Playlist: Empire of the Sun

The Aussie electro duo have been compared to MGMT, Fleetwood Mac and 10cc, but singer Luke Steele explains why it's Alan Parsons all the way in this week's playlist

"I download new music all the time, but I never really listen to it," says Empire of the Sun's Luke Steele. "But these are the songs that I never skip on my iPod ... they're timeless."

The Cribs – Men's Needs
I toured with the Cribs in 2003 when they supported my other band, the Sleepy Jackson, on a UK tour. They were pretty wild and dangerous, and they'd often be in their boxer shorts by the end of the show, but they're also the sweetest guys you'll meet. And their music blows me away, their songs feel dangerous, on the edge of collapse. This song is brilliant, this band is brilliant.

The Chordettes – Mr Sandman
Lately, I've been getting so back into this classic. How much imagery can you get from a song? It reminds me of the America in Back to the Future, all milkshakes and ponytails. It's like the 1950s distilled into a song – the vocabulary, the cuteness, the harmonies. What a tune.

Yusuf Islam – Heaven/Where True Love Goes
Yusuf Islam sounds holy and content in this song. I was never that into him as Cat Stevens, and while his spiritual awakening was well publicised, I actually think the music is amazing. I listen to this a lot while I'm driving round with my wife.

Alan Parsons – Time
This song follows the course of a life that sounds like a perfect success story, but when the chorus eventually hits you can just see it all coming off the rails. Parsons's synth playing is lighter than air. I discovered it a few years back and realised that people know him from his work with Pink Floyd on Dark Side of the Moon, but they have no idea how gifted he is as a solo musician.

Emmylou Harris – Leaving Louisiana In the Broad Daylight
This is girl country at its best, the groove is rad, real lowdown. I grew up with country music, my dad is the big country blues musician. He knows about 6,000 songs, from old war to country classics, he knows them all. We spent a lot of time listening to country when I was a kid and I never get tired of a good song.

Gilbert O'Sullivan – Clair
Naturally people always think I'm saying Gilbert and Sullivan, which is confusing. But I came across this singer-songwriter from the film The Virgin Suicides, which features his song Nothing Rhymed. I love the rolling chords, they sound reasonably simple until you try to work it out and realise that its really clever songwriting. Also, his voice is doubled, like Peter Gabriel in his Sledgehammer days. A beautiful song that O'Sullivan nails perfectly.

Neil Young – When God Made Me
When my daughter was born four months ago she would only go to sleep to this song. It really was something, I can tell you, having Neil Young on repeat all night long. But it's such a classic and profound song that I never tired of it. If this guy gets any better, I think he's going to have to start songwriting seminars or something, to at least give other musicians a chance. His songs are as good as paradise.


As told to Rosie Swash

The GuardianTramp

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