My favourite albums of 2009
(Oh look, it’s February. Please file under embarrassingly late.)
The Antlers’ Peter Silberman teamed with new bandmates to craft his first non-solo record, the tender and affecting tale of a terminally ill lover’s painful decline. Epic and desolate in equal measure, the Brooklyn trio’s Hospice tops a list that looks like this:
- Hospice — The Antlers
- xx — The xx
- Veckatimest — Grizzly Bear
- Chant Darling — Lawrence Arabia
- The Hazards Of Love — The Decemberists
- Noble Beast — Andrew Bird
- Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix — Phoenix
- Followed By A Trail Of Sparks — Good Laika
- Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle — Bill Callahan
- Lungs — Florence + The Machine
Biggest surprise of the year was four (now three) 20-year-olds from South London whose sleek, sexed-up debut (xx) demonstrated experience and a command of the craft far beyond their years. The kids these days.
My favourite local albums were Silver Scroll winner James Milne’s alter ego, Lawrence Arabia, with an infectious collection of finely-tuned pop classics, and Wellington collective Good Laika, who delivered a darker, more restrained sophomore album that wasn’t without its upbeat moments.
The Grizzly Bear album is the band’s most accessible to date but didn’t charm everyone; I don’t mind admitting it took me a few listens through. The passing similarity to local indie darlings past Bressa Creeting Cake on the odd track didn’t hurt either.
Possibly against better judgement, Florence and her machine sneak in there at the end on the back of repeated listens in the lead up to a superb headline performance at the first Auckland Laneway Festival this past weekend. The album is overly-dramatic, stylistically muddled and one or two tracks too long, but the girl sings so heartily about boys and coffins that most of this is easily forgiven.
Also rans: Fever Ray’s self-titled solo release, M. Ward’s timeless Hold Time, Annie “St Vincent” Clark’s Woody-Allen-inspired Actor, Bombay Bicycle Club’s I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose (thanks Jarred for the introduction) and Noah And The Whale’s The First Days Of Spring.