Mike Atkinson

Stylus Singles Jukebox, 13th June 2005

Posted in singles reviews, Stylus by Mike A on June 13, 2005

Shakin’ Stevens – This Ole House 

Look: this man used to play left-wing benefit gigs! He physically assaulted a young Richard Madeley on live kids’ TV! He nearly co-headlined a punk/ted “stop the violence” unity gig with the Sex Pistols! To say nothing of his glittering career with Fulchester Rovers in Viz! In short: Shakey used to be HIP, dammit. So let’s show a little RESPECT, kids! Word to the Godfather! (6)

Jem – Just A Ride

Zoe’s “Sunshine On A Rainy Day” … Soho’s “No Hippy Chick” … One Dove’s “Breakdown” … there’s something about this which evokes fond memories of a long-forgotten strain of early 90’s pop. Maybe it’s a certain sensibility in the melody. Maybe it’s the way that Jem’s summer-breezing insouciance is underpinned by that jiggling, rolling, midtempo groove. But whatever it is, I welcome it back with open arms. (8)

The Long Blondes – Appropriation (By Any Other Name)

An acquaintance of mine, who promotes small but carefully chosen showcase gigs up and down the country, came rushing up to me in a bar about four months ago, with the names of three hot new bands on his eager lips. Of these three, the Magic Numbers are already safely on their way to becoming this year’s Thrills, the unusually young Fear Of Music remain an unknown quantity – but on the strength of this cracking little tune (imagine Elastica fronted by a blend of Chrissie Hynde and Siouxsie Sioux), the admirably precocious Long Blondes could out to be the pick of the bunch. I particularly commend them for being precocious enough to stuff “Appropriation” full with loads of slightly unwieldy Big Words, thus re-introducing a vocabulary which is well outside the range of most – if not all – of the current crop of young guitar bands. One suspects that Morrissey would approve. (9)

Patrick Wolf – Wind in the Wires

Oy! Give it a rest, Wordsworth! “Like a bird, in an ay-vyer-rrree”, croons Patrick, oh so earnestly, with a preciousness of diction which constantly teeters on the brink of absurdity. “Singing to the sky, just singing to be free-uh.” At which point, you wish someone would just revoke his Bad Poetry Licence, and bundle him off to a retreat for six months with a copy of the Antony & The Johnsons album. Because although there’s nothing wrong with pseudo-literary effeteness per se (indeed, I would defend it to the death), it really needs to be founded on something a good deal more substantial than this kind of vapid, swooning self-regard. (5)

Bark Psychosis – 400 Winters 

What sweet relief it is to stumble across a single which, instead of frantically trying to assert itself all over the place, is merely content to evoke. In this case, what is evoked is a kind of gauzy, shimmering midsummer haze: a vaseline-smeared lens, through which one might catch glimpses of veiled nymphs cavorting in lush, verdant meadows, or dragonflies buzzing above still lily ponds, or… well, look, why don’t you tell me what you see? Yes, let that be your creative writing assignment for this week. Four hundred words on my desk by Friday lunchtime, please. (7)

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