my 20 favorite albums of 2008 - part two

Sorry for the commercial break. Now, where was I?

12 - Duels - The Barbarians Move In
key tracks: 'Regeneration', 'Sleeping Giants', 'The Barbarians Move In'
I was very, very happy to see the Duels return in February with a self-released second album after their split from Nude. I was a little disappointed that there was none of the hyper indie-pop that drew me to them in the first place, but that was soon overtaken by how impressive the grand scope of the album is. This. Is. Epic. Pop. and it makes no bones about it. From the sweeping rush of opener 'The Furies' to the soft whisper that ends the album on the title track, you better buckle in for the ride. If "The Bright Lights And What I Should Have Learned" was "Coming Up" circa-2006, this goes toe to toe with "Dog Man Star". Yes, I said it.

11 - The Ting TIngs - We Started Nothing
key tracks: 'Great DJ', 'Be The One', 'We Started Nothing'
First, let me say how pleasantly surprised I was that this album got as huge as it did. For a while, you couldn't escape these two - but it was one of those rare cases where you didn't seem to mind. This album had appeal for everyone - I was expecting the guitar indie pop album of the summer [by way of Columbia Records, of course] but wasn't prepared for the onslaught of single after single, club mix after club mix, etc. Early listens suggest the album is front loaded and then peters out after the enormous 'Shut Up And Let Me Go', however further exploration reveals that the most interesting stuff is really going on at the end. I'm very curious to see where they go next.

10 - Hot Chip - Made In The Dark
key tracks: 'Ready For The Floor', 'Out At The Pictures', 'Bendable Poseable'
I love Hot Chip because they're not sure if they're a dance act or a guitar band - they generally combine the best of both and fall somewhere in the middle. 'Ready For The Floor' was pure floor filler, of course, but there's lots of stuff here that most "dance acts" wouldn't ever dream up - like the pair of heart-wrenching ballads that close the album, or the whispery title track that sits as the album's centerpiece. This is, I think, the album they've always been trying to make, and I think it's the one that shows of their numerous strengths the most.

09 - Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke
key tracks: 'My Delirium', 'Manipulating Woman', 'Dusk Till Dawn'
I first became aware of Ladyhawke via the video for 'Paris Is Burning', which I must admit didn't impress me much. Its remix package - with names such as Chicken Lips, Cut Copy and Alex Gopher - did intrigue me and since there was a good deal both the single AND album when they were released in the UK, I decided what the hell. Good thing too, because she's got quite the ear for a pop song. Yet another case of an album that's a bit too long for it's own good - it starts to sound a bit samey here and there - but there's some amazing stuff here to suggest that Ms. Pip Brown could have a long, prosperous career as Ladyhawke.

08 - Alphabeat - This Is Alphabeat
key tracks: 'Boyfriend', 'Touch Me Touching You', 'Go-Go'
Another one I wasn't initially all that enthralled with - 'Fascination' is both fantastic and obnoxious at the same time and follow-up '10,000 Nights' is more of the same but sounds like an outtake for a musical as well, which is not a good thing. However, again the remixes sold me - I'm such a remix whore, I can't help it - but I still couldn't pull the trigger on the album. Third single - and my favorite song of the year, in case you missed it - 'Boyfriend' had me hooked and I gave in to the album. Good thing, too, because in context the first two singles make a bit more sense, and "This Is Alphabeat" turned out to be a rarity in 2008 - a pop album that doesn't overstay its welcome. Ten tracks, all of them necessarry - well, I might ditch '10,000 Nights' - including a Public Image cover, and then it's done and ready to be played again. Score!

07 - Erykah Badu - New Amerykah Part One: 4th World War
key tracks: 'Telephone', 'Soldier', 'That Hump'
I've always admired Erykah Badu and even spun her albums on occasion, but found her a bit much to take in big doses. I'm not sure what led me to purchase yet another of her albums to add to the growing pile of ones that I rarely listen to, but I'm quite thankful for whatever it was because this album is amazing. It's one of those albums that major label artists rarely make - Erykah has clearly always followed her own beat, but I don't think she's ever raised both middle fingers at everything quite so proudly as she does here. A very claustrophobic album that takes a while to wrap your head around, but one like more people should be making these days. Part two apparently is finally coming this year, but I'll believe it when I see it considering how long it took to get this one.

06 These New Puritans - Beat Pyramid
key tracks: 'Infinity ytinifnI', 'Swords of Truth', 'En Papier'
Much like the Erykah Badu record, this is an album's album. Sure, most of the songs play fine by themselves, but they're all interlinked with little segues and bits of noise to connect them all - not to mention the ending track that feeds directly into the opening track as they're literally halves of the same whole - that it only makes sense when it's played as a whole. File them along side the Klaxons as a young band with too many ideas in their head to get them all out in a cohesive manner, which is very exciting.

The rest soon.

No comments: