Though in my mind, I bobbed and twirled gracefully along with the hazy melodies and effortless beats that comprised Nightlife, the reality was probably much closer to a jerky, uncomfortable booty shake a la Liz Lemon. Regardless, Kisses’ debut, true to its nightlife-touting title, got an awkward soul like me to do more than tap my toes or nod my head, and for that, deserves a spot on this list in my mind.
I saw these guys a couple of years ago, and Nona Marie Invie awed me with her strange, seemingly impossible mixture of brusque, yet oddly refined, vocals, and I’ve been following them since. It’s obvious from this album (as well as their debut) that these guys are more comfortable in a living room than they are in a studio, but that only enhances their retiring charm. Though not the most brash or exciting release this year, Wild Go, with its candid subject matter and intimate mastering, won my affection.
They’ve been revived! And they’re still completely wonderfully utterly miserable and beautiful and horrifying and everything all at once. Oh, and that epic introductory song (“No Words/No Thoughts”) left me, quite literally, with no words or thoughts aside from an obtuse smile and tingling fingers. Those bells!
This might just be on here because I totally thought the album was going to be more like its opener. Then again, I guess the upbeat unicorns-and-rainbows direction they’re taking is growing on me with every listen—like a lot. I’m growing soft methinks. Guess I’ll have to ramp up my obsession with serial killers and crime novels to maintain appearances.
This concept album is such a spectacular, grandiose undertaking that even more intriguing than its inspiration (life, literally from the beginning) is the fact that it’s actually coherent. The album has dual appeal: it will blow away the right-brained “creative” types and fascinate the left-brain Science Olympians. This was, like, my entire undergraduate degree summed up in the matter of an hour or two. It’s almost as cool as Michael Keller’s idea to turn On the Origin of Species into a graphic novel.
I love this album mainly for the track “Beautiful People” and its sheer abstract and genius layering. The rest of the album was good too, but man, oh, man, “Beautiful People” is a beautiful song indeed.
I’m a sucker for post-punk, no matter how crowded the genre. This year, I was particularly excited for the second album from British darlings, Foals. The frenetic Antidotes was a hard act to follow, but thankfully Total Life Forever is a veritable rollercoaster ride, twisting unexpectedly on a whim and proving that Foals are a band for whom growth is certain.
Though arguably a bit scattered, this album takes a great leap forward for the heretofore relatively unknown eccentric front man and his psychedelic band. Whether cooking, redecorating, drinking, writing, solving crossword puzzles, I found myself reaching for this record for a solid few months straight, and inevitably, ended up sliding around the living room in my socks, singing happily and making weird hand gestures.
It took spending a long while in a comic store in Brooklyn with this album on repeat before I realized how great it really is. Once I was ready to embrace the catchy melodies cleverly masked amid fuzz and distortion, the clouds broke and the sun shone, and now I can speak in tongues and long for muted flannel shirts.
Once in a while, an album will come along and I really can’t articulate anything beyond the feeling it evokes in me. Teen Dream is one such album. It’s beyond me to find words to clearly describe, but I can tell you it makes me feel hopeful and content and longing all at the same time. There’s a true versatility and mystique behind the tracks. I’ve heard reactions to the same song range from “this is totally going to get me laid tonight” to witnessing a tiny baby falling into a naptime slumber. Sheer magic, I tell you.