Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Sloppy Dog's Best of 2010: Albums

While the singles market has been saturated by utter pigswill this year, it’s not been a bad twelve months for albums. Notable omissions from the list this year include a venture back to form from Feeder; a joyous, pop-heavy indie gem from the Manic Street Preachers; a semi-acoustic strumalong delight from Val Emmich; yet another masterpiece from Sia; and the mightily good debut offering from Delphic. Also, we had compiled this list prior to The Boy Least Likely To’s Christmas Special, which is more than deserving of a mention. But alas, there can only be ten...

10. Kids In Glass Houses – Dirt
Not content with claiming the title of Best Single of 2010, Kids In Glass Houses followed through with a solid pop-punk masterpiece in the form of second album Dirt. And perhaps Undercover Lover was a slight misfire, but on the plus side, it was the mark of a rock band unafraid to experiment or to embrace their more day-glo side. Overall, made of win.

9. The Like – Release Me
In a year where you’d be hard pushed to find a lone decent track from any girl group, it falls to Los Angeles quartet The Like to represent the ladies. Mind you, this summery indie-rock offering was a million miles from the likes of The Splendabots, combining lilting Sixties harmonies with heavy, poised licks, seamlessly bridging the gap between VV Brown and a non-shit Arctic Monkeys.

8. Lostprophets – The Betrayed
It would’ve been easy to replicate the titanic choruses and instantaneous licks of Liberation Transmission and still emerge with a brilliant LP, but Lostprophets chose to take things a shade darker with a generous dose of coarse realism. The result? A distinctive, accomplished fourth album which underlined their place as genuine British rock heavyweights.

7. The Bluetones – A New Athens
With frontman Mark Morriss doing amazing things via his 2008 solo record Memory Muscle, the Bluetones hiatus was an easy enough period for fans to undergo. However, their smart, assured comeback album A New Athens, which brought all the best bits of classic Bluetones into a fresh, contemporary setting, revealed to us just how much we really missed them.

6. Skunk Anansie – Wonderlustre
And another 90s institution making a triumphant return this year were Skunk Anansie, whose first studio album in 11 years was a definite illustration of growth. Wonderlustre was slick, shrewd, mature and affecting, but crucially, not at the expense of any of the unrefined fire that made them such an exciting prospect in the first place.

5. Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History
Going some way to cancel out the sullying of Northern Ireland’s musical output courtesy of the dreadful Nadine Coyle, the Bangor three-piece injected some liveliness and excitement into proceedings. Specific mention must be made of the outstanding Eat That Up, It’s Good For You, helping explain why Two Door Cinema Club were easily one of 2010’s best new bands.

4. We Are Scientists – Barbara
Keith ‘n’ Chris are quite the oxymoron. Solid, consistent and ever-reliable; yet they’re far from predictable in their output, and getting bored of them seems a complete impossibility. Third album Barbara proved to be a perfect demonstration of their talent, their ingenuity, their humour and their overall awesomeness.

3. Codeine Velvet Club – Codeine Velvet Club
Technically released three days before 2010, but we won’t let such pernickety details detract from a masterpiece of an album: bright, lush and cinematic whilst simultaneously grounded and raw. Their split barely a year after their emergence was disappointing, but at least Codeine Velvet Club left a captivating – if diminutive – legacy in their wake.

2. RPA and the United Nations of Sound – United Nations of Sound
Following a somewhat clumsy Verve reunion in 2008, Richard Ashcroft managed something pretty special with his comeback-turned-overhaul via the experimental United Nations of Sound project. A brave move perhaps, but one that paid off – a snifter of hip-hop, a dash of gospel, but all bearing the hallmarks of the rich, soulful indie only Ashcroft can pull off.

1. Fyfe Dangerfield – Fly Yellow Moon
And claiming the highest accolade – with stiff competition, so it’s quite the achievement – is Fyfe Dangerfield, whose first solo outing far outshines anything released under the Guillemots umbrella. Fly Yellow Moon flows between delicate balladry and lush, uptempo anthems, but is tied together skilfully by the common themes of lovestruck sincerity and unmistakeable character. Most definitely one to splash the inevitable gift of a HMV voucher on.

...thus concludes our round-up of the last twelve months in popular culture. The annual Sloppy Dog New Year’s Honours List will be published next week (sneak preview: Jan Moir does not feature). Until then, have an ace time forlornly lurking around frozen train stations and airports, and/or fighting with family members over the remote and gorging yourself with Quality Street. Merry Christmas! xx

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