Top 50 Songs of 2006 (25-21)
Or, to be more specific, 'Tokyo Disko (Part One)'. A bipartite disco odyssey, Reverso 68 give it both sides of the same coin; the second part is the more direct, dancefloor-driven of the two, but it's the super-spacious first part that gets your jaw a-dropping. So vast that you could live in it, bringing spouse, kids and pets along with you, 'Tokyo Disko (Part One)' lets each part breathe and allows every element its moment in the sun.
So the synths swirl and ebb like whirlpools around the natural push and nudge of the persuasive bass, while the multifarious percussion clips and clops away in the back of your head, causing it to move forward in time to the beat. And that's before I mention the exotic stabs of Spanish guitar. Not enough people make dance music as meticulous and well-crafted as Pete Herbert and Phil Mison and they don't make enough music themselves. Call it perfectionism or just plain sloth, but be sure to relish in whatever they deem fit to put out. It's all good, but 'Tokyo Disko' is the pinnacle.
I think I've written the title of this differently each time I've mentioned it on these pages this year. The album says, 'Whoo! Alright...Yeah! Uh-huh!', but the single is 'W.A.Y.U.H.', with a subtitle of '(People Don't Dance No More)' especially for those people who wander into HMV looking for that song where the guy sings "Tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick, ow!" in the chorus. Let's not get bogged down in semantics, because in 'W.A.Y.U.H.' (so much easier to type than the other version), The Rapture went and made the cheekiest, most in-your-face ode to the politics of dancing in 2006.
Mattie Safer is probably everybody's second favourite vocalist in The Rapture, but his thin reedy voice perfectly counteracts the aggressive feel of the lyrics here. In fact, his protagonist even gets to refer to a woman as a "cunt" at one point and he gets away with it. If nothing else though, 'W.A.Y.U.H.' gave us all an excuse to get cheesy on the dancefloor, coming up with our own ways of acting out the lyric, "They just stand there like this/They cross their arms and stare you down and drink and moan and diss". Don't look at me like that, you've all done it!
23. Destroyer - Rubies (Merge)
You can spend hours, days, months even picking apart the hyper-literate lyrics to 'Rubies', with all the self-referencing, self-mythologising, self-everything that Dan Bejar injects into each carefully chosen word, picked as much to suit his nasally timbre as to serve the song's narrative (check out the sharp 'z' sound he puts on each "is" in the line "It is now and it is never" for proof of this). It's better just to let the song, as a whole, wash over you, whilst letting your attention focus on whichever word jumps out of the speaker at any given moment, like pulling names out of a hat ("Pulled", "hassle", "park", "dock").
It's easy to get too wrapped up in what Bejar is trying to tell the listener, so it's best to just sit back and let the plosives and fricatives work their magic. 'Rubies' is a sprawling, lyrical beast of a song that improves on every listen, beautifully delivered, but strangely anthemic. Just don't think too hard on its meaning.
22. Liars - The Other Side Of Mt. Heart Attack (Mute)
Well, I never thought they had it in them. Masters of harshness and bewitching tribalism, Liars prove themselves equally adept when it comes to beauty. A spare, plucked electric guitar and minimally-used tom-tom are pretty much the only backing for Angus Andrew's soft, hurt drawl, save for some cooing "ahh"'s from the rest of the band. Andrew's vocal speaks of loyalty and faithfulness in a way that doesn't involve any allusion to witches or drums.
In fact, it's pretty much a pure love song, with the lyrics gently intoning, "I won't run far...I will stay by your side". Coming at the end of the heady fug of percussion and rough guitar of Drum's Not Dead, it was the calm after the storm. An eerie, disquieting plunge into tenderness, but a starkly beautiful one at that.
21. DJ Shadow - Backstage Girl (feat. Phonte Coleman) (Island)
DJ Shadow's 2006 album, The Outsider was a mixed bag to say the least. There was a smattering of decent hyphy, the blistering soul-funk of 'This Time' and an abominable collaboration with Kasabian. Oh, and this. 'Backstage Girl' is probably one of the single best tracks that Josh Davis has committed to tape in his career and it's definitely his best hook-up yet. Little Brother's Phonte Coleman acts as a perfect front for Shadow's dense, Southern rock-inflected backing, spinning a yarn about the mindlessness and helplessness of lust with just the right amount of wit and detachment.
'Backstage Girl' is full of little curveballs, like Coleman's lyric, "I don't even know your name, it feels wrong even though I don't show it/She said, wish I could tell you the same, but I won't tell you my name 'cos I want you to fuck me like you don't know it", so brilliantly apposite, the wonderfully incongruous Jon Spencer sample and the even more out-of-place harmonica and drum solos. It deserves a better album to be the centrepiece of, but taken on its own terms, it rocks like a mother. It almost excuses Davis' decision to look like a complete fucking douchebag in press shots like the one above too.