Thursday, December 21, 2017

Sweeping The Nation's Top 50 Albums Of 2017: 40-31

40 Idles - Brutalism
The decade-long overnight success coalesced into the kind of distilled punk anger at specific targets and attitudes a lot of hyped bands try these days but very few get even near right, mostly because they don't have that charisma, focus or actual melodic capability.

39 Broken Social Scene - Hug Of Thunder
Back after seven years and reinvigorated in their community-minded maximalism, continually reaching for the heights of paranoid party jams and attempting to bring a sense of urgency to the can't-get-any-worse level of optimism they've always held dear.

38 Napoleon IIIrd - The Great Lake
Five tracks, 46 minutes. Six and a half years after James Mabbett's last release this slow motion, latter Talk Talk-like uneasy listening suite, ambient spacious and heavy in emotional heft, is the very opposite of immediate but for all that can't easily be torn away from.

37 Grandaddy - Last Place
Jason Lytle and co pick up where they left off a decade ago, technological dysfunction, quirky chugging, heartbroken balladeering - the tale of Jed the Humanoid continues - and swelling psych exploration going hand in hand. If Kevin Garcia's death means their end, it's a fine close.

36 Weaves - Wide Open
Sharpened and toughened up, the Toronto band deal in rushing classic Canuck indie-rock tropes which they then delight in pulling apart and putting back together slightly wrongly just because, ambition reflected both in Springsteenian charges and weirder arragements.

35 H Hawkline - I Romanticize
Almost too rote to praise idiosyncratic folky pop by a Welsh artist, but while rooted in those offbeat shapes Huw Evans doesn't mind throwing in wobbly psychedelics, bubbling synths and sudden about-turns and interjections without losing the thread of the songs.

34 Widowspeak - Expect The Best
Taking a leftward shift from autumnal alt-country, their fourth album travelled a more gossamer path, the reverberations of dreampop enveloping and complementing both Molly Hamilton's wistfully hypnotic vocal and the open desert twang.

33 Cloud Nothings - Life Without Sound
After four albums Dylan Baldi and co peel away the lo-fi and reveals the melodic strength underneath, not averse to distorted guitar noise but strengthening the hooks and energy, colouring in the cracks and building to an intriguing personal validation.

32 Martin Carr - New Shapes Of Life
In which Carr returns to what he specialised in when writing for the Boo Radleys, namely turning pop shapes upside down into sophisticated, detailed arrangements that push at melodic boundaries, recalling classic art-pop, often with grandiose but unresolved builds.

31 AK/DK - Patterns/Harmonics
The synth/drum duo delivered more than just the base rate of electro-Kraut thrills, pushing into the red as everything - rhythms, electronics, loops, the odd distorted voice - pushed against everything else to thrilling swirlingly percussive effect.

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