Let me preface to say for the first time, I was unable to come up with a top albums list based on rankings, which may sound paradoxical since I have been more active than ever with the music scene – spending all morning trying to keep up with all the news from countless music sites. Consequently, this has afforded less time for me to listen to each individual record. You could say the list below (not in any particular order but a subconscious one) was by pure chance. In a parallel universe, I could have picked a whole other set of albums but in this dimension, these releases have conjured emotional connections that have had a profound impact on my cognition.
Released in October on Helsinki-based label, Soliti, the second album from the Finnish dream poppers lightly treads on the experimental, yet retains enough melody to hold onto the audience garnered from their flawless self-titled debut. Doze did not win me over at first but with each rotation, I was slowly falling in love with its ingenuity and sincerity. There are short songs, long songs, songs with lyrics and without, ballads and a fuzzed out jam – a variety that somehow coalesces into a cohesive album. Doze is a refreshing and encouraging piece in a singles-happy age.
The former member of The Coral surprised many with this gorgeous concept album heavily based in classical music. Promoted as an imaginary soundtrack to Italo Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler, Ryder-Jones’s debut album unearthed a world that is full of aural pleasures, evoking infinite impressions and imageries. This record has eased me into the dreamland on countless nights.
I didn’t know much about Liars before WIXIW came out. The band known to never make the same record twice churned out their most accessible album yet without sacrificing their integrity. From the hypnotic opener ”The Exact Colour of Doubt” to dance-punk urgency of “Brats”, Liars effortlessly takes you on a journey that you never want to end.
I like punk music – in a live setting. But you wouldn’t find me listening to it in the privacy of my home, car, or via headphones. That is until four Swedish lads concocted their own brand of punk with vintage synths and the right balance between angst and melody. I was smitten from the first spin, and realized I had been denying myself something innate.
The heartbroken Swede with some of the most witty lyrics around made his fans wait almost five years for his third LP. While some argue that I Know What Love Isn’t is not as dimensional as Lekman’s two previous efforts, I would say it is his most cogent and pleasurable album to date, precisely because Lekman keeps giving the same flavor song after song. This formula often falls victim to monotony but in Lekman’s case, it’s nothing short of indomitable beauty.
In another timeline, this album could have been produced in the early eighties to be put on a pedestal along with the works of The Waterboys or Orange Juice. On their third LP, Cat’s On Fire champions the vintage without feeling dated – a romanticism that never goes out of style. This Finnish band has been able to reach across Europe, but North Americans are still distant when bands like Of Monsters and Men are finding success here.
A chance meeting changed my perception. I had heard a couple of songs that sounded amicable enough, but I wasn’t in love until catching Mauro Remiddi (aka Porcelain Raft) in concert. After spending a little time with the artist behind the music, I was compelled to listen with ears wide open and realized how relatable these weightless pop songs were. Strangely, Strange Weekend gave me solace during a time in need.
This was the first album I chose to review in 2012, forcing myself to listen countless times. It’s another work that takes time to register its artistry. This record kind of sums up all my sentiments from the other albums on the list. It’s understated, ruminative, experimental, grand, yet there is a broken bridge to its core – I want to cross the gap to solve the mysterious aura of Rhine Gold, but somehow I know I am never going to get there. I suppose that’s the bulk of its appeal.