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 first part of my list, we see pop as the driving force, whether through being juxtaposed with other genres—hop/hop and chillwave primarily—with great success. Here goes:
It’s not surprising to read that Nash feels that the video for Later On is her best yet; it’s obvious that where she didn’t live up to her own hype on the album, this is the track where she did. It’s not just the fake love exuded to get information but it’s also the manner in which she conveniently parades it shamelessly.
My Heart is a Drummer
Maybe this is the hollow feeling that modern day romance leaves one with once it’s over but it’s terribly affecting to hear a voice quivering lines like, ‘and when you call me, on the telephone my fingers will twist through the cord/ and I'll slide my feet up and down the wall/ but I know that I'm stronger than you are’, especially when they’re trying hard to convince themselves that the words are true. We already know better.
I could do an entire post on how disappointing the new LCD Soundsystem album was to me, or how overrated it has gotten by critics or even how hilarious the music video for this single is but let’s stick to the music only. It’s not quite Beck but it is much more; a rehash of the 70s era Bowie vibe that never stops giving. Plus, with that falsetto, Murphy’s got us sold.
Giving up the Gun
Things change and all bands come quietly to that conclusion eventually. We could mull around the literal reference to Japanese sword culture all day but you know what’s even more startling…the fact that rarely has pummelled-like-a-horse guitars been so fun on what is essentially a pop record.
Straight-up Bowie-esque baroque pop with his trademark ripped vocals.
While the debacle of Wikileaks rages on, suddenly Regan’s Protection Racket feels musically aligned to such a notion of disclosure of big corporations and their secrets. ‘Pay this man his rent’, he spits out in one couplet then follows it up with ‘these big companies are giving us the squeeze / lets raise our glasses to Mr. Onassis’. Standard procedure, indeed.
In typical Interpol fashion, the lyrics are mysterious and the production heavy-lidded and provocative. Paul Banks has been at this for years now but he always manages to elevate his brooding imagery.
To paraphrase Pitchfork, Dan Snaith sure has mastered one aspect of his music career, it's change. Add to that the emphatic grooviness of an electronic track. Odessa employs a heavier swathe of synths that we’re used to from him but coupled with the propulsion of irresistible beats, Snaith has conjured up a thrilling psychedelic wonder.
Another funky treat for the road only this time we’ve uncovered something deeper than the mere animation that Albarn has been hiding behind. It seems as if Noodle has been impersonated by a fake Noodle or, as one fanatic stated, a Cyborg Noodle. Gripping stuff that weirdly enough makes sense in this achy-break mess.
Buried beneath the frame of its electronic beats, Auerbach’s voice powers the sadness that dominates The Go-Getter. You wouldn’t think so given the routine (good thing) vocal workout but when the music dips or breaks suddenly, he drops in a howl and that’s when you realize the supposed cheeriness you’ve been following was a myth all along.
In a year where Newsom dropped a two-hour tome extolling the virtues of self-love above everything else, the Roots decide to rework a track from her debut and somehow this swings convincingly. It’s a standard, old-school sample riffs involved but shit sounds fresh to me.
King of the Beach
The acid-washed pop/punk model done just right and lead singer Nathan Williams knows it.
If Not Now
It’s surprising that no one much has been raving about this Julie Campbell pop number, given how vibrant its beat it, dipped in a retro vibe that is so happening across all genres.
Madame van Damme
I’ve always pegged Devonte Hynes as some sort of freak so it’s no surprise that his whore-as-saint song would be splitting its side with wry humour and deadpan seriousness.
I’ve never got the appeal of Sigur Ros but that’s because English is something they merely toy with but here lead singer Jonsi, with a dreamy sequence of Disney-esque words set to lovely music, gives a type of love letter or paean to true friendship.
Love and Do whatever you Will
A light affair sure but Sweden’s place at the head of electro-pop manifests itself in Eric Berglund’s delicious ditty. Lyrically, it’s all over the place but by the time the chorus comes in, the track cavorts into a hectic and bouncy avalanche.
Trying to get info on Grimes isn’t exactly the easiest thing but even though she subscribes to the reduction pop school that The Knife apparently started, she at least doesn’t hide behind the music. Grimes is the project of Montreal-based Claire Boucher and her chillwave-meets-lo/fi pop music. AVI sports a propulsive riff that grooves harder than any other this year and her easy vocals wash over as if a sturdy baptism. When she croons throughout, ‘I won’t take your breath away.’ You know she’s lying because the reality is that she does.
Corin Tucker has been away too long but thankfully here is a good tide-over until the next Sleater-Kinney album.
There’s something sad hearing John Bramwell repeat the line, ‘and we’re free to make the same mistakes again and again’, on a track that was already geared towards introspection.
Taken from their experimental film ODDSAC, Tantrum Barb is just as deliriously disjointed as we’d expect it to sound in this post- Merriwather Post Pavillion world. Expectations are at an all-time high but yet again the crew delivers a psychedelic stunner fit for any underground rave.