Only a week or two since that musical update and a few more albums have lobbed into view already. Not the Coldplay yet, but I have been listening to the Tears, the together-again project by the two key players of Suede Mk 1. The only reasons for not calling this Suede Mk 3, as far as I can see, are (a) Brett Anderson’s embarrassment over their last album, and (b) Bernard Butler’s embarrassment over leaving before they recorded their best one. Still, Butler was part of their second-best, and this sounds very much like a continuation from Dog Man Star, if not really a match for it. Here Come the Tears even prompted me to listen to A New Morning again, which is not that awful, just uninspiring. Unfortunately, I suspect I’ll end up thinking the same about this, and going back, as I always do, to Coming Up.

Next up has been Funeral by the Arcade Fire, which Amazon has been recommending to me for months, but which I only tracked down after hearing good things from a more reliable source. The album explores some impressive neighbourhoods, turning a stroll round the block into the stuff of indie epics. Like the New Pornographers, this is another Canadian band with distinct echoes of Split Enz, particularly on “Power Out”; Tim Finn must have been big up north in 1980. Customers who bought this title also bought: Frenzy; True Colours.

Best find of late, though, is Nouvelle Vague, a high-concept blend of French chanteuses, bossa nova rhythms, and New Wave songs. Lounge covers of rock songs were a favourite gimmick in the 1990s, but this avoids the cheesy overtones by using singers who’ve never heard the originals and so make them all their own. The first few tracks are fairly lightweight, but once it hits “The Guns of Brixton” the album becomes essential listening. The first lounge cover of a punk song I ever heard was a swinging version of “God Save the Queen” on Neil’s Heavy Concept Album (now there’s an album that needs a reissue; shame it’ll never happen). That was played for laughs, though, making it even more amazing to hear P.I.L.’s “This is Not a Love Song” played for real—and really working. Next is the irresistibly coquettish “Too Drunk to Fuck”, the track missing from the U.S. “clean” release (given that this is tailor-made for 30-somethings, why did they even bother?), followed by stunning reworkings of “Marian”, “Making Plans for Nigel”, and “A Forest”. My current favourite, after the beautiful bonus track “Sorry for Laughing”, is “Psyche”, which sounds like something off an old Björk album; I’ve never actually heard Killing Joke’s original, and now I’m not sure I want to—I’d want nothing to detract from this. An extraordinary album that shows how resilient a good song can be, and how much treasure lurks beneath those early ’80s synths.

9 June 2005 · Music

'Funeral' is the bomb.

'Rebellion (Lies)' in particular. Saw The Arcade Fire perform it on Later With Jools Holland and it blew me away.

Added by James Bachman on 9 June 2005.

Glad you're liking Funeral, Rory. Too bad not to hear you more bullish on Anderson/Butler.

Nouvelle Vague, though, sounds like the thing. But then, how could I not think so, given my advanced PartridgeMouldingmania?

Added by BT on 10 June 2005.

Yes, “Rebellion” is definitely a highlight; I also love the opening track, which encapsulates the whole album for me. Thanks for the tip-off, Bill.

Added by Rory on 10 June 2005.

Well, I keep meaning to pick up the Arcade Fire thingy myself but never get around to it. I have absolutely no intention of picking up the Coldplay album, though, leaving that to the teenage girls.

Added by Graham on 10 June 2005.

(How can Coldplay be dad rock on the one hand and teenage girl fodder on the other? Don’t the yoof reckon that Chris Martin is an old fart?)

Having linked to Bill’s response to the Baton meme, I’ll add Graham’s and Dom’s for good measure:

Added by Rory on 12 June 2005.