Want You More
This must be what it's like to come full circle, I think. Back in the early 80s, I was barely old enough to know half the words in the songs I heard on the radio, but I played Duran Duran's Wild Boys 45 to death, largely because of the live version of Cracks In The Pavement on the flip, which I loved to death. My indie years predicted more than ten years before they occurred.

Still, having never listened to those old albums, their crash down to earth, popularity-wise, never bothered me. Notorious is as good a single as Ordinary World. By the time I'd realised that Out Of My Mind was in fact quite brilliant, the fact that they were marginalised didn't bother me. I didn't like popular music ANYWAY.

Today I love popular music. Today Duran Duran are making music that sounds like it fits. Want You More is sexy. Well its components are, especially the bass. And Simon Le Bon's lusty vocals in the chorus are terrific - it may be his best pop vocal performance since, ooh... Wild Boys. But really, it's all about the sexy crushing dynamics. Even the keyboard riff at the beginning takes you back to the Rio album, and the chorus is as loud and bold as anything off their debut. Sounds like a big single to me, but then again the worst song on their new album is the first single, so there goes that...


# 10:33 PM []
GIRLS ALOUD - Androgynous Girls (or, let's never fight again, Brian Higgins!)
Okay, now THIS is much more like it. Tucked away on the flip of the Love Machine CD is this rather fetching number, in which the musical template of Jump (For My Love) is toned down a little, given a different melody on top of it with lots of delightful lyrical non-sequiturs and bits that remind me of LOTS AND LOTS of other songs. It appropriately doesn't sound that far away from Garbage's Androgyny - the bass is a close cousin but a lot faster. There also must be some cross-pollenisation of ideas with that arm of Xenomania that's responsible for Mania.

Not immediate enough to be a single, certainly. If this is indeed their INDIE PHASE, then putting out a single with a superior B-side is appropriate. Rockists have been known to express an appreciation for the Aloud, so this is what's called covering your bases, a tactic which works best when coupled with a genuinely good song. The longing vocals in the pre-chorus - "Angels dressed in leather!" indeed - are probably the highlight, but the chorus belongs to the same girl-gang lineage of No Good Advice. Needs a swaying keyboard line, though.

I won't put this up for download because it's already purchasable. (If you're outside the UK and want to hear it, leave a comment) But for the record, while walking home from work last night, the verses of Love Machine were running through my head. Still don't like the chorus much, but it is growing on me. Very slowly. So, can you forgive me, Brian? I doubt you no more.
# 1:07 PM []

Thursday, September 16, 2004

DANNII MINOGUE - You Won't Forget About Me
How on earth did it happen? How is it possible that it's Dannii Minogue not Kylie whose new stuff I anticipate more? Her opus Neon Nights only came out last year so it's not as if it's been a long wait (there were six years between Girl and Neon Nights). I guess I love the way Dannii is more insecure, the way she's unashamedly club-happy and probably takes more risks. I think I hear more of her personality than I do in Kylie's recent hits. Always with a tenuous grip on record deals, never (up until now) having a captive commercial audience for her next release, Dannii knows that first singles have to be events and that a Slow just won't do.

So her copping popular instrumental track Flower Power and writing some lyrics over it doesn't seem like laziness (I'm looking at you here, George Michael), it sounds like someone engaging with the scene they're in. And the song that's been placed over it is a good one, certainly this would not have stuck out on the consistently excellent Neon Nights.

Dannii just sounds comfortable over the sweet strings and the choppy guitar bits and I like how she manages to sound achingly vulnerable about it all despite the song being an assertion that YOU won't forget about HER. She sounds like she's finally found her comfortable niche, an identity separate from her sister at last, and (this is sad) this makes me happy on a personal level. Certainly if she keeps coming up with great pop singles like this, it'll be a win for everyone. Certainly, this sounds like a winner in a club, and she's not made the mistake of pressing The Big Pink Button too hard. Her first Number One, perhaps?

# 10:31 AM []

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

BRITNEY SPEARS - My Prerogative
Dear Bloodshy and Avant,

Farting bass noises are so out k thx bye.

Edward O.

Seriously though, this is underwhelming. I quite liked Britter's ill-advised but gawky and cute strut through Satisfaction but her covers are generally atrocious. This one isn't really atrocious, but Bobby Brown is not the sort of artist worth covering in your sexy robot voice. Nothing really fits or clicks, she doesn't bring that much of an interesting perspective to the song (you'd think Britney, of all people, would be able to declare that she can do what she wants with a more convincing statement than this, wouldn't you), it's not sonically that interesting and EVEN THOUGH it will help little people all around the world to spell and speak the word "prerogative" correctly (it has, over the years, morphed into "PER-og-a-tive" to my chagrin) this is indulgent and boring.

You might, I suppose, be able to find this at wobforums.com - I wouldn't post it because that would be taking credit for the person who found and uploaded it there.
# 1:39 PM []

Monday, September 13, 2004

In which Edward talks about Annie Annie Annie! (specifically, Me Plus One)
She's from Norway, if you didn't know. Chewing Gum is out in the UK today. She has shown a complete disregard for the rule that says naming your album after a rubbish pun is a bad idea, and called her album Anniemal.

Anniemal is great great great. Anniemal takes up where 80s club-kid Madonna left off with Everybody, which is sampled on the now-infamous The Greatest Hit - many of these songs sound like what Madonna might have done next if Burning Up hadn't fallen into her lap. Best of all of these is Me Plus One, a more joyous 80s sway-a-long hasn't come along in years.

Is that gorgeous noise a stylophone? Is "me plus one" a reference to threesomes, or to Haircut 100? Is the bit where Annie spells out BEAUTIFUL and DIFFICULT the best spelling in a song ever? (Actually, yes on that one). What can be stated with certainty is that this is Annie at her most dance, if you can call her soft but immaculate delivery and the subdued, melancholy disco by such a simple label without doing it a gross injustice.

"Feeling good! I'm top of the pops!" she proclaims, and a lesser, less focused performer would have beamed at how clever she is, but it's but a winsome, high-pitched, girlish beam, and stacked within a stack of great lines delivered with adorable panache, you might not even notice it: "If there ever was a girl who could rock your world then that girl sure is me" she boasts, but at no point on Anniemal does she threaten to rock in the regular sense of the word.

Anniemal is a vibrant, yet intimate record and this is its awkwardly - but lovably so - celebratory heart. [MP3]

UPDATE! Fluxblog is posting this now. So here's another song - Helpless For Love. Any excuse to post another one, eh?
# 7:20 AM []
Also, just because it's been a while, and I know there are fans out there of their previous single, here's X-Ray vs Cortez's delightfully dippy Murder (Boom Boom), yet another high watermark for bad Euro-rappers (mis)appropriating US gangsta slang, including one truly awful, yet unbelievably inspired use of "ding-a-ling" which has to be heard to believed. [MP3]

Not that I was non-existent.. during the first two weeks of September, I was bored by the Soulwax album, repulsed by the UK Top 40 countdown and buoyed in spirit, as ever, by pop. Reviewing The Tension and The Spark this week.
# 7:09 AM []
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