Yes I know its nearly February but here’s what grabbed my attention the most last year (in no particular order).
Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
The Arcade Fire’s third album is one of those albums that sounds better as a whole that any single track. From the epic orchestral thumping of “Rococo” to the quiet introspection of “Wasted Hours” to the delightfully poppy “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” this collection of songs deserves your full attention while listening. While it probably is slightly too long, I couldn’t pick a song to drop and I’m glad they didn’t. There really is no filler on this album, a rarity indeed. Original, catchy, melancholic this if my favourite album of the past 5 years, let alone 2010. It just hooks me every time, it has its rockier moments, it’s quiet moments but they all feel like one. The hallmark of a great album is one where your favourite track changes regularly, for now my favourite track is ‘We Used to Wait’ (checkout this amazing dynamic video) but in the past it has been Rococo, Deep Blue, Ready To Start (in fact they’ve all been a favourite at times). Brilliant.
Manic Street Preachers – Postcards From A Young Man
The Manics return for their tenth album, a milestone in their career. Thankfully they are still on top form, and this album could be seen as a continuation of what was started with “Send Away The Tigers”. They sound unusually upbeat with tracks like “I Think I Found I” and The Wire is on top form with his lyrics in tracks like “A Billion Balconies Facing the Sun” and “Don’t Be Evil” – the latter seemingly taking a swipe at Google and internet blogging culture. They’ve said this is their last chance at “mass communication” and I have mixed feelings about this, some of their best songs were written when they were trying make popular music but wonder what they could achieve without that constraint. Favourite track? It’s difficult because they are all so good, but it would have to be the title track ‘Postcards from a Young Man’ or ‘Don’t Be Evil’.
James – The Morning After
When James got back together in 2007, many could be forgiven for thinking they might release a new ‘best of’ complication and do a tour (they did) to make some money and then go back to hibernation. Thankfully they stuck around, and we now have their third album since the reformation. A sequel to ‘The Night Before” the silky guitars from Larry and Soul’s energetic violin make this album melt away in your brain. My favourite song, “Tell Her I Said So”.
The Duke Spirit – Neptune
Technically released in 2008, however I came across it in 2010 which is why I am including it here. It’s been a long time since I’ve discovered a new band that write such interesting music with lyrics to match. This album spans multiple genres, from the poppy “My Sunken Treasure” to the all out rock energy of the title track “Neptune’s Call” to the blues of “This Ship Was Built To Last” every song on this album sounds fresh and the lyrics will make you laugh, or send a shiver down your spine. Looking forward to their next album out in 2011. My favourite track would have to be “Neptune’s Call”.