Gigslutz pick of the weeks best tracks 18.7.13

Last week, the Manic Street Preachers made their return to our ear canals with ‘Rewind the Film’, the title track from their forthcoming eleventh album. A touching, acoustic ballad, ‘Rewind The Film’ features vocals from Richard Hawley  – who actually sings most of the song with just a few distinguished interludes from the Manics’ own James Dean Bradfield.  Upon merely hearing the title of this song, a distinct sense of nostalgia is evoked, and with lyrics like “I want to feel small, lying in my mother’s arms, playing my old records, hoping that they’ll never stop”, this wistful melancholy remains a constant theme throughout this moving and heartfelt offering. With a smooth, folky-sounding melody, and Hawley’s classic crooning, ‘Rewind The Film’ gives a distinctively different impression than the angst-filled, revolutionary air that often seems to characterise Manics’ material. However, the implicit meaning and evocative undertones of the song undeniably belong to the long-standing Welsh trio; Bradfield, Wire and Moore have thus succeeded in achieving a somewhat retro-reinvention of themselves, whilst retaining the rousing sentiment and radical roots that we all know and love.

Following last month’s Psych-poppy ‘Defriended’, Beck’s most recent offering, ‘I Won’t Be Long’, is similarly synth-speckled. Amid rumours that the multi-instrumentalist is soon to release two new albums simultaneously – one acoustic record, and the other the official studio follow-up to 2008’s Modern Guilt – the new single strikes one as a step away from the country-inspired ditties we have come to expect, though retains the common theme of the apathy of being out on the road – “Broken air condition, no one has a clue where we are…”  Featuring spoken-word vocals from Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon (in the 15 minute extended version), this is a chilled-out, dreamy song in which Beck manages to maintain his trademark drawling vocals and catchy syncopated strumming of the guitar, whilst creating electro-inspired, atmospheric melodies. ‘I Won’t Be Long’ thus proves to be yet another iconic, iridescent masterpiece to come from this consistently versatile song writer who never fails to take creativity to the next level.

Franz Ferdinand’s new single, ‘Right Action’, seems reminiscent of the band’s roots, with a retro video bearing a striking resemblance to 2004’s ‘Take Me Out’ which was also, coincidentally or not, directed by Jonas Odell. With funky psychedelic graphics to match the funky bass line of the song, ‘Right Action’ is unmistakeably recognisable as the work of Kapranos and chums. This bouncy and uplifting track is the lead single from the band’s upcoming fourth album, ‘Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action’ (produced by Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard and Alexis Taylor) and – with its thumping, climatic riffs and characteristically catchy, repeated choruses  – would be a welcome addition to any summer playlist.

Our first taster of Kings of Leon’s forthcoming sixth album, ‘Mechanical Bull’, comes to us in the form of ‘Super Soaker’ (oh, what I wouldn’t give to be drenched by a ‘super soaker’ right now…) Now in their fourteenth year, singer Caleb Folowill says the band’s new song is much more ‘musically complex’ than earlier work, though I still can’t seem to get past his own trademark Oklahoma twang and husky declarations, and certainly can’t find anything too ‘complex’ about this song. That countrified indie-rock sound that I used to find myself getting excited by, now strikes me as predictable and easily forgettable. Whilst this new offering is perfectly listenable, and as sure as I am that the Folowill brothers are capable of some very ‘musically complex’ material, personally I stopped paying much attention to KoL about eight years ago… but, then again, I did always prefer the simple things in life. Like water fights.

Mari Lane