Monday, 10 November 2008

Last Broadcast Single Reviews - CSS, Dido and Razlorlight

Last month I wrote three single reviews for Last Broadcast.

Here they are in full:

CSS - Move

Brazilian sextet CSS has been making catchy infectious indie synth-pop for over two years and are veritable freshman in today's music scene. 'Move', which sees a departure from the cheeky playful approach of the band's early songs, is the third single from the band's second album 'Donkey'.

Like former singles 'Left Behind' and 'Rat Is Dead (Rage), 'Move' is a pulsating slice of spiky electro-pop with one major difference: consistency. The song rolls along with an upbeat keyboard melody coupled with a choral vocal before lead singer Lovefoxxx takes over. Her insatiable charm is slightly muted here and the chorus especially feels tinged with melancholy; reflective and considered. The rest of band provide some very subtle backing vocals. If there is a problem it is that the song doesn't stop at the usual three minute cut-off point. Lovefoxxx attempts a clumsy pseudo-rap, continuing the warning theme. It feels like a step too far.

CSS has gone a long way since early hit 'Let's Make Love And Listen To Death From Above'. The sound is now more solid and at the risk of a cliché, more mature. The production is slick and smooth, so the instrumentation glides with clarity and purity. The sound of progress.

Released on 13th October 2008.

-- CS (for Last Broadcast)

Dido - Don't Believe In Love

The huge success of Dido is a mystery. She rose to prominence as 'that singer' on 'Stan' by U.S. rapper Eminem, which samples her song 'Thank You'. Her debut album No Angel had such great promise, but her vocal delivery and her voice remains something of a dividing line. 'Don't Believe In Love' is the first single taken from Dido's new album 'Safe Trip Home'. From the outset it is business as usual.

The opening bass sets up the first line "I want to go to bed with arms around me...wake up on my own" followed by "Pretend that I'm still sleeping...til you go home". This is a twist on the anti-love song, seeped in self-doubt and depressive loathing. Even the chorus, a sweet rolling melody, is weak and uninspired. The drum arrangement is basic and the inclusion of a string section, barely audible, is predictable and listless. A minute and a half in, there is little attempt to change things. Only into the third minute, after a very dull string-based instrumental, Dido again shows no emotion. But that is probably the point. The line "If I don't believe in love, what do you get from me? When I don't believe in love, nothing is real for me" sums it up.

The big problem with Dido is her flat lifeless vocal style. Coupled with obvious lyrics, devoid of any imagination and metaphor, this is song writing at its most basic. 'Don't Believe In Love' may be deliberately free of emotion, in line with the dispassionate subject matter but this translates badly into a listenable song. Even a spirited guitar outro does not break the monotony. So, as expected, Dido continues to bring us more of the same.

Released on 3rd November 2008 on RCA and available to download from 26th October 2008.

-- CS (for Last Broadcast)

Razorlight - Wire To Wire

Over two impressive albums, Razorlight has gone from being a punchy pseudo-punk indie band to a colossal rock act. The 2006 eponymous album was well received by fans and critics alike and in spite of a more polished focused sound Johnny Borrell did not become the new Chris Martin. 'Wire To Wire' is the band's first single since the huge success of 'America' and the two songs could not be more different.

Opening with chilling piano, the first thirty seconds has Borrell crooning the first verse. His voice changes dramatically with "She lives on disillusion row; we go where the wild blood flows; on our bodies we share the same scars; love me, where ever you are...". The last refrain has Borrell hitting an impossible note, never to be repeated with such spine-tingling accuracy, and a short interlude brings in the rest of the band. The mid-section is typical flowing Razorlight. The song soon lifts again for more drama, climaxing with the line "How do you love on a night without feeling? She says love, I hear sound, I see fury; She says love's not a hostile condition..." complete with huge rolling drums. But the song soon backs off for a calm vocal and piano outro.

Borrell has talked about the new album 'Slipway Fires' as impulsive and not over worked. The band did not want to over-think the new material, keep things simple and let the song writing out. This may not be the best song in the Razorlight catalogue but it is a great teaser for the new album. In near-three minutes of perfection, it has plenty of space to breathe. Haunting down to the very last note, not since 'Drive' by R.E.M. has a debut single from a new album had such an impact as 'Wire To Wire'. It is subtle, understated and remarkably brilliant.

Released on 27th October on Vertigo and available to download from 26th September 2008.

-- CS (for Last Broadcast)

I hope to write more reviews for Last Broadcast in the near future. So watch this space, as they say...

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