January 21, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 61  

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Air is wispy, Dobson is decent

the single guy
by brian wong

Fefe Dobson: “Everything”

Toronto native Fefe Dobson’s first single “Bye Bye Boyfriend” proved that teen girls could do nu-metal, while haters scoffed at her immature snottiness and those sk8er girl tank tops. Luckily for Dobson, “Everything” has been picked to spearhead the campaign of the SAT-cheating teen thriller The Perfect Score, and it’s a decent power ballad that sounds like the love-child of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge” and Wilson Phillips. Too bad no one will ever admit to liking a singer — or any person, really — named Fefe.

Franz Ferdinand:
“Take Me Out”

I’m not sure it’s a good idea for people to name their bands after assassinated archdukes, but these Glaswegians might have the first bona fide disco-rock hit since The Rapture’s “House of Jealous Lovers.” The first single is like two songs in one: The Strokes section of melodic, twitchy retro rock where the before-party is unbearably lonely, and the disco section of sexy, strut-worthy grooves where the actual party is awesome until lead singer Alex Kopranos realizes, “I won’t be leaving here with you.” History majors will also get a kick out of the idea that Franz is asking to be taken out.

Auf Der Maur:
“Followed the Waves”

It’s a good thing to start a song with possessed banshee howls — and what a pretty banshee she is. Most famous for her bassist stints in Hole and the Smashing Pumpkins, the redheaded pride and joy of Montreal, Melissa Auf Der Maur, gets her solo career started with this single off her self-titled disc (out Tuesday, Feb. 2 internationally and Tuesday, May 4 in North America on Capitol Records). While “Followed the Waves” is a good introduction song, the track is more about atmosphere than hooks, and Auf Der Maur’s vocals take a backseat to the metal riffs.

Air: “Cherry Blossom Girl”

Dainty folk guitars, chill-out electronic beats, twinkling synths and wispy androgynous crooning — these French boys sure know how to construct that perfect background music for when you’re choosing pink furry shower curtains at Urban Outfitters. Yet the sheer beauty of this quiet single (off Talkie Walkie out Tuesday, Jan. 27) keeps it from being relegated to mere wallpaper status at your favourite hipster store, proving that sometimes, a serene, ghost-thin lament hits harder than a head-banging rocker.

Dizzee Rascal:
“Fix Up, Look Sharp”

Here’s one for the breakers. Like The Streets’ Mike Skinner, Dizzee Rascal is an MC who brings raw rhymes about British street life to hip-hop. His Mercury Prize-winning debut LP Boy in Da Corner (out yesterday on Matador Records) is preceded by the stripped-down, yet stunning “Fix Up, Look Sharp.” Accompanied by huge-sounding live drums and soulful vocals, Dizzee’s thick, cartoonish voice (I think of a mature, black and British Donald Duck) spits out a deluge of lyrics I am unable to process 80 per cent of the time, yet are remarkable in his schizophrenic delivery.



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