Just in under the wire… my Best of 2007 Albums list. My only eligibility requirement was that it had to have originally been released in 2007, somewhere in the world, in a legally-obtainable format. Hence Amy Winehouse and Jarvis are out, that was last year; but MGMT, whose album was available on iTunes though the CD isn’t out until 2008 is eligible. It was a good year for music. Album titles here are buy-it links, so if you dig any MP3s posted, please do pick up the record. See you in 2008.
Electrelane – No Shouts, No Calls (Too Pure) |There is nothing you could call new or groundbreaking about Electrelane’s fourth album. It’s a sound echoing of the Velvets, the Pastels, and many other indie touchstones. But they just do it so well, with lyrics so sad and romantic this time, and for whatever reason No Shouts, No Calls really stuck with me. It’s kind of perfect. That it’s probably their last record ("indefinite hiatus") makes it all the more special.
LCD Soundsystem – Sound of Silver (DFA / Astralwerks) | James Murphy grapples with getting older and makes an record even better than the first. Smart, thoughtful, funny and sad… and you can dance to it. Enough has been written about Sounds of Silver in the past year that I’m not sure I can add much to the conversation apart from "I Agree."
Klaxons – Myths of the Near Future (Universal) | I read on some other blog "Let’s face it, there are a thousand bands just like the Klaxons." Really? I couldn’t disagree more. I think people heard "Atlantis to the Interzone," read all the "nu rave" crap (a term coined by the band as a joke in an interview, and suddenly it was a movement) and never actually bothered to listen to the brilliance that is Myths of the Near Future. The Klaxons encompass so many styles, ideas, bizarre lyrics…it’s like they sound like a thousand other bands… all at the same time. Genius.
Shout Out Louds – Our Ill Wills (Merge) | The second album from these Swedes ups the ’80s worship, yes, but with it comes sweeping melodies, a-go-go and woodblock filled percussion, and monster hooks that burrow deep into your head and refuse to leave.
Caribou – Andorra (Merge) | Maybe someday I will learn to truly appreciate Strawberry Jam and Person Pitch, but for me this is the kind of psychedelic laptop folk pop cacauphony that I crave. An amazing transformation from Caribou’s last album which did nothing for me. It’s an amazing live show too.
Of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (Polyvinyl) | One of the 2007’s first records and it’s held up all year long. A total mental breakdown (in Norway) has never been more pleasant to listen to. Of Montreal keeps getting better though I hope it doesn’t take the same circumstances to deliver this kind of quality again.
Roisin Murphy – Overpowered
(EMI UK) | I will admit to having a soft spot for sparkling Eurodisco,
and Roisin Murphy makes the kind of records Sophie Ellis Bextor can
only jealously dream of. It’s a whole album of singles. Even at her most Pop, the
former Moloko singer is just too weird turn out anything completely
normal.(Maybe I could
do with a few less Rock-a-pella production touches, but the songs are
strong enough that it doesn’t bother me much.)
Sondre Lerche – The Phantom Punch (Astralwerks) | Perhaps one of the most ignored records of 2007. By blogs at least. Which are mostly written by dudes. And Sondre seems to appeal to women, mainly, thanks to his Scandanavian good looks and highly romantic songs. But anyone who’s ever seen him live knows he’s a total charmer. And the Phantom Punch is syrup-free and kind of rocks in a ’80s indie sort of way. Listen to the frenzied guitar at the end of Phantom Punch’s title track — fierce stuff.
MGMT – Oracular Spectacular (Columbia) | If you heard MGMT’s 2005 Time to Pretend EP, you can really tell
how much producer David Friddman (Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, etc)
helped expand their sound on Oracular Spectacular, especially on the title track. What was a
pretty good synthpop rock star fantasy becomes as glorious as their
dreams of stardom. It’s one of those rare cases when a rerecording
actually betters the original. The rest of the record is nearly
as good, despite being all over the place. There’s bits that sound like
T-Rex, "Miss You"-era Stones, CSNY folk… all with some of the more
entertaining lyrics I’ve heard in a while. Bombast with tongue firmly in cheek.
Arthur & Yu – In Camera (Hardly Art) | Just a lovely record, one that benefits from listening to it on a real stereo with real speakers — ones that are as far apart as possible. Part of Arthur & Yu’s charm comes from the space that’s in the album, I’m not sure exactly how to describe it. Lovely, Everly-esque harmonies, perfect production… and lots of space, like I said. To think this was just a demo they decided to release as-is. Hopefully they won’t pretty-it-up too much for Album #2.
Albums 11 – 20 after the jump…
New Young Pony Club – Fantastic Playroom (Modular) | This almost didn’t make the list but when I was honest with myself I knew I had to include it. Fantastic Playroom is one of the most fun records of the year, every song a party.
Pelle Carlberg – In a Nutshell (Labrador) | The other great Swedish singer-songwriter on the list, for those who love Belle & Sebastian and the Smiths… and songs about the Smiths.
The Bees – Octopus (Astralwerks) | The Isle of Wight’s best band makes music so authentically old-sounding, you’d swear it was a lost classic from 1968. But it’s not just replication and good taste in vintage tube amps. They write good songs too.
The Besnard Lakes – Are the Dark Horse (Jagjaguar) | Not unlike Arthur & Yu, these Canadians dig ’60s melodies and harmonies, but love reverb even more. Another record that I enjoy the sound of much as the actual songs. The Besnard Lakes also has the best-ever song about Williamsburg, a corner I know well.
M.I.A. – Kala (XL) | I will admit there are a couple clunkers on Kala, but the good stuff is so good it doesn’t matter. And how many Srilankan hip hop records do you know that quote Jonathan Richman, the Pixies (while swiping melodies from New Order), and sample the Clash while featuring Timbaland and an Aboriginal hip hop crew of tweens. OK, there are three… but this is the best.
Spoon – Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge) | More than a decade into their existence and Spoon are still bringing it, album after album. I enjoy all the studio trickery this time (inclusion of talkback chatter and "mistakes") and though I prefer the the odder songs, like "My Little Japanese Cigarette Case" and "Don’t You Evah" to the big pop singles, it’s all good.
Gruff Rhys – Candylion (Team Love) / Super Furry Animals – Hey Venus (Rough Trade) | What a blessed year that we get two albums from Welsh pop genius Gruff Rhys: one a pared-down, acoustic solo album; the other the strongest, most-focused Super Furry Animals album we’ve gotten in years. It’s literally win-win!
Switches – Heart Tuned to D.E.A.D. (Atlantic UK) | Switches is a pretty dumb name for a band, which might have something to do with nobody talking about this album much. But it’s great, blatant pop — an amalgam of ELO, Supergrass, The Sweet and Queen that is pretty hard to resist.
Blonde Redhead – 23 (4AD) | It’s been a long time since 4AD has released an album that sounds like classic-’80s-era 4AD, and now Blonde Redhead have done it. Not just a 4AD-sounding album, a great one.
Field Music – Tones of Town (Memphis Industries) | Another wonderful album from this odd band — baroque post punk sort of describes their sound. Nobody else makes music quite like anymore. Including them… they’ve dropped the Field Music moniker but will continue to work together in different guises.