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The Drums (2010) by The Drums

21 Aug

By Slick Nick | @Poppeelings

Rating = 5/5

The debut album by Brooklyn’s favourite purveyors of miserable surf pop is nothing short of a modern masterpiece, painfully underrated by the mainstreat media, particularly in the UK at the time of its release.

In true surf tradition, the music is minimalist, proving that guitars with all their strings attached are not even necessary for creating superb music.

At the same time, the band also present something of a paradox in the way their tragic, lovelorn and despair-filled lyrics underpin such punchy and upbeat guitars and melodies.

Keyboards are also used sparingly, injecting the tracks with more atmosphere and retro kitsch when necessary.

Lead single ‘Let’s Go Surfing’ is simply a marvel and is bound to go down as one of the decade’s finest songs. It’s a song that I can play ten times in a row and not get bored of which to me is what seperates a good single from a perfect one.

Stylistically, the only break-away track is the lethargic ‘Down By The Water’ which offers a welcome mid-album interlude.

The world in which the Drums’ scrawny young players exist is an unforgiving one, with dreams unfulfilled, goals unrealised and girls not keeping to social appointments. But if that’s the inspiration needed to create world-class pop music then long may the misery continue for these Brooklynites.

Up All Night (2011) by One Direction

13 May

By Slick Nick | @Poppeelings

Rating = 2/5

These five chaps were barely out of nappies when they set a new musical record for being the first British group to bag a number one debut album in America. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and true to the norm of big-selling music in 2012, ‘Up All Night’ is a largely mediocre affair.

Like most Cowell releases, this is tonally uneven, trying to ensnare as many types of music fans as possible. It can’t make up its mind whether it wants to mop up the post-Westlife audience of sappy ballad lovers or fill dancefloors with heaving, sweating bodies puting their hayunds (hands) up in the air.

Lead single ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ kicks things off with a whimper, sounding like a rejected track from the Grease soundtrack. It also showcases perhaps this album’s greatest flaw; the terrible vocals. One Direction were put together from five inept youngsters on X Factor of course, who struggled to hold a single note even in their final performances on that show. Together, they create a weak, lifeless drone, neither distinctive or compelling.

‘Tell Me A Lie’ is my favourite track, with a steady build to a satisfying chorus, which is sadly let down by the pissweak vocals. This song could have been used to launch the career of a far worthy group or ‘artist’.

The song ‘Up All Night’ itself rips off the sublime non-hit ‘Always Something There To Remind Me’ by Tin Tin Out from the mid nineties, a song that was released when the member of 1D were probably in nappies at best.

‘I Want’ attempts to rock thing up with s kooky Beatles-esque intro and some obvious lead guitar. It doesn’t work as a song, nor is it something One Direction’s fans want to be listening to I would think.

The last few tracks pick up the pace, attempting to oust JLS it seems as the definitive knicker-wetting purveyors of dance floor anthems. Sadly the songs, underpinned by the lame vocals, are nothing special, yet still more listenable than the poor quality singles.

Overall, I have to admit there is some ok  song-writing on this record-breaking debut. It pretty much does what it sets out to do; coherse the pocket money from lonely, desperate and undemanding teenage girls.

Planet Pit (2011) by Pitbull

12 May

By Slick Nick | @Poppeelings

Rating = 3/5

Bearded dictators. Cigars. Poverty. Pitbull? Of course, I’m listing cultural traits of Cuba, home to a Mr Armando Christian Pére , better known by his stage name Pitbull.

‘Planet Pit’, his sixth album, is a solid near hour of satisfying club and sex anthems, recorded and produced by an army of the pop industry’s top figures, and executed with joyful abandon by the big Cuban himself.

The planet of Pit is a simple one, involving the acquisition of cash, Kodak cameras and females, whilst occasionally remembering where you came from. This album solidified Pitbull as the Cuban answer to Rod Stewart, offering a delightful array of catchy fuck anthems for the modern lothario to get on the floor to.

The first half is packed full of slamming floorfillers, which make way for a bit of diversity in style with the later tracks.

The singles are very impressive, particularly ‘Give Me Everything’, in which Pitbull playfully threatens to get down and dirty with your girlfriend if he’s given the chance. My favourite though is the unforgettable groove of ‘Hey Baby’.

Two ideals collide on ‘International Love’ as Pitbull duets with Chris Brown. Here, girl-licker and girl-puncher work together on another solid anthem, with Brown’s feminine vocals being used to splendic effect in the choruses.

Things get serious on the clumsily-titled ‘Castle Made of Sound’. Armed with only a piano, a drumbeat and self-reflective lyrics of regret and torment, it’s a rare three minutes in which Pitbull bares his soul, for once refraining from chasing skirt around the world.

All in all, ‘Planet Pit’ does what it says on the tin, and I look forward to hearing what the big Cuban and his garrison of associates can come up with next.

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