Singles Round Up - November 12th

Maximo Park's Paul Smith in the reviewer's chair...
Maximo Park

Maximo Park are a classic singles band.

The Newcastle outfit seem to craft indie dancefloor stompers at will, leaving a trail of vital seven inches behind them. New album 'The National Health' found the band re-energised, matching stripped back riffs to politicised, socially aware lyrics.

Currently on tour across the UK, Maximo Park are set to release the title cut of their recent album as a standalone single on December 3rd. Seizing the opportunity, we asked frontman Paul Smith to take control of this week's singles column. Here are his thoughts...

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Animal Collective - Applesauce
What is applesauce? I'm not sure but it sounds squelchy, slightly sexless and more than a little ripe. After a minute or so of your first taste it becomes more complex and sweet, like Van Dyke Parkes in a blender. I like bands with ideas and tunes and this song has so many that it gives me the sensation of being shrunken and sealed up inside a Cola-flavoured 'Fizz Wizz' packet of Popping Candy while someone shakes it about a bit.

Lana Del Rey - Ride
The budgets and running lengths are getting bigger for Lana Del Rey's videos but the results are getting more and more ludicrous. In the unintentionally funny 'short film', our second-favourite H & M clothes horse (after Vincent Gallo) sends out the message that prostitution can be glamourous after all, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. The song clings firmly to the middle of the road, obligatory profanity aside, with our listless singer diverting most of her energies into her 'acting', extending the subjugation of women through female stereotypes, enthusiastically smoking and pouting.

Noisettes - I Want You Back
After beginning with a dustbowl slide-guitar Ry Cooder red herring, the controls are set firmly for the heart of the discotheque. This sounds like a robotic piece of mainstream chart pop where the respective back catalogues of Donna Summer and Girls Aloud have been fed into a gigantic 1950s computer that has regurgitated out a flimsy compact disc with this song on it. Amidst the simplistic rhymes, extra points go to any lyric that proudly proclaims, "I'm a trooper!".

Soundgarden - Been Away Too Long
This shouldn't work, but it does. Soundgarden prove that a simple, no-brainer riff goes a long way, even managing to distract the listener from Chris Cornell's skinned cat on a hot tin roof vocals (and his dodgy solo output). I also like the self-referential lyrics that suggest the band have a sense of humour about their prolonged absence, despite the somewhat contradictory efficiency of the song's execution. The line "I only ever really wanted a break" leaves the listener with an image of the long-haired grungers having a cuppa and a Kit Kat, only for fifteen years instead of twenty minutes.

Theme Park - Two Hours
It appears that pop has entered a post-M83 musical landscape where young hopefuls have developed a nostalgia for a late-1980s that they never experienced themselves, with movies like Drive acting as the cinematic equivalent of this stylistic endgame. Of course, this has been happening for the last few years and is typical of fashionable cultural cycles, but it sounds so thoroughly embedded now, especially in this sugary, irony-free single. Sonically, we are in a teenage bedroom where The Lost Boys soundtrack is constantly playing and baggy, lurid shirts are actually good again (which means my tweenage wardrobe could be worn in east London and no-one would bat an eyelid - hurrah, lucky me!).

The Killers - I Want You Back (Here With Me)
Here, The Killers seem to playing a game where they fish a band's name out of a little sack and then they have to mimic the aforementioned act. However, when they pick out Bruce Springsteen's name, the band end up sounding like none other than Bon Jovi in soft-rock, lighters-aloft mode with added 'modern' bleeps and an over-saturation of weepy strings. I admire the vaulting rock star ambition of The Killers, but this misfiring song is a big, vacant haunted-house of industrial-scale emptiness.

The Weeknd - Wicked Games
I like this song because it's similar to the ones you make up with your mates when you put in loads of pointless swearing and make ridiculous post-R Kelly statements in a falsetto voice. The soft rock guitars and Phil Collins-style reverby drums are a bit pongy, but I don't mind the gloomy, fuzz-bass-driven R n' B tune on offer. On the other hand, I do object to the video using a naked female model in a trenchcoat to sell a song, which feels rather cheap in this day and age. Oh, and what happened to the 'e' in the artist's name? It'll keep me up at night, possibly.

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