Singles reviews | Arctic Monkeys, Britney Spears, Fall Out Boy, Rahiem DeVaughn, Robbie Williams
By Neil Kulkarni
Reprinted from F.U.N.K. with permission… and, as I wrote last month, it is highly recommended that you go have a look over there for his latest, full, glorious, 4,500 word long, Singles Column explosion of rage, outrage, simmering rage, love and – yes – music criticism.
ONE FOR THE ROAD
Quality. Legends. Sloppy. Erectile dysfunction. Celibate. Forgettable. Yup, everything that 10/10 from the NME led you to believe. They had way more feel, more heat, when they started out I reck. (Sidetrack – AM are yet another shouldabeenonehitwonders of the 00s – sometimes I think we’d have lost nothing if albums had been banned for that whole decade and bands’ first singles were all we had.) Now losing whatever they had in floppy pendulous shapeless pomposity, that Vegas air slowing them to a plod as dull as QOTSA’s ‘Make It Wichu’. This sounds like Chris Moyles’ idea of ‘experimental’, like The Stereophonics zany new ‘disco direction’, like bleedin’ Hard-Fi fer chrissakes. Epic. Boosted as somehow AM at their ‘blackest’, their ‘danciest’ (uggh) just cos they coo octave-split vocals on the chorus and the click track’s been bonged-slower a few notches. You’d have to have been found swaddled in a wicker basket in a forest clearing and bought up and reared by wankers to ever consider this anything other than time-marking bollocks of the most tedious kind. Legends. A guaranteed in-at-12 out the next week non-hit doubtless already embedded into the editing suites (smartly, Alex sings “to the relegation zone” early on, he no dummy) at Talksport and the Sky F1 channel for judicious cutting and disseminating through the ever-lucrative medium of sports-montage right now. Decent. Look away and hold yr nose. Chapman Bridge for snobs. FAKE sound of Vegas. Quality.
SINGLE OF THE MONTH ONE
Unpopular. A poxy 37million hits (vs 93mill for Gaga’s latest, 161mill for Perry’s) but I love this. I love the way it’s been rushed out at Britney’s behest and Will.I.Am is hopping mad (cos it’s unrepresentative of the album). May more stars be this smart, this freewheeling. I love the way it doesn’t even pretend to have a verse or a chorus, and is pretty much just a steady build and blast of jacked-up electro over which Britney marshalls the aggravation masterfully, slipping between accents (her British accent is ACES) and varying degrees of listener-baiting with the steely grace of a her octave-jumping peal the only concession to melody, the rest like some freaky Lambourghini-speed mash-up of The Ones’ ‘Flawless’ and Wildchild’s ‘Renegade Master’. Exquisitely unmusical trouble-making on the one hand. On the other, a record that’s offers a disturbing, triumphant, body-rockingly thrilling snapshot of how tough you have to be to live through this. Actually good enough to make me want to hear it, too loud (the whole thing is gloriously too loud) in a club with other human beings. Better than the entire recorded works of Bob Dylan and no mistake. True sound of Vegas.
FALL OUT BOY
They have no right to do this to me.
How dare they make me feel this bad? What rotters. What meanies. What a perfectly beastly song in every way. The kind of song you want to punch in the face, repeatedly, finding the weak point in the facial structure, and then punching that spot over and over, again and again with increasing force and fury, preferably with a heavy-gauge ball bearing in your palm, until little shards of the song’s nose-bone are embedded in your knuckles. Shut UP shut UP shut UP.
Fashionably unplugged acoustic oompah bollocks musically and then, vocally, that hateful thing so much ‘anthemic’ music does these days – that kind of soaring simpleton holler to the heavens everyone’s on a ce moment (see also Bastille, Arcade Fire – who could also be blamed for starting this shit, Lumineers, Fun, Katy Perry, even Derulo now…) meant I’m sure to imply/recall/become a kind of open-throated end-of-the-night wail at the wonder at the universe, coming over as the kind of hateful studenty bellowing singalong shit you scowl at from the gap in the curtains at & can’t help wishing will get scooped up by the wrong kind of cab-driver, then groomed into a lifelong nightmare of white slavery and degradation i.e reality shows and reunion tours. No right at all you future botox-addicts. How dare they make me feel so bad.
SINGLE OF THE MONTH FOUR
MAKE EM LIKE YOU
(Mass Appeal Entertainment)
Lovely, bass heavy, slo-mo psychedelic soul from Rahiem, somewhere triangulated tween D’Angelo, Prince & Outkast. The voice that’s been 16-rpm’d to a crawl and the skanking organ, the surprising gloriously open-ended chord changes and the stuck-in-a-mud groove make ‘Make Em’ into a slab of darkness akin to New Kingdom trying to break into the panty-peeling quiet-storm market. Superb lo-end romance to be played end to end with the Butthole Surfers. Me very much like.
The bleating cowardice of the regretful Redcoat, the remorseful clown. Robbie wants to slip into the calm places inbetween our entirely justified loathing of him, here reduces his voice to as anodyne and smooth a place as Roger Whittaker (he even fkn whistles!), his lyrics shorn of the usual dumpkopf pith and punnery and buzzword sloganeering, the arrangement committed to safely couching him amidst the Matt Monros and Frankie Vaughans of all our easy-listening yesterdays. Unfortunately, even listening to the pure audio without any imagery you can’t shake that fucking Chris Evans smirk from your vision, that simpering neediness that is not just his default facial setting but also the bedrock of his soul. You’ve got all the money. Now fuck off and spend it, and don’t come back until you’re willing to fall apart more publically, more disastrously, more shamefully than you ever have before. Bald, naked, pissing-and-shitting-yourself on X Factor style shame please. It is, right now, pretty much all you’re ever going to be good for.