In lieu of reviewing a new album this week, I thought I’d wrap up a holiday present and discuss some recent singles. There’s been some amazing stuff released recently, and some others that were, um, not so amazing. Here we go : 

Alesha Dixon - Radio

Okay, Alesha has as much of a claim on the title of  “Britain’s Pop Princess” as that Cheryl Cole woman. This single, reminiscent of Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own”, is a eurosynth smorgasbord of tuneful sounds, and it’s a shame that it didn’t do better on the charts. I’m thinking that Alesha’s best work is still in her future, but for now I give this an 8 on the England Swings scale of 1-10.

White Lies - Bigger Than Us

Here’s a band that is just now reaching its potential. This is a great song, a bit Cure by way of Interpol. The last White Lies album was gloom, gloom, gloom, but this first track from their upcoming album has an urgent sort of desperation instead. It’s also got a killer chorus : “I want you to hold me/I want you to pray/This is bigger than us”. It may not be genius, but it’ll do for now. I give it an 8.5.

The Naked and Famous - Punching In a Dream

This band comes from New Zealand, but they’ve finally broken into the consciousness of the UK with this single, and rightfully so. Echo-chambered and bouncy, it’s a cross between indie rock and awesome techno : this is what groups like Hadouken! SHOULD sound like. I give it an 8.5 as well. 

Fenech-Soler - Demons

This is definitely one of the up-and-coming groups of 2010, and hopefully they’ll continue to refine their unique sound in 2011. There’s the feel of a runaway locomotive going on here - the song bursts with energy and doesn’t sound quite like anything else out there. It’s a bit pop, a bit rock, and all good. I give it an 8. 

Clockwise - I Don’t Know

This is an unsigned band from Canada who have a classic rock sound. They sound as authentic and tight as ever on this new single. They’re an undiscovered wonder, and this single has crashing guitars, great vocal harmonies, and a cohesive rhythm section. They manage to sound both retro and modern at once. I’ll give this an 8.5. 

Adele - Rolling In the Deep

Whoops, almost typed “Rolling in the Depp” there. This is the first single from Adele’s upcming album “21”, and it bodes well for the record. It’s a bit brassier than previous material, so much so that it sounds a bit Duffy. Still, Adele is in fine voice, and this song rolls like a monster. Adele has turned out to be one of the premier British artists of the 21st century. I give this song an 8.

Noah & the Whale - Wild Thing

It was Mumford & Sons that went international this year, but it’s Noah & the Whale that should have had the breakthrough. The song construction is clever here, as always; the delivery is low-key and beautiful. The tune is a little like Lou Reed, and a little like Lloyd Cole. Cool. I give it an 8.

And : a couple of bonus Christmas singles!

Coldplay - Christmas Lights

Okay, they got me again. Instead of going all bombastic and grandiose, Chris Martin and company have put together a typically-beautiful Coldplay song, all about heartbreak and angst. It’s one of the saddest Christmas songs ever, but it works a treat. I’m going with an 8.5 on this one.

Goldie Lookin Chain - You’ll Never Be Alone On Christmas Day

Maybe I’m a sucker, but I LOVE this song. It was the least expected move from the jokey GLC - a straightforward and beautiful Christmas song. Maybe it’s still a joke or a parody, but taken on its own terms it’s a classic holiday tune, with gorgeous harmonizing. Admittedly the lyrics are just the tiniest bit silly, but it all holds together. I give this a 9 on the scale, and take off my Santa hat to Goldie Lookin Chain!

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