We breach the top ten today as out Top 40 Albums of 2012 details our obsession with the long players at numbers 10 to 6 from Grizzly Bear, Beth Jeans Houghton And The Hooves Of Destiny, Django Django, Flying Lotus and Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeroes.
10. GRIZZLY BEAR ‘Shields’ (WARP)
Follow ‘Veckatimest’ you say? Easy! Grizzly Bear sidestep a career defining moment by re-defining what said career meant in the first place. Out go acoustic hymnals, in place of warped riffs, twisted songwriting and the longest album of their career to date – all in all, a remarkable act of confidence.
BEST BIT: The fractured riffing which opens ‘Sleeping Ute’ gives way to soaring, golden-hued harmonies.
9. BETH JEANS HOUGHTON AND THE HOOVES OF DESTINY ‘Yours Truly, Cellophane Nose’ (MUTE)
With the past few years seeing many folky, kooky and alternative female vocal talents, it’s proof of Houghton’s imagination that she stands out from the crowd. ‘Humble Digs’ brings a lyrical nimbleness rarely seen, while ‘Dodecahedron’ may easily be the track of the year. Get in the Top Ten you feisty lass.
BEST BIT: The opening, where listener is met with outstanding vocals and regimental drums.
8. DJANGO DJANGO ‘Django Django’ (BECAUSE MUSIC)
Psychedelic synth-driven repetitive chant favouring electro-indie is very much the order of the day on this startling debut. The product of two years’ hard graft, Hot Chip fans and lovers of beautiful melody should form an orderly queue. Start with superlative single ‘Hail Bop’ and work out from there.
BEST BIT: The percussive dropout during ‘Default’ before the beat returns louder and lovelier.
7. FLYING LOTUS ‘Until The Quiet Comes’ (WARP)
‘Until The Quiet Comes’ took the FlyLo cosmic odyssey to a new astral plane. Lozenge-smooth, rich with ghosting melodies and warped bump and grind, it revelled in the disjoints, effortlessly blending an ethereal ear and mind with seamless, honeyed curation. The future proof masterpiece Steven Ellison has been threatening to create.
BEST BIT: When the dirty, dark matter weight of ‘Sultan’s Request’ comes on deliciously heavy.
6. EDWARD SHARPE AND THE MAGNETIC ZEROS ‘Here’ (VAGRANT/ROUGH TRADE)
Sounding not unlike what would be heard emanating from a hippy commune in the Nevada desert or a Topanga Canyon backyard circa 1969, ‘Here’ is the folky love-child of Alex Ebert, whose messianic alter-ego Edward Sharpe leads a psychedelic collective through sun-soaked harmonies and melodies that beautifully soundtracked our summer.
It begins with ‘Man On Fire’, which rises slowly like a dawn, and brings with it warmth, light, and the promise of good times ahead. Bells jangle and voices collide, proving the gang’s all here and ready to party.
It ushers in another eight songs (quite a short party, then) that are illuminated by an innate playfulness, a tinge of gospel and a smattering of soul. Furthermore, there are enough allusions to religion throughout the album (“Reaching for Heaven is what I’m on Earth to do,” Alex sings in ‘Dear Believer’) to suggest a predilection for preaching, but truly their message is quite evident from their music: they’re all about loving each other, and it’s delightfully subtle, not ridiculous propaganda.
For example, though ‘I Don’t Wanna Pray’ starts off like a hymn itself, its build-up to a banjo-fuelled romp demonstrates that it’s not necessarily what you say, it’s how you say it. Similarly, ‘One Love To Another’ sounds like a restful congregation quietly daydreaming.
Retro? For sure. Rewarding? Definitely. ‘Here’ is a wondrous communique from the cult of Edward Sharpe that begs just one question: where do we sign up?
BEST BIT: The lysergic carnival that is ‘That’s What’s Up’.