As previously mentioned we've had a yen for The Boy Least Likely To for a while now, or at least since the same time as everyone else i.e. the Pitchfork review. It seems very odd that they've become a proper buzz band in America, albeit with a lot of touring, and here haven't made any impact whatsoever despite being supported by Simon Fuller's evil empire, about five reissues of The Best Party Ever and landing some decent festival slots. One day there'll be a proper tweepop revival, but in the meantime Hugging My Grudge attempts to presage it. Apart from Lazy B, AKA former Aqua member (yes, but not the bald shouty bloke, although he's married to Lene Nystrom) Soren Rasted, and the odd Greg Giraldo-sampling spoken word triphop of Underwear Goes Inside The Pants (Victoria Newton reckons it'll be number one, but we know how wrong Victoria Newton is about all music), it's all slightly downbeat this week, perhaps to fit in with that ludicrous Times piece on Friday about how V is the most depressive festival in the land. By coincidence Thom Yorke's glitchy Harrowdown Hill is issued as a single, as is the debut by French former Bjork associate Olivier Alary under the name Ensemble, who ropes the ever magnificent Cat Power into the electro drones of Disown Delete, while The Crimea, still not repaying the effort put into them at the start of the year, go for the slow one off the album in Baby Boom. Did you know there was a Final Fantasy single out? So Owen Pallett bows to commercialism, if not in his choice of the dynamic playing and background shouting of Many Lives -> 49 MP. And did you know pop-classicist Eric Matthews, whose enormous 1995 single Fanfare still gets irregular plays round here, was back? There's an album next month, with an advance part in the shape of the cunningly titled Limited Edition (EP).
So what are we up to now, the fourth wave of New Wave/post-punk revivalism? Luckily this is where things start getting interesting again as bands start plundering the bits of the reissues bins that nobody's really investigated to a full extent. Now, the Young Knives were mining their particular wired seam as far back as their debut EP in 2002, but amongst the morass Voices Of Animals And Men deserves to stand out, marrying Modern Life Is Rubbish to an odder version of Ray Davies' hymns to small town and dead-end job humdrum twinned with Andy Partridge's (someone else fully aware of little England's foibles on his day, of course) mid-period awareness of the midway point between post-punk and melodic pastoral classicism. It's not about frenetic momentum building, and for that we should be glad. And yes, this is the only write-up of the album you'll see which doesn't mention their clothes. Can you hear them on the record? The spirit of the style, maybe, but not otherwise. Also standing out in their chosen crowded field is Thea Gilmore, folk influenced but planting herself in the middle of the female singer-songwriter market with more than just an acoustic guitar to balance her barbed poetry on, as Harpo's Ghost demonstrates. Cerys Matthews ducked out of that limelight as much as possible when she went solo, but second release Never Said Goodbye sees her mature from the countrification of Cockahoop to grown up pop. We note with some shudders, however, that she's signed up for a Sky One reality show. Oh lord, don't let all that happen again. She'd have sounded at home on the one thing we can finally thank Pirates Of The Caribbean for - during lulls in filming Gore Verbinski and Johnny Depp formulated the idea of an album of cover versions of seafaring songs of the ages. Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs And Chanteys is being sold on Depp and the appearances of Bono, Sting, Lou Reed and Bryan Ferry, but lurking underneath are Nick Cave, Loudon and Rufus Wainwright, Jarvis Cocker, Ed Harcourt, Van Dyke Parks, Joseph Arthur, Pere Ubu's David Thomas, Akron/Family, Eliza Carthy, Kate McGarrigle, Lucinda Williams, Teddy Thompson and Martin Carthy. And Andrea Corr, but come on. Reissues: as the Camera Obscura bandwagon picks up speed there's a timely reissue for Biggest Bluest Hi-Fi, the one with Eighties Fan on and Stuart Murdoch lurking in the background; prime Art Of Noise is a a fascinating, groundbreaking project, although whether that justifies a 4 CD box set, The Art Of Noise - And What Have You Done With My Body, God?, is quite another thing (plus, Paul Morley sleevenotes); and Cherry Red have picked up the classically 1989 indie The Darling Buds' Pop Said for reissue. Bloody hell, the 'blonde' movement!