10) Eminem – Revival
Eminem’s ninth album has taken a bit of a beating from the purists. For me, I still find a lot to enjoy from his lyrical delivery, humour and bashing of anyone that annoys him. The production may be a little heavy-handed but there is more than enough here to keep the loyal fan base happy. This is not a hip hop album, it’s laden with pop hooks and the reliance on celebrity vocalists to supply the catchy choruses is becoming annoying, fortunately there is just about enough in the verses for this album to not be considered a failure, and in tracks like Castle, Eminem gives us a track that stands up with some of his best. It’s these flashes of brilliance that make Revival an enjoyable yet frustrating listen. Maybe album 10 will see the Real Slim Shady stand up.
9) Lindstrøm – It’s Alright Between Us As It Is
A new Lindstrøm album brings great excitement to Kendall Reviews, I completely fell for the ‘Space Disco’ craze that started about a decade or so ago. I bought so many albums that fell into that genre, but out of all of those CDs only a couple of the artists still resonate, those being Prins Thomas, Todd Terje and my favourite Lindstrøm. There are no bad albums from the Norwegian producer, but I’m still looking for him to release something that beats the wonderful Where You Go I Go Too released back in 2008, or a track that captivates me like I Feel Space did. With the odd deviation, Lindstrøm albums are a slow evolution of the Space Disco genre, even flirting with jazz. It’s as if he has created his own genre, and for that I’m thankful and will be with him every step of the way.
8) Arcade Fire – Everything Now
How could Arcade Fire follow-up the quite brilliant Reflektor? That was a double disc album full of great songs that still gets a lot of play here at Kendall Reviews. The answer is quite simple, create a slicker, tighter album that still sounds like the band of old but experimenting with hooks and beats that see them looking to the future.
7) Lorde – Melodrama
A stunning debut album, a new voice for a generation, Bowie raved about her calling her ‘the future of music’ Pressure? Possibly, it took four years before the follow-up to Heroine was released. A lot can happen in four years, the initial excitement about Lorde would have almost certainly start to fade, she had to come back with a bang, and with the track Green Light she blew all doubters out of the water. It was as if Lorde hadn’t been away, the first single and track on a very strong album that doesn’t reinvent Lorde but maintains her position as a fantastic artist and vocalist.
6) Beck – Colors
What Beck are we going to get? This question is asked each he announces a new album. I’m not sure anyone was expecting pop star Beck! This whole album is one long dance party, an incredibly uplifting listening experience that gets better each time you listen.
5) LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
I’ll get this out-of-the-way. I have only heard LCD Soundsystem’s debut album a few times, didn’t like it, and dismissed the band. So it’s unusual for me to dip back into an album, but after watching a live TV performance on Jools Holland I picked up American Dream with some confidence. I’m so glad I did, a very strong album with no track sounding like another. It’s not a particularly happy album but it hooks you and embraces you with its sincerity.
4) Sparks – Hippopotamus
45 years in the business, the Sparks have always been a part of my music education. I like a lot of their work, with Music That You Can Dance To being my favourite album. I’m not sure the hardcore fans would agree with me on that choice, I enjoy the Sparks singles but it’s the 1986 dance inspired album that I dig out more than any other with 2002’s Lil’ Beethoven a close second. That is until Sparks released their 23rd album, the brilliant Hippopotamus. Easily their strongest album, packed with catchy tunes, witty lyrics and an energy from the Mael brothers who are 69 (Russell) & 72 (Ron) years of age that is beyond infectious.
3) Jamiroquai – Automaton
I’m more surprised than anyone that this album features so highly in my Top 10. This album is so listenable with Jay Kay’s voice still hitting that soulful sweet spot now backed with a poppy, disco funk that could have been delivered by Daft Punk. It’s an album that doesn’t forget the bands original sound with delicious nods to its past whilst hitting a sound that feels nostalgic and fresh at the same time.
2) Joe Goddard – Electric Lines
If there was an album that paid homage to the history of dance, then this is it. Electric lines plays out as a love letter to House, disco and techno. It’s an album that I’ve played every week since it’s release and I’m loving it now as much as I did back in April. It’s a classic Friday/Saturday night album that demands to be played loud.
1) St. Vincent – Masseducation
One of the most emotional, powerful records you’ll hear in a long time. But this is not a heavy, depressing listen, each track has a wonderful pop/dance sheen added to it that somewhat mutes the deeply personal lyrics. Sit back with headphones and reflect on lyrics that can cut to the bone or throw the CD into the stereo and crank the volume and enjoy a fantastic pop album.
Your response last year was so eloquent.