Sunday, 1 February 2009



What does it mean, to miss someone? The finite becomes even more finite, but becomes (though this is sometimes not always obvious) infinite. Survival is done on instinct, on prayer, on gratitude…regarding the icon and knowing she suffered too; that she was a messenger as well, with her own music, just as she gives indelible strength, gold-tinged compassion and quiet determination to be…at home in the world, with that infinity as comfort at last.

39. SIGUR ROS: Med Sud I Eyrum Uid Spilum Endalaust

Up in the newly grim North, warm comfort had to be derived from a coldness unusual even for that intermittently cool place. By accident or design these playful meditations, the long, delectably-drawn breaths, became anthems for a society which lost – well, not everything as such, but a system, and systems aren’t everything. Peaceful pastels have to be worked for as well.

38. MARTHA WAINWRIGHT: I Know You’re Married But I’ve Got Feelings Too

The legs threw the men off. It was embarrassing; that trembling, arching voice like a graceful gymnast, her grace and guts, were their safe cover. But the sensual side was more a baring, a naked admission of confusion, exhaustion, of late nights and hard work, of that first night/last night when it counted. The men are too smart to be pitied by her or you, as she walks through the ecstatic, dramatic world.

37. DARREN STYLES: Skydivin’

Somewhere on the M6 motorway – a world with a very different sense of ecstasy and drama – there’s a man who hears two different records in his head. In truth it’s the same record, but he needs to express it in two different ways. One is a straight, smart pop disc, the kind a keener Cliff Richard might once have made or might still make. The other – well, cue the incandescent purple strobe lights of the old rave, speed these ice cream trucks up to 200 bpm (we forget the KLF at our peril). Happy Hardcore, it still gets called, but this man, one of the best British males in any sane judgement, dives into the most precious and playable of skies.

36. JME: Famous?

So friendly, his scowl, his meaningful stare. So much more productive and penetrating than the semi-abandoned Streets of old; and he’s just as confused and bewildered but damn he’s going to make the greatest meal eaten out of what he has. A punctum beyond the radar of all poomplex durkheads.

35. LADYTRON: Velocifero

The real reason to celebrate Liverpool in 2008 was this many-legged mechanical beast. Are they sorry, scared? No. Onwards! (Remember when Miki and Emma dressed up as The Liver Birds? This is what that sounds like)

34. THE CURE: 4:13 Dream

A middle aged man is finally made very happy, so much so that he emulates his erstwhile labelmates the Associates and puts out lots of strangely tangential singles on a monthly basis. And then he collected them and lots of other pinker things on one half of an album which found his grasp as light and deep as it had ever been. No, if you lived through 1981 you can’t detach yourself from its Faith-laden magic.

33. CHRIS BROWN: Exclusive

One of the main currents in 2008 (and this tale) is a Go-Go fan, immaculate whether he pops up on others’ songs or here, where his pals question HIS songs. Not too hot, not too cold, the country boy is a cosmopolitan force suave and sweet enough for Rihanna AND the world. Hey!

32. WRETCH 32: Wretchrospective

Perhaps it’s not such a bad thing that media cudgels didn’t hammer the true new British music of 2008 into the premature ground, since it meant that we had to seek it out, wear out shoe leather, catch a cold in the act of catching copies of its records. And it was always worth the search; here, witness in particular “Be Cool,” an anthem our Pantomime Horse Mayor would be too haughtily proud to agree with; rude boy Depeche Neubauten turning the Stratford Rex into the Hollywood Bowl.


He was cheated of his rightful Eurovision win by politics (and gas) just as Bardo had been in the previous New Pop generation, but he was slyer, subtler, slinkier, and with him Daft Punk knew exactly how and when to lay back; look at me, he pleads, doe-eyed, feel me. Don’t I deserve your holy milk? Bop doo wop.

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