We are Blocland, and these are our impressions of the best albums of 2018
20 – Soccer Mommy – Clean
Clean starts off sounding like straight-forward basement show Earnest-Indie-Pop-as-a-genre that Sophie Allison perfected with her earlier releases, but it starts to get messier as you become intimate with it. It’s easy to dismiss a song like “Blossom,” the album’s emotional keystone, as another normcore acoustic guitar song, but it sneaks up on you. A woozy, ethereal texture straight out of a horror movie score blooms in the periphery as Allison’s narrator withers, thinking too long about unrequited affection, forgiving herself and self-flagellating in equally uncertain measures. “Your Dog” shows its rage with dissonant reverb and disturbing wordplay. “Cool” is basically a Taylor Swift song about what it’s like to grow up with Taylor Swift as a role model, using imagery straight out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer drive home the sinister nature of the seemingly perfect.
These songs live in the push and pull between the need for self-care and the tendency to self-destruct. They are equal parts clean and dirty, poppy and noisy, fantasy-obsessed and reality-ready, spit-shined lived-in. They’re songs that I wish I had when I was navigating my teenage love life (or lack thereof), and they’re songs that I’m glad I have now, thinking about how little I envy those who do have them to navigate high school right now. They’ll keep you bopping when you’re cleaning your kitchen, and they’ll kill you when you let them in close enough to do damage.
19 – Against All Logic – 2012-2017
It’s not fair that any one pretentious art-house techno auteur drip with so much talent that he could nonchalantly toss off a grab bag of one offs from the last half decade and result in one of the best electronic albums of the year. Nevertheless.
Actually, the casual approach of “2012-2017” proves to be it’s counterintuitive strength. While Jaar’s other work is riddled with willfully obtuse decisions that might discourage the casual listener—think strange song structures, willfully obtuse found sound interludes, or, say, extended dialogue ripped from French new wave cinema, set to the soft tinkling of rain—Jaar’s Against All Logic project approaches with lean efficiency its singular goal: the timeless transcendence of rump shaking.
It’s fairly obvious that these tracks were assembled for his live performances, meant to be intermixed with his other solo work and side projects, and the album often gives the impression of one continuous set broadcast live from a post-apocalyptic warehouse party. Warped, soulful voices call forth from forgotten dusty crates and mingle with crackling samples to ride thudding, juggernaut beats and elastic synthetic basslines to an inevitably sweaty and ecstatic sunrise. Classic, futurist, and effortlessly enjoyable, Jaar once again proves that he’s among the best in the game, even when he isn’t really trying.
18 – Amen Dunes – Freedom
Freedom might lull you into throwing it on as background music. But it’s an insidious little album; its woozy atmosphere will snatch you unawares and sink into your skin.
Damon McMahon’s voice is often an unintelligible slur, yet it sounds like there’s hundreds of years of life in that voice, especially when he hits that high vibrato. In the back half of “Skipping School” he seems to stumble over his thoughts, but it couldn’t be more perfect for a long passage about regret and painful nostalgia and leaving the past behind.
In “Freedom,” he sings “I will hold you / Elation / Wasted, ancient, patient, hesitation.” Writing this out, it seems like fragments of poetry; but it’s all in that delivery. That beautiful and devastating delivery.
Even on an intensely personal album, these lyrics are abstract enough to be as relatable as you want them to be. A line like “Radio’s on and they’re playing my song / Back in 1992” from song-of-the-year contender “Believe” brings me back to summer days listening to FM classic rock in my dad’s old red Toyota truck. When he interpolates Phil Collins (“I can feel it in the air tonight / Summer’s almost gone”), we’re driving to the lake to cool off before another summer fades away forever.
But don’t worry, this isn’t like some experimental slam poetry. McMahon knows his way around a hook –– sometimes you just need patience. It takes over four minutes, but the “roll around with me / roll around with me” passage at the end of “Miki Dora” is a stunning exercise in pay off. And it’s the damn good songwriting that will keep this album on heavy rotation for years to come –– especially when I need to cry like a man.
17 – Daughters –
You Won’t Get What You Want
When someone finally writes the comprehensive history of early-aughts indie rock, it will be a story of fractured micro-scenes. And no scene was more divisive than the spazzy school of post-hardcore that gave birth to Daughters, which arguably reached its peak in 2003. That year (which also saw albums from likeminded noise-brats like Blood Brothers, Ex-Models, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, and The Locust), Daughters’ debut album Canada Songs was a standout: its ten tracks flew by in just eleven gleefully demented minutes, its sound defined by clean guitars that plinked out nauseatingly dissonant lines in the upper register. Daughters weren’t heavy, exactly; instead, they disoriented the listener with an obnoxious nihilism that recalled Caroliner or The Residents more than any band in the powerviolence tradition.
But the trend didn’t last. How could it? The years went by and our bodies betrayed us. Our spare tires strained the notches of our white belts. The carpal tunnel from our desk or restaurant jobs made all those blast beats and guitar sweeps exhausting. I’ll just say it: we got old and tired and didn’t have it in us to scream anymore. If he’s lucky, every brat lives long enough to see himself become a curmudgeon.
Thankfully, some of us learn to age gracefully, and Daughters are a case in point. After their second and third albums were lukewarmly received, they went silent for the better part of a decade and reemerged this year with You Won’t Get What You Want. The album’s tone is ominous and menacing, the pace at times punishingly slow… but it undeniably feels like the work of the same band that once trafficked in all-out sonic assault. The riffs are still woozy and discordant, but instead of cramming a dozen of them into each minute, You Won’t Get What You Want chooses discomfiting moments and stretches them agonizingly toward an unseen event horizon. Vocalist Alexis Marshall snarls in a slurry baritone while the band paces the room around him like a pack of cooped-up dogs. There are still a few barn-burners to keep things interesting (“The Flammable Man” is a favorite), but their punch is deliberate and brutal, the sound of a bunch of ex-brats whose snotty countenance has calcified into a thousand-yard stare.
16 – Jon Hopkins – Singularity
The word cinematic has been applied to Hopkins’ music with such frequency as to render it not only cliché, but bona fide beaten dead horse cliché. Nevertheless this seemed symptomatic of many reviewers response, as they tried to get a handle on Hopkins’ emotionally resonant brand of electronica. Why the idea of dance music being able to tug the heart as much as direct the feet should be a surprise was, for this reviewer, in and of itself surprising. Was there some sort of collective amnesia at work? The shock that music primarily tooled for the dance floor should even dare to be so aspirational seemed palpable. Yet some of my most transcendent experiences were in the middle of a packed dance floor, being as close as many of us ever got to a religious experience.
On the face of it there is nothing obtuse or revolutionary about Hopkins’ music, fashioned as it is from familiar parts. Rather it’s his attention to detail, his nuanced application of dynamic and total investment in scale that pushes it way beyond the ordinary.
‘Emerald Rush’ begins by tripping over a Jean Michel Jarre-esque keyboard refrain before dissolving into a stuttering mass of corrupted Daft Punk. The track achieves a certain trajectory almost in-spite of itself, whilst the melody continually pulls focus the rhythm resolutely maintains the drive, the effect being like a drunkard wrestling with a car travelling at modest velocity. And all the while we’re soothed by an Alka Seltzer® of wistful wordless sirens.
‘Neon Pattern Drum’ starts in a similar melodically malfunctioning manner, before being dragged up by the boot straps on the back of it’s own four to the floor rhythm. Hopkins finds space for percussive chimes, evoking a sideways glance to mysticism without ever making me want to vomit through my nose. And that’s the balancing act. These type of grand emotional and spiritual gestures Hopkins makes could so easily fall into a morass of trite new age effluvium, yet he drills them in classic house and batters them with a healthy amount of distortion, giving them their own, bruised vital life.
But these tracks are just set ups for the money shots. Minor planets in this solar system. The album revolves around the twin gas giants of ‘Everything Connected’ and ‘Luminous Beings’, both 10 minute plus dance monsters. ‘Everything Connected’ starts as faltering, minimal house music before giving way to a stabbing, repeated melody and skyscraping maximalist drones. Just at the point where it has built it’s own velocity, the track awkwardly reboots, shoving the 4/4 house rhythm front and centre whilst smearing the vapour trails of those sustained tones in it’s wake. Here Hopkins’ ability to render familiar sounds indistinct and give them a sense of near unparalleled draw depth is in full evidence. The track takes flight with the greatest sustained euphoric passage I’ve heard in a long time. This so evocative of being in the middle of the dance floor, fucked out of your gord on MDMA, looking at the writhing mass of people, and seeing them exhibit colour drag-lines, like the tail lights on a long exposure photograph of night time traffic.
‘Luminous Beings’ takes a scraping crackle for it’s rhythmic spine and upon it builds an expanding lattice of clicks and whirs, until it pulls the rug at the 2:48 mark. We’re left in freefall until our descent is gradually buoyed by a swelling crescendo of warm, bucolic tones, guided by a near krautrock melodic murmur. With it’s nascent ghost of nostalgia and imbued with a sense of longing this frequently trips my emotional switch. Even when the immediate rush of the sound has evaporated, I’m still left with a burning afterglow, that lingering impression of having touched something greater.
Despite being the product of hours of digital crunching, Hopkins’ music always feel organic. Beats feel like the product of a physical machine. Melodic refrains with their uncertainty and frequent focus shift feel more like the product of steel pins plucked from a cylinder that wobbles in it’s housing, than plastic keys and mouse clicks. This is house music for a machine rather than digital age. But the sound also assumes meaning by its sheer verve and magnitude, conjuring that sense of wonder and the smallness of things when lost in the idle reverie of looking at the stars on a warm, clear summer night.
So, if I’m going jump in line and follow up with my own cinematic cliché metaphor, then this is wide screen dance music, but the screen is so wide you have to turn your head to see the whole thing. This is fucking IMAX dance music (© Black Antlers – cheques, postal orders and Paypal donations acceptable, thank you), and in 2018 it’s just the kind of thing I want to lose myself in.
15 – Foxing – Nearer My God
What’s the angle for this write up on Foxing? The ‘they set out to make a classic album… and they fuckin did it’ angle? The ‘every time I listen to it, I hear another exquisitely-crafted detail in this hi-fi widescreen motherfucker of an album’? The ‘I don’t even like emo music in general and Foxing haven’t really been emo for a long-ass time anyway and this album is an advanced genre-smash-up kaleidoscopic dream?’ The ‘I actually went to high school with their former bassist (and they’ve allowed me to use some of their songs in a video) but more importantly, we’re both from STL so when singer Conor Murphy pensively croons about the iconic Crown Candy, getting trapped in Dillard’s or stepping ‘one foot back in Lambert,’ it hits me on a deeper level’?
Should I list off Radiohead, The National, TV on the Radio, M83, even Muse and all the bands these guys might remind you of or should I skip it and go straight to saying Foxing is, of course, doing it’s own thing and creating it’s own unique sound?
I should definitely mention that Foxing’s guitarist Eric Hudson and former Death Cab Cutie Chris Walla produced the fuck out of this thing and it’s crystal-clear, deep, separated and warm sound could be used along with the typical Aja for an audiophile testing out a new stereo system.
It’s important to say something about Foxing’s famously energetic live shows and the way these songs capture those moments of cathartic release and every chorus and melody gets in your head and will have you dancing and maybe near crying, depending on your mood, singing these little lines that Murphy repeats over and over, efficient little lyrics that cut to the quick and have the power to devastate.
I definitely should mention – arguably my favorite music moment of the year – listening to Murphy sing the album’s first single in English, Spanish, French, German and Japanese.
There are also bagpipes.
I’m not sure what direction to take. In the spirit of the album, I guess I took all of them.
This is one that’ll I’ll excitedly talk your ear off about, 3 beers in at a party. This is an album I’ll come back to again and again over the years, always discovering little sonic details and always singing along, playing air drums and pumping my fist with a smile on my face.
14 – Let’s Eat Grandma – I’m All Ears
Well, well, well. Apparently, the people who love this album so much during voting time all turned tail and ran when it came time to write the review. So here I am, once again putting the Blocland staff on my proverbial back, even though I’ve only listened to thing once. It’s not easy being a damned hero.
Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth may not be sisters, but perhaps the best way to describe their joint project is exactly what you’d get if the twins from The Shining started listening to a lot of Grimes. Their music shares with internet-darling Claire Boucher a similar otherworldly electronic sensibility, genre roaming restlessness, and most of all, ambition.
That may in fact be the best way to characterize this second full-length release from the pair, seemingly inconceivable as the work of two people their age (do spooky ghost twins age?). I’ve also learned that “ambitious” is a flattering way to describe really long tracks, like the 9+ and 11+ minute epics that anchor the back half of I’m All Ears. Really, though, it’s very impressive and different and good and you should like it.
13 – Iceage – Beyondless
Iceage subverted our expectations in 2014 when they released their third studio album Plowing Into the Field of Love. The new songs were a stark contrast to their previous two albums’ that featured shorter songs brimming with youthful intensity. Iceage now had three 12-track albums, but Plowing Into the Field of Love played for double the runtime as the previous two. The extra time was spent exploring different permutations of the band, proving they were capable of much more than playing their instruments fast.
However, Iceage’s reckless abandon was still intact. Evidenced by Plowing Into the Field of Love being long enough to stretch across three sides of two vinyls as opposed to their traditional two-sided albums pressed on a singular vinyl. A rare oversight for a band that has always presented their albums as focused mission statements. While Plowing Into the Field of Love remains a historical turning point in Iceage’s history, there was at least one improvement to be made. “We didn’t want to make another fucking three-sided record again,” lead singer Elias Bender Ronnenfelt told Stereogum. They had already stumbled upon gold with Plowing Into the Field of Love, it merely needed to be refined
Enter Beyondless. The outer bounds of Iceage’s capabilities fully explored. Only the finest findings shared. The two-sided single record similar to their previous albums returned. Yet their first album with only 10-tracks likely to prove Iceage can buck whatever tradition they please. The tightening on Beyondless is its greatest strength. It funnels 10 bulletproof songs into the bloodstream similar to the album’s cover art. The change in musical styles from track to track forms a truly unique sequencing. No better example is the album’s B-side where no two styles are repeated. The reverb-drenched “Take it all” separates two songs influenced by country and live theater respectively. It opens with their longest song to date and ends with what could have passed as a song from their first album. If only “Beyondless” wasn’t twice the run time. It would seem Iceage enjoy skirting expectations song to song. Performing live, they followed up new album deepcut “Take it all” with their first album’s opening track “White Rune” with the likely intention of demonstrating how far they’ve come in seven years time.
It’s that time spent that makes Beyondless feel like a triumph. The most disorienting aspect of Plowing Into the Field of Love is that it came a mere year after their sophomore album You’re Nothing. Arriving nearly four years after its predecessor, Beyondless hits even harder by overthrowing our sturdier expectations. An album of this magnitude deserves celebration as it allows Iceage what every artist strives for: their artistic freedom embraced by a trusting fanbase. Finally and truly they are perfectly lost at sea.
12 – Wild Pink – Yolk in the Fur
Yolk In the Fur, Wild Pink’s gorgeous sophomore outing, represents a huge leap forward from their self-titled debut. While that record had a few stunning highlights – particularly the jaw dropping, Songs: Ohia referencing “Albert Ross” – album number two finds the improbable Brooklynites largely jettisoning the melancholic slowcore and in-jokes for a richer, more nuanced and earnest take on heartland ennui and anxiety and delivering a low-key masterpiece. Compositional acumen, brilliant sequencing (this album flows like a gentle stream), and airtight performances coalesce via one of the best sounding records of the year. Wild Pink leader John Ross is steeped in the tradition of American classic rock storytellers like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Jackson Browne, but there is an immediacy here; a lushness and warmth that places him squarely in 2018 alongside endlessly-searching-for-the-vibe artists like the War On Drugs, Kurt Vile and The Amazing. Unlike those artists, however, Ross grounds his world-weary stories in real places and events to communicate similar feelings of longing, frustration, aimlessness, lassitude. On stunning lead single (and pedal-steel workout) “Lake Eerie”, he anchors the story of a car wreck in Western New York to the here and now, vacillating between the real world and the online one, effectively rendering The 1975’s hour-plus peacocking obsolete with a single, simple verse which serves to drill home an immutable, inherent human truth: I believe you when you say you’ve been sad for your whole life/Your body looks impossibly small when you hang your head and cry/Meanwhile people on Tumblr unpack their neuroses/When all you ever wanted was the one you love the most not to suddenly leave. That’s the key. The crucial, extremely human link. On the towering title track, a mini-prog melodic epic that would rate as one of the finest songs of any year, Ross puts it more succinctly: I put my skin in the game. And we’re all richer for it. The best indie rock of the year.
11 – Panopticon – The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness
The Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness is an environmentalist’s record. Among the careening black metal and warm Americana are constant references to loon calls, saplings, spruce and everything else filling out the pages of a northern U.S. guidebook. Musically, Part I’s sheer scope and black metal density feels like a direct response to the sprawling and frigid Minnesota forests Austin Lunn has called home for last few years. Meticulously executed tremolo picked guitars cascade down, graceful and precise blast beats carve out the riverbed, and distant, spectral howls call out above the pines. The trad inflected “The Singing Wilderness” and the mountainous “Snow Burdened Branches” take inspiration from the father of American conservationism, Sigurd F. Olson, and result in two of Panopticon’s most powerful and urgent tracks yet.
On Part II, folk is built into post rock proportions on “Moss Beneath the Snow” and “At the Foot of the Mountain”. In between, Lunn quietly contemplates, life, death, time and his place within the the Earth’s changing seasons. Ragged Jason Molina country sits along side bluegrass ballads paying tribute to the working class. In 2018, “The Itch” serves as a thoughtful and spiritual heir to the protest folk and country songs of the 60s and 70s. Make no mistake, The Scars of Man is a lot to take it. It’s a multifaceted document crafted from love, anger, fear, beauty, and comfort. Treat it like a winding trek through the woods or time spent along the shores of Lake Superior. Let the expansive, rolling majesty wrap you in it’s arms and get lost for awhile.
10 – Nils Frahm – All Melody
All Melody – all of it. Every single part.
It’s not so much an album you listen to; it’s a place you go to. You can drop in at any point and you’ll want to come back again to visit more. There’s a lot to explore in 74 minutes and though the road widens and curves, invoking disparate moods, you always know you’re there, in that place. It’s comforting.
There are long moments of silence, of transition, when the music drifts away and you might be unsure of it’s return until it drifts back again – the same but changed, a different melody or maybe just a different part of the all melody.
The piano is unique in music. Though every instrument has it’s own strengths and failings – more so than any other, the piano is like an orchestra in your hands. Conversely, when players like Frahm, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett or Ahmad Jamal – true masters of the instrument -pull back and play in a minimalist style, it can be revelatory. The beauty and subtle forms and movements built from simple rootless voicings and acciaccatura hold all the more power for their grace and clarity.
All Melody is far from a solo piano album.
Though the album has a uniform sound and feels like it was beamed directly from the German pianist’s head, it’s his most collaborative work yet. Along with all the pianos, organs and synths, we get lush strings, plaintive horns, pulsing percussion and wordless vocals from all those that visited Frahm in Berlin’s Funkhaus recording complex.
It expertly blends that minimal piano with ambient soundscapes and slow-moving, cinematic electronic rhythms reminiscent of Jon Hopkins’ recent work. It’s post-techno, post-classical, post-ambient, post-genre. It’s none of those and all of those. All Melody.
9 – Drug Church – Cheer
Technically, this is a hardcore punk album. In reality, it’s more than that. It is loud, yes, but there is hope behind all the noise. Patrick Kindlon has a way with words. Over ten songs he weaves intricate tales about people he obviously cares about. The lyrics cover a lot of ground, touching on mental illness, capitalism, and politics. It’s an incredibly immediate and relevant record.Then there’s the music. It rips along at a furious pace, each one a dance of guitar and drums. There’s so much going on in each of these songs. There are new things to hear each time you listen, and you should listen to it a lot. 30 minutes of pure screaming catharsis is exactly what we needed this year.
8 – Snail Mail – Lush
There’s a moment in “Pristine” after the first time Lindsay Jordan sings the line “I’ll never love anyone else,” where the whole band drops out from under the listener for a brief moment, before rocketing back to full volume on a dime. That pause is a careful and considered break. It’s a dropped gauntlet of blunt honest truth that goes against expectation. Isn’t the point of a breakup song to move on? Nah, says Jordan. She’s not thinking about that yet, she’s focused on the present and how much it fucking hurts right now. And if Snail Mail is a one-trick pony, that’s their trick. Jordan’s songs know how to remain focused on the part that hurts right now, and then she and her band hit it as hard as they can with surprising pauses, perfectly timed drum-fills, sneaky catchy guitar riffs, or a howl that is somehow laconic and guttural at the same time, until the initial pain is laughable by comparison.
I honestly don’t know which of these moments are my favorite. There’s the aforementioned pause in “Pristine,” and there’s like six other moments in “Pristine” that take my breath away just as much. There’s the guitar solo in “Heat Wave” that distorts itself like a heat mirage. There’s the way “Stick” teases a massive climax for nearly 5 minutes, an eternity in 2018 indie rock, before bringing the goddamn house down for a moment and then cutting out suddenly. There’s the way the whole band slams into the chorus of “Full Control.” There’s the way the gentle horn makes Lindsey’s guitar is playing in an aquarium during “Deep Sea.” There’s more. In these moments, Lush finds power in specificity, and blows it the fuck up so that it’s big enough to live inside, and wide enough to apply to anytime..
7 – Young Fathers – Cocoa Sugar
Is it possible for a group to sound MORE original as time goes on? Young Fathers’ Cocoa Sugar borrows little titdbits and ideas from so many different genres and styles it feels like the album is simultaneously not of this world but meant for everyone out there in the world. Somehow it resonates on a personal level, yet feels like it’s about the collective human experience itself. A requiem for a terrible year and a celebration of everything yet to come, nothing sounds quite like Young Fathers in 2018.
6 – HOLY – All These Worlds Are Yours
Noted music snob Cheap_Suit_Jr_Jr stumbled upon a PNKSLM Records project named HOLY in early 2018. HOLY, the project of Swedish artist Hannes Ferm quickly became something of a mini cause celebre within the Blocland community. In a more classic indie vein than the current climate the album seemed to come from nowhere and from somebody none of us had heard of before. We spent the better parts of several months debating the influences on the artist. Yoshimi era Flaming lips and the more psych freakout side of Tame Impala are the two most oft mentioned. But ultimately both comparisons don’t quite fit. There’s a hushed and lo fi vibe to the whole affair that seems woefully out of favor right now. But there is a very distinct vibe and pattern to the album. Classic pop song structures are more or less eschewed in favor of small suites…maybe vignettes is the better word here. The 10 track album has songs that barely crack the one minute mark and others than approach nine minutes. The clear standout track comes midway through at track 5, “Dreaming Still?” with it’s repeated “will you ever try?” lyric repeated over and over as the song sways from lo fi indie cut to massive choir assisted epic and finally ending in a gentle wash of psychedelia.
But let’s be honest here…..you’ve heard me ramble on about this album all year. I suppose the best commentary about any piece of music is “I’m not quite sure why this hits me so hard.” For awhile it looked like I was gonna look at some of the sexier choices out in 2018. But ultimately this was the album that sountracked this horrific year for me. And it simply never stopped resonating with me.
5 – Deafheaven –
Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
How long does it take to write a blocland blurb about Deafheaven’s Ordinary Corrupt Human Love? Canary Yellow long?
Bittersweet Yearning; what have you done to us?
Moving our hearts by means of melody in omnipresent stretches of extreme climate change between two emotional poles spanning from glacier desolation to bountiful seas.
Ordinary Corrupt Human Love oscillates, as a pendulum, across melancholy absence and gutted abundance.
What Deafheaven has formed is a work crafting the intensity of human condition: art, pain and love. There are these delicate, gorgeous blooms within the songs where the audience is swathed in aching awe.
How is it that music can evoke the warmth of human flesh?OCHL is texture we feel converged of riffs, blast beats and Clarke’s heavy-hearted screech all in an atmospheric shoegaze chamber of cupid and the psyche where lamenting lyrics remind us, It is a difficult matter to keep love imprisoned.
4 – Beach House – 7
Beach House shouldn’t be on this list. After seven albums and almost 15 years as a band, you’re supposed to get bad. Well, maybe not bad, but at the very least Pitchfork should be describing your records with obnoxious phrases like “reminiscent of the spark that blazed in the heart of their earlier work.” Not with Beach House. From the opening seconds of “Dark Spring”, it’s clear 7 exists as a middle finger to Father Time. Songs like “Dive” and “Drunk in LA” could rightfully take their place as some of the best songs on earlier Beach House records, while “Black Car” and “Lemon Glow” show the band hasn’t lost their gift for adapting new textures to fit their developed sound. Beach House’s triumph on 7 is not in a successful reinvention (see Achtung Baby) or a rediscovery of their old sound (see In Rainbows), but rather that neither of those are required. 7 is an album as fully relevant to Beach House’s discography as any of its preceding work, and deserves its place as one of the greatest albums of this band’s truly remarkable run.
3 – DILLY DALLY – Heaven
This album makes me feel alive the way no album ever has. It has brought out every emotion. It reminds me of all my favourite bands, and all my favourite parts of my favourite songs. It makes my favourite bands and albums sound like shit. I played it loud as fuck everywhere I went. I couldn’t not play it loud. The screams and guitar DEMAND to be played loud. This was one of those albums where you’re listening to it on your good headphones – not the shitty iPod ones, but those ones you spent a bit extra on – and you turn that shit up loud as fuck, and it sounds soooooooo good, and you think for moment “I don’t care if I blow these headphones out – it would be worth it for this.” “TRY TO STAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!”
But then you remember how much you spent on the headphones and you turn it down a little bit, because you’re a two marshmallows later versus one marshmallow now type of person. But goddamn this is an album that pushes you close to that fucking marshmallow and you want it RIGHT NOW.
Every song rules. The guitar rules. The VOCALS. There is no better band in Toronto, or the country, or probably anywhere. Everything after the 3:14 mark on “Believe” and into the rest of “Sober Motel” proves this and if you don’t agree then you are fucked.
2 – Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour
K is for the way that you look at me
A is for the only one for me
C is very, very extraordinary
E is even more than anyone that you adore
1 – Low – Double Negative
Like pins and needles. Like the other side through a preamp. Like night lights stretched by glossy eyes. Like a colossus on the horizon. Like ice crystals forming in your nose with every inhale. Like checking your hair in the supermarket security monitor. Like an old argument in your head distorts to a dream as you fall asleep. Like acid flashbacks. Like intense feelings breaking the surface before you can identify the source. And calm, awe, waves and waves from an effervescent abyss.