10 things I think about recent developments
1. Little Boots – Hands Wow, This was a sure thing, I thought. I was wrong. Forgettable and a strange blend of over and under-produced. That the killer ‘Stuck On Repeat’ is featured in an amended 3-minute version when the brilliance of the song is that it needs to be long and… well… repetitive really shows a lack of smarts on LB’s part. To quote Pitchfork, “Songs don’t get stuck on repeat unless people can’t get them out of their heads.”
2. La Roux (Self Titled)That fragile voice and the same 80s tinge on the synths become slightly grating by track 8, but I’ll be damned if those in the La Roux camp didn’t steal the hype torch right out from under Little Boots’s… hands. (Sorry) The singles are storming the UK charts (the best of which, Bulletproof, may very well be their number 1, though it hasn’t officially been called yet) but the strength of songs like ‘Cover My Eyes’, which features a full choir to lilt over Elly Jackson’s brittle voice, and ‘Fascination’ which has been a killer since its free issue from the band in demo form, make ‘La Roux’ a contender for the soundtrack to steamy summer-trouble.
3. Terminator Salvation Sucked. Give me some piece of the dream to chew on please; I need at least one syrupy flashback of Sarah Conner (who had her own show, by the by) and a land where all is innocent and fallible. No such luck. Instead we got Transforminators.
5. Broken EmbracesGranted, I saw the film in Paris with French subtitles and my French is less than polished, but this is very much minor Pedro. Appealing breadth of storyline is bypassed here for a very particular tale of lust and deceit. Some enticing narrative retreading (Women on the Verge) lends more want of reflection than actual reflection, per se. Plus a single scene (and thus underused) Rossi De Palma made me yearn for more.
7. Tiga – ShoesThe song is a duet with (from what I can tell) a recording made by Tiga then sped up to sound like a woman. The blogosphere seems to think it’s Madonna which reads a more like an accidental insult to Madonna than anything else. Instead, the song becomes a successful version of ‘Luxury’ from his recent Ciao! – a beautifully convincing narcissism for the so-shallow-there-could-almost-be-depth contemporary listener.
8. Pet Shop Boys at the O2 ArenaThough their amenable stage was devoured by the 16,000 seater (their largest “indoor” concert, the website exclaims) the ingenious use of throw-away moving boxes as cheap looking projection screens (‘Love Etc.’), then a tumbling Berlin wall (‘Building a Wall’ / ‘Go West), then NYC skyline costumes for some rather embarrassed looking dancers (‘Why Don’t We Love Together?’), then thrashable objects for the seemingly requisite interpretive dance numbers (‘Jealousy’) and finally, levitating cubes whisked into the sky for some encore joie de vivre (‘It’s A Sin’) proved as rigorous an artful gesture as anything the troupe offered in their fiscal peak. The sequencing was rather wonky and the setlist depended more on newcomers from their recent Brits appearance than those returning for the fleshing out of ‘Yes’. But by the end of the night, everyone seemed thoroughly convinced that Pet Shop Boys have defined smart pop in their 25+ career and carved out a rather large niche for themselves in their waning years.
9. 35 RhumsThe “new” Claire Denis offering was a startlingly beautiful and quiet chamber piece of dormant desires. All that goes unspoken is never truly absent and Denis’ sumptuously (if restrained) probing camera find the strange, yet right angles to flesh out all the yearning and corporeal frankness which is seldom caught in cinema. From a kiss to a fart, the film is startlingly simple and affective. An Ozu remake, you get the sense that Denis knows far more than she’s let on in her past cinema (and that’s quite a lot) about melodrama and the woman’s picture.
10. Eaten Alive (Featuring Michael Jackson) – Diana Ross Everyone’s gotta remember in their own special way.