On 2010’s Teen Dream, Baltimore duo Beach House (guitarist Alex Scally and singer Victoria Legrand) made the sort of unique record that is not only chalk full of simple alluring pop tunes but was also, as a whole, simply timeless – perfect for any time of year, a record to retreat to like few others. So obviously in following up a near-masterpiece, the excitement existed to not only see if the follow-up would reach the heights of Teen Dream, but also what direction it would take the band. Bloom, Beach House’s fourth effort, stays fairly consistent with the duo’s past efforts for really good results, though not quite in the ballpark of Teen Dream.
Based on what I’ve seen from The Wire (and TV always equals truth), Baltimore isn’t a dream destination. But based on the sounds from two of the city’s most noteworthy bands, Lower Dens and Beach House (who are both releasing albums this month), you would think the city rests on a bed of billowy clouds. While we will tackle the new Beach House album in a couple weeks, let’s get down to brass tax and talk about Nootropics, the second album from female singer/songwriter Jana Hunter’s best project, Lower Dens.
As we gear up for the conclusion of another memorable year in music and our upcoming 2011 Best-of lists, we thought it would be fun to turn back the clock to a year ago, and look at the greatest albums of 2010. However, as hindsight is crystal clear, we have adjusted our rankings based on how we feel now, so some albums that may not have made our list last year that grew on us may show up here and vice-versa.
1. Kanye West-My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
The polarizing rapper’s magnum opus; a sort of wonderful ride through the psyche of the conflicted artist. MBDTF challenges the idea of what a hip-hop record is with songs like “Runaway” and “Lost In The World”, and also has its fair share of big-time hits with songs like “Power” and “All Of The Lights”.
Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming
Anthony Gonzalez has a flair for the melodramatic. The electronic French artist has released three ambitious electro-pop albums just dripping with the stuff, as if life and death itself hangs in the balance. Much of it is surrounding the ups and downs of youth and young love (even referencing John Hughes films like Sweet Sixteen and Pretty In Pink on his last album, Saturdays=Youth), but no matter the subject matter, M83 has created songs with plenty of skillfulness but with a heavy handed passion. Now comes his highly anticipated and even more ambitious double album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, where M83 elevates his sound to a new plain, allowing you to escape your mundane life in exchange for the wonderful musical landscape Gonzalez has carved out.