2013! It’s been a pretty great year for music so far. Here are seven pieces of evidence supporting that not-at-all-outlandish statement.
1. Polly Scattergood, “Wanderlust.” The strutting “Cherish” is one of Madonna’s more minor hits, although I always enjoyed its bubbly attempt to depict the brain-rush accompanying the first blush of romance. (Madonna was also way ahead of Taylor Swift on the “misunderstanding the fundamental thrust of Romeo and Juliet in pop songs” curve.) Its verses are very plainspoken, Madonna bringing the sing-song melody as close to a monotone as it can get, and even though they’re unadorned they sprung to mind on my first listen to “Wanderlust.” The British goth-pop singer Polly Scattergood is working in 2013 and not 1989, though, so the era of yore that she spins off is the early synthpop era—the keyboards are glacial and glassy until they fall into a swoon at the end, and her voice quivers as she sings of being directed by nothing but her romantic stirrings. “Wanderlust” is the sort of grandiose pop that, once it finds its lushly produced mates, has to be given a genre name that uses “romantic.” Newer Romantic, perhaps?
2. Kate Boy, “Northern Lights.” Similarly chilly, yet much more rigid, is this track from the Stockholm-based quartet Kate Boy. [...]