Following on from part 1 – busking it, more great songs from last year.
So much to love about this. For starters, it’s Annie and she’s still as ace, different and lovely as ever. Her breathless, almost ethereal stacatto vocals undercut by a questioning echo are an utter delight and work really well against Richard X’s production which appears to have nicked a bassline from Popcorn. And there’s a 90s boy-band style key change at the end, though that’s not the only surprise.
A song about the human spider, Alain Robert – almost a shame they didn’t get him to star in the video really. A simple song about a complex man, fun, breezy and joyous from start to finish. Why did I overlook Hafdis for so long, and why have I failed to see her live in London? And do I just have a weakness to icy voiced nordic maidens? Possibly.
The Whitest Boy Alive – Island
Enough of the effortlessly cool then, time for the nerdy and awkward getting to rock out. I was pleasantly surprised by the first Whitest Boy Alive album, Erlend Oye was always my favourite of the pair in the Kings of Convenience and only part of that was because he was so obviously the nerdy awkward one on their album covers. There’s a hesitance to the underlying beat of this song that fascinates me, and the way the instruments come in and build up play around and then slowly depart has the atmosphere of a 12inch mix but seems just to be there to allow the band to expand on their theme.
I mentioned this track earlier in the year because I was so fascinated with the sound of it, especially when I found it was based on Royksopp’s remix of a rather decent Japanese orignal by Eri Nobuchika. Hearing this song was the moment that Junior clicked for me and I finally felt that I could forgive Royksopp for The Understanding which is, listenning to it now a good album ruined by a single song (49%). I guess the genius of this – and it rests back in the Japanese original too – is the combination of an aggresively modern sound with a lament for what we’ve lost.
I’ve always been of the camp that preferred The Knife’s version of Heartbeats to Jose Gonzales’ cover (remember him?) but had never quite had an album by The Knife gel enough with me to make it a choice favourite. Karin from The Knife in her Fever Ray guise is somehow much easier on the ears without compromising on the sound. The kind of haunted lullaby I suspect you need when you’re close to the midnight sun.
Still to come: France!, ElectroygoodnSS and my innevitable devouring of American indie.