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New Singles Review by Neil & Mat

Caitlin Moran

April 1997





Submitted by: Jane Marshall




The coolest keyboard/bass duo in London vow to dispense a uniform big up to their contemporaries. It can't last...

Neil 'Niles Crane' Codling and Mat 'tall as a crane' Osman have set themselves a fearsome challenge. It's not 'trying to go for 20 seconds without lighting a fag'. It's not 'wearing anything other than arty black togs'. It's not even 'being able to distinguish green from brown' - a crisis that later almost forces the abandonment of the Singles. No. What Neil and Mat have decided to do, in the month that Reef, Bush, INXS and The Beautiful South have released singles, is resolve to be only positive and nice. This monumental effort will suck their souls dry of any juice and vitamins in 30 seconds flat. But they're Prepared to do it for Select. What troupers.

Well, FUTURE SOUND OF LONDON shouldn't stretch that willing too far. 'We Have Explosive' (Virgin) is, admittedly, tinny and half-hearted, resolutely uncomplex and borderline annoying. But then, it's on the soundtrack to 'Wipeout 2097'. No one's ever going to listen to it - they'll be too busy shouting "Arrrgghhh, corner corner corner!", and pretending they've crashed because they had “something in my eye".

“I like FSOL.” the Codling admits. "I thought 'Dead Cities' was excellent. This isn't one of their best, though.”

“We want to bring out a Suede version of ‘Wipeout’.” Mat reveals. “You know when the mines and rockets appear, and Graham The Voiceover Man from Blind Date shouts ‘Mines!’ and 'Rockets!'? We want one where you pick up more mundane things.”

“Spoon! Old socks! Back issues of Readers Digest.” Codling intones.

Where and when would be the best Place to listen to this?

“In a high-velocity land-rocket, heading towards the finish-line." Mat says.

"With a cargo of socks in the back," Codling adds.

THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH are next, with 'Blackbird On The Wire' (A&M). "You can review this one, Neil." Mat winces. "You're naturally nicer than me."

“It's 'Could It Be Magic?' being played by an old man on a Casio, in a hotel bar at four in the morning," Neil explains helpfully.

"The Butlins Hotel in Westbourne Grove." Mat adds. "It's like a prison – if you use your phone more than twice they come up and harass you. I had to stay there once - I went out for fags and locked myself out of my flat. I've never felt more depressed in my life."

"The ideal place to listen to this would be on your front door step, nervously feeling for those keys," Neil concludes. "Who's next? ICE CUBE? Do we want the Main Version of 'The Word Is Mine' (Jive), or the Clean Version?"

"Clean version. I want to see how he's coped with the swearing problem. I hope they've dubbed over it with baby swear words - y'know, 'flipping melon-farmer'."

“’Your mother cooks socks in Hull'," Neil glowers. They listen for 30 seconds. "It's a bit hit and miss. He releases too much."

"Where would we listen to this?" Mat wonders. Neil concentrates.

"It's the rhythm of underwear on spin-cycle; so the launderette," he decides. The next single is a bit of an event - SUPERGRASS's first new material for a year. It's 'Richard The III' (Parlophone) - a startlingly thrash-centric comeback that sounds like The Stooges. The title is popular Cockney rhyming slang for, um, poo. Is it apt?

Mat: “I've got a lot of time for Supergrass. They always sound like they're having the best time in the world. This is very rocky. Rockin'."

Some complex harmonies slide by.

"Oooh, nice," Codling whispers.

“You'd have to be on a bike to get the best out of this.”

”One of those aluminium Tour de France ones that weigh the same as a packet of fags."

"With a back-up car driving right behind you, with a stereo on the roof," Nell concludes. "We like this."

The air guitars come out for KULA SHAKER's cover of Deep Purple's 'Hush' (Columbia). Suede don't mind Kula Shaker.

“I hate some of their stuff, and love other bits.” Mat exclusively reveals, before spilling the Other Posh Chancer goss we all wanted to know – has Ben Vol-au-Vent from Curiosity Killed The Cat gone mad? “Yes.” Mat sighs. "You can see him in Portobello Market most mornings. Although he hasn't got a Walkman. he dances and sings his way around the stalls."

“Wacky as a wigwam." Neil agrees. “Where would we listen to this? Twenty years ago. But only cos my mum played Deep Purple all the time when I was little. She fancied one of them. The hairy one. I think. Next."

Unfortunately, 'next' means THE WONDERS, the band from Tom Hanks' execrable 'That Thing You Do!’ (Sony). The unfortunate noise that's making Neil gurn is the theme tune. "Weezer must be so pissed off that they've had their idea nicked," says Mat. "If I ever hear this again I'll be on Prozac for the rest of my life. There must be something better than this." Unfortunately, it's BUSH, the I Can't Believe It's Not Butter of grunge. They've done something called 'Swallowed' (Interscope). This will test Suede's niceness to the very limit.

"Well, there was a gap in the market," Neil chortles. "It's a single. out this month,” Mat tries, before burying his head in his hands. “Faaaaack. Where would I listen to this? At knifepoint, I think. Our positivity is slipping. Quick, put something else on." Alas, all we can offer Is INXS. They're back! With a single! And it's called 'Elegantly Wasted' (Mercury). Well, if you have to describe Paula Yates' life in two words... Mat?

"Neil can do this. I've got a problem.”

"It's just like U2, Depeche Mode and INXS have all merged into one being with the same song." Neil explains. "It's a bit funk, a bit disco, a bit rock, and entirely cold. Horrible. What is the matter. Mat?”

“These trousers, right?" Mat begins, slinging an endless leg onto the table. "What colour would you say they are?"


"But I swear to you they're green. They were green in the shop. If we go outside, they'll look green. But here, they're brown."

Neil is disbelieving. The Singles adjourn to the street where, indeedy, Mat's trousers turn green. A fitting end to a special day.



REEF Consideration (SL2)

SANTA CRUZ Thirty Degrees Below (MCA)

Mat: "We like Reef. We keep bumping into them at airports. They've taken the concept of celebrity stalkers to their logical conclusion, and become celebrities who stalk. Us.”

Neil: "This is their ballad. It's a Rock Rule that the third single off an album has to be a ballad. And it's great."

Mat: "Yeah, I can't prove it or explain it, but this is great. To review this properly, I'd have to be sitting on the end of a wooden pier in San Diego, at 8am. As I think they were when they wrote this."

Select rather suspects West Country Toby jug goblins Reef actually penned this particular effort up a tree in Glastonbury, jamming away much to the entertainment of their yokel friends.

Neil: "Santa Cruz are fantastic! Who are they?"

They're from Bristol - the drummer used to be in Portishead.

But there's no tripping or hopping about this - rather, the fucked, uneasy harmonies recall the Triffids and the Go-Betweens, or Crowded House at their most broken. Santa Cruz might well be the Best New Band In Britain!

Mat: "Oi, that's us. This makes me feel like I'm a wooden maiden strapped to the front of a boat, cutting through choppy seas."

Neil: "I want to see them live. I want to shake their hands. This had better be Single Of The Month."

Right you are, big fella.

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