Thursday, December 29, 2011

it's only been a year

The Top 10 Albums of 2011

4. The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? (LB)

It's not big and it's not clever. As Swisslet has already pointed out, there's nothing much original here either, but I have found myself loving this, the debut release from the Vaccines.

Packed full of punchy and short guitar pop records, it's a record full of fun and great tunes. Post Break Up Sex is one of my singles of 2011 despite not actually being particularly representative of the rest of the album) and I also really like it when the band chill out a bit on the likes of Wetsuit and A Lack Of Understanding.

Great live - their Glastonbury slot was a highlight - and slightly less of a Ramones tribute act than a lot of people believe, the answer to What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? was, in truth, an album that was less joyful, entertaining and downright catchy than the one they produced.

Listen to: A Lack Of Understanding

4. Chapel Club - Palace (bedshaped)

Another album that I was tempted to download after reading a review. That review didn’t give the album the justice I think it deserves. This is a terrific album!

Guitar driven rock and indie is what’s on the cards here. Pure and simple. The basslines are particularly prominent, giving a nice Bunnymen, White Lies, Joy Division, Interpol feeling. The drums are great in places; really crashing, throbbing and just....booming! The vocals are honest and delivered effortlessly, perfect for the style of music. There’s no danger of the greatest male vocal in the world being found on here, but his voice fits really well with the music. Not too sombre and down-beat. Enough hope and inspiration can be heard and that’s why this album is much more uplifting than its most likely influential predecessors.

Feeling decidedly short, but clocking in around 44 minutes, this is ten full blown, cracking tracks. The opening instrumental track doesn’t count, but sets the tone very nicely into “Surfacing”, a dirty bassline driven rollocker. Moody vocals add to the ambience and even the nursery rhymish chorus fits perfectly.

What’s drawn me back to this album time and time, again is the good old earworm. There’s plenty to be found here. The guitar hooks are vindictive, and the chorus’s are perfectly shaped. Quite often I would find myself enjoying one of the tracks, then when the chorus kicks in, it just makes me peak my interest in the song that little bit more. Days, sometimes weeks later, something would trigger that particular earworm, and I’d spend the rest of the day trying to figure out who the hell it was. When I pinned it down and listened to it again, I’d find myself picking back through the rest of the album. With more listens of each track, a new section in the song could be heard. Like, with each listen, a layer was being peeled back to reveal it’s true nature. That’s the sign of a damn good album!

There is hope for real bands yet!

Listen to – All The Eastern Girls

4. The Pierces - You & I (Swisslet)

Sisters Catherine and Alison Pierce been releasing records together as the Pierces since 2000, but it’s only now, with their fourth album, that they seem to have found some genuine mainstream commercial success. Critical acclaim (and a song – Secret - featured on hit US TV shows Dexter and Gossip Girl) never really converted into sales, and the band seemed on the verge of calling it quits before fate intervened in the unlikely shape of Coldplay bassist, Guy Berryman and an offer to produce their next album.

The result, You & I reached number four in the UK Albums chart – the first of their albums to make the chart in the UK - and although the singles You’ll Be Mine and Glorious didn’t really bother the top 40, both featured heavily on national radio playlists and can still be heard over the PA system in Boots, of all places. It’s not especially original sounding, perhaps, with the most obvious reference point being Fleetwood Mac, but this is smart, well-written pop music for grown ups.

It’s something of a shame that the sisters seem to have lost the waspish edge that informed some of their earlier albums (Boring, for instance), but this is more than made up for by the wealth of fantastically written tunes on this album. They just keep on coming: You’ll Be Mine, It Will Not Be Forgotten, Glorious, Kissing You Goodbye…. As something of a rock fan, this sort of thing isn’t usually my cup of tea, but I’ve surprised myself with quite how much I’ve taken this album into my heart.

Listen to - Kissing You Goodbye

2 Discussions:

Blogger swisslet said...

Anyone who thinks the Vaccines are a Ramones tribute act has clearly never heard the Ramones.

Not to do the old punks down (I love them to bits), but it's doubtful that they would have (or want to have) the subtlety to come up with a record like "post break-up sex" or "a lack of understanding".

The Ramones rinsed distantly through half a dozen set of other assorted copyists maybe.....

7:11 PM  
Blogger LB said...

The Pierces is a great album, by the way. Aces

2:53 PM  

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