Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Albums Of The Year 2008: 20-11

20. Fuck Buttons - Street Horrrsing
One hour of lovely little endlessly repeating synth melodies, bound and gagged to a rack of distortion pedals while a particularly angry person who appears to have borrowed Skinny Puppy's vocoders occasionally wanders in to scream at them. The charmingly named Fuck Buttons take a melody, a chord sequence or a rhythm and repeat it just beyond the point of comfort while corrupting it with noise and static. It's the sound of someone kicking Vince Clarke in the face, forever.

19. The Advisory Circle - Other Channels
Like falling asleep on acid in 1973 in front of a malfunctioning Pye television tuned halfway between BBC2 and the gates of hell. A bizarre blend of public information film soundtracks, 60s and 70s found sound, bubbling Moog and processed strings. The sounds themselves are kitsch and often upbeat, but the overall effect is strangely off-kilter and unsettling, a mood that abruptly turns to alarming as the screams begin during "Hocusing For Beginners". It's Throbbing Gristle, trapped in suburbia and wearing corduroy. Alarmingly compelling.

18. Foals - Antidotes
For anyone who thought Bloc Party lost the plot after Silent Alarm. Spiky, cerebral "math rock," as I believe Pitchfork insists on calling it, with a clean, uncluttered production. "Electric Bloom" and "Big Big Love (Fig. 2)" are particularly effective. Horrible cover artwork.

17. Portishead - Third
The unlikely return of the Bristol miserabilists with an album even bleaker than the last, and noisy enough to disqualify it from yuppie dinner parties everywhere, thank Christ. "The Rip" is particularly affecting, Beth Orton at her most vulnerable over a spare acoustic guitar backing that's gradually filled in by a warm synth arpeggio. "Machine Gun," meanwhile, is as menacing as it sounds.

16. The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
Still too many Zeppelinisms to qualify as classic, but The Raconteurs continue to be almost as interesting as Jack White's day job, and the second album shows a more coherent band approach.  Second most compelling side project after The Last Shadow Puppets.

15. David Byrne & Brian Eno - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
Eno and Byrne re-group for a warm, acoustic set that's the most interesting thing either of them have done in some years. Bonus points for the Reznor-style distribution/release model.

14. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
Given the image, the influences and lyrical content this should have been fucking insufferable but the Massachusetts preppies piled enough pop songs in to overcome the throttling urge.  A rare example of a back-loaded album; the last two songs ("Walcott" and "The Kids Don't Stand A Chance") are particularly good. Someone needs to smack the Sting*-style faux Jamacian accent out of the lead singer's mouth, mind.

13. Guns'n'Roses - Chinese Democracy
Yes, yes, ridiculously overblown, pompous, over-produced, delayed, etc., and packed with a troubling amount of piano, but Chinese Democracy is still quite a lot of fun, with some genuinely good rock songs buried underneath 4,561 guitarists.

12. The Cure - 4:13 Dream
Best Cure album since Wish, although given the competition that's not necessarily a ringing endorsement. 4:13 Dream is The Cure in pop mode, and seemingly trying less hard than at any time since Wild Mood Swings, but with the added bonus of not being mainly made of shit. 

11. Glasvegas - Glasvegas
A little monochromatic by the end, but a strong debut of drama and intensity. "Polmont On My Mind" particularly stands out, not least because the main synth melody appears to be A-ha's "Stay On These Roads." A few well-placed changes of tempo could make the second album a classic.


1 comment:

  1. G 'n' R better than Portishead? Not in this life.