So Last Year

So, last year I wrote a post called So Last Year in order to capture my favourite music of 2008 before 2009 was over... and here I am doing the same for 2009 before the end of 2010. Pathetic, he says Eeyore-ishly, but that’s weblog neglect for you. Last time a focus on single tracks seemed appropriate, but this time I’ll swing back to albums.

10. Lady Gaga, The Fame Monster

A late-2009 discovery for me, just before I went to Australia for Christmas and had no chance to listen to music; but in only a few weeks this had already made an impact. You know all the hits, if you’ve been listening to any pop music at all; the stand-outs for me were “Poker Face”, “Bad Romance” and especially “LoveGame”. She’s clearly the new Madonna, but like Madge she isn’t my favourite popstar of the day—one of those is still to come.

9. Little Boots, Hands

Much-hyped at the time, this would have met all expectations if the second half of the album didn’t tail off so badly. But the first half is very, very good, “New in Town”, “Earthquake” and “Remedy” especially. They’re flogging this in Fopp for two quid right now, which is a steal.

8. a-ha, Foot of the Mountain

Not long before Popular covered their only UK number one, a-ha came out with this, their ’80s-retro swansong. It’s terrific.

7. Franz Ferdinand, Tonight

I was thrilled by their breakthrough video for “Take Me Out” when I saw it on Spanish TV all the way back in 2004, but took a long while to catch up on the accompanying album and its follow-up. By the time Tonight appeared, though, I was a dedicated follower of Franz (although nothing made me feel as old as seeing a music blogger describe them as one of their favourite bands when they were growing up. When you were growing up?). The extended electronic experiments of “Lucid Dreams” were a particular highlight.

6. Röyksopp, Junior

Great band, great album, even if some of their fans were sniffy about it. “Happy Up Here” was one of my tracks of the year.

5. The Duckworth Lewis Method, The Duckworth Lewis Method

Even as a big fan of the Divine Comedy, it took me a while to catch up with this; for some reason I thought a concept album about cricket which was only half by Neil Hannon wouldn’t be as essential as his regular output. How wrong I was. A fabulous album, which hits more than its share of sixes—“Meeting Mr Miandad” and “Test Match Special” in particular.

4. Feist, The Reminder (2007)

Not a 2009 album, but possibly the album I listened to more than any other that year, thanks to its toddler-friendly vibes. But you don’t have to be two to love tracks like “I Feel It All”, “My Moon My Man” and “1234”, even if the last did turn up on Sesame Street.

3. Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago (2008)

Another much-hyped pre-2009 album I discovered last year, in the dark depths of January. A perfect fit for winter—I should dig it out again now.

2. Muse, The Resistance

Another fine album from the band who can do no wrong where I’m concerned. In the weeks leading up to its release I listened to “Uprising” on continuous loop for days. But it still wasn’t my album of the year...

1. Lily Allen, It’s Not Me, It’s You

The same producer as Little Boots, but a far stronger album. I missed the Alright, Still hype, and was fairly indifferent when I later heard it, but this was something else altogether. “The Fear” drew me in, and tracks like “Everyone’s At It” and “Chinese” kept me there: hype or no hype, this was my favourite pop (and music full-stop) of 2009.

There were some worthy also-rans: The Kings of Convenience’s Declaration of Dependence; Annie’s Anniemal (2004); Phoenix’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix; and Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998). New albums from U2, Doves, Coldplay, Jarvis Cocker, The Proclaimers and Manic Street Preachers all had their moments. Air’s Love 2 was a let-down, and I completely failed to get into Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear.

So, to this year...

30 December 2010 · Music