This week’s tracks reviewed: The Joy Formidable, Avril Lavigne, Mumford & Sons

The Joy Formidable swagger in with a lip-curled cracker, Avril Lavigne’s back with a meh, while the Mumfords return with another trite radio ballad

Last modified on Fri 11 Jan 2019 10.35 EST

The Joy Formidable
The Better Me

Turns out that 2008 is still out there, and giving zero fucks what you think of it. Along struts this lip-curled cracker from the Joy Formidable’s fourth album, all Beck grooves, Beatles psych, volcano solos and guitar hooks that sound like Elon Musk trying to catapult himself to Mars. Juxtaposing singer Ritzy Bryan purring seductive self-help tips with bits that sound like Tool, it’s magnificent. Pints of glow stick juice all round.

Avril Lavigne
Head Above Water

Ostensibly, the first single in five years from the one-time Mrs Chad Kroeger is an insight into her struggle with Lyme disease, but it could easily be vital research into whether musical mediocrity can be sexually transmitted. It’s difficult to imagine a more formulaic Frankenstein’s monster of a radio ballad: Coldplay piano intro; Adele chorus; Mumford mood-jig; and that same bombastic melody line the A-list regulars share around because it’s scientifically proven to keep 12-year-olds blubbing in perpetuity.

Mumford & Sons
Guiding Light

Someone in pop admin is in for the chop: they’ve only gone and double-booked that bombastic melody line. Because the country Coldplay are back with their own trite’n’trembly radio ballad, every bit as lazy and predictable as Lavigne’s, and they don’t even have being knackered by Lyme disease as an excuse. “You’ll always be my only guiding light,” warbles Marcus Mumford, the Bono of the rodeo. “Guiding Shite”, more like.

John Grant
He’s Got His Mother’s Hips

Disco song or the oddest dating profile ever? “He’s got his mother’s hips / He does the dippety-dip / He’s got delicious quips,” growls alt-rock’s hirsute polymath of a chap who also – it says here – enjoys roller-skating on thin ice, selling stamps and “serving cheese fondue on a polar bear rug”. Grant clearly swiped right, since this surreal Prince parody climaxes with a supremely funky orgasm.

Hannah’s Little Sister

With Wolf Alice bagging the Mercury prize and indie rock indisputably back, back! BACK!, forgive us for not reviewing Mø singing like she’s stuffed chips up her nose pissed at 4am on her new one (standard pop practice since Video Games), and consider instead this gloriously grimy fear-of-adulthood slacker anthem from Liverpool’s answer to Alvvays. Alvvays, that is, stuffing chips up their nose pissed at 4am.