Alphabeat - 'The Spell'
A slightly disorientating return from the Scandinavian songstrels, 'The Spell' is certainly not lacking in magic. It picks up precisely where This is Alphabeat left off, utilising 90s synths and tinny production to achieve a neat 'Modern n' Retro' effect. A bit like legwarmers. There has, though, been one seismic shift in direction for the Danes (no, we're not talking about Stine's weird hair). 'The Spell' is a GROWER, which is a rather alarming departure for Alphabeat (as accustomed as they are to making pop music as subtle and understated as an enema). It's utterly fantastic after a couple of listens, but whether it's enough to alter the perception that they are a fun but essentially throwaway pop act is quite literally anyone's guess.
Official, Vid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwH0BxtbEA
Mika - 'Rain'
Although 'We Are Golden' did little but prove that 'Heaven is a Place on Earth' would sound shit sung by a gospel rock band, Mika - we must remember - can occasionally write a good tune. A case in point being 'Rain,' perhaps the only keeper from his literally-identical-to-the-first-album Sophmore Effort. It's a big disco number with a chorus so screamy that it sounds like Fox Porn (oddly, this isn't a Bad Thing). What's more, there's a wickedly weirdo-electro moment around the 2:20 mark, which has more than a whiff of Frankmusik about it. In small doses like this, he could yet become bearable.
Ellie Goulding - 'Swimming Pool'Allegedly Polydor's big bet for 2010, Miss Goulding has amassed a reasonable amount of blog-buzz without really doing anything. 'Swimming Pool' is perhaps the best example of her potential, with its gentle guitar and warm, unobtrusive electronics resulting in something both melancholic and strangely euphoric. Basically it's the sort of thing James Yuill does so brilliantly, but at least here there's a hope in hell of a commercial crossover. We sense that Polydor may be witholding the best of Goulding from us, for now, but it will be interesting to see how they handle an artist quite so...easy listening?
Have a listen: www.myspace.com/elliegoulding
Hockey - 'Song Away'
Mind Chaos is an occasionally terrific album, but perhaps the secret behind Hockey's complete kamikaze of a campaign thus far can be found - of all places - on the London Underground. Posters parading the city's underbelly, promoting the record, feature the tagline: "U2 MEETS MGMT." For some unfathomable reason, Capitol have taken this to be something of a compliment! Surely most intelligent human beings are less likely to stop and take notice of such "plaudits" as they are to break into a sprint dead sprint, screaming. Clear evidence, then, that neither the label (nor Hockey, if we're being brutally honest) really knows who they are targeting, and what they're all about. A shame, as 'Song Away' is still glorious.