Top 50 Songs of 2006 (45-41)
'Sirocco' is one of those records that can pass you by on the first few listens, leaving you thinking that, while it's nice, it's also borderline inoffensive and tasteful. Put it on repeat, close your eyes and kick back, however, and it takes on a transcendent air that recalls Lindstrom & Prins Thomas' album from last year and also the lithe, unhurried disco of the likes of Reverso 68, Mudd (who has a remix on the flip) and even Arthur Russell.
This is, above all else, a sublime piece of music that revels in the details; seagull noises here, echoey drum breaks there, a magnificent strolling bassline all the way through. It's a classy affair that may not be to everyone's tastes, but for those who love it, myself included, it makes you wonder why it isn't.
Appearing on Glass Candy's most recent tour CDR, 'Etheric Device' is by far the most pop, immediate song they've ever recorded. Tracking their career, it's obvious that Glass Candy have made the same logical progression that music in New York took in the late-70s, from their early, no wave stuff, to this and the rest of Yes Music. Just as James Chance went from No New York to Off White, Glass Candy have sashayed from skronky beginnings to their recent incarnation as a sophisticated disco group.
Unlike the mutant disco of that period, Glass Candy take Moroder as a forebear and their disco is not so celebratory, more icy and cool. Singer, Ida No vamps her way through 'Etheric Device' as her band pile on the oriental sounds and stargazing effects. Now if only they'd hurry up with the new album and get their arses over here.
43. The Long Blondes - Fulwood Babylon (Rough Trade)
"People think I'm being perverse on purpose", Kate Jackson whispers at the start of 'Fulwood Babylon'. Well, damn right they do, because there were fewer more perverse decisions this year than The Long Blondes relegating this to b-side status. There it was, languishing on the flip of 'Weekend Without Make Up', but then the bloggers picked up on it and made it the tune du jour for July.
Its cool status cemented, it became a bit of a mini-phenomenon; Long Blondes fans started saying it was their favourite and it pretty much eclipsed the a-side in everyone's affections. It's no surprise, as this pretty much crystallises everything that's so appealing about The LBs; the slightly haughty, yet impassioned vocal, the sped up, but underplayed disco beat and the kitchen sink dramatics of the lyrics. What 'Fulwood Babylon' has that elevates it above most of The Long Blondes's repertoire is that lush, Northern Soul-esque piano lick. Erol Alkan, we salute you.
42. Belle And Sebastian - The Blues Are Still Blue (Rough Trade)
2006 was the year that I finally 'got' Belle & Sebastian. This song was the spur as, to my ears, it saw B&S stop being so damn precious and cut loose a little. Stuart Murdoch and the rest have clearly been listening to lots of T-Rex records as 'The Blues Are Still Blue' has boogie to spare. Granted, it's faintly cheesy, but in the most joyful way.
Give it a spin and you can probably picture the B&S hardcore of bookish, bespectacled boys and hairslide-rocking girls all having their own little dansette discos in their one-bedroom flats, awkwardly, self-consciously cutting a rug, even though there's no-one else there to see them. It's got to be a start, right?
41. The Field - Over The Ice (Kompakt)
The Field, aka Alex Willner, has perfected the art of looping tiny fragments of sound until they become hypnotic and trancelike. 'Over The Ice' is the sound of that perfection. The best way to experience this song is to play it on a loop yourself until it becomes less like music and more like part of the air surrounding you.
The tiny snippets of vocalese that bump into and buffet each other over the spare rhythm track give you the impression these are the jagged points jutting out of the titular ice, while the swirling curls of synth represent the enveloping whiteness. There's not been a more apposite title this year, as though it was thought up before the song was composed. While Kompakt seem intent to settle into comfortable middle-age, dissenters like Willner seem hellbent on pushing the possibilities of minimalism as far as he can.