My favourite albums of the year, in no particular order.
Missy Higgins – The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle
She disappeared for a long time, questioning whether she actually wanted to make music any more. Thankfully for us, she was convinced back after doing a concert and delivered her most interesting album yet. Butterfly Boucher has had a huge influence on the record and backed it up by touring with Missy as her support act and bass player. “Unashamed Desire” is the album’s biggest and first single – deservedly so. It announces Missy is back, she is unashamed and she is willing to dance. “Everyone’s Waiting” is the best description of how she felt in her time off with writer’s block and perhaps the sweetest song in the list. “Watering Hole” is best served live, “Cooling of The Embers” is the breakup song and “Set Me on Fire” is the set on repeat. So glad to have you back Missy.
Metric – Synthetica
Metric to me have always been Muse’s softer less experimental sonic friend. It disturbs me a little that this band aren’t bigger since they are up there with Coldplay in my head, but I guess they just don’t yet have the tune that has resonance for all yet. Maybe it’s because album’s first lyric is “I’m just as fucked up as they say” (which I happen to love) or maybe it’s cause they are too smart? “Lost Kitten” feels like it should be on a Goldfrapp album it’s so cute, “Synthetica” would be fun on guitar hero and “Dreams So Real” owes it’s birth to Gary Numan. My favourite on the album is “The Wanderlust” not just for it’s tale of travelling, or the Lou Reed appearance, but because it’s just so damn fun to sing the chorus. A much happier album than their last one.
Clare Bowditch – The Winter I Chose Happiness
Apparently Clare sat down with Wally (Gotye) and decided that the theme of the album would be happy. What’s more happy than a dixie band I ask you? Obviously Clare thought so too and kicked off the album with one. I didn’t expect to love this album, or even give it a second thought, but I saw her perform this live with the Dixie Band, then was exposed to some thrashing of it by Claire (G) and suddenly I wanted to play it for everyone. The album got some exposure on the TV show “Offspring” with the songs “You Make Me Happy” and “The One” which aren’t even the best songs on the album. For me “Thin Skin”, “Your Love Walks With Me” and “One Little River” are the highlights. In an odd way, I imagine “One Little River” being sung by a little kid choir at an end of year graduation or something and finding it just so uplifting (obviously it wouldn’t sound as good as Clare singing it though). I for one am glad Clare Bowditch chose happiness.
Passenger – All The Little Lights
It’s not an end of year list if Passenger releases an album and I don’t have him on it. I love this man dearly and will see him live at the drop of a hat – whether he plays in the street, in a squat or at the factory in Marrickville. He sounds like Cat Stevens, commands an audience with humour and humility and writes poetic songs like Paul Simon. “All The Little Lights” actually sounds like lights flickering, “The Wrong Direction” is funny and “Holes” is a sad tale. I love the video for “Keep On Walking” since it’s filmed in the Queen Street Mall in Brisbane (my old home town). This isn’t perhaps as good as his classic “Flight Of The Crow” album, but it still makes my top list.
Lana Del Rey – Born To Die
The poor lady was picked on for her performance on Saturday Night Live, but I’m willing to forgo that (it wasn’t THAT bad) and she may be a little contrived, but regardless, I love this album. There is nothing wrong with romanticising the past, especially when it refers to classic Americana like JFK or blue jeans. “Video Games” is haunting and absolutely unique – the ultimate mash up of orchestral strings and singing about video games. “Born To Die” is teenage drama, “Off To The Races” is a little cringey yet I still love it. You shouldn’t listen too hard to the lyrics of “National Anthem” else you may be put off, but just let it flow over you. The album is a see through as the shirt she wears on the cover, but it’s dirty, embarrassing and goddam loveable. Put on your mascara and your party dress.
The Maccabees – Given To The Wild
I kind of feel like this album is like a piece of cloth floating in the wind between cars on a freeway. It just twists and turns and lifts and dives and goes faster then just when you think it will drop to the ground it perks up. “Child” is far and away my favourite just for it’s unexpected turns. It’s got beautiful kind of Coldplay and Edge type echo guitars. “Glimmer” is such a pretty song, “Ayla” rocks with the drumming and piano while “Feel to Follow” is special. This is an afternoon album at a beer garden or on a deck overlooking a canal.
alt-j (∆) – An Awesome Wave
I’ll admit I didn’t thrash this as much as the album, but more from the fact that there was so much going on rather than my level of interest. Gwil Sainsbury’s voice is distinct and wouldn’t be out of place at Woodford or the Byron Bay Music Festival. I’d say it’s the drumming sounds on “Tessellate” and the plink a plink noises of “Breezeblocks” that caught my attention and then the beauty of “Something Good” and “Matilda” that kept me there.
Chairlift – Something
80s sounding, yet hipster and indie enough not to be cheesy. The songs on here wouldn’t be out of place on a Karate Kid sequel. “Take It Out On Me” was my first love, shallowly because I loved the way she said “cause business is cruel”. For me I think it’s an album that you need to enjoy as a whole rather than as single songs. It’s sweet relaxing background music as you do other things – easy listening I guess.
For the full Albums of 2012 playlist, see below: