[3] La Roux, ‘Bulletproof’

Junior sings, “This time, baby, I’ll be blaaaaaiiiiiiirrrrproof”. It sounds like an anthem for a resistant European Union.

She loves this song, loves its chorus whatever its words. This is understandable – gratifying, even – because ‘Bulletproof’’s toytown hook is one of the most delightful I’ve heard in years. It seems based on minimal effort (Elly Jackson pouting, sullen, around the studio) but the results are perfect, like an even more immediate ‘Ready For The Floor’. And like Hot Chip, La Roux’s cheap Casio sound is just that bit too tacky to sustain an album. Let’s hear it for the singles.

Time is running out:

[13] Belle And Sebastian, ‘I’m A Cuckoo’

belleandsebastian12

Did Trevor Horn ruin Belle And Sebastian? Did Russell T. Davies ruin Doctor Who? Did Tony Blair ruin Labour? Nah, they just buffed them up until you could shave in them. Dear Catastrophe Waitress represented a sonic step forward – or sideways, however you look at it – but B&S were never exactly scuzzy and never lost their lighter touch. There’s not much lightness of touch on ‘I’m A Cuckoo’, unless you take it for a wimpier spin on Thin Lizzy; there are guitar pyrotechnics (well, they spark a little) and it soars up to a triumphant final verse, riding shotgun with the Sunday gang in Harajuku.

Junior bops, and actually likes it. I’ve suspicions that the chocolate cornflake cake she was munching did more to hep up her mood, but Belle And Sebastian never did anyone any harm.

Tune in on Monday for the second part of our Harajuku double-header.

There’s something wrong with me:

[6] Coldplay, ‘Viva La Vida’

Coldplay

As the opening strings stab, Junior vouches, “It’s my song,” which just about crowns a vexing couple of weeks for Chris Martin. That’s Junior and Joe Satriani on his tail. Joe’s beef is that the melody of the verse borrows a widdly guitar part of his, and while you can’t deny the similarities it’s tough to call it a steal. At any rate, ‘Viva La Vida’’s strength is a pulsating string sound and a chorus you can shine your shoes with.

After the complacent, sloppy muck of X&Y, I wasn’t expecting great things of Coldplay, and Viva La Vida’s lead single ‘Violet Hill’ wasn’t exactly a curveball – but, once you got past the throwback mis-step of ‘Cemeteries Of London’, the album turned out to be a real gem. There’s a switch halfway through fourth track ‘42’ where the band relaxes, tries on some new threads for size and bangs out beauties to the end. It’s tempting to call it the work of Brian Eno and, even if his hand was only a guiding one, he can take some credit that the album is succinct, moving, interesting and brave – in relative terms, at least. The title track is its beating heart (albeit a heartbeat after some mild exercise), a stirring tale of a great leader fallen and shamed. Neil reckons it’s about Tony Blair.

Junior is “woah-oh-OH-OH-oh”ing within a bar or two, pre-empting the chant before the final chorus. Perhaps it was at the start in her first draft.