This has been a mixed year for music in my mind, there’s been plenty of good stuff, but as yet a lot seems to have stopped short of brilliance. Elbow released what almost seems their difficult second album, despite it actually being their 5th and actually quite wonderful, REM released their bazillionth album and further arrested their increasingly mythical decline, Radiohead hopefully haven’t started a decline but have perhaps released their least ambitious album for a long time, and it does suffer for it, although I am still listening to it.
This year, as often is then one of debuts, most notably James Blake’s self titled debut album featuring the most outstanding single of the year so far, a cover of Feist’s Limit To Your Love, a fantastic amalgam of Dubstep low end, love of empty space in a record and a fantastic voice. Spiralling towards more adventurous experiments in music are Nicolas Jaar and Space is Only Noise, a record that I have enjoyed if not yet taken to heart, and Tim Hecker’s Ravedeath 1972, which quite frankly I’m not sure doesn’t just exist to give me a headache, probably going to be album of the year then.
Braids debut album, Native Speaker, I have just got and completely fallen in love with, the beautiful delicate music recalls Beach Houses’ excellent album Teen Dream last year, however mixed with Bjork style vocals. I’m not sure yet it will last. Dum Dum Girl’s He Get’s Me High EP is also fantastic, quick, breezy and incredibly exciting. Another new project that seems more interesting than it has the right to be is Horror’s frontman side project Cats Eyes, which may be maybe overly dour (unsurprisingly perhaps) it is at least more interesting, than the Horrors.
PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake is perhaps the winner of the returning lot, a delicate and bruised album that could maybe be faulted as a ‘state of the nation’ style album, but can’t fault the ambition in dealing with a left field topic and it definitely has the tunes to back it up. Another return is the Fleet Foxes, whom seem to have brought back with them a backlash of being ‘the American Mumford and Sons’, which seems totally unfair, Mumford and Sons have never done anything as good as ‘Mykonos’, a track so pretty it can stop me in my tracks. If the first album disappointed on repeated listens, what I have heard of the second is promising.
Also in the future is the Wild Beasts album, the lead single ‘Albatross’ is absolutely fantastic, and maybe represents a retreat from the silliness of the second album (that I adored) which represents a gained confidence in their abilities to turn a very lovely tune. The little adornments of piano are utterly gorgeous, and I am looking forward to this hugely. The Beastie Boys album should be a massive pile of summer fun too, I need to listen to the new Low album properly as well, however otherwise I await surprises.
On the Radiohead album, I can't deny some disappointment that it wasn't some new earth shattering album that jumped to heir of album of year elect. It is lacking in that kind of ambition, seems more of a low key album, revisiting some old ideas, some old tricks. Regardless some of the tunes are spectacularly pretty.
Please give a listen to my latest fairly meandering new mixtape here: