Best Albums of 2009: 6-10

6.

It’s Not Me, It’s You by Lily Allen

In all likelihood Lily Allen does not like you. A keen observer of human character, she doesn’t suffer liars, cheats, or fools gladly. Lily Allen is quick to lampoon pop culture while she carves out a nifty (and lucrative) little niche for herself. The irony isn’t lost on her, and she uses that to her advantage to churn out wonderful albums like this year’s It’s Not Me, It’s You. The album plays out as a sort-of polemic against all of the idiocy that is glaringly apparent to a whip-smart, mid-20s woman with a rapier wit. She targets (in no particular order): consumer culture, self-medication, the inadequacy of men in bed, the unfair pressures of society, herself, men in general, and ignorant political views. Allen has a chip on her shoulder and she isn’t afraid to call a spade a shovel. A lot of the delight derived from the album comes from the willful commiseration between Allen and the listener. It’s this brand of “you go grrrl” empathy that invigorates the album and allows Allen to come across as a willful conspirator as opposed to (as I’m sure some have said) a heinous bitch. The songs themselves could serve as the definitive epitome in catchy electro-pop songs. It’s Not Me, It’s You is one of the best albums of the year and one would be remiss if he (or, more likely, she) let this one slip by.

7.

Panesian Nights by CFCF

Panesian Nights is one of those rare albums that transcends the world of audition and seeps into the visual dimension. The music has a visual quality to it that is hard to describe but enthralling when experienced first-hand. CFCF is making a name for himself by creating music that is both cinematic and unique. It is the blend of the drama of the cinema and the technical expertise of a solicitous producer that results in an album as fantastic as Panesian Nights. CFCF could be described as instrumental electro but really, he is in a category of his own. It isn’t often that every single song on an album is brilliant but Panesian Nights achieves this infrequent feat.

8.

Fantasies by Metric

Ah Metric. There is something inspiring about the level of consistency with which Metric operates on every album. Not much has changed: Emily Haines still provides a breathy-yet-lithe voice to alternative/electro music as they perform songs about fucking pretty girls and all of that sort of thing. But why fix something that isn’t broken? The songs are invariably catchy and one can’t help but feel a sense of perverted satisfaction every time Haines says “fuck”. The formula is all but stale and Fantasies is a move into another direction for Metric. It isn’t a big move, more like a slight veer, but the change is noticeable. On this album, Metric has abandoned some of their trademark oddness for more stadium-friendly rock music. It’s a shame really, much of the novelty of Metric originated from their frenetic weirdness. Regardless, Fantasies remains one of the better albums of 2009 and a much appreciated dose of familiarity to alternative/electro fans out there.

9.

Still Night, Still Light by Au Revoir Simone

Who knew that Au Revoir Simone had it in them? After two albums of light, sparse indie electro pop, the three girls decided to reveal a darker subtext in their newest album Still Night, Still Light. This is not an unwelcome change, in fact, quite the opposite. Au Revoir Simone demonstrates that there is some depth to this brand of rarefied synth pop. Although the subject matter has shifted slightly, the lovely melodies and harmonies still exist in a way that is catchy and frequently entertaining. The most delightful part of this album is the substance that is added to the lithe beats and synth riffs. Au Revoir Simone isn’t afraid to slow things down for Still Night, Still Light and the album is all the better for it. Although not an album to bust out at that party, Still Night, Still Light provides a considerably entertaining experience for the solitary listener.

10.

It’s Blitz! by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are a divisive group, both internally and between music listeners. The band has had well documented struggles with cohesion and most people either hate them or love them; there seems to be no middle ground. That being said, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs make some pretty decent music. It’s Blitz! breaks no new ground but it isn’t an embarrassment either. The songs are as divided in quality as the critics and fans of the band itself. There are some real winners (“Soft Shock”, “Dull Life”, “Heads Will Roll”) and some that are a bit exhausting to listen to (“Shame and Fortune” and “Hysteric”). The end result is an album that is just slightly better than it is worse. The biggest issue with this album is that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs sacrifice originality for radio/popular appeal. This is always a disheartening change in an artist and hopefully, with a group as talented as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, it is a temporary setback.

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~ by Verse on December 5, 2009.

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