Best of 2010


10. Tennis- Various (Fat Possum)

The well proven spousal collab was most successfully pioneered this year by the aforementioned Fat Possumites ‘Tennis’, yet their formula for success is not one of regularity. Sailing the North Atlantic coastline for half a year allowed a nuptial love of 80’s dance pop to flourish, and upon dropping anchor develop into some of the best revivalist tracks in a year sidelined by it’s relapses into the past.

9. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti- Before Today (4AD)

With an increase in fidelity grows Ariel Pink’s marketable appeal, his 80’s pop cast offs re birthed to fantastical quality. However, 2010’s buzzband of the year affirmed their values in a pilgrimage  to Abbey Road, the temptations of hi-fi evidently not tainting the supergroup’s cassette tape credentials. Artwork deserving of a 9 year old’s imagination serves as reminder that concepts some may slander grandiloquent are disguising no pretence, Before Today merely  signals a fleeting victory for expanse over expense.

8. Arcade Fire- The Suburbs (Merge Records)

Thematically, as in Funeral’s ‘Neighbourhood’  saga, Regine’s homeland homage Haiti, and Neon Bible’s anthemic cry – ‘I don’t want to live in my father’s house no more’ – belonging where you don’t belong re-emerges as the obvious connotation from an album inspired by Texan suburbia yet crafted with typical Montreal vigour. Existing nomadically clearly massages the band’s outsider appeal, the presentation down to Spike Jonze’s video provocation and Win Butler’s intense performance building upon the lilting, unsettling music, the likes of which we have now come to expect from the first of the big hitters on this list.

7. Summer Camp- Young EP (Moshi Moshi)

In the name of revival, Summer Camp may well count themselves 2010’s most authentic. Half Elizabeth Sankey’s searing vocals, half Jeremy Warmsley’s multi-instrumentalism- the duo manage to merge a shared love of everything Back To The Future into their Young EP, appealing explicitly to the part of the brain that so clearly defines the oddity that was the 70’s. Stark example of this being the video for Round The Moon, freshly clipped from VHS; A Swedish Love Story condensed to 3 minutes 38 served as a personal antidote to a disappointing summer. Maintaining the mystique curated following the release of Ghost Train was never going to be easy (it will be interesting to see whether 2011 great hopes Cults will be able to hold onto their solitary Bandcamp page whilst their stock rises) yet nostalgia for an age they never knew is a quaint concept for the pair to build upon into the mainstream.

6. Magic Kids- Memphis (True Panther)

Unlike the similarly carefree thrashings of West Coasters Wavves, you wouldn’t feel a 21st century disappointment playing your Grandparents Memphis. Drenched in Beach Boys ‘Surfin’ USA’ innocence, twee frontman Bennett Foster drawls out vocals matching his track’s sickly sweet titles- ‘Candy’, ‘Superball’ and ‘Summer’- whilst breezy deliveries pop and delight around 2 minute arrangements. Dancing ahead of the mercurial Beth Cosentino, Magic Kids were truly 2010’s King Of The Beach.

5. The National- High Violet (4AD) Veterans of the world The National returned in May to great aplomb; the 3 year sabbatical since their last LP not detracting the Ohioan’s loyal fan base – as proven by career besting sales. As friend and collaborator Sufjan Stevens escaped into the bombastic ‘Age of Adz’ style of songwriting, Berninger, Dessners and Devendorfs completed an accomplished hat-trick of records in their own brand of exultant introversion. Jeers of ‘Dad Rock’ failed to distract the pioneers from their path, to sculpt a possible final record in the manner in which they made their name.

4. White Denim- last day of summer EP (Downtown Records)

As far a interim records go, ‘last day of summer’ certainly extends the metaphorical jetty. Petralli calls the EP his ‘summer retreat’, a sentiment echoed in the breezy jazz infused jams, perpetuating the collection. Meanwhile the band continue to work on their third studio album, fingers crossed they can find out how to title songs with capital letters by the release.

3. Perfume Genius- Learning (Turnstile)

Mike Hadreas’ approach to production is raw, but his song writing is criminally undervalued. Bare arrangements highlight the most subtle reverb, controlled delicately by Hadreas as he contains beautiful melodies to a deeply personal level. Noise, spectral and deep, transcends the Seattle songwriters piano, whilst potently intimate lyrics float in ranging tones above. Eloquent in its brevity, Learning leaves lips suitably wetted.

2. Yu(c)k- Weakend EP (Fat Possum)

Not even the discovery that Yuck were spawned from the death of Cajun Dance Party (gratuitous exponents of teenage post-punk pop) could alter my opinion of the Weakend EP, a beautifully minimal yet expansive short. The brash noise rock of their live shows makes way to naked piano led melodies, enhanced by burdensome themes and motions. Without the posturing of heavy guitar distortion to hide behind, it is heartening to hear sensitivity flourish in the arms of those you may not expect.

1.Beach House- Teen Dream (Sub Pop)

Following its January release, we have had a lot of time to chew over Beach House’s third and defining record. Luckily, it still sounds as good now as it did then.

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