Favourite Albums of '08: #50-#31

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24. Dez. 2008, 13:09

50. Fleet FoxesFleet Foxes
Ah the shimmering loveliness of being lost in a misty mountain forest; pawed at by bears and covered by damp leaves. Also – a rare album that I could enjoy myself AND buy as a birthday present for my dad.

49. CalexicoCarried To Dust
I didn’t get on with the soft-rock bias of their last album, so it was exciting to put this on and find they’d rediscovered their Mexicana.

48. NasUntitled
A thoughtful album, this, and though it takes racial identity as a theme, it’s got enough wit to overcome any potential preachiness. The music's drenched in old school strings and brass, peaking early on should-have-been-a-hit Hero, where the low trombones parp away dramatically under a big-beat and soary-synth clamour.

47. MGMTOracular Spectacular
These skewed and squiggly songs from the MGMT boys got under my skin well enough. In The Youth, they even managed to outdo Girls Aloud for key-change of the year.

46. Bun BII Trill
Bun can't seem to decide whether he wants to be sexy, angry, doomy or celebratory. But to be fair, which of us ever can?

45. Kid CudiPlain Pat & Emile Presents a KiD named CuDi
Seriously, how good is the KiD? This is a mixtape, not an album proper, and doesn’t include the awesomest version of his best song, but it’s STILL made it into my Top 50. No wonder Kanye snapped the little fella up after hearing this; the numerous tracks where he forgets about rapping in order to sing sadly and vaguely against minimal backdrops were exactly where Mr West was planning to go later in the year. It's a fantastic set of songs, pilfering backing tracks from a well-chosen set of artists including Outkast, 70s Paul Simon, Gnarls Barkley and Ratatat. I’m hoping for great things from next year’s debut album.

44. Girls AloudOut of Control
Another year, another Girls Aloud album, another set of tracks with an impeccable pop sheen and plenty of genre magpieism. This time around, the Girls sound sadder, more wistful. The Promise wears its nostalgic heart on a gold sequinned sleeve, and Untouchable spends over five minutes working itself up into a sad disco frenzy of "BEAUTIFUL ROBOTS! DANCING ALONE!!". Lovely.

43. Lykke LiYouth Novels
I like these melancholy, meandering songs, with their insistent percussion and Lykke's childlike voice.

42. CommonUniversal Mind Control
If you look at Common's artist page here at time of writing, it says things like “spirituality... conscious hip-hop... songs that send a message.” Which, fair enough, is a reputation stemming from years of making that sort of music. But clearly he was feeling stereotyped or got a bit bored, because this year he decided instead to make a big, balls-out sex album with thrusting, futuristic Neptunes beats and filthy lyrics. How we laughed!

41. SpiritualizedSongs In A&E
Spiritualized have always done the 'D's well: despair, denial, disaffection. This is an album that reeks beautifully of all three, in which every rock-out song is a stepping stone on the way to the next piece of heartbreak. Don't Hold Me Close is particularly upsetting and touching, with its rarefied air of dumping someone while on your deathbed.

40. Young JeezyThe Recession
Best big dumb rap album of the year, and hopefully that doesn’t sound all back-handed. I especially like the nagging and urgent chord sequence in What They Want, and the tinkly earworm piano in Vacation. It's also the album on which you can hear Kanye West discover Auto-Tune for the first time, which is a topic I might well be coming back to…

39. GoldfrappSeventh Tree
Hard-as-nails tenderness, in a meadow. "The English Moon Safari" I said at the time, and I think I was about right.

38. PivotO Soundtrack My Heart
It opens with rumbling beats and tentative harp chords, before diving headfirst into a whistle-stop tour of electronic music, picking and choosing its favourite elements from neon-lit 80s soundtracks and modern post rock. The results are never less than haunting, and often emotionally charged.

37. Bryn ChristopherMy World
Bryn has got an incredible voice, which saw him being touted as "the male amy!!!!" when his album came out. Well that's a PR disaster by any reasonable standard, and a ridiculous thing to have to live up to. David McAlmont would be a more useful reference point, and at his best, Bryn's even got a touch of Terence Trent D'Arby and Al Green. The songs are solid - a good selection of frantic soul - and anyone who has the chutzpah to get away with a Ronsonized cover version of Sour Times is alright in my book. And speaking of Portishead…

36. PortisheadThird
Amusingly, Portishead followed Sugababes’ lead on the difficult ‘what to call our third album?’ question. ;) I had feverishly high hopes for this album after hearing the violently lovely Machine Gun, which the final set of songs didn't quite match. It's not that I was expecting Beth to sing about jelly, ice cream and bouncy castles, but there are times throughout Third when the overall grimness got a bit too unrelenting, both sonically and lyrically. Still, here it is in my top 50, and that's because when the right mood strikes, no-one can empathise with your emotional abyss as well as the Bristol trio.

35. Cyndi LauperBring Ya to the Brink
Clever Cyndi. To make sure her big comeback went with a bang, she signed up all the coolest European dance producers she could find, and the result is a set of tracks that juxtapose her distinctive voice and sly lyrics with killer club basslines and hip-twitching beats. It's a perfect combination, never better than on Digital Dog's pumping Give It Up, Basement Jaxx's jerky Rocking Chair and Dragonette's swooning Grab a Hold.

34. The Magnetic FieldsDistortion
“More hilarious misanthropy” I think it was that PudsWoods said when this first came out, and it's a better summary than I can come up with. There's a brilliant three-song run in the middle that really makes this album for me, with Till the Bitter End sandwiched by Too Drunk to Dream and I'll Dream Alone. Substance abuse, twisted love and uneasy independence, all in the space of a few minutes. I've had Tuesday nights like that.

33. Wild BeastsLimbo, Panto
A startling combination of choppy guitars with heady, swooning falsetto vocals, and some of the most pleasingly surreal songs of the year, which include in their subject matter clairvoyants, grinning skulls and "The Devil's Crayon". Playfully obscure lyrics veer from describing 'bed's soft tundra, murky with mourn' to extolling the reconciliatory properties of chips with cheese. Proper individuals.

32. Hercules and Love AffairHercules And Love Affair
This glitterball traipse through disco tears and club nostalgia pressed all the right buttons round my parts.

31. Murray GoldDoctor Who Series Four Soundtrack
Unless you’re a big old geek, this must look a little baffling here. And if you ARE a big old geek already, you won’t need me to tell you about A Dazzling End and all the rest.
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Kommentare

  • mhunke

    both Bun's and Jeezy's albums were sick

    24. Dez. 2008, 22:44
  • CvaldaVessalis

    Hmmmm, nice selection B! Not that I'd expect any less... and thanks for highlighting Grab A Hold, my fave off of the Cyndi album!

    27. Dez. 2008, 20:57
  • Coffee_Whore

    i approve a dazzling end. and the greatest story never told !

    29. Dez. 2008, 0:05
  • Orange_Anubis

    Thanks for your comments peoples, you've all got excellent taste I see. :)

    29. Dez. 2008, 17:34
  • Mimey

    I like the sound of them Fields. I've never had nights like that, but that's no excuse. Do we put on music these days, though. It's a word, well a two-word phrase, I associate exclusively with vinyl. You put a record on. Digital music just doesn't have that physicality. Hmm.

    31. Dez. 2008, 18:54
  • stoibee

    Like the way you've got Fleet Foxes at 50. I deliberately overlooked them in my Twisted Twenty because I couldn't deal with the fawning that resulted from a pleasant sounding collection of songs that ultimately left no impression on me. I think you've guessed my number one but I got my comeuppance when I read a Fleet Foxes interview in old farts' rag The Word this month...

    8. Jan. 2009, 21:43
  • Orange_Anubis

    Heh, yes, you tend to see them in people's top tens or not at all. But 50 feels about right to me, and I'm glad you noticed the irony, it did make me smile when I was writing this.

    9. Jan. 2009, 10:19
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