Hooray for Valentine's Day. Whether it’s the overpriced chocolate, the romantic bunting, or maybe just the knowledge that you’re going to die alone, it's great fun for all the family. Festive rant over, this week again sees a fairly mixed bag of singles, from the sublime pop of Allo Darlin', to the balding teenybop of Blink 182. The hugely hyped Azari & III and Gauntlet Hair also get a spin, to mixed reactions. Have a listen and let me know what you think, then go have a good wallow about the state of the world. Skrillex has now won as many Grammys as Elvis did. Just think about that for a minute. Wow.


Allo Darlin' – 'Capricornia'

Hey, this is great though, the world is still an acceptable place Perfectly accentuated vocals over skiffle drumming with nostalgic summer guitars, this is another of those songs to close the curtains and forget the snow for. There is no pretense to the song, the natural optimism is in no way contrived, and production-wise maintains a certain DIY romance, enhanced by the sheer charm of the vocal. This is the sound of a band following a recognized route to success, the traditional 'let's actually write some decent songs' road, rather than going for mediocre releases off the back of a whirlwind of hype. Cracking stuff.



Gauntlet Hair – ‘My Christ’

Loads and loads of obvious influences to be picked out of here, from The Jesus and Mary Chain to Animal Collective in the shimmering reverb. You could even link tenuously to someone like Friendly Fires in the jarring pedal work. However, that shouldn't detract from a great song in its own right, as the song refuses to be pinned down by the sum of its parts. Dancing across echoing synths to lo-fi rhythm work, all glued together by the harsh, haunting vocals, before the Dexy's response chorus. If this was a cake, the recipe would be disgusting. However, it is not a crap metaphor, it is in fact a very track.



Azari & III– ‘Reckless (With Your Love)’

There's not a huge amount I can say about a track which is invariably going to be implausibly big this year on the club scene, with almost daily emails from PRs proclaiming them the saviours of a dance scene which I thought was actually doing alright. Is there any genre which isn't apparently in decline? There is camp eighties disco vibe to the track as a whole, which I do mean as a compliment, rather like Hercules & Love Affair, but without the effortless lack of self-consciousness. Everything about this track screams "look how cool and uncaring we are." My words won't affect the undeniable appeal of the act, so go out and buy this, because I'm sure you're going to be hearing plenty more from whence it came. Bet they've never been reviewed with a Lord Of The Rings quote before.



Blink 182 – ‘After Midnight’

Oh dear. When a man is thirty six, I feel that it is the time to stop wearing a beanie. I missed out on the Blink craze the first time around, so maybe I'm biased and just not angsty enough to really appreciate it, but this is just nonsense. This sounds so tired it ought to go to bed for at least another ten years, just to catch up on all the sleep missed from pining after 'that girl'. You know the one, most popular girl in high school, always dating the jocks, and you never thought you had a chance? Sorry Tom, it's now just creepy.