40. Broken Bells---Broken Bells
Some who expected the pairing of James Mercer and Danger Mouse to rock the music scene to its core might find it a bit disappointing, but that wasn’t what Broken Bells set out to do. Their’s is an album full of catchy verses and melodic fun, and even if it doesn’t set the world on fire, don’t bet against yourself singing along.
The rap on OK Go goes that they are more about the music videos than the music, which seems like quite the indictment until you consider that they have crafted a handful of the very best videos of the last few years. Their music does indeed pale in comparison to their titanic offerings in front of the camera, but that doesn’t disqualify OTCBOTS from being one of the best pop-rock albums of the year. Groovy, cool, and full of guilty-pleasure anthems, Sky is fun, fun, fun, with one or two musical twists that you won’t see coming.
Fine trappings wrap one of the greatest pop-music gifts in recent memory (Fuck You, of course). Velvet yearner Wildflower and graceful Band of Horses reincarnation No One’s Gonna Love You are stand-outs, but for the most part, The Lady Killer is just a consistent and smooth listen, soaring on the wings of Green’s astonishing vocal talents.
Without a doubt the best album ever created by a major artist on an ipad. In seriousness, The Fall lacks the over-produced pageantry that always makes a new Gorillaz album such an exhilarating listen, but some of the grooves here are just as indomitable. The Fall, which at first appears to be a primarily beat-centric effort, reveals its melodies in sly, beautiful ways, and as a sound-scape to Alburn’s trip across the states, it's glowing and bliss-filled; a love-letter to the road.
For me, Gold Panda’s debut (Lucky) Shine(r)s brighter than comparable genre offerings like Cosmogramma and There is Love in You because of it’s insistence on variety. Just as soon as you think you’ve got LS sonically figured out, Panda (actually his last name, Derwin his first) throws you for another delicious loop. The only thing that connects the songs here are their romantic, joyous tone, and their considerable quality.
OLS is so instantly catchy that, upon initial listen, many songs sound like you’ve already heard them. This leaves the album without much in the way of surprise, but also affords it a lived-in vibe that Hot Chip’s new focus on earnest, romance-fueled lyrics inhabits nicely. They almost sound like they’re dancing their way down the isle.
With only two albums under their belt, it already feels like Titus Andronicus have ascended to the top tier of their genre. They craft epic punk anthems that almost always last at least five minutes, and just as often seven or eight, but even at that length, TA fills them each with searing guitar riffs, and shouting, rousing vocals. To be listened to at full blast only.
Sounding as if unearthed from from years long gone, Love Remains is full of heartbroken odes set to a background of hissing records and echoing sounds. LR reveals its devastation even while many of Tom Krell’s lyrics remain inaudible; it’s a feeling that permeates every sound on the album, dripping with beautiful sadness. Think Bon Iver with an R & B bend.
At eighteen tracks and an hour and eight and a half minutes, ArchAndroid isn’t exactly an album that apologizes for its aspirations of grandeur. Monae seems determined to fit a song in from just about every genre known to man, all colored with her jazzy sway and unrelenting wail. Some stylings suit her better than others, which makes ArchAndroid somewhat uneven, but the stuff that works is out of this world.
Innerspeaker is all Beatles, and all during the psychedelic era, and who can complain with that? Floating riffs drift across airy soundscapes, morphing in to pop and rock in even turn. Even vocalist Kevin Parker’s lyrics seem to loft off of the thing, echoing across the tunes’ vast planes. Both rocking and chilling out approved.