Timothy van Sas
Timothy van Sas

Sunday, 25 September 2011

I'll Be Thinking Of You Fondly For Sure

Los Campesinos - By Your Hand

“By Your Hand” is the opening track from “Hello Sadness” the forthcoming album by Los Campesinos. Written after the recent break up of lead singer Gareth, the song recounts a familiar tale of falling out of love whilst trying to remain friends.

Recorded in small Spanish town just outside of Barcelona, in the same studio used by megastars Shakira and Mariah Carey the track is sonically their most downbeat to date and represents the biggest step they’ve made towards doing straight pop.

On their last album “Romance Is Boring” the Cardiff seven piece began to reign in their own tendency to burden a track with too many sounds at once, here finally they’ve mastered the art. Whereas before lyrics like “I’m not sure if it’s love anymore, but I’ve been thinking of you fondly for sure” would’ve been lost in a haze of sounds, on this recording they are brought into sharp focus.

This deliberately accessible composition means that every hand clap and vocal harmony now have real purpose. Allowing the listener to appreciate the articulate songwriting, which was always the quality that set this band apart from their peers.

“Hello Sadness” will be released 14th November on Wichita Recordings.

You can get this track for free at www.loscampesinos.com/blog

Friday, 16 September 2011

I’ve Flat Packed Myself For Your Ease

Wild Beasts - Plaything

Sleeping with someone for the first time is always a daunting proposition (unless your name is Ron Jeremy). You’ve both suffered through the excitement and pain of trying to decode each others flirtatious signals, passed the first kiss examination and reached a point where you’ve connected (or drunk) enough to want to rip each others clothes off.

It’s the lust and intimacy on that night together which is at the core of Wild Beasts “Plaything”. Taken from their latest (and best) album “Smother” it’s simple bass and drum lines radiate like the heartbeat of a lovers body. The vocals are delivered in whispers of pillow talk that are perfectly balanced against such a sparse production, however it’s the subtext of the lyrics that make the track truly great.

When lead singer Hayden Thorpe croons “I’m wondering, how cruel I’ve been?” your thoughts start asking questions. Why is it cruel? What is he hiding? So when he sings “I’ve ransacked myself, I’ve flat packed myself for your ease” your suspicions have already been aroused. Is he being vulnerable or emotionally disconnected? After all he’s comparing sex with Ikea’s greatest invention.

These questions are never resolved, allowing the listener to fill in the blanks with their own imagination. It makes the track something of a Rorschach test, where there’s no right answer other than the one you provide for yourself. Which could reveal more about your own sexual nature than you’d like to know.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Open up a beer... and play a video game?

Lana Del Rey - Video Games

When I read that Lana Del Rey (AKA Lizzy Grant) described herself as the “Gangsta Nancy Sinatra” my face contorted like a child whose been served a plate full of greens for dinner. It’s the sort of hyperbole that pisses me off because more often than not the music won’t live up to its sales pitch. This is not one of those times.

In fact ‘Video Games’ is nothing short of a seductive delight. Where Del Rey’s voice is a powerfully complex instrument, sounding satisfyingly gravelly and oozing with sexuality. Capable of twisting lyrics like “Heaven is a place on earth with you” and making them sound romantic, depressing and sarcastic all at once.

When she sings “go play your video game” or “this is my idea of fun” you're forced to make your own mind up as to whether she’s expressing genuine affection towards her subject or delivering a scathing remark to an emotionally unavailable lover. It’s compelling stuff.

So despite my ongoing reservations about the sound bytes she uses to sell her music, I’m going to have to grudgingly accept that just this once, someone has actually managed to live up to their own hype.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Top noch stuff, you’ve really gone that extra mile

The Chap - Well Done You

For the last five years I’ve spent the majority of my time staring vacantly at computer screens whilst writing user guides for software systems. Spending my energies desperately trying to stay awake through conversations that are as recycled as the air in the offices which house them. I was exhausted. I needed a change.

So last year when I was approaching my thirtieth birthday I took stock of my life. What did I want? Did I really want to spend another half decade talking about business processes and instructing employees when to “Press Save”? Faced with that sort of question the decision was easy. Ten months later I’ve left my job, moved 200 miles north and am about to begin studying for a degree in Music Journalism. For the first time in a decade, I’m excited about what each day might hold. Not just waiting for the weekend.

Before I can really jump into my new life I felt it was necessary to address the one which I’m leaving behind and that’s where “Well Done You” by UK satirical act The Chap comes in. Taken from their 2010 album “Well Done Europe” it perfectly encapsulates what office life is like. At the core of the song is it’s methodical pacing mirroring the repetitive nature of life in office world, where days bleed into one long chore and are soundtracked by monotone voices full of back handed compliments and feigned enthusiasm.

I may have only moved 200 miles away, but it already feels like a world apart.