Albums of the Year 2008

I get the feeling I haven’t listened to much new music this year, and I
don’t know why. By my reckoning, the only albums I’ve listened to that
have been released this year are the following: 

Okkervil River – ‘The Stand-Ins’
Shearwater – ‘Rook’
Elbow – ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’
Wolf Parade – ‘At Mount Zoomer’
Youthmovies – ‘Good Nature’
Foals – ‘Antidotes’
Death Vessel – ‘Nothing is Precious Enough For Us’
Coldplay – ‘Viva La Vida, or Death And All His Friends’

Of these albums, the two that REALLY stand out for me are ‘The Seldom
Seen Kid’ and ‘Antidotes’. I was a fan of Elbow from their debut album,
but drifted away after their second album, but the new one has hooked
me and reeled me back in. I know it sounds a little pretentious in many
ways to look too deeply into the lyrics, but I think Elbow write some
of the best lyrics around at the moment, certainly in terms making
sense rather than simply going for two consecutive lines which rhyme
(I’m looking at you here, Brandon Flowers). I don’t know if you’ve
heard much of Foals before, but to me they sound the way Franz
Ferdinand want to sound when they grow up. Lyrically, they aren’t
great, but there’s something about the music that more than makes up
for that.

I’ve enjoyed both Okkervil River’s album, and Shearwater’s too.
However, the bands sound very similar (a quick
browse of Wikipedia will show you the origins of the two groups and
explain the similarities) and this stops either album really standing
out.

I wasn’t particularly impressed by the new Coldplay album. I don’t
think Chris Martin is a particularly brilliant lyricist, and he seems
to have discovered a new songwriting trick which involves writing what
sound like two different songs, and then making them segue into each
other, and then he declares it is only one song. I feel he employed
this ‘trick’ too often on the new album, and it detracts from the
overall picture of the record, and in the end I felt like I was missing
a handful of tracks. The songs all seemed to be album tracks which
would have been better employed linking between obvious singles than
constituting the vast majority of the album.

The other two I mention, Death Vessel’s “Nothing Is Precious Enough For
Us” and Youthmovies’ “Good Nature” are both a bit hit-and-miss. “Good
Nature” suffers from poor lyrics (they often seem to be meaningless
jibberish which is chosen because the syllables fit the music rather
than because they mean anything in particular), and the music itself is
a bit of an acquired taste, so I haven’t listened a great deal. Death
Vessel are completely different, a folk/indie guy along the lines of
Sufjan Stevens and Iron & Wine, and he writes decent songs.
However, his style wears a little thin fairly quickly, and so I end up
a bit bored before the album has finished.

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