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Music - Singles of the week - Monday, February 4, 2013

IndieLondon gleefully checks out the cream of the week’s singles…

Depeche Mode, Heaven

SINGLE OF THE WEEK: DEPECHE MODEHEAVEN: Depeche Mode have been dropping tantalising news nuggets for weeks about what to expect from their new albmum, Delta Machine, suggesting its a return to the type of sound that really impressed on their Songs of Faith & Devotion era. The first fruits of their recent labour were finally unveiled on February 1, when the new single and video Heaven landed. And it’s a gem. Moody, as only Depeche Mode know how, and cinematic… it also combines beauty and darkness to quietly thrilling effect. It’s a slow-burning record, fuelled by Dave Gahan’s aching central vocal, a sombre piano backdrop and some subtle back-beats. If you loved tracks like Condemnation then this is really going to float your boat.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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The Heartbreaks

EP OF THE WEEKTHE HEARTBREAKSHAND ON HEART EP: Produced and mixed by Tristan Ivemy (Frank Turner, Holloways etc), The Heartbreaks latest offering features a selection of newly recorded material with strings arranged by the legendary James Banbury of The Auteurs (U2, Depeche Mode, Bloc Party etc.) Matthew, vocalist of The Heartbreaks explains the motive of the new release:“We’ve always had a kind of intrinsic sense of drama, but with the addition of strings we were able to truly articulate a feeling of being widescreen, cinematic. Rather than merely ‘sounding big’, we wanted to make music that, like those great Scott Walker, REM and Bunnymen records, was melodic, bold, elegiac… Something conceptual that would, even if just for an EP, take our music beyond its usual guitar and bass sound.” The result is a genuinely feel-good listen. Album favourite Hand on Heart is a lively romp that channels classic Smiths and Bunnymen with sunshine melodies to match its impassioned lyrics. But the pick of the bunch is Why Do You Always Make Me Cry?, a cracking mid-tempo track that combines bittersweet sentiments (“karaoke girl, she’s in another world, but not that good” etc) with superb string and guitar arrangements. It has a cinematic sweep and a real beauty to it. Jealous, Don’t You Know slows down the pace even more for a sombre ballad that is rooted in dark feelings. It’s arguably one of their most mature offerings to date and it’s riveting. And, finally, Close The Curtains, Oh! maintains the bittersweet vibe for another dusky, brooding offering that is immaculately layered and lyrically intelligent to boot. All told, this is quite possibly the best thing they have done so far. Don’t miss out.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Website l Album review

Thao, We The Common

THAO & THE GET DOWN STAY DOWN – WE THE COMMON [FOR VALERIE BOWDEN]: To coincide with the release of We The Common, the new album from San Francisco-based musician and activist Thao Nguyen, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down have announced that the album’s title track will be released as a single on the same day. Inspired by Thao’s first visit to Valley State Prison with the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, We The Common maintains the left-of-centre folk roots of previous single Holy Roller with the addition of a catchy and spirited chorus. The banjo is great, the beats slightly off-kilter but catchy and the vocals typically distinct, yet spirited during that layered, endearing chorus. Indeed, the longer the song lasts, the fuller the sound becomes and you can’t help but get swept along by it. During her first prison visit, Thao met Valerie Bolden, a prisoner that struck a chord with her [hence, the dedication]. She explains more by saying: “We sat down and immediately started talking and joking, almost like old friends. We kept it mostly light, but then she’d matter-of-factly talk about missing her daughters, about believing in God but not understanding what she was supposed to be doing in prison, about not wanting to die behind bars. But she’s sentenced to life without parole. After I left, I found I couldn’t stop thinking about her and the things she told me and the way she told them, and a lot of that ended up in We the Common.” You can’t help but tip your hat to a song that marries leftfield pop-folk appeal with strong message making and storytelling.
Rating: 4 out of 5

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Lawson, Learn To Love Again

LAWSONLEARN TO LOVE AGAIN: Lawson have targeted world domination and a potential hook-up with Katy Perry among recent mission statements. They take another step towards that with new single Learn To Love Again, a pop-rock anthem that combines the bombast of boy bands like The Wanted with the stadium-sized hooks and anthemic chanting of Coldplay to generally engaging effect. It’s deeply melodic, catchy in a head-nodding kind of way, and cheesy in terms of sentiments like all good pop songs should be. Whether Lawson have enough to really break out from the pack and make it on their own terms remains to be seen, but they’re not a bad listen in current form and they’re also shaping up nicely to achieve at least part of their aims.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Bullet For My Valentine, Riot

BULLET FOR MY VALENTINERIOT: With a name like Riot, you weren’t really expecting anything soft from a heavy rock outfit like Bullet For My Valentine were you? Angry, embittered, F-bomb laden and, well riotous, this is a pent-up slice of hard rock aggression that feels loud for the sake of it. The guitar riffs start out stabbing and ugly and wind their way up to frenzied and epic. The chanted chorus, meanwhile, screams out the main refrain of “riot” before dropping in a foreboding “here comes the law”. It’s almost three minutes in length and there’s barely a moment to catch your breath. Hard rock fans will love it; the rest need not apply. The forthcoming album is called Temper Temper, so expect the fury to continue… followed, possibly, by some anger management?
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

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We Were Beautiful, This Town EP

WE WERE BEAUTIFULTHIS TOWN EP: Merseyside based alt-rock quartet We Were Beautiful get their 2013 campaign underway with the release of the new This Town EP. Meshing elements of Biffy Clyro and Funeral For A Friend with a twinge of UK indie that’s designed to help them cross genre boundaries, it’s a loud and lively introduction that boasts potential for the future. Title track This Town combines gritty riff-making with anthemic-style chorus-making and a sometimes howled vocal that should go down well with the Download crowd. The Wolves is an epic that clocks in at over five minutes, complete with biting hooks, Death Do Us Part is an angsty power-ballad that screams out with anguish and drops a chorus that’s high on melody (it’s perhaps the most accessible track), and Jealousy rounds things off with a pedal-to-the-metal head-banger that seems to throw caution to the breeze in its desire to really get heavy. It’s perhaps the least appealing of the four tracks. But, like we said, We Were Beautiful could well be positioning themselves for a solid 2013.
Rating: 3 out of 5

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Booty Luv, Black Widow

BOOTY LUVBLACK WIDOW: It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Booty Luv, the duo responsible for the Bacardi Breezer dance hits back in 2007. Their comeback combines some of the dance elements that helped make them famous in the first place with a sound not dissimilar from Rihanna and countless other wannabes. The result is hugely generic and not particularly good. The lyrics have a dark edge and involve seduction and danger. But they’re not really saying much, while the initial R’n’B inflicted vocals eventually give rise to straight-forward dance (courtesy of the Ibiza leaning synths and slick beats) and a general sense of monotony. A harder, more grinding finale toughens things up a little… but by then it’s too late (and still pretty formulaic).
Rating: 2 out of 5

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Little Mix, Change Your Life

LITTLE MIXCHANGE YOUR LIFE: Oh dear… the mainstream music scene continues to generate more dross than good as evidenced by new Little Mix single Change Your Life. A supposedly empowering tale about “changing your life” for the better, this combines rapped verses with girl group-style, euphoric choruses to generally nauseating effect. The synths are lightweight and generic, the chorus recalls unwanted memories of acts like The Spice Girls and Girls Aloud, and the whole thing has a dispiriting feel that feels tailored for success at any cost.
Rating: 1 out of 5

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