Sunday, 27 September 2009

My Pod: New music track reviews...

Stuff lends an ear to some soon-to-be-released new music tracks...

Bodies – Robbie Williams

He’s back!! When his ‘Rudebox’ album tanked a few years back the Robster very sensibly slunk off to lick his wounds, consider his position and...well, just live a life for a while. In his absence his old bandmates Take That reformed, released two albums and pretty much took up where they left off, cementing the place in the nation’s hearts with their slightly sickly, syrupy and largely anodyne brand of Grandma-friendly balladry. What place is there in the world now for Robbie, trundling into his mid-thirties and with a lot to prove? The signs are good as ‘Bodies’, the lead single from his soon-come new album, ‘Reality Killed the Video Star’, is as good a slice of pop perfection as Robbie’s released since...well, probably ‘Rock DJ’ in all honesty. Produced by former Buggle Trevor Horn (hence the album title) the new single is a muscular, burbling, crunching thing with at least two choruses to its name. It takes two or three listens for this one to lodge itself into your brain but its heady mix of Robbie’s usual lyrical arrogance – “Jesus didn’t die for you, what are you on?...All we ever wanted was to look good naked” – and Horn’s everything-and-the-kitchen-sink production are pretty much irresistible and a couple of plays are really all it takes for this one to work its magic. There’s room in the music world for Robbie’s more upfront, laddish pop and Take That’s safe soft rock – but I know which one I’ll be happier to see back atop the charts. The boy’s albums tend to be a bit hit-and-miss, a collection of good hit singles and some stodgy filler – all he needs now is to follow ‘Bodies’ with a real powerful album and he’ll find himself on top again. Welcome back, Robbie.

Want – Natalie Imbruglia

The music gig never really worked out all that well for Natalie after her storming international hit ‘Torn’ in 1997. Follow-up singles under-achieved and her perversely-uncommercial second album was pretty much career suicide. There’s been the odd flash since then – ‘Shiver’ was a decent single a few years back – but when her ‘best of’ selection died a death a couple of years ago, it looked as if the former Neighbours star was drifting back towards supporting roles in other people’ s movies and TV shows (hello, Holly Valance!). But maybe not yet... ‘Want’ is the lead track from Natalie’s latest album and it’s a corker. Written by charismatic Coldplay front-man Chris Martin this is a powerful, slightly-bleak pop tune powered by a pulsating rhythm and Natalie’s yearning, slightly resentful lyrical delivery. Urgent and strident, it’s a great song, well-produced and performed with style and should serve to thrust Natalie back into the UK pop consciousness.

Laroux – I’m Not Your Toy

Reasons to like Laroux. They make plinky-plonky synth pop songs which sound like Depeche Mode demos from 1981. Lead singer Ellie Jackson (she’s the daughter of June Ackland, ex-The Bill, you know) looks scary, has weird sticky-up hair, never smiles much and is a throwback to the days when all girls looked like Bananarama and not Beyonce. But with her musical partner BenLangmaid she crafts charming little pop ditties which wouldn’t be out of place on a ‘Hit Machine 1982’ K-Tel compilation album (on vinyl, natch). ‘I’m Not Your Toy’ is the third single from the impressive, if disposable, debut album and it’s the usual mix of cheap synthetisers, Ellie’s slightly wonky vocals and a tune so daft and sprightly it’s almost ridiculous. Great fun – just a shame Laroux are getting a bit up themselves with Ellie promising the next album may take some time. That’s not what pop’s about; good pop is fast and throwaway, it doesn’t need to be agonised over, it just is.

Cheryl Cole – Fight For This Love

Shopgirl-turned-pop-star-turned-talent-show-judge Cheryl Cole off Girls Aloud chooses – gasp – the middle of the new X Factor series to launch her solo career. Who’d have thought it? It’s almost as if...her record company were capitalising on her sudden new media profile. But surely the pop world doesn’t work like that...does it? Of course we all know that Girls Aloud make great records despite the girls themselves and not because of them (the hard work’s done by production team Xenomania who have managed to make silk purses out of these cows’ ears) – a work colleague of mine recently saw the “band” live supporting Coldplay and her verdict was pretty much that “they couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket” - so go figure. La Cole’s debut single, then,clumsy title notwithstanding, is business as usual. This is a sinewy r’n’b lite number, a bit slower-tempo than the Girls usual offerings but it’s slick to the point of soulless and catchy despite itself. Cole’s voice, as we know, is nothing to sing about (arf! arf!) and it’s hard not to see this as the first-from-last track on a Girl Aloud album and wonder why, money-grabbing apart, Cole needs a solo career at all if she’s got nothing to say and no new musical direction she wants to travel in. Pleasant but pointless.

And finally...

12 Stone Toddler - Under the Weather

I know nothing - nothing I tell you - about the group 12 Stone Toddler apart from the fact that they have the best band name ever and they've just released their second album. They came to my attention when Mark Radcliff and Stuart Maconie played this, their latest single, on their Radio 2 eveneing show a couple of weeks back. It's been in my head ever since because it's barking mad, British musical eccentricity for the 21st century in a three minute pop song. Here's the promo video....why not download this instead of Cheryl Cole? Just a thought...

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