Kelly Nestruck's new releases review

Friendly Fires | Amy Winehouse | Newton Faulkner | Plain White | Muscles Sweaty

PICK OF THE WEEK Friendly Fires
Paris(Moshi Moshi)

Who hasn't at one time, having perhaps just watched a film starring Eva Green or finished a good (third) bottle of Côte du Rhône, turned to a friend or lover and, as if at some sort of Francophile Passover, toasted: "Next year, in Paris!" Here, Friendly Fires produces the synthed-up sonic equivalent of that drunken pledge. Singer Ed Macfarlane makes a dance-funk promise that one day we're going to live in the city of lights, but you know it's the "wine" talking, because those irregular verb tenses are tricky to master in the morning. For those enamoured with both new rave and new wave (cinema, natch), this is prime iPod material for the next trip over on the Eurostar.

Amy Winehouse
Love Is A Losing Game (Island)

Is Amy Winehouse's music getting more poignant the further her life slips into the cloaca, or is it growing more remote? It's now hard to hear this without thinking of the singer cancelling her tour, lovesick. A track that once was the essence of soulful simplicity now seems exotic - if your personal relationship traumas are lacking in addiction horrors or spins in the bin. Still, one of the strongest cuts off Back To Black, and definitely the most timeless - a song you can picture being sung in 1954 by Billie Holiday or in 2154 by a cloned Billie Holiday touring the outlying planet colonies.

Newton Faulkner
Teardrop (Ugly Truth)

As anyone who has, um, a flatmate who downloads episodes of House off BitTorrent as they air in the States knows, the opening credits to the American version are set to Massive Attack's Teardrop. It is therefore hard for me to listen to Faulkner's overwrought cover without thinking it belongs in a Very Special Episode, where an overly earnest singer from a Pearl Jam tribute act breaks down after losing his ginger dreadlocks to chemo.

Plain White
T's Hate (I Really Don't Really Like You) (Hollywood)

Before the inexplicable success of Hey There Delilah (the halcyon days of my youth!), this was the first Plain White T's single to chart in the US. The songs work better in this order, though, especially if you imagine that the woman Tom Higgenson now "really, really, really" doesn't like is the once-idealised Delilah. Ha, ha, Higgs - you got schooled! While it's hard to like a band that abuse apostrophes so blatantly, there's something charming about a plucky pop-punk lyricist who, faced with more notes than he has cliches, just repeats the same words over and over.

Muscles Sweaty

Australia's Muscles finds comfort in the mystic flow of grouping things into threes: Guns, Babes, Lemonade (his album title) or peace, love and ecstasy (the refrain of this song). His electric fuzz pop extols the virtues of wet, salty palms and revels in the unabashed pleasures of house, game-show synths and a joke falsetto. The dripping beat and dripping sweat are undeniably awesome, but the dripping antipodean irony gets a bit drenching in lines like: "My hand slipped into your hand/and it was awesome/and you were special".


Kelly Nestruck

The GuardianTramp

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