Mike Atkinson

Stylus Singles Jukebox, 4th April 2005

Posted in singles reviews, Stylus by Mike A on April 4, 2005

Natasha Bedingfield – I Bruise Easily

A glass of Jacobs Creek, a chick-lit paperback, an IKEA settee and thou: this explicit claim to the Dido demographic is staked out with undeniable care and attention. Sure, it’s all a bit of a beige wash, but in amongst the usual gentle acoustic strumming and ultra-lite trippity-hoppity pitter-pattering, there are some reasonably deft touches; I particularly like the soft squelching noise which runs all the way through, and the “ethereal” strings which lift the whole track up a notch or two for the last couple of minutes. However, there’s too much preening self-regard in Natasha’s performance for this ever to truly convince. (4)

The Bees – Chicken Payback 

Sounding exactly like the sort of rare Sixties soul cut that was routinely sampled by Big Beat acts in the late Nineties, this ludicrously infectious piece of animal-based call-and-response bubblegum could well be the best Kids’ Birthday Party floor-filler since “19/2000” by the Gorillaz. (Is there a dance routine? There has to be a dance routine. If not, then someone needs to invent one, quick.) My only concern is for the future welfare of The Bees; this is so far removed from their usual stoner-shuffle-blues repertoire that the assembled menagerie of chickens, camels and monkeys could morph into albatrosses overnight. (10)

Feeder – Feeling A Moment

About twenty-five years ago, the NME ran a major feature on bands whose names ended in the letters “er”, noting with amusement that (with the sole exception of Foreigner) none of them ever achieved any commercial or critical success, and thus establishing a clear link between the “-er” suffix and a particular kind of drearily under-achieving derivativeness. All of which leads me to conclude that, with their inexplicably popular brand of freeze-dried, vacuum-packed shopping-mall stadium-rock, Feeder must be the new Foreigner. It’s an achievement of sorts, right? (2)

Garbage – Why Do You Love Me

“I’m no Barbie doll / I’m not your baby girl”… no Shirley, you’re a GROWN WOMAN OF THIRTY-EIGHT, and all the kohl, slap and mini-dresses in the world aren’t going to change the fact. So instead of trying to pass yourself off as a petulant foot-stamping teen, why not try to nurture a little age-appropriate grace and dignity? Because some of us are still waiting for the proper follow-up to that wonderful debut album, before you were all replaced by the dead-eyed replicants who have been masquerading as you ever since. Nevertheless, there’s no doubt that these are state-of-the-art, top-of-the-range replicants; there’s a brutal efficiency at work here, which comes tantalisingly close to being convincing. (6)

Elton John – Turn The Lights Out When You Leave

A deliciously defiant, venomous kiss-off to a no-good ex, served up with an easily rolling pedal-steel-and-honky-tonk saloon-bar swagger, that will unite newly jilted lovers everywhere in squiffily swaying, finger-pointing, ‘see-you-in-court-yer-bashtard’ solidarity. My only quibble is with the gender-restricting reference to the “lacy little dress”—as in every other respect, this song’s natural constituency is a female one. (8)

Kelis ft. Nas – In Public

“We can do it over there by all the trees,” breathes Kelis to her husband of almost three months’ standing, in an urgently insistent paean to al fresco jiggery-pokery which is sure to go down well with the steamed-up-windows-in-car-parks brigade. (But all within the context of a mutually supportive relationship based on openness and trust, naturally.) There has always been a fine line between the erotic and the ridiculous—but while the lumbering likes of 50 Cent blunder straight through it, Kelis (“sexy beast”) and “nasty Nas” straddle it with assured ease and control. (Dontcha just love it when married couples give each other pet names? My father used to call my mother “moo-cow”. How times have changed.) (8)

The Others – William

If I were thirteen years old, and not yet possessed of much in the way of historical context, then I would no doubt be immensely invigorated by the gleefully rough-and-ready snotty-brattishness contained herein. So just because I’m over three times that age, and have heard it all before, and can reel off influences and reference points until I’m blue in the face, that should in no way detract from what’s on offer. (They tried to pull the same superior trick on me with my Slade and T.Rex records; I wouldn’t have it then, so I won’t have it now.) In this spirit of cross-generational generosity, I must therefore concede that – precisely because it irritates me to distraction, the“ba ba ba-ba-ba baa, POWWW! refrain is actually the best part of the whole record. (6)

Vitalic – My Friend Dario

This is so achingly trendy that I scarcely dare to venture an opinion, lest I misinterpret a sub-nuance along the way and fall flat on my newly unfashionable low-slung arse. (High waists are back; haven’t you heard?) However, the word “motorik” does keep dancing before my eyes for some strange reason. It’s not a word we hear too often these days, is it? Well, let that be my contribution to the group. Dazed and Sleaze, please take note. (8)

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