Top 20 Albums of 2009: Part One
15. Camera Obscura – My Maudlin Career
If there was ever a band able to snatch the coveted indie-pop crown from Stuart Murdoch and Co, it would be fellow Glaswegians Camera Obscura – four albums in, and their combination of frontwoman Tracyanne Campbell’s cracking, lovelorn vocals floating lethargically over their self-consciously retro instrumentation has won out yet again – and the fact that ‘My Maudlin Career’ is jam-packed with singles helps a little. From the 60’s, string-laden ecstasy of first single ‘French Navy’ to the vulnerable syrup of ‘Sweetest Thing’, this is an album that balances joy and melancholy with aplomb, and lays bare the bittersweetness of love.
16. Johnny Foreigner – Grace and The Bigger Picture
2009 – amongst other things – saw the welcome return of Birmingham indie-rock outfit Johnny Foreigner. Luckily, their formula has remained unchanged – ‘Grace and The Bigger Picture’ is more of Johnny Foreigner’s fuzzed up, shouty, headrushing indie-rock. Their limitless reserves of frantic, puppyish energy may not leave much room for depth, but it’s darn good fun.
17. Atlas Sound – Logos
Vaguely gruesome cover art aside, Atlas Sounds – aka Deerhunter frontman Bradford James Cox – has concocted some of the gauziest dream-pop around – Cox’s vague, evocative lyrics and half-formed melodies trip lazily through knotted synths and guitars, managing to be both pleasantly woozy and utterly engaging. As a bonus, ‘Logos’ contains some stellar collaborations – including Noah Lennox of Panda Bear/Animal Collective fame.
18. Volcano Choir – Unmap
Justin Vernon’s transition from bearded, crooning folkie into electronic, wizard may have upset some folk purists, but there’s no denying ‘Unmapped’s sleepy, gauzy beauty – it’s gently shapeshifting blend of folk and backwoods, backwards soul proved to be one of the most accessible experimental moments of the year.
19. Fever Ray – Fever Ray
The Knife were never a sedate affair, and this defining solo album from slightly more than barmy enigma/frontwoman Karen Dreijer Andresson is predictably nuts. However, it’s also bursting with creativity – Karen may be shrouded in mystery, but her twisted, claustrophobic lullabies are utterly beguiling.
20. Monsters of Folk – Monsters of Folk
Perhaps this heavily-anticipated debut from US folkie supergroup Monsters of Folk – consisting of Conor Oberst, M. Ward, Jim James and Mike Mogis – wasn’t quite the classic American album it was hyped to be, but it’s still a solid release, and well deserves on the list.
Read my review of ‘Monsters of Folk HERE: