Did we like it?
The word ‘eclectic’ was invented by an NME journalist in 1995 as a way of making Blur sound distinct from the herd of homogenous Indie bands of the era (they weren’t); today it means a putrid ‘critics’ choice’ assemblage of dull sterility enlivened by the odd bolt of imagination.
What was good about it?
• Black Kids, a hop, skip and jump in the mould of Arcade Fire fronted by Robert Smith discovering the joys of summer right down to a trademark “do-do-do-do-duh-duh-duh-do” when he can’t be bothered to think up some more lyrics. It has all the spunky charm and quaint irascibility of a stroppy teenager throwing a tantrum and storming up to their room and slamming the door shut.
• James Taylor. Even though we found his music a little soporific, his talent in both voice and song writing was apparent.
• The clip of James Taylor from the 70s, which was another exhibit of how no adult from that period looked under the age of 36.
• Neil Cowley Trio’s His Nibs was a soundtrack to a silent film.
What was bad about it?
• Estelle, from every pore cascades the grim, dim mundanity of a singer who would be bottled off on a cruise ship. The slurred vocals float face down in a mire of a quicksand rhythm, while a dumb melody swerves aimlessly by.
• The problem with Adele is that she sings as if the lyrics are in a foreign language and she has no idea of their meaning. Simply hitting notes isn’t music, it’s a passionless receptacle to be savoured by people who put music ‘on in the background’ or at a dinner party overflowing with red wine and one-upmanship conversations about global travel. The words march out of her mouth as if they’ve downed tools and are going on strike rather than with any sense of communicating the wonder of the wonderful or wondrous.
• And both Adele and Estelle (record companies have now even got their puppets rhyming names, next month it’ll be Cuffy and Fluffy or Cuffy or Xuffy) are crippled by the remainder of their songs aside from their voice being the sort of nauseating syrup that gets poured down the drains at restaurants as even the stray cats turn their nose up at it.
• Jools’ uncomfortable interviews during which he distracts the excruciating embarrassment with a deluge of meaningless adjectives such as ‘intimate’. He uses the same technique in his introductions; “She’s number one this week,” he gushed over one-hit wonder Estelle who sang three times, “she’s incredibly talented, we love her madly!”
• While they might have been a shower of furious sparks teeming off the punk anvil, 30 years later their biggest hit, Another Girl Another Planet, has been diluted to the flaccid form acceptable to be the theme tune of a short-lived US sitcom who delivers punchlines by pulling a mirthful expression. The whole punk mood (and remember 97% of punk was diabolical) has been rinsed away as if the song had spent the last 30 years incarcerated in a subterranean jail, away from light and sea, and tortured until it renounces its once seditious heritage, satisfied to act as a rickety imitation and collect its pension on Thursdays.
• The way in which during their peers’ performances, the camera sometimes zooms in on the other musicians in the room and they are compelled by etiquette to tap out the rhythm. But such is their apathy towards everyone else in the room (they are musicians after all) that the rhythm is often out of time.