Clash Reviews The Singles (Of January 27)

Britney, 'Brain Cells', and some Young Fathers...
Young Fathers

Shoots of hope in this week’s batch, as the festive rot seems to have receded enough for fresh sounds to make their marks on the singles market. Kinda.

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Gorgon City feat. MNEK – ‘Ready For Your Love’

So what we have here is a London production duo called Dreadful Town – ‘Gorgon’ coming from the ancient Greek ‘gorgós’, translating as ‘dreadful’. Break that down further: Awful Buildings. And one more time: Terrible House. Except ‘Ready For Your Love’ isn’t actually all that bad – it bounces in all the places you expect it to, and MNEK’s vocal is a powerful central presence that is never overpowered by the bassline. There’s more than a suggestion of Groove Armada’s ‘My Friend’ in the underlying shimmer – but since when did pop not recycle itself? Whether you put this out with the empty tins and cereal boxes is your call – but maybe leave it a couple of weeks, as they come back around regularly enough.

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Britney Spears – ‘Perfume’

Britney Spears is still only 32. But she’s released eight albums and scored five number one singles in the UK alone. 1998’s ‘…Baby One More Time’ is one of the greatest-selling singles of all time. She’s had a few breakdowns between that global-smash debut and now – but that she’s here in 2014, releasing material that isn’t wholly throwaway or trading exclusively on past successes, is worth celebrating somewhat. The mid-tempo ‘Perfume’ has the mark of co-writer Sia Furler all over it, and doesn’t come close to the dizzy heights of career peaks ‘Toxic’, ‘Boys’ and ‘I’m A Slave 4 U’. But it’s not ‘Criminal’ either, which is something.

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Elbow – ‘New York Morning’

Since 1998, when Britney burst onto the pop scene, Mercury winners back when Elbow have managed just five studio albums, to date (as a sixth, ‘The Take Off And Landing Of Everything’, is due in March). Keep up, lads. They’ve also never released a song as great as ‘Toxic’ – but then, most people haven’t. ‘New York Morning’ sounds like an Elbow song: sort of big, but rather sedate with it, with those vocals that hint at giving a shit but still shuffle with a distinct lethargy. What more do you need to know about it, really?

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Maxïmo Park – ‘Brain Cells’

Not for Newcastle’s Maxïmo Park, the repetition of familiar tropes. ‘Brain Cells’, from the band’s new album ‘Too Much Information’ (review), is a sleekly minimalist number that embraces the cold thud of electronic percussion and brings it warmth. Much like Wild Beasts’ forthcoming ‘Present Tense’ LP, this collision of the tried-and-tested with the archaic-yet-new (in the context) works wonders in showcasing the core songwriting strengths of the act in question.

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Half Moon Run – ‘Full Circle’

There are too many earnest young sorts presently filling pop with worries before its time. But let’s pluck Montreal’s Half Moon Run from the hook for the meantime, as even coming some time after its initial release – the video below was posted in March 2012 – ‘Full Circle’ is just lovely. It’s the handclaps that make it – that and, judging by the comments beneath said video, its use in a popular videogame’s trailer

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Young Fathers (pictured) – ‘Get Up’

Ages ago now, I wrote something about how Scotland-based multinational trio Young Fathers could be a Massive Attack-important act for the 21st century, crunching a colourful cavalcade of influences into a coherently singular sound – into something simultaneously global and local. And I totally stand by that now. ‘Get Up’ is one of this act’s more accessible selections from new album ‘Dead’ (review), but in its menacing buzzes you hear the darkness that permeates much of its parent LP. Which you should buy, obviously.

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