I was chatting with Anna’s brother at the weekend, and he ventured an opinion on his album of the year. I can’t remember whether it was Yeasayer or Shearwater, but it struck me that – already – 2010 is a quarter of the way done, and mutterings about albums of the year aren’t so absurd as they might at first seem. Certainly we’ve come through one of the busiest release periods of the year – and certainly one of last year’s finest album’s, Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion, was released in January. ‘Nuff said?
Listening to music is different when you have the disposable income to a buy a lot of albums. As a teen, you cherished each record you could afford. As a blogger in your late twenties, you tend to notice the niggles more. That’s not always fair, as we discussed recently in relation to Frightened Rabbit. So of the albums so far reviewed here, what are the best albums released in the first quarter of 2010, and are any of them gems reclaimed from an initial lack of charity?
Joanna Newsom, Have One On Me. I sympathise with Adam Roberts that it’s at times difficult to listen to this record – or, more properly, these three records – for lengthy periods of time. But I suspect this is a function less of the songs themselves and more of the listener’s constant knowledge that there are two other discs of this stuff. Ys was no less – possibly more – challenging, but in running length infinitely more manageable. But this still makes for a wealth of very fine moments; and what’s wrong with an album to be taken in doses?
Fionn Regan, The Shadows of an Empire. I still stick to the opinion that this is an album which would have been better had it been about shadows rather than in them. But I’ve found myself returning to it for its energy, wit and melodic touch. Worth a punt, even if you don’t like Dylan.
Laura Veirs, July Flame. Just very very beautiful indeed. It does pale on relistens – indeed, its deceptively stark surface shifts and shimmers differently each time. A record of very subtle, but very great, substance.
Laura Marling, I Speak Because I Can. This is beating out every other record of the year so far in terms of number-of-times-popped-in-the-player. And it was only released last week. ‘A coming of age’ is the predictable description of this sophomore effort, but that makes it no less accurate. Mature and self-possessed. You can only hope that those rumours about a second album from Marling later in the year are true…
This leaves Frightened Rabbit, Tom McRae, Beach House, Eels, Erland and the Carnival, and Vampire Weekend as the not-quites. (Although Anna is very much keener on the last of those, and understandably so.) Hmm.