2010 was an excellent year for music, the death of the album has been much muted, but with the evidence of current releases I don’t see the evidence of the format dying.
With great pieces of work from the old and young, it has been a pleasure to listen to such great music. This is my pick of the bunch for 2010 which no doubt many will disagree with, but that’s the beauty of lists! I am bit late posting this but better late than never!
#1 – Paul Weller – Wake Up The Nation
Many of the reviews for this album were excellent, however an often used phrase when it comes to Paul Weller is the obligatory “return to form”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. This is the third studio album in a row that has been superb for Weller. Starting in 2005 with As Is Now, which was the real return to form and he has since gone from strength to strength.
22 Dreams was an amazing double album of immense diversity from Latin influences to pure poetry. Wake up the nation is an extension of this incredible creative high point in Weller’s back catalogue.
There is everything on this album, with a return to “Jam Like” utterances with the title track Wake up the nation, and Fast Cars/Slow Traffic (with Bruce Foxton), along with sweet songs and psychedelia. His songwriting is superb on this outing and his collaborations inspiring.
A well deserved Mercury nomination for the album, I would urge anyone to give this a listen. A complete album in the old fashioned sense, listen to it from start to finish. My album of the year.
#2 Caribou – Swim
A critics favourite this year, near the top of most lists I’ve seen. I caught onto these a little late, but I got there in the end.
This album is an organic journey that takes you through a wholesome kaleidoscope of sounds and feelings. It starts with Odessa which is a fantastic track, one of the tracks of the year.
This album is appealing because it grows with every listen rather than one you quickly want to leave behind. A complete entity which is what an album should be and I’m confident I’ll still want more a year from now.
#3 Everything Everything – Man Alive
I saw Everything Everything back in 2009 supporting the Rumble Strips. I’d heard about them and thought I’d check them out. It was obvious even then that they had something special, and its great that they have managed to transfer this to the studio.
The album is full of surprises, twists and turns. There is nothing formulaic in anything they do which is a God send when so much music is generic and lacklustre.
I have heard critics criticise them for releasing songs that are “too complex”! If it were unlistenable I would agree but there is a beauty in these songs and the complexities keep life in the recordings. There is always something more to discover.
#4 Charlotte Gainsbourg – IRM
This album I would class as the most beautiful of the year. Smooth, crisp and evocative, simply wonderful to listen to in almost any mood.
The francophile electro- folk- pop never fails to impress, enhanced by the attention of Beck’s production.
The lyrics flirt with the darker side as this record apparently was inspired by her near death experience following a water skiing accident in 2007. With this record something truly wonderful was inspired.
#5 Edwyn Collins – Losing Sleep
I listened to this album with a speculative ear. This is probably the most surprising album of the year. You don’t necessarily expect that someone who has been around so long and has had such misfortune could emulate the great songs he has previously written.
This selection of songs is some of the best he has ever written. Not a bad track on the album. It is full of collaborations with those that were no doubt inspired by his earlier work. This could have ended up being a horrible patchwork quilt of guest spots, but this is far from what has been created.
This is a superb album.
#6 Foals – Total Life Forever
Total Life Forever took me by surprise with the leap forward they have taken from their debut album. I thought they might do a Pigeon Detectives and make the same album again having such a distinguished sound.
This record is an enormous progression, keeping the edginess of their sound but molding it into something much more refined. Excellent album with some haunting tracks and a great live band.
#7 LCD Soundsystem – This is happening
If this is the last studio effort from James Murphy et al in this format they will be sorely missed.
Always original, catchy and with a longevity that defines a great album.
#8 Archie Bronson Outfit – Coconut
A much underrated outfit, I loved this album. They have a unique take on the indie format and a sound that is un-mistakenly theirs. This is an achievement in itself but with the songs that go with it.
Play this album LOUD.
#9 Grinderman – Grinderman 2
We pretty much know what were getting with Nick Cave, but when he does it well it is just superb. He is on fire at the moment, his last 2 albums with the Bad Seeds have been classics and now this album is another high watermark.
I love the twisted nature of the lyrics and the grinding gladetorial music. This is one of his best, another “old hand” that still keeps coming up trumps.
#10 Gorillaz – Plastic Beach
Now, I have to admit to not being the biggest Blur fan, but since David Albarn has branched out I have become a real fan of his creations. All the Gorillaz albums have been excellent and this is no exception. A great piece of work from extremely talented musicians.
The best of the rest :-
#11 Manic Street Preachers – Postcards from a young man
#12 These New Puritans – Hidden
#13 Steve Mason – Boys Outside
#14 Elvis Costello – National Ransom
#15 Sleigh Bells – Treats
#16 Crystal Castles – Crystal Castles
#17 Jim Jones Revue – Burning your house down
#18 Skream – Outside the box
#19 Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
#20 Best Coast – Crazy for you
#21 The Dead Weather – Sea of Cowards
#22 We Have Band – WHB
#23 The Vaselines – Sex with an X
#24 dan le sac Vs Scroobius Pip – The logic of chance
#25 MGMT – Congratulations