My limited exposure to new albums this year has meant I’ve stuck to the golden nuggets, so I can agree with the inimitable @justplayed on Richard Hawley, Goat, Grimes, First Aid Kit and David Byrne and St Vincent. However, I feel he is unfairly overlooking the brilliance of Dr John, School Of Seven Bells, Father John Misty and Jens Lekman.
Richard Hawley’s Standing At The Sky’s Edge is a tsunami of sound, knocking you over the Edge with each new song. Unfortunately, I grew tired of it quickly and haven’t returned to it much since. It’s almost too rich to listen to all at once – like eating a cheesecake, it’s delicious while you’re ingesting it but you don’t realise you’ve had too much until it’s finished. Goat’s World Music is something I’ve discovered through Uncut’s end-of-year CD (along with a few others I’ve not fully appreciated yet). Raucous and exuberant, it’s an album of unstoppable enthusiasm and harsh buzzing, but in a hugely enjoyable way. Not an Album Of The Year contender, but still an excellent addition to your collection. Dr. John should need no introduction, but Dan Auerbach’s the perfect host for the newcomer, creating an exceptional album full of verve and backing vocals.
Father John Misty is a drummer. A drummer from Fleet Foxes. How he’s managed to create an album that is not only worth listening to, but worth listening to again and again is beyond me. Funny, smart, and engaging, Fear Fun does anything but and is definitely a good choice of purchase at the Indie Label Market in Spitalfields this year. I nearly bought Words and Music by Saint Etienne with the poster of the map album cover instead, and while I enjoy the eventually purchased (£3 HMV sale, sorry) Saint Etienne album, I’m certain I made the right choice (two good choices that day as a Leon lunch came shortly afterwards. Not a music recommendation, but go to Leon and have their meatballs with some Lemonade. Go now.)
Also at Spitalfields I bought the School Of Seven Bells album Disconnect From Desire. This was because I was in love with Ghostory. I’d seen someone buying it at Spillers the previous month while buying Herman Dune’s Strange Moosic, another excellent recommendation (thanks Ashli!) Every track on Ghostory is special from opener The Night to When You Sing through Lafaye, Scavenger and White Wind. Low Times is what sells it the most though. A song that transforms and pounds so incredibly I turned it into my ringtone – something I’ve not done since The Go! Team’s Bottle Rocket. It turns out I like Dance music. Who knew? (See repeated mentions of Alive 2007 on teatunes)
I’m finding it harder and harder each year to put an order to a number of albums that are exceptional in ways that make them almost incomparable. Love This Giant is entirely different to I Know What Love Isn’t, but they both have hovered over my Album of the Year spot. Jens’ record is the best, most beautiful thing he’s ever made but is too sad for many repeat listens and remains an occasional indulgence. Love This Giant is manic, funky, fun and almost flawless, but for all its pomp it fails to grip. While it may have some of the best songs of the year (I Am An Ape, Outside of Space and Time), they don’t quite hold their grip as much as my number one.
I’d urge anyone to listen to all the albums mentioned in this post, but the one record I’ve been the most amazed by, the one I’ve played the most, the one that has been astonishing every time I return to it is First Aid Kit’s The Lion’s Roar. I didn’t care for their first album at all, despite the hype around it when it was released. But something about this album just wraps itself around your heart and mind and refuses to let go. A close call for the top spot this year, but I feel I knew all along this was going to be my choice, even way back in January when it was released. It sounded that good then and nothing has quite topped it since.