[18] Gardens & Villa, ‘Fixations’


In good news for The Go! Team, Junior thinks this should be 19 and Waxahatchee should be 20. In faint praise news for Gardens & Villa, she likes the end of this song, but she does manage a grin at the solo.

And in not sure if it’s good or bad news, she also reckons this is “a bit Beach Boys?” Hands up, that’s obviously why I like it. It’s also why I like Fixers, Miracle Fortress, Panda Bear, ad infinitum through the harmony glass.

[1] Future Islands, ‘Seasons (Waiting On You)’


Now it’s 2015, we can truly appreciate how this was the single of 2014. That’s my justification for the delay. It has nothing to do with the fact I fancied a pale ale on the 24th and everything went to the dogs.

It’s a bit dreary putting this here – what with NME, Guardian, everyone else doing the same – and indeed when I submitted my list to NME in, what, August or something, I had it at 2 and Miracle Fortress at 1, but… wait for it… SEASONS CHANGE. This cuts to the heart like a particularly ferocious chest-beat on the Letterman show.

My wife would tell me my preference is all about the synths sounding a bit 80s, and she’s got a point, that’s my Kryptonite. But it’s also the sadness and acceptance wrapped into a couple of warming hooks, and the little crack in Samuel T Herring’s voice that’s so much better than a pantomime roar. I do have reservations – and maybe it’s a sign of a non-vintage year that I’ve got a slight nag about the supposed best single. It’s that chorus. Too muddy, too Killers. The rest of the song props it up.

So do we have consensus?

Junior 3 immediately says, “Good!”
Junior: “It’s calm, it’s nice, I like it.”
Junior 2 knows the words because she has absorbed all of pop music.
My notes say Junior 3 is now making my hair “look cool”.
The last word, once more, to Junior: “I want No.2 to be No.1.”

[4] Miracle Fortress, ‘Here’s To Feeling Good All The Time’


That bassline.

I think we covered all the Miracle Fortress stuff at No.18, but it’s nice that we’re doing our bit, isn’t it? Now go and buy everything.

OK, a few more words. Additional synths on the verse after the first chorus are the killer moment, but it always comes back to the bassline, which the girls actually sing. “Good!” says Junior 3. “Good good!” says Junior 2. “Quite boring,” says Junior, but as the great Meat once said, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

[18] Miracle Fortress, ‘Let Me Be The 1’


“As it goes on, it gets better,” says Junior 2. “It’s nice, but it’s not doing much,” adds Junior. In their slightly disengaged style, both statements are spot-on in multiple ways.

‘Let Me Be The 1’ does build, from choppy shoved synths to easy nu-soul garage, passing through perfect pop and jazzy byways, until it gets somewhere that feels like it really matters; until you’re pleading alongside Graham Van Pelt who, even on his knees, has found some kind of euphoric high.

This Canadian one-man band (usually, anyway) is nice, but he doesn’t do much – not in cold, brittle commercial terms. Miracle Fortress’s debut album Five Roses was just about the best thing to happen in 2007, a near-dipless flow of warm, gorgeously harmonised classic pop that was followed too long after by Was I The Wave?, more of the same with the odd electronic gurgle to make it a little more 2011. This year Van Pelt’s just releasing singles that pack in everything he’s learned. He’s still not doing much, but it’s all so nice.

So listen up, everyone. If he’s not going to be the 1, let him be a 1 for a short while at least.

Miracle Fortress, ‘Miscalculations’

Miracle Fortress

In Rainbows and Sound Of Silver were all well and good, but the best album of 2007 was, of course, Miracle Fortress’s Five Roses. The Canadian Prince Rogers Nelson – as no one has called him until now – Graham Van Pelt did it all himself, lovingly concocting a modern Beach Boys album set to shimmering bucolia (you know what I mean, sounds like a heat-hazed summer meadow) with, improbably, a devastating hook in every song. It was almost too perfect to sell. So it didn’t.

Four long years later, only endured by playing Five Roses at least once a week, Van Pelt is back with a new album Was I The Wave? that looks set to make a mockery of Adele’s chart feats. It’s a rather more electronic affair that I’ll be reviewing for millions of pounds in the next day or so, and ‘Miscalculations’ is the killer single. Actually, ‘Raw Spectacle”s the single – or “free download”, to give it its accurate title – but Van Pelt should see sense soon enough. You see, it had Junior doing a spontaneous hula dance which, as we’ve seen over the last five years, is the interpretive equivalent of holding up a card marked ‘Hit’. And about as successful as Jukebox Jury predictions ever were too. Hit!

[19] Owen Pallett, ‘Lewis Takes Off His Shirt’

Owen Pallett

That Owen Pallett – he can arrange my strings anytime. No, seriously, he’s really good. And when I eventually get around to committing my baroque pop masterpiece to acetate (the kids still use acetate, right?), it’ll be adorned with all the soaring beauty and heroic imagery of ‘Lewis Takes Off His Shirt’, starting off shy and polite before stripping off to bare its defiance. It will occupy that fey but assured territory between Miracle Fortress and Patrick Wolf, breathless with romance, stubborn in its grace. It will so.

And will Junior join our chamber orchestra? Her thumbs-up says, “Sign me up”; her mouth says, “It’s good. It sounds like violins”; her funnybone just shakes at the title.