2010, by and large represented the comeback of the single as an event instead of merely being a tool to drive album sales. In this fourth part of my list, the controversial M.I.A makes two more appearances while Joanna Newsom—who features very prominently from here on—debuts. This bloc of songs features mostly, slow, winding expressions that delve into love and its separation mostly. Here goes:
21: Joanna Newsom
Builds its guilty abortion theme slowly with a hectic staccato burst of folk and overwhelming sadness.
The funky, retro sound of love deserting a relationship.
23: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
Fright Night (Nevermore)
They don’t make such beautiful minimalism any more.
24: Corrine Bailey Rae
The Blackest Lily
Far more interesting when she spikes her mood, Bailey Rae invites loud guitars into her sedated world and the result is blues magic for what could have been a sappy dirge for her late husband.
25: The Department of Eagles
While We’re Young
Can Daniel Rossen do any wrong? The ending line, ‘what are you trying to prove’, is simply divine being sung repeatedly.
26: Sleigh Bells
Loud and unabashedly proud.
27: Lunar Eyes
In typical Bill Baird fashion, “Lunar Eyes” features a memorable yet catchy chorus plus hooks deep enough for us to joyously lose ourselves in.
Sampling Suicide’s “Ghost Rider” was a brilliant but you’d only get the gist of it once you decide not to look at Romain Gavras’ distracting video.
The Unattractive, Portable Head
Still trying to figure out the existentialism behind this Daughters track but when the beat is this heavy, this brilliant, who really needs to unravel its mystery?
Fire Dies Down
A song about getting gracefully old and yet despite telling lines (‘one day our bodies will break/ one day our hands will shake’) this is far from depressing.
31: Tanya Stephens
No Strings Attached
An interpolation of past songs but shimmering into so much vocal richness that it’s an embarrassment of talent as well as a real modern day dating guide in Jamaica and everywhere else for that matter.
A deceiving title, Brit Daniel breaks out feverish soul when he drops the line, ‘I got nothing to lose’.
33: Sufjan Stevens
I Want to be Well
Like the rest of you I’m still dazed and buzzing from the ornate pop appeal of Sufjan’s latest but I Want to be Well is drips with the most pop by miles. But just when he’s done wowing you, Stevens then delivers a closing ‘fuck you’ to us all and it’s exhilarating.
34: Portugal. The Man
The Dead Dog
A sad yet reflective look at the growing up on youth and the friends one loses along the way.
It Iz What It Iz
It’s taken three studio albums for us to get a more vulnerable Maya Arulpragasam. Here she is, stripped off all her usual riff-raffing and fiery and somehow managing to sound more intriguing than ever. We end up with a seamless cross between blues and pop, warmly revealing the woman behind the music and her struggles.
36: The Irrepressibles
Astonishing that no one seemed to remember this band in year-end lists but Anvil is such a standout that no way could I have left McDermott singing like a younger, more relevant Antony Hegarty. McDermott’s loneliness descents into a canon of madness.
37: Arcade Fire
The ongoing battle with privileged upbringing haunts Arcade Fire as if they’re guilty by association. Butler hits the right stride almost immediately though and really there is no other band—save for Radiohead—that can paint such a mournful picture with every song.
Cameron Mesirow immediately reminds one of Bat For Lashes---and come to think about it, this track was this year’s “Glass”, an electronic pop masterpiece that paces its innovation with so much technical skill. Funny, but until I wrote the words I hadn’t realised that her moniker already has the word ‘glass’ in it. It may be coincidental but what a coincidence.
39: Method Man, Raekwon & Ghostface
It’s That Wu Shit
The closing track on an album that was already too brief but it does beg the question to be asked: how long do you need your menace to be?
Totem Tales Blues
Misery loving its own company.