Album Choice: Summer 2010

The Tab Music Team pick some of their favourite albums of the summer.

Album arcade fire Chris Bannon drums eveything Jonny Carter klaxons Lowell Belfield monty python suburbs summer surfing

The Tab Music Team pick some of their favourite albums of the summer.

The Drums – The Drums.

Everybody likes a song with whistling. It worked for Peter Bjorn and John. It worked for Monty Python. Now it’s working for The Drums. The New York based surf rockers’ new album reaches us swathed in all the skinny-jeaned, plaid-ensconced hype that trend setters at the NME can muster. I almost set out wanting to write a negative review. The band’s previous incarnation- the guache (in the best possible sense) “Goat Explosion” were a synth pop duo, the base upon which The Drums built their party-friendly songs. The Drums claim to make music about standing around watching the sunset with your best boys, or walking home through the rain alone; and whilst their melodies elaborate on emotion, their lyrics lack the elegance and wit that made their idols great (Morrisey/Ian Curtis). On a first listen, their songs sound incredibly basic- four-to-the-floor basslines and 2-4 snares below repetitive guitar riffing, but there’s something that you can’t quite place: references to New Order married to elements of Vampire Weekend, clever lo-fi production and anthemic lead lines- that make a listenable album fantastic.

Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

Where Arcade Fire’s songs once threw themselves open to the world with a anthemic abandon, here they stand back, becoming more observational, retrospective, analytical and adult. The driving, constant rhythms of “Rococo” and “We Used To Wait”, sustained almost throughout the whole song, build to a furious tension whilst frontman Win Butler, sings of kids ‘who seem wild but they are so tame’ or the agonies of lost love in a letter writing romance: ‘I used to wait for letters to arrive’ but ‘I was left standing in the wilderness downtown’. Next to this though, upbeat pop sensibilities are not forgotten. Springsteen-esque “City With No Children”, epic “Half Light II (No Celebration)” and bouncing Blondie carnival “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” make you jump and twist and shout – the latter song chanting the frankly great lyric, ‘quit these pretentious things and just punch the clock!’

But, most of all, the album listened as a whole takes you on its own journey, swinging through different moods and emotions with such a deft pacing that you feel like you’re being really looked after. The more melancholic moments burst into the rush of the joyous. Images and lines reappear, interlinking each song and making the album just that: an actual album, not just a mixed-tape of tunes. And as it’s so long (16 tracks), and so good, you’ll never run out of things to find in it.

Klaxons – Surfing the Void

With the first attempt of their second album being rejected by their record label, it did look as if the Mercury Award winners might be suffering from “MGMT syndrome” and that the album would be so experimental that you would need to be on the very strongest hallucinogenics to even understand track one. Thankfully, that is not the case for Surfing the Void. The Klaxons, unlike MGMT, do not quite have the same charm or sense of humour to get away with such audacity. Opener Echoes is this album’s Gravity’s Rainbow, a powerful single that will have the ravers off their feet. After that the album is to some extent less radio friendly than Myths of the Near Future, but Twin Flames and Venusia provides enough to satisfy the old fans craving hit singles. Altogether it is a more serious album than its predecessor with no mention of four horsemen bringing doom in 2012, but let’s just be thankful we never heard the first attempt.

Download: Twin Flames, Echoes, Venusia

Everything Everything – Man Alive

It is perhaps with some irony that the kitchen sink is mentioned in the first line of Man Alive as Everything Everything do pack everything and everything into the album. First track MY KZ YR BF is a brilliantly crafted pop song with tongue twisting lyrics, hidden complexities yet a catchy chorus. The lyrics involve a narrative from a shell shocked man juxtaposing an explosion in the city with the anger of a man learning of the narrator’s affair with his girlfriend. After that though the album does drop in intensity with the slower tracks of the second half lacking the beats that excited the earlier songs. Still, the talent and brilliant experimentation on display here by Everything Everything make this one of the most intriguing and exciting British debuts of the year.

Download: MY KZ YR BF, Suffragette Suffragette, QWERTY Finger

By Jonny Carter, Lowell Belfield and Chris Bannon.