Thursday, December 25, 2008

it takes patience, lots of patience...

Top 10 Albums of 2008

7. Scars On Broadway - Scars On Broadway (bedshaped)

An album of power chords and crashing vocals, riddled with hooks and ear pleasing song arrangements that reaffirms my belief that people can still make really good rock music. I know little about them, other than it’s a side project featuring a couple of members of System Of The Down.

The lyrics can sometimes leave a lot to be desired, but it’s the thought that counts and there’s enough monster chords and pounding drums to keep the listener occupied. Vocally, there’s nothing new here. It’s very much delivered in the System Of The Down style, and even though that’s not such a bad thing, his voice is nowhere near as good as Serj Tankian’s. That said, it’s the music here that’s so great to listen to. Song after song of catchy choruses, striking guitars and whoomp whoomp pounding are enough to make you sigh with pleasure as the last track plays out.

If you like loud guitars, power chords, driving beats and the occasional noisy vocal then this an album that’s definitely worth investigating. There’s nothing new here that will make the listener think that some divine intervention has just occurred, but it’s enough to stand out above some of the other drivel out there.

Favourite Track - World Long Gone

7. Alas, I Cannot Swim - Laura Marling (Swiss Toni)

Laura Marling is 18 years old and looks considerably younger, and yet here she has produced a frail, slightly gauche and yet at the same time stunningly mature debut album. Duffy and Adele have bigger voices, have garnered more attention and sold more records, but I'm not sure that the two of them together have anything approaching the talent of this slight girl from Hampshire.

From the world-weary cynicism of "Ghosts" ("Lover please do not fall to your knees, it's not like I believe in everlasting love"), through the frail bravery of "Night Terror" ("If they want you, then they're gonna have to fight me") all the way to the concluding refrain of "Alas I Cannot Swim" at the very end of the album ("work more, earn more, live more, have more fun."), this is a debut to be treasured – they don’t always get the shortlists for these things right, but this was deservedly one of the Mercury Albums of the Year for 2008.

Key Track - Night Terror

7. This Is Alphabeat - Alphabeat (LB)

Recently I saw a TV advert for the debut album by scary, are they/aren’t they, you know – “at it” brother and sister X-Factor losers Same Difference. It described their debut release as “the pop album of the year”, which made me want to spit out my Horlicks.

I’m sorry, but there is only one pop album of 2008, and it’s the insanely catchy, breezy debut by the Danish six-piece.

From the very opening moment of track 1 – the B-52s-esque Fantastic Six – I knew I was going to love this band. Whilst their lyrics have the look of some second rate Danish poetry put through Babelfish, the sheer energy and enthusiasm by which they bang out a string of nonsensical maniacal pop ditties can only endear you to them.

OK, so the album may have been a slight disappointment but that’s only because the bar was raised so high by their string of radio-lite smash hit singles. As well as Fantastic Six (my personal favourite) the highlights are the ones you’d know – the omnipresent Fascination, the superb Ten Thousand Nights and the nonsensical Boyfriend. Less successful single What Is Happening and the frantic Touch Me Touching You are also dancefloor friendly fun.

I wouldn’t call the rest of the album “filler” – it’s not quite that bad – but their attempt to slow things down is a bit unwelcome and slightly incongruous against the breathless bounciness of the singles. Whether they can sustain a long career out of producing brilliant but ultimately throwaway pop records in a Roxette-ish style is another question, but for the time being the world is their oyster.

Considering also their brilliant performance at Glastonbury and the fact that four of their singles are in my Top Fifty of the year, Alphabeat are also my Band of 2008. Say the word!

Favourite track - Fantastic Six

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