And, boy, haven't the flightless drones that clog up that programme learnt how to evoke desperation? Judging by the doe eyes, crocodile tears and hand wringing you'd think that the rejected ones get taken round the back of Simon's house by a vet with a bolt gun. Don't discount that as a future development. Imagine the ratings.

None of them mention music. Ever. The end has become an end in itself. But it hasn't, just yet, signalled the end of actual interesting pop music and actually charismatic and talented pop performers.

Gwenno has class, talent and taste (her choice of R Kelly on this week's show, notwithstanding). It's a rare combination.

Her first steps towards public prominence were quick and complicated ones on tiptoes in Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance. She went on to have a successful solo career singing in Welsh and Cornish and had her own show on S4C. She is best known as a member of The Pipettes: Britain's finest retro-ish girl pop band. Their 2006 debut album, We Are The Pipettes, brought unabashed joy to the UK Top 40 and also got noticed on the US Billboard Charts.

Since those commercial highs the band has endured - Sugababes-style - the loss of most of that line-up's members. But Gwenno's vision has remained clear and unblurred by such upheavals.

In between supporting the likes of REO Speedwagon, performing in Monaco in front of Princess Stéphanie, and writing and recording The Pipettes' second album, Gwenno has been recording her own songs at home. They're wonderful melodic vignettes: in her own words, "Ace of Base meets The Postal Service".

I hear something more melancholic and yearning in her solo work. Her songs remind me of cinematic Saint Etienne. This is a Very Good Thing.

Given the epic gloom that has descended on this side of the Milky Way for the last 12 months, you owe yourselves a Big Pop Treat. Which is lucky, really, because Gwenno is keen to give you one. She will be hauling herself up to Telfords Warehouse in Chester this Friday night where she will perform a set of her own songs on keyboard and Tenori-On, whatever the hell one of those may be.

I'll be DJ'ing. Whatever the hell that might mean.

Free before 9pm. £4 thereafter.

Links:
http://myspace.com/gwenno
http://telfordswarehouse.com

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