Sunday, December 20, 2009



10: Metric
Gold Guns Girls

The fabulous electro-based pop we’ve been waiting for in vain by Kelly Clarkson ends up here instead on Emily Haines’ tongue. She has stated in interviews that the song deals with the ennui that faces those who can never seem to get enough of whatever they reach for but the smartly-contrived pop beat underlines the complexity of this impasse. Pop music of late has offered anything this intelligent or probing outside of FrYars so it’s great to see Americans still clenching hard to a fleeting idealism.

9: Here we go Magic

My guess is that finally there’s a term to describe a Jewish vampire but you can’t go by my interpretation. What is clear though is the brilliant juxtaposition of the glossy soundscapes and an undeniable 80s vibe so much so that Luke Temple can reflect shimmering electro-hi claps at will.

8: Major Lazer feat. Santigold & Mr. Lexx Hold the Line

Even when tinkering with dancehall, Diplo and Switch grab Santi and explode gloriously.

7: Yeah Yeah Yeah
Heads will Roll

A swift rollick into the depths of punk, O-style (‘dance/ dance/ dance ‘til you’re dead’). The glamorous new wave style that the band champions is dipped in spectral synths and an urgent house beat.

6: Sunset Rubdown
Apollo & the Buffalo & Anna Anna Anna Oh

All of Krug’s tireless energy bound in one defined moment. Wrapped up in Greek mythology and fierce poetry (‘my God/ I miss the way/ we used to be’), Krug channels an inner demon we’ve never had the pleasure to witness before.

5: FrYars

Bridging the gap between Antony Hegarty and Boy George and adding his own bookish, morose yet totally dance-driven aesthetics, FrYars gets moving.

4: Grizzly Bear
While you wait For the Others

In what must surely be the oddest collaborative effort of the year, Grizzly Bear enlist soul-man McDonald to help shape this sickly-sweet psychedelic wonder. There is a substantial amount of impatience driving the beat and vocal urgency here, as if positing a response to lack of action. Even without such deep meaning though, Grizzly Bear has come up with the nascent equivalent to the cropped vocal style that made Animal Collective’s MPP such a hit.

3: Animal Collective
Guys Eyes

The band’s most challenging song on MPP because the ambivalence of sexuality rears its head. The opening couplet is a clear fight for control, the type of fight men have been losing once their second head takes over. The dizzy, repeated vocal usage is apt as if to compliment the rush of blood that floods the mind when such sexual decisions arise. So whether this is an exploration of temptation to cheat or being bi-curious or plain masturbation, Guys Eyes is a clear step-up from the bizarre topics these guys used to sing about.

2: Patrick Wolf
The Bachelor

By even his lofty standards, The Bachelor represents a triumph of passage that not even Wolf could’ve expected given the tumult that surrounded the album of the same name. Fed-up with his own securities and an expressive sexual tone that was proving worrisome to market, Wolf unfurls a ballad, somber in its own admission of that highest ideal of heterosexual bliss: marriage. Or more precisely his exclusion from it given the global Prop 8 stance that hinders gays to get hitched. This is a personal lament too however, one where the true Wolf, finally sheds his accustomed excess to strip himself bare and vulnerable.

1: Jay Z feat. Santigold
Brooklyn we go Hard

Leaked exactly a year ago for the Notorious soundtrack, the song was thankfully spared from being on Jay Z’s latest self-gratulatory album. Ignore its charm at your own peril though because this display of swagger reeks of the street chops he’s lost for the past few years. Santi’s opening couplet threatens to disrupt the flow but her verse grows in head-nodding strength as it should; the sample is from her own excellent track Shove It.

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