Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Big Pink - A Brief History of Love

It's amazing what a hit single can do for you.
No, it's amazing what Microsoft advertising can do.

There's one positive point to come out of 'The Marketing Argument'. We now know of 'The Big Pink'. 'Dominoes', the lead single, was an instant hit, culminating in an NME Award for 'Best Track' at the recent awards. The single most catchy song of last year paved the way for the album: 'A Brief History of Love'.

Opening with the spectacular 'Crystal Visions', we are instantly hit with what this band are capable of; sweeping synths greet aggressive bass-lines and agitated drums to merge into a wholly encompassing sound. It's this repeating theme that makes this band stand out, with sound that can be compared to an electronic Exit Calm, or an angry Verve.

Follow up single, 'Velvet', is a more sensitive, beautiful turn, but still with the powerful drum beat we've become used to with this band. There is a distance vastness to this album, but still with an emotional edge, a sensitivity that makes this album more warming, more attractive. This album calls out to listeners, it wants you to relate to it, it wants to be consumed. And that's exactly what happens. Every song on this album wants to be loved; like a small, scruffy dog.

It may have not achieved great success, I picked it up off the floor in the HMV sale (other music outlets are available) on an whim. It turned out to be a good move, and restored my faith in 'indie'. I thoroughly look forward to hearing the next album and anticipate a more developed, perhaps restrained sound.

But for now, this album is the talisman for in-perfect pop. It's raw, it's dangerous and even gives off a whiff of invincibility. And, that is why The Big Pink were one of the greatest discoveries of the last year, and, A Brief History of Love, one of the best albums of 2009.

Album Rating: 9/10

3 Top Songs:

1. Crystal Visions
2. Count Backwards From Ten
3. A Brief History of Love

Monday, 19 April 2010

MGMT - Congratulations

Oh how they were confused when we were told of MGMT'S new 'freaky' album. Critics discussed possible outcomes. Was it going to work, or would they fall flat on their synthesized faces? There was only one way to find out. (Fight?) (No) Listen to the actual album.

It seems people were biased by pre-conceptions, even before they listen to the actual album itself. On hearing there was a twelve minute song in the middle, they cast it aside with rolling eyes, labeling it a commercial failure. But the band said themselves that they were not going for commercial success. Pretentious or not, it seems MGMT are not meant to be the arena band so many want them to be. But, if a band can still produce good music, surely it doesn't matter that they shy away from the commercial side of things? Because, without sounding like a subtle Tom Meighan/Liam Gallagher, it's all about the "tunes, tunes, tunes!"

Being a fan of 'albums' as an essence, I was pleased with the announcement MGMT released, saying that you have to listen to this as 'an album' rather than a collection of songs to get the full idea. In this day of random-single-buying, it's refreshing to see a band still doing their bit for the endangered format. So bearing that in mind, what better way to completely go against there plan than to analyse the songs separately! What strikes me as the biggest difference in this album and the last, 'Oracular Spectacular', is the sound. Songs like 'It's Working' have a distinct retro 'wall of sound'/'almost-beach-boys' feel. 'Someone's missing' provides a simple song, with an uplifting end, fit for any gospel church service. 'Flash Delirium', the most singe-like of any song on the album (despite them recently releasing it on free download, the cheek), is a great song, but still distinctly ..different.

'Congratulations' is yet another simple, but very effective song. Bundled in with a suitably modest applause at the end, we get a low key, low-fi, but satisfying ending to the album.

The main case with this album is the fact it is 'different' - without being completely 'out there'. It's not as crazy as it was set up to be, but it definitely steps away from the commercial side of things. It's how long the 'differentness' can last, and whether it has any substance. When the euphoria of strange sounds pass, i still feel we will look to 'Kids' and 'Time to Pretend, (the first being abandoned in recent live shows) when we think of MGMT.

There's nothing wrong with having a massive hit and writing new material. What I believe the band need to do now, if they want to move away from their 'main songs', but do it gracefully, is slip all the hits ('Kids', 'Time to Pretend, 'Electric Feel') early on in the set, so the fans are still pleased, and then get on with whatever they want to.

The truth is MGMT, we like 'Kids'.

Album Rating 6/10

Top Three Songs:

1. Congratulations
2. It's Working
3. Flash Delirium

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Black Eyed Peas: LIVE

No I didn't see them.

I did, however, hear on the wireless today that they played a live show. Given they're last 'album' (collection-of-thrown-together-down-right-awful-excuses-for-remixes/b-side-material-let-alone-singles) was God-awful and with absolutely no chance of being played 'live', I can only imagine this is how a Black Eyed Peas 'Circus Act/Live Show' would go:

Welcome to Black Eyed Peas: Live

It's here, at the O2, in London, where this massacre is waiting to take place. The media have been building this one up for a while. Radio One are covering it and have been giving away tickets all day to excited teenagers and bamboozled unemployed twenty-somethings, who just wanted to enter 'This Morning's car competition, advertised by Chico. Reggie Yates and Fearne Cotton are there. Anyone with any sense is at a hastily prepared Mumford & Sons gig in Camden, well away from the danger-zone. Zane Lowe is there. That's how cool it is there.

The tension is rising. Teenagers are buzzing in the arena, chaperoned by bored parents who had to accompany because of the 'only over 13s' age limit. The first support act comes on. 'Give Peas A Chance' receive a lukewarm reception to a half-empty O2 and are swiftly booed off before their planned 'firework finale'.

Next up, 'Tinie Tempah' appear to rapturous, pre-pubescent, barely adolescent, applause. Unfortunately for the teenagers, they have to wait a good twenty minutes to hear their 'hit'. Unfortunately for everyone else, they have to hear their 'hit'.

Now things are really exciting, the VIP is filling up with every 'A lister' you could ever imagine. From 'Kerry Katona', to 'Kerry Katona', 'they', seriously, are all here.

At last, the time has come. A mock explosion echoes through the stadium. We hear these words: "Gotta get get" "Gotta get get". The pretentious lot have even started with a hit. Everyone knows only Biffy can get away with that. Mind you, they probably didn't even choose their own set. 'The Mothership' of Black Eyed Peas probably chose it through one of its many cyber-computers, only comparable to 'Lancelot', the Lottery Machine.

Fergie enters the stage on a steel-plated camel, with laser beams for eyes. Unfortunately, she hasn't much skill in controlling it, and it blinds a few stewards who get too close. But thats show-business. Will.I.Am sidesteps onto the stage, holding his crotch, and a small picture of Cheryl Cole. The Rapping One just walks on, because no one really cares about him. And Backflip Man, backflips on.

A few songs in, teenagers are weeping with joy, mothers are weeping in pain, and dads are looking at Fergie, who has a mobile phone on her head. Hmm, unique.

Meanwhile, in Camden, Mumford & Sons have just finished a rather pleasant collaboratery act with Laura Marling.

Suddenly, back in the O2/The Death Star, all of the lights come on. And.. No... Surely not? An instrument is brought on, to gasps from all of the crowd. Dads are busy explaining what is happening, mothers just cant believe it. Will.I.Am is holding... A GUITAR.

It's alright though, he doesn't really play it, its only a prop. Well, PHEW.

They play 'Where Is The Love', to great cheers. Hoorah, a good knees up to all of the bad things in the world. The 'band'/'creation' love this song. The Rapping man gets to rap, and even Backflip Man gets to backflip. What joy.

In the distant, can i hear a faint guitar, playing a faint intro to 'the cave' ?

Black Eyed Peas end their show after that and Reggie Yates turns to the camera, beaming in a way only Reggie Yates can, and declares it the 'best night of his life'.

But what's this? Yes, because this is practically every audience members first 'concert', they have no idea about the concept of an encore. Again, the dads have to explain, and quote a late seventies' 'Floyd' gig, and mention something about a pig in the sky.

But who's this? Yes, joining Black Eyed Peas for one more song its.. Courtney Love. "I've always loved you guys" she declares, before they all dance, sing, rap and backflip to 'Hole's latest B-Side. Surprisingly, this is the most normal thing that has happened this evening. Everyone leaves, confused, bedazzled and Reggie Yates is now talking about the next show Radio One are covering. YES! It's JLS. But every Black Eyed Peas fans leaves with a smile, and an overpriced accompanying program and tee-shirt.

Anyway, in general,there's not much good about Black Eyed Peas, or Black Eyed Peas' music, other than Black Eyed Peas 'baiting'.

In fact, the only good thing about Black Eyed Peas are the fact that their latest album is called 'The E.N.D', so there's always a slim chance that this could be it for them.

I hope you had a nice evening.

I think i see Marcus Mumford dancing with Kerry Katona.