Saturday, January 24, 2004

Singles going steady:

Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" sounds like what the Strokes would, were they more interesting. Plus, their name is loads better.

"Yeah" sounds like Usher getting crunk, in a PG-13 kinda way. Lil' Jon actually makes sense here, yelling/growling his way through the track. Ludacris sounds a bit more tossed in for extra commercial security - there's none of the magic of the "U Don't Have To Call" remix.

The title track of Will Young's Friday's Child is perfect pop, period. Will's voice has got that little quaver to it, akin to Squeeze's Glenn Tilbrook, and this is an easygoing, '60s-easy-listening-influenced record that is nonetheless utterly contemporary. The strings and woodwinds give it a very classy touch, but it ultimately comes down to Will, and he gets it across effortlessly. I believe this will be his followup to "Leave Right Now."

Also on an easy-listening tip, but much more profoundly so, is Air. The raves (and not-raves) for Talkie Walkie are already flooding the blogworld; the Frenchmen have moved years beyond their initial start in the somewhat-electronic sphere. "Cherry Blossom Girl" is classy, not kitschy, adult pop that no one's made since - oh, their countryman Serge Gainsbourg? Relaxing but not sleepy, this might well be their finest single yet.

And then of course there's the new favorite obsession of numerous music geeks (and a possible top 20 record in tomorrow's new UK singles chart), the Scissor Sisters. The advance word on their forthcoming full-length says that it may fulfill promises ignored by the recent likes of The Rapture (but one example), insofar as they're a band whose songs have been kicking around filesharing networks for some time now, but their proper debut may actually live up to expectations (at least, that's what Paul's implied to me). They're certainly getting folks very excited by virtue of their new single, an astounding cover of "Comfortably Numb." The lazy reviewer would say Bee Gees do Pink Floyd - but like I said, that's lazy. Scissor Sisters seem to live in a universe in which, as one review I recently read put it, the '70s are a musical genre unto themselves. But there's '80s here, as well, especially in the production. And the chorus is simply keyb-driven pop nirvana, augmented by the heavily (and heavenly) multitracked vocals. Really, "Numb" is a single unlike any you'll likely hear in 2004. That's a very, very good thing; can't wait to hear the album.

Space Cowboy's "Put Your Hand In Mine," meanwhile, is quality, goes-down-easy tracky disco-house. You already know if you like this kinda thing, right? [cf. his/their '02 cover of "I Would Die 4 U" - it won't change the world, or your life, but it'll make it brighter for 6:32.]

"Do You Still Want To Buy Me That Drink (Frank)" proves that Lorrie Morgan's voice is still sterling, burnished brass, maybe even better than it was during her early-'90s hitmaking heyday. The song itself, however, sounds not very different from her run then, which is both a blessing and a curse. It's good, but it sure would've been nice to hear Morgan come back with a slightly updated sound.

Beyoncé's "Me, Myself and I" is a slinky, midtempo grower with a superb video.

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