Tuesday, 11 December 2007

The 40 BEST Albums of 2007 : 20 - 29

20. KUBICHEK! - Not Enough Night

A wonderfully dark album full of crap nights out, stolen taxi's and doomed friendships. Like A Weekend In The City but with the testicular fortitude to look at the rather rubbish side of city life, a la The Rakes. Musically there is a rather strange marriage between post rock and, well rock! Idlewild esque riffing aplenty yet dynamic soundscapes too, this is an album by a band who don't like boxes. Honest, addictive and full of amazing pop songs. Like Maximo Park with a full head of hair and both balls intact.

21. KING CREOSOTE - Bombshell

To me Bomshell is the sound of all KC's DIY efforts condensed into one masterpiece. All this time under the radar and now the King decides to make a big, happy pop record. Beautifully intricate and personal lyrics crooned over a myriad of different instruments ranging from accordion to violin. The sound is big and lush yet not over produced, the perfect new sound for an artist with so much to give to so many people. All hail King Kenny!

22. FIONN REGAN - The End Of History

Delicate and simple, The End Of History is the sound of a musician at peace with himself and his guitar. There's no need for high production values or too many session musicians, this record is just the sparse sound of voice and guitar with the odd splash of timid drums. A wonderful collection of folk songs sung with conviction and wonder. Should have won the Mercury Music Prize, damn you Klaxons!!!

23. ART BRUT - It's A Bit Complicated

Simple, concise and full of charm. A record of immense fun and frivolity, cute British charm mixed with some much more competent musicianship than their rather scratchy debut. That's right Art Brut have evolved from rather amusing novelty act to accomplished songwriting geniuses. Eddie Argos talks his way through tales of neurotic woe and awkward sexual conquests over some jangly, taut pop melodies. Eddie gives us stories of stopping mid fumble to turn up a pop song and living on no money therefore being forced to eat stale bread like looks like toast! He even taunts critics with wonderfully caustic and self-referential lines like "I'm nothing to my peers, the envy and hatred. How many girls have they seen naked!". The perfect second album.

24. COLD WAR KIDS - Robbers & Cowards

Ah, Cold War Kids. Well they've been a grower! On first encountering this record as an import last year I was not impressed. It all seemed a bit too earnest, a bit too much. As the record got it's UK release I thought I'd give it another listen and this time I was blown away. I don't know what had changed, I think at first I had heard them at a time when they were a myspace hype band, there was too much expectation. Anyway, this record is amazing. A mix of delta blues and gospel, it's the sound of the god fearing American South. From the hypocrisy of the church to the confessions of an alcoholic, Cold War Kids channel the rawest subjects into wonderful songs of redemption, joy and fear.

25. iLiKETRAiNS - Elegies To Lessons Learnt

I adore iLiKETRAiNS. Let's get that straight. When I first saw them at the bottom of the bill at Lincoln Uni a couple of years ago I nearly cried. Their debut album, although not quite reaching the peak of their overwhelming live shows, is a great introduction to all things iLiKETRAiNS. Elegies... is a bleak march into our countries chequered past, we are served up stories of assassinated Prime Ministers, whole villages wiped out by disease and the final days of doomed explorers. All set to a brooding wall of sound worthy of Sigur Ros, the words delivered in a voice like a strangled, grieving Morrissey. This is however just the beginning, one day they will be top of lists like this. This is not their masterpiece, that is yet to come.

26. ASOBI SEKSU - Citrus

Fuzzy guitars, layered ten times over, are soaked deep into this record, washing over sweet female vocals that step into the background like just another instrument. This, my friends, is shoegaze for the 21st Century. Lyrics sung both in English and Japanese are indecipherable, whatever language you speak, as they create gorgeous melodies over the amazing audio sludge of guitars, bass and drums melded together in a sonic landscape. Ferocious pop songs married to experimental noise, lovely.

27. EDITORS - An End Has A Start

Oooh I can feel this being an unpopular choice already! What words are you going to use, BORING! COLDPLAY! OVERBLOWN! Well I don't care, I've had a lot of grief for extolling the virtues of Editors this year and I feel it's all unjustified. This is a great album (the only reason it didn't make the top 20 been the rather poor and flat middle section that lets the whole record down). An End Has A Start is an honest, unashamed and emotive album. It deals with grief and loss in a very real way, there are no cloak and dagger hidden metaphors, it's all right there in front of you and that is exactly what you want from this album. Musically a step forward from The Back Room, their second effort is more ambitious and ultimately bigger in scope. The most heartwarming moment comes, however, when the sound is taken to a whisper on the beautiful, piano led 'Well Worn Hand'.

28. HOLLER, WILD ROSE! - Our Little Hymnal

I reviewed this one a few weeks ago so here's a snippet:

'The sheer pomp and general epic size of this album could put the casual listener off, for those who like a touch of pomposity however it truly is a wonderful piece of work. 'Our Little Hymnal' takes a million different influences and condenses them into an hour long masterpiece, said influences only part of a tapestry not the whole story. If you love music with a touch of the epic this is the record for you. An album that is simple and elegant, yet powerful and primal at the same time.'

29. BRIGHT EYES - Cassadaga

A strange record to pin down, and one that caused me a lot of problems when compiling this list. Just how much did I value this rather self indulgent yet quite staggeringly beautiful album? So anyway number 29 it is, I think this is fair. This is by no means Conor's finest work (that being in my mind a toss up between Digital Ash In A Digital Urn and Lifted, answers or abuse on a postcard please...) but there is something inherently likable about it. The lilting slide guitar, the coherent and faintly apocalyptic lyrics and the feeling that Cassadaga is a well rounded and almost concept driven album. If this is an album about the end of the world, we're going out with a confused expression almost breaking into a smile.

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