"...Indeed, it's an obnoxious club anthem, with a chorus ripped straight from Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream", but it's jam packed with (other) hooks, has some top notch yelping from Christina, and is no doubt aeons ahead of the dull "Not Myself Tonight"..."
READ MY REVIEW OF "YOUR BODY" HERE.
"I Know You Care"
After all the chirpy synthpop anthems on Lights, it was inevitable that Halcyon would be the "difficult" second album. And indeed it is, and it's a hard record to warm to. Despite a misleadingly uplifting and familiar-sounding single, "Anything Could Happen", on Halcyon as a whole, the butterfly-winged voice of Ms Goulding is no longer accompanied by chopped-up folky guitars and crisp poppy beats. Instead we've got dubsteppy beats, thick walls of electronic sound, and reverb heavy soundscapes. It's not a bad record at all, and it fact it does retain just enough personable character and melody to allow for a little maturity and emotional self-indulgence.
However, one song aside from "ACH" is instantly likeable on the album, and that's the piano ballad "I Know You Care". It's new ground for Ellie in many ways. The only other acoustic number of note in her back catalogue is "Your Song", which was twee and light, sickly in a way, like a Britain's Got Talent entry. "I Know You Care" however, with its gentle piano bobbing up and down like a buoy on a calm sea, showcases a surprisingly restrained vocal from Ellie, one that allows meaning behind the words to resonate. For the first time, the fragility in Ellie's lyrics and voice are really allowed to shine.
"...closer to Avril Lavigne pop than to the country anthems of yore, but the hooks are irresistible, the chorus is insanely moreish, and Taylor's voice is twangy and gutsy, and it's quite simply the perfect song for her."
READ MY REVIEW OF "22" HERE.
"Thinking About You" (feat. Ayah Marar)
Fans of older Calvin Harris material frequently turn their noses up at his newer, more profitable, commercial direction. However, the fact is, this transition from solo artist>producer to producer>solo artist makes his tracks much more tuneful and song-focused than his new-found peers Guetta and Swedish House Mafia. On album highlight "Thinking About You". Credible upcoming pop singer Ayah Marar provides a housey vocal that suits Harris' ibiza-friendly chord sequences perfectly, and the whole track is a perfect meeting of 2004 house and 2012 dance. Say what you like about Harris, but to his credit, he never completely abandons his roots.
From feature to focus, Ayah Marar has an underground credibility with a voice to conquer the charts. "The Raver" is the best of both worlds. Like DJ Fresh's "Hot Right Now" but much, much later at night after a lot of drinks and whatever else, "The Raver" breakbeats its way into oblivion and Marar's voice is sexy and sultry as it effortlessly rides the raging beat. A truly invigorating crossover track that could well set in motion a real drum & bass revival in the charts, one that DJ Fresh has been very much alone in instigating thus far.
"Talk Through The Night"
Dog is Dead
Indiepop is nauseatingly oversaturated in 2012, you can't move without tripping over an Alt-J or an Of Monsters and Men. However, the good thing about an increased output is that the likelihood of coming across a brilliant tune is tenfold. "Talk Through The Night" is everything an indie anthem should be: youthful, exuberant, nostalgic and, above all, irritatingly catchy. Yet Dog is Dead manage all of this and still manage to be endearing and likeable. Maybe there is hope for indie yet.
Bat For Lashes
A lady who can seemingly do know wrong, Bat For Lashes aka singer/songwriter Natasha Khan, takes a more anthemic, 80s-tinged approach to her wistful, haunting pop on long-awaited third record The Haunted Man, and "Oh Yeah" embodies all its best qualities. Khan's voice is delirious and fluttering as ever, almost lustful as she cries "here am I, looking for a lover to climb inside", and the pivotal synth hook is punchy and striking in a bold step into new sound territory. If Khan had only hinted at anthemic before, it's clear she is warming up more and more to the idea.
"The Mother We Share"
If Purity Ring cheered up and stopping singing about sternums and teeth clicking they might sound as glorious as scottish electropop act CHVRCHES do on "The Mother We Share". Musically majestic with pop-perfect hooks and a gorgeous melody, this track really shines in its lyrics. Describing a dying relationship, bound together by "the mother we share", the message is gorgeous and poignant. A pop song that can be perfectly pitched lyrically and musically whilst still finding space for creative flair is rare. And judging by the quality of their earlier single "Lies" also, this rare skill is abundant in CHVRCHES.
"Mainline" (feat. Syron)
"..."Mainline" itself is out and out 90s, more than a little Inner City with unashamadly hooky and flirtatious brass synths and organ basslines, but its balearic feel is still unmistakably Tensnake. And Syron, for a white girl, she can't half pull off a camp diva growl..."
READ MY REVIEW OF "MAINLINE" HERE.
"Tidal Wave" (feat. Alpines)
"..."Tidal Wave" takes the angelic, La Roux-esque vocals of Alpines, and pairs it with an epic yet jagged edged march that bursts into break-beat just as you get comfy with it, synth fireworks abound..."
READ MY REVIEW OF "TIDAL WAVE" HERE.