First of all...
HAPPY NEW YEAR 2008!
I have included a short list of my best albums of the previous year to the left - it's short because I could probably put a long list on, but figured that this would take up a lot of room, so it's just my ultimate favourites :)
So, over the Christmas period I've added a number of great albums to my collection. Here's a list (in no particular order), and a few reviews of them:
1.) PJ Harvey - White Chalk: I had my doubrs about this album, especially when it was dubbed as being a second, piano-based version of 2005's Uh Huh Her, but White Chalk has more depth, more passion and more emotion than Uh Huh Her could ever contain. It's dark and haunting yet strangely compelling, with Harvey using what she calls her "church voice" to give the album an ethereal feel. However, like in all her other albums, Harvey has created dark imagery in her lyrics. It's good, but I've become so used to hearing PJ Harvey being distinctly rock that I can't quite get over the change in direction.
2.) John Parish and Polly Jean Harvey - Dance Hall At Louse Point: Dance Hall starts relatively quietly and with only hints of some of the aggression that Harvey shows in her other works but starts to pick up the pace through the tracks, most notably in Taut which explodes like a massive bomb after Harvey and Parish seem to try to keep their emotions locked away through the verses. It is interesting to see how in this album, the approach of Parish and Harvey is completely different to White Chalk, where they also collaborate.
3.) Frou Frou - Details: It amazes me when I find that Imogen Heap has only found fame because her songs have been used on various soundtracks to films and TV shows (most notably the O.C. where her solo song Hide and Seek was used in the final credits). Details has little of the aggression shown in her debut solo work, i, Megaphone, but is still a wonderfully pieced together composite of sounds layered with Heap's ever breathless voice.
4.) Kate Bush - Aerial: An album divided in two (A Sea of Honey and A Sky of Honey), Aerial is probably Bush's most laid-back work. The songs drift seamlessly into one another, especially on A Sky of Honey (my favourite of the two albums) where sounds are prolonged and glide along in the background. There are glimpses of some of Bush's other works on tracks such as King of the Mountain, Somewhere in Between and Aerial but this is a very different album to her other works.
5.) Rilo Kiley - Under the Blacklight: There is something immensely likeable about this album. It does touch on rather sordid affairs, but it doesn't matter. They wash over me, and I'm more interested in the tunes and ways that Jenny Lewis projects her voice. It's a different direction for the band, who seem to be having fun playing around with synths and disco rhythms much more than on their previous albums. It doesn't mean that this isn't a great album, though....
6.) Tori Amos - Under the Pink: The first thing I noticed about this album was that Amos seems to have expanded her lyrical range and starts writing about subjects other than her rape, like she did on Little Earthquakes. She also becomes a lot more imaginative while still maintaining a dark edge. Take The Waitress, which starts calmly enough (despite Amos talking about wanting to murder the waitress in question) before erupting into a riot and calming again. The verses concentrate more on her words, which would be powerful enough without the piano or the guitars. All in all, a brilliant work.
7.) Klaxons - Myths of the Near Future: I wondered whether the Mecury Music Prize winners could live up to expectations that had been raised with singles like Golden Skans and Atlantis to Interzone and it turns out that this is actually a well-rounded album. If anything, Golden Skans sticks out like a sore thumb because it is actually different to the style adopted by the rest of the album, which is loud and brash, unlike Golden Skans' lighter approach. I am completely confused by the lyrics (I don't have a clue what they are talking about, mainly because I can't hear a word that they're saying), but I like this album in the same way as I do Rilo Kiley's - for the tunes.
Well, it took a while but I've finally managed to get through all of the albums in a fairly condensed way. Hope none of you fell asleep during that. Be back soon :)