Disappointment with music is a constant theme for critics, especially when an artist reveals a flash of genius then reverts to the usual, boring space occupied by everyone else. This is summed up by my top choice here but also spreads to the innately talented slumbering without a breakthrough. Critics look for such magic moments, those instances where beauty is juxtaposed to sheer will. This list has talent aplenty and drive, just that this time they didn’t go far enough or as far as the vision is steering them. Here goes:
1. Patrick Wolf Lupercalia:
after positioning himself as the quintessential queer indie artist out there with the messy yet brilliant The Bachelor, Wolf steps back into PG-13 pre-sex music that challenges no one and doesn’t advance his own persona. Maybe it was the lure of a ‘normal’ recording career but hearing him vocalize boring stuff like Slow Motion and Together just makes me want to sleep, not weep with awe. We want the very, very gay Patrick back.
2. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Hysterical:
the title says it all, unfortunately. This from a band that gave me the howling Yankee go Home last time out. Sigh!
3. Toro Y Moi Underneath the Pine:
after a brisk start it seems as if Chazwick Bundick forgot to add lyrics of great insight into his sophomore. Sure, it’s pretty but pretty is for major labels.
4. Future Islands On the Water:
how this ended up so lacking in depth is beyond my comprehension.
5. Tori Amos Night of Hunters:
not that I expect any of her brilliance of decades past but hearing Tori getting lost mid-song or unable to drive home the point is frustrating, The plastic surgery-look is irritating as well too.
6. Laura Marling A Creature I Don’t Know:
a precocious talent but if Marling’s new shift into Fiona Apple-ish territory is going to be more effective then she needs to commit to her commitment.
7. Feist Metals:
the very nosedive into boring that I always knew she had the capacity for but truly hoped she’d have avoided.
8. Lady Gaga Born This Way:
it’s totally unfair for Gaga to end up here but then again its totally justified also. She promised us the biggest pop masterpiece ever but, with a second half that dragged, the promise was not epic, no matter how epic the videos are.
9. Rahsaan Patterson Bleuphoria:
I found myself in the midst of a huge Twitter war with Patterson’s fans when I said Bleuphoria sounded obligatory and far less revelatory than Wines & Spirits (2007). I still stand by the claim even though this album’s main fault lies in the fact that quite a few soul brothers had tighter stuff going on this year.
10. Meshell NdegeOcello Weather:
the truth is that NdegeOcello has been slacking off since the past four years and no amount of jazzy riffs are looking likely to revive her once fiery career. The production value remains solid but someone’s clearly lost their muse.