We’re into the top ten! Is your favourite here? Are you shocked it’s not been placed higher? Are you outraged by some of our writers’ choices? Tell us. Don’t be a closet whiner.
10) Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz! by Rob Hastings
It’s been a bumper year for fans of Karen O. Not only can they chirp about her band’s third album being yet another humdinger, but they can also indulge in a debate as to whether her freak-folk soundtrack to Where The Wild Things Are is even better still. Those who plump for It’s Blitz!, however, have plenty of justification. While armies of pretenders continue to squeeze the life out the synth revival, this is an album showing how Korgs really should be used to complement Fenders.
From the moment ‘Zero’ first explodes into full-blown stomping, strobe-lit form, it’s clear Nick Zinner isn’t just lazily following a trend; as the lyric in ‘Heads Will Roll’ goes, the next nine tracks are truly “dripping in alchemy”.
By melding the neon elements of their new sound with their garage origins, YYYs have created an LP that is by turns breathlessly euphoric, profoundly delicate and downright barbaric.
9) Dirty Projectors – Bitte Orca by Sean Clothier
When lead single ‘Stillness is the Move’ landed in April, the result was as expected: “ugh, the scenester kings are doing R&B.” This from the too-hip-to-be-hipster blog kids who are happy to slam Vampire Weekend for being preppy college kids who shoplift non-Western sounds, but wouldn’t recognise an African song themselves if it wasn’t produced by Radioclit, unironically listen to Queen and get together in awful Manhattan bars to laugh about how “some people still think Brooklyn is cool”.
My message to them? Grow a pair and stop reading the ‘best of’ lists on Pitchfork so you know what to rail against as “the exact symptom of what’s wrong with supposed independent music”.
Dirty Projectors’ (somewhat more eloquent) message? An LP-sized marvel of urgent polyrhythmnic-yet-perfect-pop craft, heartbreakingly wonderful melismatic voice-heroics and ridiculous freakouts that David Byrne would kill to own. Oh, and the absolute hands-down, balls on display greatest meaningless shoutalong chorus created this whole nascent millennium. “BITTE ORCA ORCA BITTE” indeed.
8) The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – The Pains of Being Pure at Heart by Paul Brown
Plenty of artists have capitalised on the upsurge in popularity of the revival of 80s and 90s indie-pop. However, none have done so with quite as much aplomb of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. While some bands seem to spend years honing their sound, The Pains… appear to have just dropped out of the sky with a sound that is at once unique and zeitgeist-embracing.
Their debut album is a collection of upbeat and compelling songs, riddled with hooks and slathered in that wonderfully echoey dreaminess of C86. The songs are consistently strong, with particular highlights for me being ‘Come Saturday’ and ‘This Love is Fucking Right!’.
What is even more encouraging is that they have followed up this record with an EP which occasionally even surpasses parts of the album. So then, a wonderful debut record, with the tantalising promise of an even better follow-up to come.
Can this band do any wrong?
7) The Horrors – Primary Colours by Michael Cragg
You know that bit in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy walks through the door and suddenly her monochrome existence is engulfed by swathes of glorious colour? That’s what Primary Colours is like when compared to The Horror’s 2007 album, Strange House. Whilst that debut may well have had its moments, Primary Colours works as an actual album, not just a collection of songs. From the creepy heartbeat of opener Mirror’s Image to the frantic, heart-swelling coda of the eight-minute classic, ‘Sea Within A Sea’, via the glorious stomp of ‘Who Can Say’, it’s an album that bristles with invention. Melding psychedelica with shoegaze with garage rock with bhangra (OK, perhaps not the latter), it’s helped of course by the production work of Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, but the credit rests with the band themselves.
Apropos of nothing, I listened to this album for the first time whilst bleaching a deer’s skull my Auntie had given me. Does that make me a Goth? I hope so.
Tomorrow we reveal the albums that finished between 6th and 4th in the countdown as we get ever closer to revealing our top three LPs of 2009. If you’re not read more about the albums that finished below that lot, be sure to gander over to mathematical geekery on how we got this countdown, the 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-16 and 15-11. You’ll be seeing us tomorrow!