Mike Atkinson

Stylus Singles Jukebox, 18th July 2006

Posted in singles reviews, Stylus by Mike A on July 18, 2006

Paolo Nutini – Last Request 

Oh, Paolo.  I came not to praise you, but to dismiss you as this year’s James Blunt, and thus bury you under veritable mountains of smart-assedness (such an easy lob).  And yet, while this year’s James Blunt you most certainly are – that half-strangled upper register alone! – something about this song has hooked me in against my will.  Like “You’re Beautiful” before it, what seems at face value to be a bog-standard sappy love song reveals itself over time to contain something murkier at its core – and yet there’s something about Nutini’s desperate, self-abasing, borderline-creepy “give me one last shag before we split up” fucked-upness which is both believable and oddly compelling.  Tell you what: if this was belted out by some low-rent diva in a Eurodance cover version, it would sound bloody fantastic. (7)

McFly – Please Please

OK, so for those of you out of the UK teenpop celeb-goss loop, here’s the backstory: In the touching belief that this will Break Them In The States, Just Like A Hard Day’s Night Or Something, McFly make rubbish new movie (Just My Luck), starring Lindsay Lohan. During filming, drummer Harry has alleged Saucy Fling with Lohan. Following said fling (hotly denied by Lohan’s “people”), the other three members of McFly “secretly” pen a rib-ticklingly lustful ode to Lohan (“Please please Lindsay please!”), as a Bit Of A Wind-Up Like, God You Should Have Seen His Face. Wot larks, eh! The result is a serviceably jolly piece of punky-power-pop fluff, whose nascent laddishness is augmented by some nifty bar-room/pub-rock piano fills along the way. Oh, and it’s for charity, and it’s bundled with an equally uncomplicated romp through Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” (7)

Franz Ferdinand – Eleanor, Put Your Boots On 

If you were thinking that this understated, gently yearning ode to long-distance love was a strange choice of single from the second album, then be advised that Franz have seen fit to re-record it, in a fuller, brighter and beefier new arrangement which chimes right in with the current vogue for soft-rocking AOR/MOR Guilty Pleasures pop. While radio-friendliness is certainly gained, something of the original’s lilting, touching romanticism is also lost—none of which is helped by Kapranos’s somewhat mannered occasional departures from the core melody. Happily, the song itself is just about strong enough to withstand being buggered about with. (8)

TV On The Radio – Wolf Like Me

No, no, no. Good grief, what are they teaching the kids in Goth School these days?  Look, if you’re going to do a song about turning into a werewolf “when the moon is round and full”, then you’re supposed to sound all bleak and sinister and tortured, and not so bloody cheerful about it, OK?  Bauhaus would never have made such an elementary error, I’m telling you. (8)

Young Dro ft. T.I. – Shoulder Lean

Sigh. As P.D. James said about Lily Allen on this week’s Newsnight Review: this simply wasn’t made for people like me.  (The endless droning repetition of the title does it no favours, either.)  Hell, I can scarcely even tell that Young Dro takes the first section (slurred like Fiddy, oozing languid menace), and T.I. the second (sharper, crisper, amusingly surreal).  Oh, and there’s a swift knock-back for Plan B in the Reality stakes: his mother might be shacked up with a crackhead, but round T.I.’s way, “don’t nobody live with my mum but a bunch of junkies”.  That’s bunch, as in plural, as in suck on that, skinny English boy. (5)

Plan B – Mama (Loves a Crackhead) 

An arrestingly accomplished tell-it-like-it-is depiction of a son’s concern, frustration and anger at his mother’s no-good waster of a boyfriend. The delivery is impeccable (the rat-a-tat staccato contrasting nicely with the summery vibe of the acoustic-driven backing), the emotion palpable (rising to a crescendo of perfectly aimed vitriol in the last verse), the situation entirely believable (you instinctively feels that he knows of what he speaks), and the inevitable Mike Skinner/Eminem comparisons fully justified (and in any case, both artists could use a couple of lessons in quality control). (9)

Sarah Nixey – Strangelove

In which Her Out Of Black Box Recorder, to put it bluntly, “does a Goldfrapp”. Flaunting a rather played-out set of stylistic tricks, it comes at least three years too late to make any sort of impact outside the usual circles, viz. art-fags over the age of 30 (the continuation of mid-1990s Billie Ray Martin by other means) and lovestruck str8 boyz with a yen for a bit of breathily purring Posh Totty (the continuation of mid-1960s Honor Blackman by other means). As I fall cheerfully into one of the above categories, I have no problem in giving it 7.  (7)

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