Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Best Albums of 2009, Part II

Yesterday we counted down position 11-6 in Stale Popcorn's top albums of the year. Now we get to the pointy end. Who managed to squirm there way into the top five? Read on to find out...

Fixin to Thrill
In a year that Lady GaGa all but swallowed the pop world whole, I was instead focusing my electro-loving self on this four-piece from Britain. This album is filled with electronic hooks that are vibrant and joyful without pretensions. From the title track to others like “Big Sunglasses”, “Gone too Far”, “Pick Up the Phone” and “Stupid Grin” are like balls of energy and light. Far too often these days there is a pretentious indie vibe in this genre – and it was present in Dragonette’s debut album, Galore – and it’s completely absent on Fixin to Thrill. It is also free of the hard edge that stopped Rihanna’s Rated R from reaching its true potential. And with lead singer Martina Sorbara aping Grace Jones on the cover? AMAZING!

Leona Lewis
I admit that I took to Leona’s (no surname necessary, thank you very much) Echo more than many others. I find the act of releasing an album almost entirely of ballads to be incredibly brave in today’s music landscape where throwing everything AND the kitchen sink is all it takes to have a hit track. That the best song on Echo is in fact the high tempo 120bpm “Outta My Head” isn’t a negative, but just a sign that perhaps on the next record Leona can venture more into that territory. However, as Echo stands there are so many lush and sublime songs – I’m looking at “Brave”, “Stop Crying Your Heart Out”, “Don’t Let Me Down”, “I Got You” and lead single “Happy” – that call such excellent attention to Leona’s amazing voice and with ace production. There are so many songs on here that beg me to listen to them over and over again that I couldn’t not place her this high.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
It's Blitz
The sound of a band with such a keenly identifiable sound changing course and jumping on a mainstream bandwagon is often cause for alarm. Naturally, leave it to Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to give a great big fuck you to the Pitchfork indie wank followers who worship them by jumping onto the electro train. The biggest surprise was, however, not that they would go there after the astonishing rock of Show Your Bones and Fever to Tell, but that it was actually very good. The electronic music of It’s Blitz feels so organic to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and songs such as “Zero”, “Heads Will Roll”, “Hysteric’ and “Skeletons” all help form the most exciting – if not necessary the best – Yeah Yeah Yeahs album yet. What will they do next? I haven’t the faintest idea, but I can’t wait to find out.

Lily Allen
It's Not Me It's You
I was a fan of Allen’s Alright, Still, but her sophomore effort, It’s Not Me It’s You represented a big leap forward by one of the most fascinating pop stars of the decade. It surprises me that this album proved to be such a stayer on the charts. And that Allen wasn’t even releasing the album’s best material as singles (apart from “The Fear”) makes the success even sweeter. “Everyone’s At It”, “Back to the Start” and the gut-wrenching “I Could Say” were all stellar examples of Allen at the top of her game. Here’s hoping those silly retirement quotes are just Allen keeping one killer of a poker face for her next charge.

Natalie Imbruglia
Come to Life
An album of such heartbreaking tenderness, Come to Life has quickly become the pinnacle of Imbruglia’s career – trumping “Torn” and anything that followed – despite the fact that the album has become a near-infamous chart disaster. What went wrong seems fairly easy to pinpoint; lack of marketing and lack of radio support. I won’t understand why radio didn’t pick up the bitter electro funk of “Want” (the album’s lead single) but they didn’t the rest is history. Fortunately for the album’s fans – and there are indeed more fans than just I – songs such as “Fun” (a modern day “Nothing Compares 2 U”), “Twenty”, “Scars” and “Lukas” (a sure fire contender for song of the decade) will live on. The masses can keep the Black Eyed Peas if it means I get to keep Come to Life. My full review is available at Onya Mag.

Et voila! That's all for the albums of 2009. Coming up I have the top singles of 2009 to be followed soon after by the top albums and top songs of the decade! Can we say exhausting, much? Yes we can!


adam k. said...

Glenn, I've started blogging again! Please go over and have a look-see: http://carson83.blogspot.com/

I need to find a way to get my readership back... I suspect many are gone for good : (

Hope you are well.

Adam Christou said...

I didn't even know Natalie Imbruglia released an album/or was alive this year.

now I have to hear it.

Adem With An E said...

It seems no one knows about the Imbruglia album, which is a shame because it IS her best yet. Loved your list...