Top Albums of 2007
January 7, 2008
And here we go with the “Best Of” lists. Music is first up, with Movies soon to follow – I just need to see There Will Be Blood before I can make any final cinematic judgments. And the Best of Comics list should be more substantial, since this is a 75%-or-so comics-focused blog. First, a caveat on Music: I’m not attempting to put stuff in order, since specific ranking will change a lot depending on my mood. And another caveat: I don’t really claim to have any sort of musical expertise, so this is far more of a “stuff I liked” list than a definitive “best.”
Liars (Self Titled): In which the band proves the last few years of messing around with weird shit was building to something. It’s a surprisingly accessible, mainstream album (“mainstream” being a relative term for a band who produced a highly artsy concept album about the Salem witch trials), and it boasts the best opening of any album, ever: The bombast and fury of Plaster Casts of Everything, followed by the funky, better-than-Beck Houseclouds; these are by the same band? There’s some creepy electronics on Sailing to Byzantium, a few Jesus & Mary Chain fuzz-outs in the middle, and a surprisingly sentimental Protection at the end. All this is by the same band? And it’s all good, if not great? Awesome.
The Besnard Lakes: Are the Dark Horse. The Beach Boys channeled by a Montreal space-rock outfit. (In case I need to clarify: Not Surfin’ USA; more Little Surfer Girl or Warmth of the Sun) Lots of sweet, moody tunes, with occasional outbursts of sonic weirdness. If nothing else, you must hear Because Tonight, maybe the most gorgeous song of the year.
Radiohead: In Rainbows. Let us not kid ourselves: I am a huge Radiohead fan. They’re one of my very favourite bands. So while I shall admit to some fanboyisms here, I’ll qualify it by pointing out that Hail to the Thief didn’t make my best-of when it came out. In Rainbows marks a nice return to form, but still feels like progress. With the more serious electronic noodling relegated to Thom Yorke’s solo material, this feels more like a band playing. What’s more, the emotion is back: All I Need is the most emotionally honest and straightforward song since How to Disappear Completely, and Reckoner is just gorgeous.
Jens Lekman: Night Falls Over Kortedala. One of these days, Morrissey will die, and the battle for Greatest Lyricist will be fought by Jarvis Cocker and Jens Lekman. Jarvis will win, of course, because he’s old and wiley, but Jens Lekman will bide his time in Sweden or something until Jarv lets his guard down, or also dies of more-or-less natural causes. Until then, we shall simply admire the wonderful songs of Lekman, like Postcard to Nina, the story of a guy who meets a girl who introduces him to her parents and pretends he’s her boyfriend even though she’s actually a lesbian. Or the surprise emergency room visit chronicled in Your Arms Around Me. Or Friday Night at the Drive-In Bingo, which is about… well, that one’s pretty self-explanatory. They’re nice enough songs musically, but it’s only when you really start paying attention to them that you’re struck by how totally awesome they are.
The Long Blondes: Someone to Drive You Home. Technically, this is cheating – the album came out originally in 2006. But it got its official North American release this year, so that’s what I’m talking about here, and it’s almost certainly my favourite album I bought all year – I got my copy back around February, and I’m still loving it. Lots of pop and rock, lots of clever lyrics, lots of happy sounding songs with a great beat that are actually about people cheating on one another. Lead singer Kate Jackson deserves to be a superstar, and everyone else is pretty awesome, too. Like Pulp if Jarvis Cocker were a terribly attractive woman, and possibly a little more cynical.