Friday, December 25, 2009

some things you can't invent

Top 10 Albums Of The Decade

7. Coldplay - X&Y (2005)(LB)

I'll admit, I'm not sure X&Y is actually Coldplay's finest hour musically (and certainly lyrically). I could pick better individual songs off any of their other three 2000s albums and I wouldn't honestly get into a fight with you if you made a case for any of Parachutes, A Rush Of Blood... or Viva La Vida actually being a better album.

However, and notwithstanding, X&Y is my favourite overall Coldplay record. It's overblown in places, some of the lyrics are horrifically weak but when I listened to all four albums a while back it was this one that I kept coming back to. Whether it was the face that they were at the peak of their popularity when this came out, or the expectation I had was so high (and it was broadly met), I don't know. I just know that I love the singles - Speed of Sound, Fix You (I know, I know) and Talk - and even the likes of Low, The Hardest Part and Square One are brilliant songs.

It's maybe not their finest hour, but it's the album I like the best, which is what this list is all about, innit?

Listen to: Speed of Sound

7. The Killers - Hot Fuss (2006)(bedshaped)

Quite simply put, I don't think The Killers have even come close to bettering this album. Great, great indie/pop songs contained throughout this album. Ok, so the production isn't great, but it's all about the songs on this one. And boy, are they great!

Mr Brightside....I mean, come on. How can anyone possibly not recognize this as a fantastic song?!?! Somebody Told Me, another great, great indie flavoured song. Massive on the indie club circuit, and deservedly so. And then you also have the absolutely superb All These Things That I've Done....a brilliant sing-a-long track, particularly superb at their live gigs. Ok, so it has the lines; "I got soul, but I'm not a soldier.", but....but it's all about the delivery and musical styling on this album, not so much the occasional shitty lyric.

The entire album is a joy to listen to. This has been made by musicians who love what they do. Although, I'd argue the case that any subsequent releases have been delivered with the same passion. No, Sam's Town just didn't cut it for me. And I kinda hated their latest album. My bad.

Sufficient vocals, but the music is just great indie/pop music. Catchy songs, good sing-a-long chorus's and songs that sit in your head for days and days afterwards. And that's always a great sign for a classic album.

Best song for me is Glamorous Indie Rock & Roll. I just love, love, love this song. Slow build up. Cool lyrics. And when it's kicks in around three quarters of the way through, when Brandon just....kicks down a gear. This is a perfect example of what we wanted in The Killers. Unfortunately, they didn't listen. Although they still seem to be doing ok. More of this please, Mr Flowers. More indie/pop in a jolly style that sticks in your head for days afterwards. I mean, come on...."I'll take my twist with a shout"! Superb line, yes?

Listen to: Glamorous Indie Rock and Roll

7. The National - Boxer (2007) (Swisslet)

I remember reading about this album a long time before I heard it. It made lots of “end of year” type lists, and although it sounded (to paraphrase Bret and Jermaine) like just the kind of thing that I might be into it, wasn’t until 2008 that I actually got around to buying myself a copy.

Although I liked the sound of the band immediately, with Matt Berninger’s sombre baritone and the steady, almost stately progression of the band, it took repeated listens before I began to appreciate quite how good this album really is. It is, I think, the proverbial grower. The album opens up with Fake Empire and it’s a song that really sets the benchmark for the rest of the album: Berninger’s voice dominates around the often sparse backing track, and the band effortlessly seem to conjure up an atmosphere of darkness and loss together with a lingering sense of menace. It’s an atmosphere that is maintained throughout the course of the subsequent 43 minutes.

The core of the album is taken up by a run of three magnificent songs: Slow Show seems to tell the story of the very beginnings of a relationship ("You know I dreamed about you for 29 years before I saw you”); By Apartment Song, the cracks are starting to show (“Oh, we’re so disarming, darling, everything we did believe is diving, diving, diving, diving off the balcony”); and by the time we get to Start a War, we seem to be near the end (“Walk away now and you’re going to start a war”). It’s a devastating 1-2-3 punch, although the band, led by Berninger’s almost murmured, beguilingly soothing vocals, take you entirely by surprise with the emotional impact of these songs. There are no big hit singles here, but the sustained understated excellence has kept me coming back and I seem to discover more with every listen.

Listen to: Slow Show

1 Discussions:

Blogger bedshaped said...

X & Y....?
No. Just no. This was the beginning of the end for Coldplay in my eyes.

The National album was an emotional ride that I probably wasn't ready to take at the time of it's release. Perhaps something I should dig out and listen to again, methinks.

5:42 PM  

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