Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Some pop then? Why, yes, I think so. Despite, or because, I'm half-Polish, I tend to get a bit down on Polish pop. Frankly, it's rubbish. As I mentioned a while back, I downloaded the entirety of one of their radio top 10s (they don't have a real chart) and either 9 or 10 of them were ballads. We all know ballads are shit, don't we? Yes, indeed.

But Marta Wisniewska, aka Mandaryna probably doesn't do many ballads! Her single of last year "Here I Go Again" was a monster (left off my top 100 list because I forgot about it, as I am a complete pillock), and her new album features a song called "You Give Love A Bad Name" that I am REALLY HOPING will be a Bon Jovi cover. But since I haven't heard the album yet, and I've never written about the single "Ev'ry Night" yet, I thought I would say something.

Mandaryna - Ev'ry Night

It sort of reminds me a bit of Lena PH's smashing Laura Branigan pastiche "Delirium", so between this and the Royal Giglos remix of "Self Control", it's a shame Ms B isn't still alive to relaunch as this particular branch of pop would basically be completely suited to her and most of the crop of teeny and twenty performers are boring, so let's have a proper diva for once.

What I find most effective about "Ev'ry Night" is how deceptive its tempo is. If you took away the straightforwardly bopping groove, it would be almost ambient trip-hop in the verses. Well not quite, the melodic line is far too nimble for that, but I did a channel mix on it, and it almost floated through the speakers as a result. Of course, much of this generic (yeah right, people aren't making ENOUGH of this stuff) dance lives or dies on its chorus, and Mandaryna's got a good one, she breathes softly under it - I love the backing vocal arrangement on this - lending it a sense of cyclical complexity the simple hook wouldn't otherwise have. Love it.

Mleko - Kto Dogoni Psa

More Eastern European hip-hop, because I like it. And yes, they seem to be Polish as well.No, they're not interchangeable, this one is different. Spy-movie guitars, for a start, that sound effect I've always referred to as the "magnetic field" noise for want of knowing its actual name, and, the piece de resistance, CHILDREN CHANTING THE CHORUS. So if you've opened your heart to Schnappi at any point (for the record: liked it first few times I heard it but that was LAST YEAR, so a bit over it), there's really absolutely no excuse to not listen to this at least once. No wait, I've realised what it sounds like, it sounds like "Under The Gun" by Supreme Beings Of Leisure with rapping on it. He looks like this, sadly. But given how complex Eastern European languages sound spoken to those who don't speak them, rapping always sounds about five times more impressive still.

Okay, there's my ethnic heritage salvaged for this month.

Irina - Ala Sano Mitaan

Everyone knows the only time guitars are acceptable are when you have a pop girl singing in front of them, and you may wonder how a blog that calls itself Umlauts hasn't managed to work out how to get them to display properly (looks fine on my screen when I type 'em, but fucks up when I post 'em), so you'll just have to imagine that all the As in the first and third words have diacritical marks above them. Irina has been peddling her simple but effective schtick around Finland for some time now, check out earlier single "Vastaukset" for a milder example, but this is one of those lovely full-throttle things where you have a verse, and then a MASSIVE chorus, and then wait, you're wrong, that MASSIVE chorus is only really a pre-chorus, because there's an even bigger yowled EXTRA chorus waiting at the end with extra impassionedness and extra volume, crunchier guitars, more spastic flashes of keyboard, and then a middle-eight where Irina does some Gwen Stefani-esque vocal chord flailing (you know that vocal gurning she did on all the quiet bits of No Doubt hits - that exact effect), and it's all generally pretty smashing. I haven't found out if she's got an album, but I want it badly.


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