I salute A. He’s gone all end-of-year crazy over at his place with two lists summarizing his varied highlights. It’s a witty and interesting selection and I’m proud to note I was stood loyally by his side (mainly physically but also, at times, in spirit) on numerous occasions.
Anyhow, it’s time for me to look back and select my album of the year. To be honest, for months it was seeming a one horse race as The Decemberists’ The Hazards of Love eagerly won my heart and the fierce battle for my aural affections. Wilco’s self-titled gem entered the fray back in the summer but, latterly, I have been swooning at several brilliant offerings from these very shores known tenderly by the cognoscenti simply as ‘Britain’. I congratulate the youthful, understated and subtle XX on an unexpected but richly deserved, er, victory. The nippers’ eponymous debut is an absolute treasure and I could (but I won’t) become a touch emotional considering how a collective of earnest young hepcats could produce such a tender, thoughtful and, heck, moving set of songs. It has become my go-to album of choice over the past few months, its breathy and intimate vocals and sparse instrumental swagger proving gripping enough to hold this oft-wavering attention again and again. I think XX by The XX is a masterpiece and will be spoken of in hushed and reverent tones many years from now. I reckon it’s that good. Nice work, lads and lasses.
Here is my Top Ten, pop-pickers:
1. The XX –XX
2. Euros Childs – Son of Euro Child
Sumptuous melodies coupled with eccentric/compelling lyrical glee.
3. Wild Beasts - Two Dancers
A belter. Packed with swagger and insouciant poise.
4. The Decemberists – The Hazards of Love
Intense and ruddy clever. A bit noodly in places (which I enjoyed).
5. Wilco – Wilco (The Album)
My favourite live act of the year. An album teeming with class and confidence.
6. Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca
File under ‘Benefits from several plays’. Challenging but wondrously multi-layered.
7. Girls – Album
Madder than a box of frogs. In-your-face pop explosions galore.
8. Madness – The Liberty of Norton Folgate
A classy piece of work. Mature but fun, clever, wry and tender. A wholly unexpected treat.
9. Super Furry Animals Dark Days/Light Years
Celtic masters of melody weave wondrous webs of whimsy and wit.
10. Japandroids – Post-Nothing
A big, big noise from Vancouver. Husker Du-esque mix of mayhem and melody.