Tracks of the week reviewed: Big Thief, Carly Rae Jepsen, Marina

Big Thief’s latest is finger-picking good, CRJ’s is an instant bop, while Marina drops the Diamonds for a downbeat ballad

Big Thief

Radiohead trademarked the way that fingerpicked acoustic guitar could summon dread as much as it could summon Ralph McTell. That jangle could be the clatter of tumbling down a flight of stairs, or a hasty arpeggio could be a travelator that leads to the gates of hell. Warpaint expanded on that, and Brooklyn’s Big Thief seem intent on perfecting it by constantly switching modes between “lambs gambolling” and “you can never be whole ever again”. Cool trick.

Tindersticks ft Robert Pattinson

The news arrived late that a song in which Robert Pattinson collaborates with Tindersticks, “from the film in which R Pattz ejaculates in space”, would be available for review. I imagined this was how Marie Colvin felt, receiving a late-night text from downtown Aleppo, about a barrel-bomb landing. Journalistic duty called. I can now confirm that scenes on the ground are … less terrible than they might sound. Stately, exquisite, even.

Hayden Thorpe
The Diviner

Has the guy from Wild Beasts gone Full James Bay? Difficult to decide from this dapper, yet highly marketable ballad. I know a decade of Mercury nominations and playing fifth on the bill at Field Day can do things to a man. Perhaps he saw all those other octave-crushers with shaggy beards in double denim and thought: “I’ll sing you some bloody emotive chart-topping piano music, pal.” Either way: good for him.

Carly Rae Jepsen
Now That I Found You

Carly Rae Jepsen went on Zane Lowe’s show a couple of weeks back and revealed that she once saw Seal eating an entire loaf of bread on a plane. If this was a cheap attempt to drum up PR for her new single, then it’s absolutely killing it. Yes, CRJ’s latest hi-NRG plastinated Minogue might be merely serviceable, but set against a mental reel of Seal monotonously ingesting carbohydrates, it quickly becomes essential.


From Jamelia to Sonic Youth and beyond, naming your song Superstar is a rite of passage for artists with no access to Google. After a three-year layoff, Marina returns with her own entry, and I can’t decide if it’s even in the Superstar top five. In retrospect, she has always been well-placed for the post-Ariana, Disney-pop market. For all the icy angularity of Superstar’s chorus, why do I always get a vibe off her of “talented day pupil at an independent girls’ school”?


Gavin Haynes

The GuardianTramp

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