Tracks of the week reviewed: Janet Jackson, Calvin Harris, and Alice in Chains
Alice in Chains
Ever since Layne Staley checked out in 2002, Alice in Chains have quietly been doing an AC/DC: actively getting better with a new singer. That’s the beauty of someone who actually turns up to rehearsals and doesn’t piss themselves too often. Never Fade does that minor-to-major key thing that metallers keep in tight reserve for when the pyro goes off, all while mimicking prime mid-90s Chains so efficiently I keep waiting for puberty to kick in.
Janet Jackson x Daddy Yankee
Made for Now
Proof of Janet Jackson’s divinity has been mounting lately. A miracle baby at 50. The capacity to lose 70lbs overnight. Whatever it was that happened to her forehead. Now, the rarest of holy relics: a comeback single as good as her prime. As the most bankable name in 2018, Daddy Yankee earns his globe-pop keep, but this is no oldie throwing herself at a passing bandwagon. Janet reaches through; the voice of an old friend, somehow unscarred by time, beaming, beatific.
Calvin Harris ft Sam Smith
“Are you drunk enough not to judge what I’m doing?” is Sam Smith’s opening gambit. Pished out of my cobra, Sammy – after all it’s midday. But I’m still going to give you the Supreme Court of Pop treatment. Evidence Bit One: this clearly should have been called Tonight but they didn’t want to mix it up with all the other songs called Tonight. Evidence Thingy Two: it’s boring. Sentence: hanging. But only light hanging, like with a dishrag or something, just so his sad doe-eyes bulge a bit.
Cat Power ft Lana Del Rey
Cat Power might easily have bagged Best Track if she didn’t spend every word of her chorus chanting “woman” in a strange mystical tone as if she’s angling to get this into the next Dove Body Soap campaign. Lana Del Rey turns up, but only to add little hype-man moments of emphasis, more of a generational baton-pass than a “ft”.
Con Conn Was Impatient
Connan is widely known as a genius in artsy circles, mainly because he is wacky. Con Conn Was Impatient is culled from an album, soundtracking a film, Bostyn ’N Dobsyn, about a band made up of teachers, which stars Connan, in a wig, looking like a remake of Les Liasons Dangereuses shot by an LA porn company in 1989. Happily, Connan’s wacky stick has burned out on that concepting, leaving the song: slight, languid, winsome, and very nice.