So Last Year

So for a few years I’ve been doing these retrospective entries about the previous year in music, and this year I’m so far behind that I now have less than 48 hours to write about 2012, or else I’ll have to call it “So the Year Before Last”, which doesn’t work nearly as well. So here’s the best stuff I listened to in 2012, in chronological order of discovering it.

Röyksopp, “This Space” and “I Wanna Know” (2010)

Two superlative tracks from Röyksopp’s website. My soundtrack of January.

M83, Before the Dawn Heals Us (2005)

Coming late to them after hearing a track from this album on a YouTube clip, I quickly snapped up their back catalogue. None of it was as good as this, although 2011 double-album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming was close (though now somewhat diminished by being featured on a Persil ad). Epic space music.

Gotye, “Somebody That I Used to Know”, Making Mirrors (2012)

It would be cheating to pretend that this song didn’t get its hooks into me, same as everybody else, and for a while I listened to the album a lot; but two years down the road it hasn’t really stuck.

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour, “The Golden Age” (2009) and Out of Frequency (2012)

A Danish band with a touch of Cerys Matthews about the vocals. I first heard them on a commercial (a Heineken ad, which was played relentlessly on 4OD), but never mind.

The Chap, We Are the Best (2011)

Hooray for Ben Goldacre’s Twitter feed, which introduced me to this esoteric, electronic, erudite band. You could, like I did, track down every last song and album of theirs that you could find, from 2003’s The Horse to 2012’s We Are Nobody... or you could pick up this best-of for pretty much the same effect. “Courage and Modesty”, “Le Theme (2011 Version)” and “Proper Rock” should (if there were any justice) ensure them immortality, but there is much more to The Chap then any small selection of tracks can indicate.

Spiritualized, Sweet Heart Sweet Light (2012)

Their best album in years.

Keane, Strangeland (2012)

Their best album in years.

Flashman, To the Victor—the Spoils! (2011)

Jazz-electronic project by the Fred Deakin half of Lemon Jelly, which isn’t quite as much fun as they were but still has its moments. My son loved it and played it to death.

The Proclaimers, Like Comedy (2012)

Their best album in years. My kids loved it and played it to death. “Spinning Around in the Air” makes excellent loungeroom dancing music for young children. “After You’re Gone” makes excellent wistful reflection music for forty-somethings.

Various Artists, Isles of Wonder (2012)

The album of the Olympics opening ceremony made an excellent souvenir of the TV event of the year, and its key Underworld tracks “And I Will Kiss” and “Caliban’s Dream” bear repeated listens, even today. The latter prompted me to check out Two Door Cinema Club, whose Beacon I listened to for a while in the hope that it would match it; but how could it?

PSY, “Gangnam Style” (2012)

For the first time I found myself buying a track on iTunes just to see what Tom Ewing would write about it in a decade’s time. But the track and its videos (in both forms) were also well worth it.

Muse, The 2nd Law (2012)

Another good Muse album, but not their best album in years. Rather let down by the tracks with Chris Wolstenholme on vocals, which sound like nineties alt-rock throwbacks (okay, “Liquid State” isn’t bad). But it does contain their Olympics song “Survival”, which was utterly brilliant—everything over-the-topping wonderful about Muse in four minutes—and my song of the year.

Tame Impala, “Elephant” (2012)

A late discovery, but I remember this song dominating the week before Christmas for me. I picked up the parent album, Lonerism, early in the new year (and their older ones, but it was a case of diminishing returns).

Also-rans: Air’s Le Voyage Dans La Lune (2012) was disappointing; Elbow’s B-sides compilation Dead in the Boot (2012) was good; Ben Folds Five’s The Sound of the Life of the Mind (2012) wasn’t the come-back I’d hoped; Ultrasound’s Play for Today (2012) had its moments; I don’t have much to say about Sinéad O’Connor’s How About I Be Me (And You Be You)?, Garbage’s Not Your Kind of People, or Gaz Coombes’s Here Come the Bombs; and I watched this video of Frida singing “En ledig dag” in 1967 quite a few times indeed.

30 December 2013 · Music