[20] Sivu, ‘Can’t Stop Now’


Junior’s nine now. I first wrote about the way she experienced music in November 2005 when she was 20 weeks old, fidgeting in her bouncy chair to the minimalist hip-hop of Antipop Consortium. Since then, she’s formed her own opinions, protested about doing this at all and asked to do it again. I think she believed she was famous at one point – if ‘famous’ means a couple of dozen people knowing who you are without actually meeting you, then I suppose she was.

In 2008 Junior 2 arrived and then Junior 3 turned up in 2010. Three girls who reckon they know more about music than their dad. Out of the four of us, I’m the biggest One Direction fan, so perhaps they’re right. But can they recite an entire volume of the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles? No, they cannot. Who’s the real winner here?

None of us knows much about Sivu, but I have press releases in my inbox so I can busk it. He’s really called James Page, was born in St Ives (Cambs version) but somehow ended up in Kennington feeling the weight of South London’s urban dislocation. He sticks it in song, although ‘Can’t Stop Now”s tumbling flow dings a note of optimism with its folky trills, rising keys and faked laser sheen. The ooo-ooo-ooos alone plant it in our top 20 of the year. It’s no headbanger but that’s what Junior does anyway, giving Page the actual thumbs-up. Junior 2 says, “It sounds good to me because there’s lots of people talking,” while Junior 3 adds, “We’re still going south.” She’s playing with a compass.

Animal Collective, ‘Summertime Clothes’

Animal Collective

So it’s Junior’s fourth birthday. It seems only three and a half years and a bit since we were reviewing Antipop Consortium records together and plumping for Kanye West over Missy Elliott in the 2005 chart. How time flies, innit.

And in those few short years, Animal Collective have gone from quirky indie electronica nerds to quirky indie electronica nerds with something approaching proper tunes. There have always been squirts of brilliance, but 2009’s Merriweather Post Pavilion has pulled together more than most and set them to some full rave dynamics. The jaunty ‘Summertime Clothes’ isn’t the best single on it – mayyybbeee we’ll save one for the year-end chart – but it’s a ray of hope as everything goes haywire outside the window.

Newly grown-up Junior is more interested in the flashy magic eye madness on the album sleeve, gracing the song with a mere handclap or two. She’d have loved them at Glastonbury though, where they stole the show with disco lights and hands aloft and sent all my mates packing to buy their album.


N.B. Coming soon(ish) – The Top 50 Singles of the 00s

[19] The Avalanches, ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’

Junior ran the rule over this yesterday, on her third birthday. She’s come a long way since she was ruthlessly tearing a strip off Julie Andrews and Antipop Consortium (separate singles, not some breathtaking minimalist hip-hop/prim-yet-somehow-racy-nun mash-up) when she was 20 weeks old. Her critical faculties have sharpened, perhaps, but right now she dances to pretty much everything, willy-nilly. ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ witnessed some wiggling about and a dashed-off mime to a violin sample, before she returned to the more demanding matter of unwrapping piles of presents.

It’s a silly record, representative of its parent album Since I Left You only by dint of the ear-popping collage of samples. ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ is a bit Fatboy Slim; Since I Left You is warm, inspired, mood-driven and dazzling. If I were the type to stat these things up and make list upon list – and I am – I’d say it’s not just the album of 2001, it’s the album of the century so far. From the thrilling four-song build-up to ‘A Different Feeling’ to the gorgeous come-down of ‘Summer Crane’, ‘Etoh’ and ‘Three Kings’, it’s a seamless tapestry of ideas, emotions and balls-out party fun. Where’s the follow-up, lads? If they’re making one – and they occasionally insist they are, still – they must be clearing even more samples this time.

As the vinyl presence in charity shops starts to dwindle, you have to fear for The Avalanches’ source material. I might beat them to the punch myself, cutting up rough with those 93 BBC sound effects 7”s I bought in Oxfam last year…

Antipop Consortium, ‘Ping Pong’

She’s only 20 weeks old so I’ll cut her some slack, but this isn’t the eye-catching, world-twisting start that I anticipated. How can I keep up the pretence that this fey theme is, well, not a pretence when the titular heroine’s not even awake to review the songs?

I think I’ve known Junior long enough now to guess her reaction to ‘Ping Pong’. Let’s face it, when her mum and I tried to play table tennis on holiday a few months back, she just burst into tears. Junior, not her mum. Her mum won. Anyway, after shaking off those dark memories brought on by the ping-pong backbeat, Junior would say that she was reminded of the Dreem Teem trying to sound moody. She’d wonder whether Antipop Consortium could make a decent fist of 606 on Radio 5. She’d raise a smile at the RuPaul and Scary Spice namechecks, and move off topic to muse on who’d win a fight out of the Spice Girls and Girls Aloud.

But that’s for another day.

So, that’s a smile and a muse. A hit for Antipop.