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. These are individual writers favourites of the year which they suggest, nay they demand, you take the time to investigate.
So without further ado, these are the eight that you (and we) should have been celebrating.
Pedants with a passing knowledge of Italo-disco will probably be on about heart attack 15 by now: technically speaking, Glass Candy's B/E/A/T/B/O/X came out in the dying days of 2007. ‘Technically’ being the key word – that first issue was a US-only limited edition, with a reasonable expectation it’d get a UK release sometime in ’08. Didn’t happen, but over the course of this year it slunk out onto iTunes and vinyl, and scored a trickle of glowing but somewhat erratically timed reviews in the British press (including Patrick McNally’s 9/10 back in January). Had it been put out here properly it’d be unquestionably sashaying its way up many an end of year list by now, but, well, it wasn’t, so it hasn’t, so here I am talking up an album that’s managed to get itself particularly lost.
Though generically speaking B/E/A/T/B/O/X is Italo-disco, I'm still a little hazy on what that exactly means. So not worrying too much about it, let's say this album is two things: prosaically, it’s classy, poised, slow tempo but eminently danceable electro-pop, and as with any great record it comes with undercurrents of both menace (Ida No sings in a distant howl that still holds some of the darkness of the band’s early no wave days) and silliness (No’s interaction with the ‘DJ’ on ‘Beatific', the whole of 'Introduction').
However, B/E/A/T/B/O/X's heart lies in the fact it evokes the pure joy of the night. Not just because it’s dance music, though there is that, but because it so perfectly channels the romance of a city after dark. At core the songs are dark, minimal, and lonely, even a little eerie, but they’re illuminated and warmed under the neon glow of sparse, dramatic effects: the rolling fuzz on ‘Beatific’, the distant fanfare on ‘Candy Castle’, ‘Life After Sundown’s arpeggio refrain, swirling like the lights of a far off motorway. It sounds a little unreal, elegant synthetic strings strings coming down like a dreamy veil between your ears and reality, No’s voice, dramatic and alluring, but just a little detached, like something enticing spilling out of a distant party.
It perfectly evokes the dreamy, transgressive, did-it-really-happen? euphoria of the best times you’ve had at 4am – be it making a gurning tit out of yourself, a ridiculous end of night chat, or a sun-coming-up walk home on your own – while never being anything less than an immaculate pop record. It's an album that's been lost more than most, but that should make the finding all the sweeter.