[1] Animal Collective, ‘My Girls’

For all its ecstatic brilliance, it’s annoying that I’ve known what the single of the year is for most of 2009. But it seemed so obvious when I heard it. I hadn’t been expecting truly great things from Animal Collective – maybe more of the same quirky pop, bellowed harmonies, abstract lyrics and squelchy textures – so when they came up with this dense, sticky, Beach Boys rave track that actually seemed to be about something (Panda Bear’s kids and – erm – Adobe slabs), it was as welcome as a fat cheque on a… well, right about now, please.

It’s struck me that I might simply be a sucker for this because I have daughters (and everyone likes to think that song is about them, don’t they? Don’t they?), but listen to those Frankie Knuckles-nabbing synths and the slow introduction of the bass that makes it sound like Orbital – and then the steady rise and layering of the sonics, the two different hooks that could stand as a chorus. And the “Woo!”s. Your hands are in the air, aren’t they?

On this play, Junior pranced like a deer from kitchen to living room, but she’s been tuned into ‘My Girls’ all year, along with its album Merriweather Post Pavilion, a mainstay of the car in 2009 – and probably the album of the year too. The Horrors’ one was good too, mind you. And Grizzly Bear’s. And Wild Beasts’.

We’re not going to do an album chart though. We’re going to do the Top 50 Best Singles of the 2000s, and we’ll start next week. Merry Christmas, all you cats.

I don’t mean to seem like I care about material things…

[4] The Horrors, ‘Sea Within A Sea’

This would have been a better Christmas No.1. It has droney vocals, seemingly endless monotony, a metronomic rhythm like the slow trundle around the Boxing Day M25, that pervading sense of doom – in all, it’s a real festive cockle-warmer. But of course it neither has *GASP* swearwords nor the relentless Cowell machine behind it, so there was never a snowball’s chance. And no one thought about it. Next year then.

The Horrors can comfort themselves with all the critical garlands they received for an impressive step forward. Only the gloom and occasional tough riff remained from their (pretty funny) goth-garage debut; otherwise, Primary Colours was a fug of glacial synths, Krautrock basslines and happy-go-lucky Joy Division ambience. ‘Sea Within A Sea’ was the astonishing curtain-raiser, galloping in on a Satanic groove, hanging around for five teasing minutes, then sailing away between banks of tinkling keyboards. It’s good.

“I like the singing,” came an atypical response, “but I don’t like the music.” She said that, but she performed a wafty indiegirl dance for the full seven minutes, with some slapstick falling-over thrown in. Slapstick. It’s what The Horrors are all about.

Wicked stone (man):

2009 Top 20 Singles?

We did this about this time last year, so why change a vaguely popular feature? These are the Top 20 Most Played 2009 Singles on the ever-honest iPod:

[1] Yeah Yeah Yeahs, ‘Zero’
[2] Dananananaykroyd, ‘Black Wax’
[3] The Horrors, ‘Sea Within A Sea’
[4] Passion Pit, ‘The Reeling’
[5] Animal Collective, ‘My Girls’
[6] James Yuill, ‘No Surprise’
[7] Sunny Day Sets Fire, ‘Adrenaline’
[8] TV On The Radio, ‘Dancing Choose’
[9] Frankmusik, ‘Better Off As Two’
[10] Röyksopp featuring Robyn, ‘Girl And The Robot’
[11] Jamie T, ‘Sticks ‘n’ Stones’
[12] Coldplay, ‘Life In Technicolor ii’
[13] U2, ‘Magnificent’
[14] The Phantom Band, ‘The Howling’
[15] Eg, ‘Broken’
[16] Junior Boys, ‘Hazel’
[17] Lily Allen, ‘The Fear’
[18] Fischerspooner, ‘Supply & Demand’
[19] Saint Etienne, ‘Method Of Modern Love’
[20] Red Light Company, ‘Arts & Crafts’

But will it bear any resemblance to the year-end chart? Be sure to check in 18 or 19 weeks.

The Jukebox Mercury Junior Barclaycard Music Prize Draw

Probably our dozen favourite British albums of the past 12 months:

David Holmes, The Holy Pictures
Bloc Party, Intimacy
Los Campesinos!, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
The Invisible, The Invisible
Higamos Hogamos, Higamos Hogamos
Dananananaykroyd, Hey Everyone!
The Horrors, Primary Colours
The Wave Pictures, If You Leave It Alone
Eg, Adventure Man
God Help The Girl, God Help The Girl
Little Boots, Hands
Damian Lazarus, Smoke The Monster Out

Winner to be announced when we get over the mediocrity of the list.

The Horrors, ‘Who Can Say’

The Horrors

Strange House was an awfully enjoyable debut, big on the eyeliner and silly on the goth-garage growly histrionics, but that was about the size of it – silly yet enjoyable. It’s amazing what a pinch of Geoff Barrow can do. The surly Portisheader has twiddled the knobs, kicked against the pricks and, er, twisted the appendages for The Horrors’ second album Primary Colours and – against any odds you care to chalk up – we’re left with a fantastic record. Still garage rock, still psychedelic, still fronted by a bit of a Brett Anderson, but this time The Horrors are Joy Division with Krautrock propulsion. It can’t all be Barrow because basic songcraft has hepped up a notch – still, credit where it’s due.

‘Who Can Say’ piques the gossip buds with the idea it’s all about frontman Faris Badwan dumping polymath Peaches Geldof. When Faris gets all Shangri-Las in the middle talky bit – “And when I told her I didn’t love her anymore, she cried” – you even feel sorry for Bob’s bonny bunny. All that aside, it’s fuzzy, echoey and seedily real.

We had a talky bit in the car too:

“Are they Horrors?”

“That’s the name of the five of them together, sort of like The Beatles on your t-shirt.”

“Beatles?”

“Yes, and The Horrors all play instruments on this song. One of them, the second one along in that picture, sings. One plays the guitar, another plays the bass – which is like a guitar with fewer strings – another plays drums and the last one the piano.”

“I’ve got a pink piano.”

“I don’t think The Horrors have a pink piano.”

“No, they have a black one.”

“You’re probably right.”

Better off this way: