2009 has been around for three months now so it's about time for a review of the first quarter of the year. For a Spotify playlist of all the music mentioned here please click this link. Let's start with the established acts-
Franz Ferdinand revealed their dance floor inspired third album 'Tonight:' in January to mixed reaction. Personally I like it, it's classic arch posing and enticing lyrics combine well with the sleek, syncopated beats to make a great, contemporary disco record. It seems Franz Ferdinand have reached a glass ceiling in their career however (appearing on Ant'n'Decs TV show, Ipod adverts) which is perhaps a sign 'Tonight:' has not reached it's desired sales targets. I would hate to see a clever and evocative rock band slip down this trite and degrading ladder. Lily Allen released her second album 'It's Not Me, It's You' in February. For all the talk of her big mouth and paparazzi hounded ways Allen is a pretty good pop star, she flits between genres and styles with a confidence which belies her experience. 'The Fear' is a great electro-pop song whilst 'It's Not You' takes country'n'Western and drags it into the modern day with a bang. She'll never be great but Lily Allen is worth a million Lady GaGa's. Finally White Lies; odd that a debut album should rank alongside Franz and Allen but 'To Lose My Life' hit number one when it was released and has seen the ex-Fear Of Flying boys fast-tracked to stardom. I slated it at the time and the lyrics still make me cringe but I think by the time festival season comes around White Lies will be one of the success stories.
Returns/ Side Projects
The Rakes gave a pleasant surprise with their fine third effort 'Klang!' in March. Whilst not quite the itchy frustration of their debut 'Capture/ Release' it holds a raft of potential singles and is nearly enough to erase all memories of their woeful second effort. Similarly, Morrissey released 'Years Of Refusal' a striking and punchy collection of songs far removed from the wet Morriconi produced 'Ringleader Of The Tormentors'. Taking the melodic wonder of The Sleepy Jackson and marrying it with the beats of Pnau was always going to make for interesting listening, the fact it has brought the high-concept magic of Empire Of The Sun could enrapture even the most open of minds. A truly other worldly but effortlessly commercial album of mystic Elton John style pop anthems their 'Walking On A Dream' is almost as impressive as the pairs outfits. Speaking of collaborations N.A.S.A and the Dark Was The Night compilation rounded up pretty much every influential musician around from Karen O, David Byrne and MIA (With N.A.S.A) to Feist, The National and Yesayer (From Dark Was The Night). Both albums are patchy but when they're good they are very good. Finally, Fever Ray, a.k.a Karin Dreijjer of The Knife unleashed the epic and gloomy self titled album that could well sweep the board in album of the year polls.
Blog bitches Telepathe and Wavves both released uber-fashionable and occasionally brilliant records in 'Dance Mother' and 'Wavves' respectively. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart released an astoundingly wonderful self-titled album which brims with romantic possibility and child like wonder. Crystal Stilts are doing a similarly interesting C86 thing on 'Alight Of The Night' but don't have the same pretty qualities as their Brooklyn counterparts The Pains Of.... just yet. The Joy Formidable's free mini-album 'A Balloon Called Moaning' contains as many epic moments as White Lies but has presumably sold a millionth as many copies: no justice. Awesome Pals Sky Larkin, Copy Haho and Favours For Sailors all released brilliant first efforts with a special mention going to Sky Larkin's Golden Spike album which is a strong contender for my favourite of the year so far. Elsewhere, Titus Andronicus and Grammatics both made striking and brave first efforts that whilst not stuck on repeat here have to be recommended and admired.
So with three months down and nine to go my album of the year list currently sits like this-
- The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart- 'S/T'
- Franz Ferdinand- 'Tonight:'
- Sky Larkin- 'The Golden Spike.
It must be said, 2009 is shaping up very nicely indeed.
To see the best singles of the first 3 months click here
To get a comprehensive Spotify playlist of this first three months then click here.