Readers of Eyewear, the blog, know we love to recommend new tracks, as we find them on Spotify.
It's been a good year for pop, rock and indie music, with The Darkness back, and Brandon Flowers, and Carly Rae Jepsen and even Chic and Moroder, but here are the ten key songs of the moment we find essential for summer listening. Put another way, these are the ten best songs of the year, so far, judged solely in terms of the love swoon factor:
1. 'SPRINTER' - TORRES - Torres is a young woman now based in Brooklyn whose second album this title track hails from. With assistance from persons associated with PJ Harvey, the sound is avant-indie, with intense lyrics, and emotive vocals. I love the lyrics, which explore a young Baptist girl's relationship with her pastor, a good man brought low by pornography - "there's freedom to, and freedom from" - it has several transcendent moments (in the classic soft/loud mode) and a soaring sense of theology and feminism intersecting, in a way that's startling and intelligently bracing.
2. 'DREAMS' - BECK - Beck is back. After a dreamy and slightly laboured recent album, beautiful but also somewhat tiring, this is pure summer camp - a pop song that might be from a boy band, or Timberlake. Only fun, and very catchy, it is almost as if Beck is trying to Out-Ronson Ronson.
3. 'THE ORGINAL HIGH' - ADAM LAMBERT - Speaking of which, "there's no comfort in comfort", as this Hollywood-based pop song claims. With a "need for speed", it's a curiously poignant, falsetto exploration of addiction, sexual and otherwise, and how medication/dedication lead the singer to seek the rush of the first night. "Summertime stuck on my mind" indeed - this may be the summer hit.
4. 'CALIFORNIA NIGHTS' - BEST COAST - Regarding Hollywood nights, and staying high, here we go. Based subtly on a classic Smiths riff, this echo-laden indie-guitar track lays down a mood of dream-pop, melancholy, opiate-becalmed splendour. Easily one of the best indie songs of the decade so far.
5. 'HOW BIG, HOW BLUE, HOW BEAUTIFUL' - FLORENCE + THE MACHINE - Well, what is it with Hollywood at the moment? Here we are stuck between a crucifix and the Hollywood sign. Florence can be OTT, and her pipes a bit exhausting, but this track breaks free of her stylistic tics, and creates a great song with little touches of The Beatles. Bluntly, beautiful, and soaring, in a good way.
6. 'QUO VADIS' - LOWER DENS - keeping with the theme, California band Lower Dens have crafted an album of late, purely indebted to Siouxsie + The Banshees (also a big influence for Florence, natch), and several tracks are keepers. This one is propulsive, melodic, melancholy, and another indie guitar-twanging classic. "We don't always get what we want" stays with me.
7. 'LOVE, TEXAS' - MARRIAGES - The gods who love indie moody guitar-twang dream pop are obviously gifting us this summer, because here we are, with a track so drenched in Mazzy Star atmospherics country-goth, you half expect Hope Sandoval to be something they've been shooting up behind the Nashville pool hall. I love it. Buy me a summer dress, a finned red car from the 50s, and I'll slap on some shades and go looking for a soldier boy to smooch in a motel near some dusty Nevada palms.
8. 'BRAVE MAN' - WILL YOUNG - and yes, pop lets us explore our bifurcated, many-sexualled identities. Here is another camp classic, a falsetto pop song so drenched in sentimentality and drama (a brave man, running through the rain) you have to tip your hat.
9. 'REGRET' - EVERYTHING EVERYTHING - "Did you imagine it in a different way" - an ironic question addressed to a British person escaped to Syria to join the fundamentalists there, and the most politically original, piercing and relevant British indie pop song (and ODDLY prescient) since The Specials about 30 years ago - who would have thought you could craft a great song from such tragic and complex choices?
10. 'SAMURAI BOY' - TOVE STYRKE - Move over, divas of pop, from Robyn to Gaga, Tove is on the scene - and this is as smart, adept, rich, witty, and sexy as the best of their work. Taken from an album of gems, this may be the most fun of the lot - with its "anarchy effects" and the camp query, "Oh Lord, can you hear my voice/ keep looking out for my Samurai Boy".
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