[4] Solange, ‘Cranes In The Sky’

solange-2016

“She definitely sounds like her sister,” Junior confirms. “I find it kind of good,” says Junior 3. “I like the echoing in the background,” says Junior 2. “When she sings, it echoes out.” If only NME still existed, they’d have some new hip young gunslingers.

It does echo out, away, away, away. Dear me, Solange has taken her time being appreciated as a voice of a generation. We were right there with ‘Sandcastle Disco’ (OK, we missed the first album, who didn’t?) and cheered her on as Dev Hynes dragged her beneath the commercial waterline. I mean, we weren’t enjoying the abject lack of success, we just liked the music. There’s no faulting Hynes’ anti-Midas touch though.

Now Solange is speaking up. A Seat At The Table is sharp and sure of itself, and ‘Cranes In The Sky’ is the Minnie Riperton comeback we’ve been waiting for.

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[2] Solange, ‘Losing You’

Solange

Solange Knowles is a hipster. Just look at those hips move!

She’s also a great popstar who possibly never will be. That’s all about where you align yourself too – no one ever had No.1s hanging out with of Montreal, Dirty Projectors or Dev Hynes. I met Hynes about four years ago, standing at the back of a We Are Scientists gig. I asked him what he was doing there and he told me he was a friend of the band. Five minutes later he’d disappeared only to burst onto the stage with a grin as wide as his hat, toting an acoustic guitar. That’s what he does, pop up all over the place having a whale of a time and alchemising absolutely zero hits.

In Solange he has a muse for his True Blue instincts and in purely melodic terms it’s working just fine. In fact, in pure pop single terms it’s working just “fantastic” according to Junior 2 and I’m right there with her. ‘Losing You’ is sweetly heartbreaking but so spry it feels like hope. Still, the whoops and clattering beats are just the party happening outside while Solange frets within.

Junior sulks about the strawberry bits in her yoghurt. Somewhere a clock chimes.

Lightspeed Champion, ‘Galaxy Of The Lost’

This month, or for as long as I can muster the will, we’ll be reappraising the records that didn’t make the 2007 Top 20 either because a) I didn’t deem them up to scratch at the time, b) I forgot about them, c) I hadn’t actually heard them or d) I was plain wrong. Messing up the categories straight away, Lightspeed Champion gets the first shout because I didn’t listen to this properly until mid-December.

Dev Hynes comes hot from Test Icicles – the charmingly named nu-rave, shouty-punk, whatever-label-you-can-rustle-up outfit who never quite made it big. He’s taken a long, hard look at himself, declared himself happy with the outlandish hair and threads but changed tack completely for the music. Ticking personal boxes for me, he now sounds as if he’s transmitting direct from Postcard records in the early ‘80s, with some first-album Prefab Sprout chucked in for winning measure. It’s fiddly, beguiling, inventive, sensitive pop… about drinking gin and throwing up.

Now Junior thought this was pretty special and waltzed around with the smallest of the many toy babies filling up our living room. I could tell from her beam that she was delighted Dad had finally seen sense and given Dev his props; she promised to take a more integral role on Jukebox Junior’s steering committee in future, to avoid similar mishaps. As for Lightspeed Champion’s future, he’s our hot tip for 2008. Watch him plummet.