Best of 2011: Albums

16 Jan

This post is a little more word heavy than Best of 2011: Songs. Hence the delay.

These are the albums I felt were front to back special. So I’ve posted the first single from each and a personal song choice from each. Enjoy.

Beirut – The Rip Tide
Listen to: Vagabond
First Single: East Harlem

Washed Out – Within And Without
Listen to: Soft
First Single: Eyes Be Closed

Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See
Listen to: Black Treacle
First Single: Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair

Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto
Listen to: Don’t Let It Break Your Heart
First Single: Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall

Death Cab For Cutie – Codes And Keys
Listen to: St. Peter’s Cathedral
First Single: You Are A Tourist

Bon Iver – Bon Iver
Listen to: Michicant
First Single: Calgary

It’s hard to find someone making more beautiful music than Justin Vernon (Scotty B, August 18, 2011 at 4:43pm). The reason the ‘grizzly man exiled to a cabin’ story worked hand-in-hand with his debut For Emma, Forever Ago, was because the music itself was inherently engaging. There was a beauty in the creaks and a charm to the eclecticism of the instrumentation. The album itself was special. The self-titled sophomore then, acts as somewhat of a reintroduction to the group; a declaration of intent. The scope expands, the beauty remains – Justin Vernon is here to stay.

Real Estate – Days
Listen to: It’s Real
First Single: Green Aisles

In a time where independent success seems reliant on left-field songwriting and clear-cut strides towards progression, there is often a desire for simplicity. Real Estate delivers. There is no flashy polish or excess production – just simple music that works. It’s time to arrogate the understatement.

Youth Lagoon – The Year Of Hibernation
Listen to: Daydream
First Single: July

Minimal instrumentation coupled with 808 styled drumbeats. Overbearing pianos and childish yelps. Melodies guide, drums follow. Everything seems to fall where you expect it, and that works just fine. The complexity is in the lyrics. Childhood posters and campgrounds, fireworks and cigars, headlights and laughter – it’s easy to feel the nostalgia. Which is where the true beauty of the album comes in. There is warmth in its sincerity. The crude production simply highlights the honesty of its substance.

Friendly Fires – Pala
Listen to: Show Me Lights
First Single: Live Those Days Tonight

Sun soaked, upbeat, danceable music. The title Pala is taken from Aldous Huxley’s novel Island’, and seems a fitting analogy to the world of the songs. It describes a utopian society focused on the fragility of time. In an environment where we constantly question our next steps, constantly combat a lingering feeling of uncertainty, and constantly dwell on our future preoccupations – there is a need to embrace the temporary. Pala serves as the perfect soundtrack. It doesn’t take it self too seriously, and neither should we.

M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Listen to: Reunion
First Single: Midnight City

Synth filled anthems, slow rolling ballads, reverb soaked filler – a sum equal measure its parts. It’s big, it’s engaging; it’s a piece of art. Lyrical plea’s for adolescent buoyancy backed by instrumentation inspiring flight. Listen to the singles, listen to the instrumentals, listen to it all – the songs are just meant to inspire imagination, wherever that might take you. It’s hard to get lost in the depths of an album, but with Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, the embrace is inevitable.

To 2012.

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