Sunday, December 02, 2007

Top 50 Albums Of 2007: 50-46

Right, now we're into the meat and potatoes of the thing. Here are the first five albums in my countdown of the top 50 of 2007. First of all though, apologies to Lupe Fiasco and Ghostface Killah. I'm sure your albums are fine but, alas, I didn't hear them in time. Bummer. Anyway, on with the show...

50. Frost - Love! Revolution! (FrostWorld Recordings)

Norway's premier disco-pop duo, Frost, by rights should be absolutely massive. They make the kind of gossamer-light pop confections that Pet Shop Boys used to do so well, but there's that very Scandinavian spin on things, meaning that sometimes these songs can come across as leisurely, slight even.

The more you listen though, the more their airy production style gets under your skin. Aggie Peterson's breathy vocals on tracks like 'Sleepwalker' and 'Free Your Heart' recall the new age likes of Deep Forest and Enigma, but there's a modern quality to proceedings, akin to that of Nordic peers, Royksopp that elevate Frost above such Eurotrash.

Frost - Free Your Heart (mp3)

Frost - Shift Your Weight (mp3)

Bonus: Watch the video for 'Sleepwalker'.

49. Prodigy - Return Of The Mac (Koch)

Mixtape or not, this is still one of the strongest hip-hop albums of the past twelve months. With a clear M.O. (make Blaxploitation-inspired set of moody bangers), Prodigy and producer, The Alchemist came up with a down and dirty, focused, fat-free album of seriously soulful killers.

It's a brilliant return-to-form from a rapper everyone thought to be dead in the water, ever since that famous Jay-Z diss from 'Takeover' ("You was a ballerina, I got the pictures I seen ya"). Prodigy sometimes comes over as a tired, paranoid, world-weary shut-in (especially on the fantastic, Edwin Starr-sampling 'Mac 10 Handle'), but it's a damn sight more interesting than any amount of obnoxious, capitalist largesse. Welcome back, P.

Prodigy - Nickel And A Nail (mp3)

Prodigy - The Rotten Apple (mp3)

Bonus: Watch the superb video for 'Mac 10 Handle'.

48. Lucky Soul - The Great Unwanted (Ruffa Lane)

Whenever bands take on a genre of the past, whatever it may be, they're always walking a fine line between genuine homage or winking pastiche. Lucky Soul's brand of swinging '60s soul-pop however is arguably more 'real' than their assumed peers, The Pipettes. Lucky Soul are a tremendously adept, tight band and head writer, Andrew Laidlaw is more concerned with rejuvenating the Spector-esque Wall Of Sound production than recreating it.

This leads to Lucky Soul sounding like a band rather than a gimmick. There's meat on the bones here and a substance that is hard to fake. Songs like 'Add Your Light To Mine' and 'Get Outta Town!' buzz with sure-footed confidence, while the ballads like 'Baby I'm Broke' and 'The Last Song' ache and swoon just like Dusty's used to. Ali Howard's sweet, girl-next-door voice certainly adds to the Brill Building feel of the album, but ultimately, Lucky Soul never come off as manufactured and always seem in control of their craft.

Lucky Soul - Get Outta Town! (mp3)

Lucky Soul - One Kiss Don't Make A Summer (mp3)

Bonus: See Lucky Soul performing 'Ain't Never Been Cool' on a rooftop for Also, it's brief but this vid of them covering 'The Killing Moon' is well worth a watch.

47. Amerie - Because I Love It (Columbia)

The best you can ask for in a high-gloss American r'n'b album is a few great singles and maybe a couple of standout album tracks. Albums like these don't really need consistency to sell, just a couple of attention-grabbing moments should suffice. No-one bothered to share this industry secret with Amerie on her latest album, her first without the help of Rich Harrison and her best yet.

Because I Love It is an all-killer album that marks Amerie out from the diva crowd as an actual 'artist' (she co-produced a hefty chunk of the tracks here) with a clear, well-developed charisma and personality. Aside from the funkier, more upfront numbers ('Gotta Work', 'Take Control', 'Hate 2 Love U'), Because I Love It's strength lies in its ballads. Normally these are sugary, interminable and cliche-ridden, but with Amerie's winning sincerity, they're never far from genuinely heartbreaking. Hey, and guess what? It hasn't even been released in the States yet. Further proof, were it needed, that the Yanks don't know a good thing when they've got it.

Amerie - Crush (mp3)

Amerie - Paint Me Over (mp3)

Bonus: Watch the video for 'Gotta Work'.

46. Turzi - A (Record Makers)

Not everything that came from France this year was electro, you know. You'd be forgiven for thinking that the Ed Banger crew and sundries had cornered the French market in 2007, but there was a lone, austere voice of cold reason lurking in the shadows; the voice of Romain Turzi.

Turzi was scouted by Air for their Record Makers label (home, also to kindred spirit, Sebastien Tellier) and it's easy to see why. Turzi and his band are the band that Air didn't really have the balls to be. Imagine if Air had taken the oddball experimentation of 10.000 Hz. Legend to its logical, cloak-wearing extreme (as envisioned in tracks like 'Don't Be Light' and 'Electronic Performers') and you have something close to the music of Turzi. Equally in thrall to John Carpenter or Goblin as Can and Suicide, Turzi's debut album A is a smoky, malevolent breath of fresh air from a country that's well on its way to returning to the status of the music world's laughing stock.

Turzi - Acid Taste (mp3)

Turzi - Aigle (mp3)

Bonus: Live video of Turzi performing 'Afghanistan'.

Stay tuned for more tunes tomorrow, pop-pickers!




Blogger CEC said...

I'm listening to the Tracey Thorn album right now and I just can't wrap my head around the fact that no one gives a shit about it. It's obviously one of the best records of the year by one of the best vocalists of all time (and certainly of the late '80s/'90s at least), and it did nothing (OK she didn't really tour or promote it but still). Anyway basically rant rant rant rant rant, why didn't this go to #1, rant rant rant it's better than the Robyn album, rant rant rant etc.

11:11 am  

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