I’m of the mind that the concept of the album is a dying art.
It used to be that I couldn’t wait to listen to an artists new album from beginning to end. That was the way to do it when it came out. I remember college, sitting around with friends, getting intoxicated and chilling out, listening to an album on the whole. And at the end, we’d sit and discuss. And probably listen to it all over again.
Now, musicians tend to be so focused on the single, the one moment to catch someone’s interest, that half the time a full album’s length of material is near impossible to listen to all the way through… either because it’s filler music; it’s incoherent as a whole with nothing connecting one track to another; or because we’ve been trained in the digital age to grab onto the 4+ minute nugget the artist tosses our way, and beyond that our attention can’t be held for a full hour.
That being said, there are five artist who achieved success and created an album that I can call the best of the year. Contrary to a previously made statement, I can’t say one isn’t really better than the others. It really depends on my mood or what I want to listen to. I keep coming back to three more consistently than the other two, but all five are successful on the whole and incredibly amazing pieces of work. So here they are, what I consider are the five best albums of 2012.
Tame Impala, Lonerism
The Australian group’s second full length is full of psychedelic sounds and late Beatles-esqe vocals, like the White Album on acid; Well, more acid than they had already consumed. The unifying theme of isolation and loneliness over the ebullient music is a striking dichotomy, one that I identify with so much lately. It makes for some pretty amazing music.
Wild Nothing, Nocturne
Wild Nothing’s second full length is a lush throwback to the synth dream pop of the 80s and early 90s. Malaise and melancholy vocals with the warm strum of the guitar, reminiscent of Echo and the Bunnymen circa 1984. It takes you back while still moving forward into this millenium.
Claire Boucher is only 24, yet she knows how to weave a dark electronic masterpiece. I consider her Trent Reznor’s baby sister: I can hear the distant echo of Pretty Hate Machine on occasion on this disc. It’s pretty amazing.
Beach House, Bloom
Baltimore duo Victoria Legrande and Alex Scally cast a shimmering spell with their fourth album. A true shoegazer work of art. While it is not the end all be all disc I declared it to be earlier in the year, I still find it quite blissful.
The Sea and Cake, Runner
The Chicago quartet surprised with 10th full length, going a bit loose with the recording and songwriting style while still restrained in production. From that comes one of their most varied and airy albums to date. It’s the epitome of the Chicago indie sound today.