8. The Declining Winter "Official World Cup Theme 2010" (Home Assembly Music, CD single)
Comfortably the best World Cup record since Jules Rimet's prize comp kicked off in Uruguay eighty years ago (incidentally, does anyone else agree that Uruguay's rather pretty national anthem knocked spots off the dirges of most other teams in the summer ?) Anyway, Richard Adams' plaintive half-whisper optimistically implores our overpaid timewasters to "bring back the old silverware" over a typical Declining backdrop, an exquisite rustic knit of gently tumbling guitars and aching violin, all broken twigs and twisted bracken underfoot, with production stalwart Choque Husein serene at the controls. This, and last year's wonderful "Haunt The Upper Hallways", remind us a little of the former Creation Records band, the mysterious Pacific, who despite being rather maligned in their day managed to release two excellent, multi-instrumental singles that straddled traditional and modern rather acely. Indeed, "Official World Cup Theme 2010" is *such* a tizzingly beautiful record that the obligatory sampled commentary (in this case of John Barnes' mazy run in Rio), however tongue-in-cheek, rather takes the edge off the magic. Still, a further demonstration - along with the gorgeous second track, "Red Kite", as majestically rare as the endangered bird that's its subject - that the Declining Winter have flowered, with typical pastoral grace, into being one of England's very finest bands. In sharp contrast to the England team, they deserve our (and your) support.