“We’re here, we here!” That’s what these three magnificent albums screamed at us from the moment they were released this year, and it’s only too pleasing to see that our writers in their masses agreed with us. Here’re some tributes…
6) Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest by Harley Sherman
If Yellow House was Grizzly Bear’s The Bends, then Veckatimest was their OK Computer. A groundswell of anticipation met the release of their third LP, so the boys from Brooklyn duly obliged and crafted an elegant mix of chamber pop, folk and psychedelia that represented a huge leap in ambition and flair.
The vocal partnership of Daniel Rossen and Ed Droste still flourishes, the interplay of their disparate styles never compromising the rich, dense nature of the music. Further, Chris Bear’s drumming is exemplary, and its precise subtlety is one that is often overlooked when praising Grizzly Bear.
Laden with dreamy harmonies, carefully strummed guitars and hazy ambiance, Veckatimest isn’t an easy album to get to grips with; instruments ebb and flow throughout each song, but after repeated listens the pieces begin to fit and the listener is rewarded with a timeless work of art.
5) Bat For Lashes’ Two Suns by George Shaw
An eccentric frontwoman with a tendency to switch between alter-egos? Sure, obvious comparisons to the likes of Kate Bush and Bjork may well be made, but Bat For Lashes’ second album proved there is a hell of a lot more going on here then with some of her female contemporaries.
From the synth-laden, soaring first single ‘Daniel’ to the haunting, deathly, Scott Walker guest-ing ‘The Big Sleep’, Two Suns is an album of real depth and at times, true beauty.
In between there is the lonely, booming sound of bass driven ‘Sleep Alone’ in which Natasha Khan declares “the dream of love is a two-hearted dream”, and then there is the heart-wrenching, delicate ‘Moon And Moon’ and the thumping, yet menacing ‘Pearl’s Dream.’ It’s an album full of ambition, heart and pure wonder, and it proves Natasha – and her alter-egos – are miles ahead of their peers.
4) Fever Ray’s Fever Ray by Paul Faller
Mesmerising. Unsettling. Affecting. Bewildering. Brilliant.
I could throw descriptive language at you all day and still struggle to capture exactly what it is I love about this album. Whether I listen to it in the hazy light of morning or the very dark of night, it never fails to come across as anything but completely, all-encompasingly atmospheric. Karin Dreijer Andersson has produced some of the densest, most richly layered soundscapes I’ve heard all year, but it’s her voice that’s the star of the show.
Whether maintaining her distinctive accented tones or warping them into a menacing, otherworldly growl, it’s absolutely captivating – as is the way her lyrics mix the mundane, the surreal and the fantastical with a constant sense of raw emotion. Simply put, this is a record to lose yourself in – it’s nothing short of completely immersive and stunningly beautiful.
Tomorrow we reveal our top three albums of 2009! How exciting. 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, 15-11, and 10-7. Can you take a potshot at what they’re going to be?