It’s not them, it’s me. If DsD is falling for sappy ballads in his dotage, i seem to be going for feelgood pop in mine. I really wanted to be hooked on droney stuff, like the Swans and Temple and Parquet Courts. Or grab my pipe and slippers and hang out with Beck, or stare out the window at the dismal weather with the War On Drugs, or brood with Bonnie Prince Billy. But seems that most of what i found this year that hit the spot is a spectrum of pop.
So maybe it’s not just me then. We’re living in some fairly shit times here. My country is about to blow. Most likely the UK is right there with us. There have been handwringing articles from the Graun to the NYT whinging about how artists are failing people because the art isn’t telling them what they think it ought to in reflecting the social and political climate. (I’ll spare you my comments to those articles, they’re pretty savage.) And yet everyone and his brother and sister this year seems to want to do pop and retro. Head in sand? Party before the apocalypse? Looking back to better times for comfort? Fuck if i know, i’m no sociologist. I’ll just enjoy.
1. New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers Pure joy. From Canadians?!? Deffo in my top 10 this year.
2. Real Estate – Had to Hear Gently melancholy jangly surf pop, purty as it comes. (Yep, New Jersey has beaches too.) What the Allah-Las might sound like if they polished up a bit. Whole album is lovely.
3. The Men – Get What You Give Never heard of these guys before, but apparently they used to be metalheads? Or at least rockers? Well, now they’re retro popsters, apparently, but it’s some luscious stuff.
4. Decemberists – Make You Better First single off an upcoming album. Well, you want to be popsters now, it sure is pretty. If there’s any passive-aggressive nastiness in here, it’s so far too subtle for me.
5. Ex-Hex – Hot and Cold Somehow associated with Sleater-Kinney (i forget how). Infectious girl band pop fun.
6. Weezer – The British are Coming wtf album of this year. Mess of an album. Midlife crisis? They’re mid-40s now, too old for the snotnose stuff but can’t quite let it go either. Some kinda nice retro pop tunes, some frustratingly brief flashes of metal riffs that could work if given time and space, a prog pisstake, lotta fuzzy guitars both gratituous and that work, some gorgeous melodies and jangles, unnecessary falsetto. So why did i even bother. Well, there’s something there, somewhere. Hope they find in in the future and make it work.
7. Conor Oberst – Zigzagging Towards the Light Not really big on most of what i heard from the album, but this is nice enough. Maybe i need another listen in a differnt mood.
8. Black Lips – Drive By Buddy My guys pull the retro thing off beautifully on this album for the most part. I think i’ve posted this Monkees channel somewhere before. Top 10 album for me.
9. Ty Segall – Manipulator Dunno, is this a Beatles channel? First song on the album and the best for me, i actually got bored halfway through the album. Dunno if he needs a break or if i do, but this album felt mailed in.
10. Thee Oh Sees – Drop These guys pull off the retro psych pop better than Ty i think. Top 10.
11. Azealea Banks – Nude Beach a Go Go Girl surf pop!
12. Waterboys – November Tale Channeling the old soul here, and doing a lovely job of it for my money.
13. The Men – Settle Me Down Another retro beauty.