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Friday, 17 December 2010

Albums of the Year #10 - #01

10) Everything Everything – Man Alive












Italic
In a shocking year for début albums, Everything Everything shone through. Their electronic artpop is refreshing in the extreme with harmonies bouncing off each other and everything else in sight. Although the critics will beg to differ there was more to Man Alive (so named as to be a throwaway comment and an encapsulation of the vastness of life) than just the quirky 'hits'. Gentler songs such as 'Leave The Engine' room left just as much impact as 'Suffragette Suffragette' in the long run and there's little doubt that providing EE can build on what they've started they'll be around for a long time yet.

09) Gorillaz – Plastic Beach













You could assume that Plastic Beach is only here because I'm a bit of a Damon Albarn fan. If you assumed this, you're probably a bit of an arse. The sort of arse who would have rather seen U2 'play the hits' at Glastonbury than one of the most forward-thinking and genre-breaking acts of the last 10 years summing up the true spirit of the festival. Like said set, Plastic Beach utilises its cast of legends and young 'uns perfectly, with each held as reverentially as each other. The cohesion and feel of the album is surprisingly stunning and most importantly each song is fan-bloody-tastic.

08) Robyn - Body Talk Parts 1 & 2

The second entry to feature Snoop Dogg!
Put together, Parts 1 and 2 of Body Talk are about the same length as The Suburbs. As such I'm letting them take up one spot. They're also both equally fantastic. No-one does slick pop hooks like Robyn does. Hits like 'Hang With Me' and 'Dancing On My Own' are already timeless classics. 'Fembot' is sexy as hell and the acoustic versions are tender and excellently constructed. Ladies, Robyn is the one to beat. Your move.

07) The National – High Violet













This is the one choice that I shouldn't need to justify. The front cover with the caption “Well, Duh!” should suffice. But I'll try anyway. The National are THE breakthrough band of the year, and rightly so. High Violet is their third classic album. Critics (whom I can only assume are dull people) will call The National dull. Whilst it's true that they're not exciting, who would want exciting when you could have something better?

06) Yeasayer – Odd Blood













What do you do when your debut album is a collection of meandering world-prog with only three decent tunes on it? Create an LP of pop smashes, that's what. Teaser 'Ambling Alp' only scratched the surface of what the three piece had to offer. The shrillness of 'Rome' contrasts with the gut-wrenching honesty of 'Madder Red', the bounce of 'O.N.E.' and the near-prog-isms of 'I Remember'. Shame about the artwork really.

05) Kate Nash - My Best Friend Is You













Oh, C'mon! Kate may be the least critically acclaimed on this list, but that doesn't mean you should be incredulous at her inclusion in the Top 5. Aside from you, John, I know you approve. My Best Friend Is You improves on the scrappy template Nash laid down on her debut, incorporating Los Camp!-isms, odd poetry readings, riot grrrl and classic girl-group pop. The mash of styles lead to something really quite different.

04) Los Campesinos! - Romance Is Boring













I hereby declare that should Los Campesinos! contiune to release albums of this quality there will always be a space for them in the KPL Top 5 Albums of the Year list. It's three for three for Los Camp! and with a new fanzine/music project in the new year things are just starting for the group.

03) The Futureheads - The Chaos













If you said that bands don't make albums like this any more, you'd be right. Post-punk has sadly fallen out of fashion, but it's not stopped The Futureheads from making their best record since their debut. The Chaos came out early in the year but familiarity has definitely not bred contempt. Top 40 Hit Single 'Heartbeat Song' made it to track of the year and there's plenty more where it came from. 'Jupiter's an epic, whilst 'I Can Do That' helped me to get the job I have now.
The 'heads are doing an a'capella album next. It'll be fantastic.

02) Arcade Fire – The Suburbs












There is literally nothing between #2 and #3 on this list. Ranking them was a purely arbitrary decision. The Suburbs is a truly awesome album that you can expect to see at the top of Albums of the 2010s lists in 9 years time. I don't need to say more. Perfect

01) Ash - A-Z Vol. 1























First – yes I am aware that this is not strictly an album. But remember, is is my list and my rules. Ash achieved something extraordinary with their A-Z Series. Not only did they engage with fans constantly for a year but they created a remarkable collection of songs, all by being freed of the traditional album format. With said format no longer being a constant we can expect to see more such projects in the coming years, and if they all manage to be of a similar standard to what Ash have done it shall not be a bad thing that the album is 'dead'.
I've gone for Volume 1 here as I feel that Volume 2 slipped slightly as a collection. With an overlong instrumental and sub-par conclusion to the series it felt as if anticipation had dropped. On Vol. 1 however even the bonus tracks were spot on. The singles contained within included 'Arcadia', 'True Love 1980', 'Neon' and 'Space Shot'. It's literally impossible to argue with. Record of the year.

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