Every week, a panel of writers for The Corner will focus on a bunch of recently released local singles and grade them. We call it Great Sounds Great; Bad Sounds Bad. Read through the panelists thoughts below and let us know what you think of the song in the comments section.
Luke Warm: I like the video, very suburban surrealist. But I’m not here to rate the video, unfortunately because it was the best part. This song is half-assed novelty, and a bore at that. It’s exquisite but, and totally slick and shit t t t t z z z z z. That Jonathan is pretty cute. 
Petra Jane: It’s attention to the details that makes a great song. Little things, like the way the deep surf-cowboy guitar and chiming xylophone echo the he-said/she-said call-and-response, and how the competing boy/girl vocals sync up at the end of each bit. And more importantly, the fact that the last note of the intro is deliberately held way too long, just to make reference to an obscure internet joke. Pretty clever for a girl. 
Michael McClelland: Not what I’d call the strongest track on the album, but it’s a good introduction for the curious. It really doesn’t sound like anything else coming out of New Zealand at the moment. I can’t figure out if Chelsea is ahead of the times or just behind them, but either way, she knows how to do it. The lyrics are dumb and fun (sometimes funny: “She’s gonna get a smack, and I’m gonna give you three”) sitting nicely above the ethereal tones of an amazingly produced bedroom recording. Some people might call it grating, but so much can easily be overlooked – the playful storybook basslines and carnival organ sounds are what I see as a powerful tool of originality, not a naivity-fond annoyance. The guitar solo is a little weak, maybe, but I’d wage that all instrumental shortcomings are made up for by that spacey arpeggiated sound spiralling towards the end. The video is crafted just as perfectly (and hilariously) as the song inexplicably is. All together, it’s not the best thing I’ve heard but it’s still better than everything else at the moment. I’m going to listen to the album. 
Matthew McAuley: This is pretty similar (duh) to The Brunettes. This sort of thing obviously isn’t rocket science, but without the self-control evident here it’s pretty easy to accidentally get way cheesy, which is when you end up at number one for twenty weeks or whatever (doh). Chelsea’s delivery on this is better than I’ve heard it on anything before, and J. Bree does what J. Bree always does. I like the guitar solo. I feel like I should think this is redundant, but for some reason I don’t. So yeah, good stuff. 
Isobel Cairns: This is light and tinkly. Too much light? Too much tinkle? Never mind. If everyone’s arguments sounded like this the world could be a better place. 
Tim Gentles: Both too cute and just cute enough. 
Dan Taipua: The duet is a lost art form in pop music, especially so the domestic duet. It’s revival on Lil’ Chief records makes sense since about 70% of their output reflects the heavy influence of Americana, and the remaining 30% meticulously documents an obsession with it. Critic comparisons with ‘Nancy & Lee’ aren’t unfounded, but they’re really just shorthand for the vast history of country-flavoured duets that no one can be bothered getting into – thematically, ‘Cigarette Duet’ is way off Hazelwood and Sinatra’s material.
Even though I’d heard Chelsea play live about a dozen times I’d never really clicked to her gimmick, the infantilist aesthetic – it just weirds me out when adults act like kids. I figured that was a pretty crappy attitude though, so I bought her album (US$6.66) to get a better idea about why she went with it/how she uses it. Turns out that it’s a great device to scrutinize people she hates; it’s easy to put morality on your side if you’re telling a children’s story.
In ‘Cigarette Duet’ the woman-child device/thing highlights how ridiculous it is for a grown man to tell off an adult woman – there’s a clear sense that Jonathan ‘getting cross’ is just as ridiculous and infantile as the phrase ‘getting cross’. You can tell he’s less interested in Chelsea’s health than he is in racking up smug points, and she just wants him to STFU so she can have a smoke. The recording is excellent and crystal clear in 320k, the singing is perfectly matched, the spacey intro and outro hold up, the duet sing-over-each-other-with-different-lyrics-according-to-outlook thing is in there – it’s a great song. Also, Chelsea wears a wicked Man of Colours tee on the cover of the single #IvaDaviesAllDay