Saturday, December 4, 2010

Best albums of 2010

I'm not gonna lie. This wasn't a great year for me. But as always music made it a little bit more bearable. So without further comments, here are the 10 albums that rocked my world:

10. Contra, Vampire Weekend
This one came out in January, and I always forgot about it. I have a feeling I won't be remembering this record in 20 years. Don't get me wrong. I like Vampire Weekend a lot, but there's nothing risky or different about it. It's just their debut part 2. Still makes for the hell of an album, but...

9. Congratulations, MGMT
MGMT were very criticized because of this album, and it became a common thing on the internet to talk about their commercial suicide and stuff, but the truth is: this record is not that different from their debut. If you actually listened to Oracular Spectacular in its entirety, you probably realized that Congratulations makes sense as a natural continuation for the band. Flash Delirium, for example, reminds me a lot of The Handshake, and that's a huge compliment. This is the sort of album that may lead to disappointment at first (no Kids here) but it grows on you a lot. Still, it didn't have the same impact on me that Oracular Spectacular had (it was my album of the year way back in 2008). I value consistency and risk taking, but I still miss the epic feeling of the big hits.

8. Body Talk, Robyn
This one came in pieces over the year, but it really becomes impressive when the see the three parts together. It almost feels like a greatest hits collection. In short, this is the sort of thing that makes me like Sweden so much.

7. Crystal Castles, Crystal Castles
This band made the hell of an impression back in 2008, but I didn't expect them to get it right twice. It's one thing to improve over an average first album. But it's way more awesome to improve over a very good album. This is what they did. There is more personality on this one. Less 8-bit sounds and more singing (or some singing at least). If you don't like them (and I wouldn't blame you, I would probably not want to be their friends), do not hold your breath. They are not going anywhere. Crystal Castles are here to stay.

6. Odd Blood, Yeasayer
In some sense, this filled the gap left by MGMT. The super catchy hits that Congratulations didn't deliver are all here (can someone seriously not dance to Ambling Alp?). Kind of ironic since in 2008 the opposite happened. MGMT conquered the indie world, and nobody cared about Yeasayer's debut.

5. The Fool, Warpaint
I'm not supposed to like this one. It's depressing and not really a dance record. But it's a kind of depression that sucks you in, and I just cannot stop listening to the damn thing. It's dark, but it is a kind of dark that makes me feel happier.

4. The Suburbs, Arcade Fire
You are probably thinking "Oh, Arcade Fire, what a shock..." and I do not blame you. For a long time, I resisted this band. They were always the Radiohead of the 2000s, that kind of band that it becomes such a cliche to like that I want to hate it with a passion. But this record is just "wow". I give up Arcade Fire. You made a very good album and deserve all the hype.

3. Passive Me, Aggressive You, The Naked And Famous
This is one of those discoveries that I live for. This band is actually famous in their country, New Zealand. Their single, Young Blood, was number one in their country, but in the West, they are still nobodies. Which is really hard to understand, given how good their songs are. It all plays sort of like a dream, a combination of MGMT and The XX that is sometimes better than both bands. If you take one thing from this list, listen to this band. It might change your life.

2. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Kanye West
Kanye West is such a fascinating person. I always liked him, not so much for being an asshole, but for being honest and actually having the balls to say what he was thinking, even if it meant interrupting the cute blonde girl that everybody likes. I know a lot of people that are annoying because they think too highly of themselves, but when you actually back it up, I applaud. Technically, MBDTF is a great album. I am not a musician, but I can see when a lot of effort and attention to detail was put into something. But for me, the biggest thing about MBDTF is the story and the drama behind it. This is what pop music should be about. Putting your heart and soul into something.

1. Treats, Sleigh Bells
This is not a mature and reflexive album, like Arcade Fire's. And it does not a great back story, like Kanye's. It feels more like a teenage thing, fast and intense. It might trick you to think that you won't remember it after one summer, but I would be lying to myself if I made this anything other than number 1. From the explosive opening of Tell'Em, to the sugarcoat feeling of Rill Rill, and the thrill of Crown On The Ground and A/B Machines, Treats has some of the best 32 minutes of my musical life.

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