Some records slip beneath nearly every radar. These brilliant albums end up not only missing out on end of year plaudits but throughout the year these records failed to procure the reams of verbiage they deserved. These are the outsiders; the records which people weren't brave enough to crank out on their airwaves, nor to fill a page or two of their publications with. These are the records so special that our writers sent death threats to our offices for not including them in DiS' 50 albums of 2008.
So without further ado, these are the eight that you (and we) should have been celebrating.
This Is It and I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and He Is It and She Is It and It Is It and That Is That
(Kill Rock Stars)
Damn she moves fast! It’s only been a year since In Advance on the Broken Arm showcased more ideas than Sonic Youth’s whole career, and Marnie Stern is already back with her self-proclaimed “pop album”, which does indeed sound like shiny-happy R’n’B if you squint your brain, so the ultra-complex guitar-lines turn into glimmering synth parts. Musically, this isn’t a huge leap forward from the debut, but at least four stand-out tracks rock HARD, even anthemically, rather than just FAST, to fit in more notes that suggest new textures. Comparisons to Van Halen, Mick Barr, and those fictive time-travellers Wyld Stallyns (!) are warranted, but also Tom Verlaine and Robert Fripp who know about restraint and emotion. In places Marnie wants the guitars to sound brittle, inorganic and crystalline, but elsewhere like a rush of neurotransmitters on a molecular level – y’know: a feeling.
Admittedly, Marnie’s shred-guitar style might not win you over straight off, making this one of those occasional gambles you have to take, that proves more rewarding with each listen. Vespertine and Ys emphasised melodic complexity, impressionistically, and yet stand above a decade of alternative music with their depictions of New Love as New World; everything enriched because of the central “You” or “Him”. Less physical, but no less daringly personal, This Is It is about getting inside someone’s head, and making sense of what’s in your own.