Writer’s Choice: Albums Of The Year Part 5

Andrew Grillo rounds off our writers recap of the best albums of 2008.

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Posted 15th December 2008 in Features & Reviews, TV On The Radio | By Andrew Grillo
Writer’s Choice: Albums Of The Year Part 5

In the final of our top tens from our favourite writers, Andrew Grillo gives us his personal top ten albums of the year.

Looking back 2008 has been a pretty good year for albums, despite ever dwindling sales this year has seen an abundance of great work and genuine variation - or maybe it always just seems like that at the time and only the intervening years will see which records have stood the test of time. Notable omissions from this list should include Blood Red Shoes, Okkervil River, The Week That Was, British Sea Power, Cat Power, Lykke Li and Vampire Weekend.

10. Yeasayer - 'All Hour Cymbals'
Amidst a plethora of bands brandishing a flute and floor tom proclaiming an African influence in 2008, Brooklyn's Yeasayer stood apart by infusing hi-life guitars and poly rhythms with genuine soul. 'All Hour Cymbals' had a pervading sense of mystery that infused tracks such as 'Sunrise' and the life affirming '2080' to make it the undoubted afrobeat-inflected long player of the year.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

9.The Long Blondes - 'Couples'
Much overlooked second effort from the now sadly defunct Yorkshire quintet, 'Couples' left behind the lipstuck-punk of their debut for a record of two halves. The first half was superior glam disco with the synth-juggernaut of 'Century' and the slinky title track, before 'Round The Hairpin' pointed the way to a second half of lust, sex and seedy liaisons. 'Too Clever By Half' proved Kate Jackson as a frontwoman of no little charisma - they'll certainly be missed.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

8. Foals - 'Antidotes'
'Foals' debut was notable in its status as a much-hyped British debut that eschewed sentimentality for a refreshingly clinical and introspective sound. Always danceable and confident in its own space, 'Antidotes' portrayed a band without any obvious peers and with big ideas, and managed album of the year status despite the decision to omit early fan-favourites such as 'Hummer' and 'Mathletics'.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

7. Shearwater - 'Rook'
With a set of proudly grandiose and melodramatic arrangements, 'Rook' shook off any "Okkervil side-project" tags. A record steeped in nature and defined by some beautiful arrangements and the sonorous vocals of Jonathan Meiburg, every piano trill and stately sweep on strings was in exactly the right place. Highlights including the hollering 'Century Eyes' and the elemental 'Leviathan Bound' decorated a record that sound like it came up from the earth itself.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

6. Laura Marling - 'Alas, I Cannot Swim'
Displaying a songwriting wisdom beyond her years, 'Alas I Cannot Swim' also introduced a beguiling new voice and a major new talent. Dealing with themes of love, loss and death and featuring the fantastic 'Ghosts' and the chilling 'Night Terror', Marling's poise and charming, yet versatile, delivery pointed to greater things to come.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

5. Bon Iver - 'For Emma, Forever Ago'
Recorded when Justin Vernon, AKA Bon Iver, relocated to a remote log cabin after the breakdown of a relationship, the cabin-folk aspect of the album was seized upon by all who heard it, but it was the explicit sense of isolation that really shaped the record. 'For Emma, Forever Ago' was a singer-songwriter record that never resorted to cliché, was musically inventive and subtle throughout, managed to retain the sparseness that defined the record at all times and, in 'Skinny Love' boasted a new heartbreak anthem for sensitive indie kids everywhere.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

4. Fleet Foxes - 'Fleet Foxes'
Fleet Foxes' eponymous debut was probably the only record released this year that sounded like it could have been made at any point in the last 40 years. Music this perfectly formed doesn't come along too often and when it does then it's hard to believe that the glorious harmonies of 'Blue Ridge Mountains' and 'White Winter Hymnal' hadn't been heard before and were released this year rather than being forgotten gems found in a vault somewhere.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

3. Elbow - 'The Seldom Seen Kid'
Taking to one side the ubiquitousness of 'One Day Like This' and the added profile afforded by the Mercury win, here, with Guy Garvey's most lovelorn lyrics to date, Elbow crafted their most complete album of their career. After their treatment by V2 it would have been easy for them to call it a day and cement their status as also-rans; instead they came back stronger than ever with highlights including the venomous clatter of 'Grounds For Divorce' (they still don't do 'angry' often enough), the majestic 'The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver' and the autumnal perfection of 'Perfect Weather To Fly'.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

2. Sigur Rós - 'Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust'
Instead of making 'Takk'...II', Sigur Rós instead returned with an earthier, less glacial record (global warming perhaps?), but one that was no less beautiful. A near legendary performance at Latitude and a tour of the UK's huger venues confirmed them as big boys but they continued to let the music do the talking.
'Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust' also found them on making some of their most uplifting (see 'Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur') and devastating ('Suð Í Eyrum') music to date. The title of course translates as 'With Music Buzzing In Our Ears, We Play Endlessly' - let's certainly hope that's the case.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital

1. TV On The Radio - 'Dear Science'
Impeccably sequenced and featuring incredible musicianship, 'Dear Science' stripped back the haunted ambience of 'Return To Cookie Mountain' to reveal one of the most enthralling bands on the planet today. 'Dear Science' was a genuinely eclectic set whilst always sounding like a cohesive album, packing in funk, dance, rock and - on 'Crying' - 21st century pop. Behind the cleaner sound however, there lurked a dark journey through neurosis, anger, compassion and a surreal stream of consciousness courtesy of Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone. 'Halfway Home' launched the album in a storm of guitar noise, 'Dancing Choose' provided unchecked vitriol, while 'DLZ' recalled the menace of previous records. 'Love Dog' was the stand-out though; tender, mysterious and played to perfection. Only they know where they'll go next.
Buy: HMV | 7 Digital