Compiling the Dirty Dozen is a dirty job because sometimes it involves bashing honest, hard-working bands who never upset anyone (because no-one ever listens to them). Then again, sometimes it involves bashing massively successful bands who make millions of girls greet, so that's virtually a public service. Snow Patrol's Just Say Yes (*) is as blubbery, wet and limp as a dead seal, and Gary Lightbody's pleading to the unfortunate subject of his affections is delivered with all the gusto of someone telling a child their dog died. Mind the Grange Hill cast's advice. Glasgow's Kick To Kill do a pretty good Cure impression for the first 80 seconds of Cut Me (**), but it's downhill from there due to the roughly four thousand repetitions of the shouted vocal hook. Dead Confederate's The Rat (**) is dark and gloomy, only coming to life when someone gets accused of having "stupid human for brains".
Eh? Local rockers Satellite Underground are already imagining a successful future, where they'll regularly be gigging in front of a Sea Of People (**). But you cannae pair "at least we're together" with "this time it's forever" without causing a wave of groans. Water And A Flame (**) is an over-polished melodramatic ballad, duetted between Daniel Merriweather and Adele. Ewwww! Meanwhile, 39-year old Rivers Cuomo is still writing songs about high school romances. Wheatus – sorry, I mean Weezer's (If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To (***) is ridiculous, but also kinda cute.
The Horrors' Whole New Way (***) is a strange choice for a single, a bonus track on the Japanese edition of their excellent recent Krautrock-inspired LP Primary Colours, it's no standout in that context. Passion Pit's full-length is a little tough to get through, because their rainbow-brite exuberance quickly gets annoying. But on its own, you'd need a heart of stone to deny Little Secrets' (****) earnest effervescence. If songs were judged by verses, few would appreciate The Cheek's Hung Up (****). But its brilliant stomping horn-led chorus more than makes up for the flatness elsewhere. John Peel woulda loved it.
Of all the Kate-Bush inspired femmes breaking this year, Mowgli's Road (****) marks Marina and The Diamonds out as the weirdest. Marina is so kooky, she cuckoos. Either a genius or a quack, we'll lean towards the former. Alex Turner is in typically graceful storytelling form on the Arctic Monkeys' Cornerstone (****). It's a perfectly measured slow pine for a lost love, but it just misses out on Single of the Month because Turner tries the most dubious rhyme of "ghost" with "toast" since Des'ree. Thin margins. Instead, the honours go to The Dead Weather's unique and baffling I Cut Like A Buffalo. Set to a reggae syncopation, singer Jack White riffs on a confusion between "choke" and "joke". "Is that you chokin'?" he hectors, "Or are you just jokin'?" It's not very funny, but when he makes a rhythmic choking sound over the breaks it sounds equally like a large animal suffocating, or a DJ scratching. Is that what "cut like a buffalo" means? No idea, but it's wonderfully eccentric.