I realize that I’ve generally been in the habit of reviewing full albums (or at the very least a substantial amount of tracks from an artist) rather than just singles. There’s a good reason for that: I don’t like writing really short posts if I don’t have to. Not to mention it’s sometimes difficult to judge an artist by one or two songs. However, lately, I’ve come to the conclusion that some singles deserve a proper public airing, especially as they fill my inbox with aural euphoria, so I’m going to start a semi-regular series that showcases these singles independent of a full album review or in the absence of an album at all.
The Melting Ice Caps/The Soft Close-Ups – Like a Souvenir/Birthmark
I’ve posted about ex-Luxembourg vocalist David Shah’s more recent work with The Melting Ice Caps before, and here’s a bit more erudite brilliance with the free double a-side single shared with a duo project he’s part of, The Soft Close-Ups. Like a Souvenir, The Melting Ice Caps’ track, is a bittersweet ballad, which carefully treads the wire between the cynicism and sincerity mentioned in the lyrics; it is both wryly self-deprecating and painfully earnest, and features the genius lyric, “I was a card-carrying socialite/Til they made me carry a card.” It ends in a spoken recitation that includes the verse:
Am I really going to die of embarrassment like a good Englishman,
walk all of this long or short path alone?
Or will I explode in a vulgar but mercifully brief display
while you gawp on aghast from the ground?
Morrissey would be proud. The other side of the single is The Soft Close-Ups’ Birthmark, a jaunty guitar-based affair that showcases Shah’s sublime vibrato in a slightly different context than heard in either Luxembourg or The Melting Ice Caps – less lush chamber pop, more jangly Marr guitars provided by the other half of The Soft Close-Ups, Aug Stone (who is also a member of H Bird). Though, taking a listen to the rest of the tracks available on the MySpace reveals a variance of style, including the use of poppy synths and sparse acoustic guitars, but all feature erudite lyrics and delicate melodies. The site also includes one of the best band descriptions ever: “This band that is not one. This anti-project, stunted like binary with the ones removed. We could be zeroes, just for a day.”
The Melting Ice Caps Web site: www.themeltingicecaps.co.uk
Small Crew – Kamikaze Girls and It’s Not Too Late to Wait
Like The Melting Ice Caps’ did with older single Selfish Bachelor, enigmatic English combo, Small Crew, has previously released free downloads (double a-side Boxing Day/Getting Up) through God is in the TV’s Singles Club. Composed of Richard Adderley (The Boyfriends, New Royal Family) and Dan Edwards (The Lucas Group), Small Crew creates some truly beautiful shoegazey pop songs, and their latest single Kamikaze Girls/It’s Not Too Late to Wait, just released for free download on the Small Crew MySpace, is no exception. The first side, Kamikaze Girls, is a shimmery elegy for urban life that wavers between Spector and Suede with a captivating vocal interplay between Edwards and Adderley’s wife Annie. The flipside, It’s Not Too Late to Wait, is a gentle, minimal arrangement between piano and guitar that allows the tender vocal to glide sweetly over bitter advice.
The Indelicates – The Recession Song
As several of you will probably already know, I absolutely love The Indelicates. They’re literate, self-aware, satirical, and provocative, and they can write a cracker of a song. I was alerted by Rol ahead of the official band e-newsletter about their latest free single, the very topical (and very hilarious) The Recession Song. It features Mikey Art Brut, Keith Totp, and Nicky Biscuit, and you can watch the wonderfully appropriate video here. A breathless, shouty ode to troubling times, The Recession Song cheerleads our way through economic disaster with the chipper chants “No Career! No Hope! No Fun! No Fashion!” and “Go recession! Go, go, recession!”; only The Indelicates could treat this topic with such delicious…ahem…indelicacy. You can also buy the t-shirt featured above here, or alternatively, grab a Tesco bag and punch holes through it. I’m sure The Indelicates would approve.