Hi December! Aren’t you in fine form: pishing rain and howling wind. Still, at least there’s an advent calendar on the wall and shite-awful ‘festive’ film fare at the pictures. Oh, and the usual slew of end-of-year summary lists compiled by critics just because to wade through. Welcome to DiS’s.
While our reader poll of the year’s best albums continues – click here to cast your votes from our shortlisted 50 – us editorial types have been knocking our skulls together to rank said 50 in order to present DiS’s top albums of the year ‘proper’. No public voting, no street team influencing; just six core writers whittling a long list of around 200, suggested by all DiS contributors, down to a top 50.
Our top 25 albums of 2007 will be revealed over the course of the week – 25 to 21 today, 20 to 16 tomorrow, and so on – with the fully ranked 50 running when we reach our number one on Friday. Will the editorial list match the reader vote? Will Radiohead romp to the top spot, or has a less-likely candidate triumphed against the odds? Only five days will tell.
Our first five, then (all words across the five chapters penned by Sean Adams, Alex Denney, Mike Diver, Gareth Dobson, Kev Kharas and Samuel Strang)…
Cross (Ed Banger/Downtown)
“Sometimes a sledgehammer works… sometimes a scalpel.” It’s this quote, from an interview DiS conducted with No Age’s Randy Randall last spring, that immediately comes to mind along with Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay’s debut album proper. For Justice there is no scalpel – scabrous treble glints, bass rises in a totem, hulking synths break free from their rigging as the Parisian duo grin eager with their bludgeon. Momentary respite arrives with ‘D.A.N.C.E’ and ‘The Party’, two cuts of classic, French pop deluxé, but really – dark with the drum and with the bass, Cross’s fetish is just breathless, raw power.
Kev Kharas; review here
Parades (The Leaf Label)
An album truly unlike another of 2007 in terms of style, execution, inspiration, realised potential: Efterklang’s Parades might not be the best-known or widest-heard album in our top 25, but it’s undeniably the most uniquely exquisite. A collection of songs that shimmer with sparkling electronics and choral vocals, delicate instrumentation and twinkling periphery tinkering, Parades is all your favourite moments of Björk, Sigur Rós, Radiohead and Arcade Fire in a single record; well, it’s the perfect combination of such composite cornerstones for these ears, anyway. The love invested in these songs shines through, and the Danes prove themselves, seemingly effortlessly, to be a band worthy of full sensory immersion.
Mike Diver; review here
“We're very happy with Parades. The songs developed over quite a long period of time, and we imagine it can be compared a bit to working on a sculpture. We had a lot of ideas about the sound and instrumentation, and we investigated further along the recording process in our own studio, especially with old-school natural reverberation. We're more than pleased with all the positive feedback! To us, this album feels like a goal of a long journey, and an album we've wanted to make for a long time. We've been extremely excited to share Parades with everyone else.”
White Chalk (Island)
We could try to dangle a whole cavalcade of clever words and wonderfully surreal tales of hillside incantations and post-apoc' lonely frolicking. With this downbeat, stark, sparse, piano-led LP, you can easily decree Polly a Bowie of her time, re-imagining herself; contorting her voice, turning things down to a twilit lull and channelling her soul to a piano beat. Or you can just sling yourself on the sofa, hit play and drift through the white hues of a shared slumbersome imagination.
Sean Adams; review here
New York trio Blonde Redhead didn’t just make a record to rank among their best long-players to date with 23; they just might have crafted the most rewarding record of their career. Topping it will certainly be a challenge, as their follow-up to the similarly acclaimed Misery Is A Butterfly of 2004 embraces its listener from the very first song, a title track which chimes ambitious intent with its opening seconds, propulsive percussion lending weight to typically ethereal vocals from Kazu Makino. Through the sublime MBV-recalling ‘Spring And By Summer Fall’ to ‘My Impure Hair’, a closer of true gravitas, 23 is an enveloping indie-pop album to savour perpetually.
Mike Diver; review here
Tired of kicking round the house all day, penning meditative odes to sacred and profane love in between jam sandwiches and repeats of Trisha, Nick Cave decided the time was nigh to let the beer belly hang out and kick out the jams with Grinderman. The result was this collection of yobbish rockers and sneery, self-withering narratives powered by panther piss and somewhat akin to being harangued outside your local off-licence by a haggardly troupe of wild west outlaws, i.e. disconcerting but also rather brilliant.
Alex Denney; review here
"Hey, thanks a million, we're really tinkled pink that you dig Grinderman. It's been thrilling and invigorating for us to start a brand new band. The reception at our first shows in the UK, America and now Australia was very zesty indeed – we only wish we had time to do more! The first album happily exceeded even our expectations; so we're busily hatching plans for the next one, and we promise you all a veritable sploogasaurus rex of an album."
Coming tomorrow: the countdown continues, from 20 to 16.