2009 is over already? It doesn’t seem like long ago that I was writing my best of 2008 list and here I am again, doing the same for the final year of the noughties.
Like I said last year, I find these lists a real conversation starter, or argument starter considering none of us ever agree. But I’m going to stress that this is my personal top ten and I must admit, it was a tough choice…but here goes.
10. LILY ALLEN – IT’S NOT ME, IT’S YOU
Lily Allen’s second album didn’t grab me on first listen as it seemed like quite a weak effort in comparison to her first, but it became a grower within only a few weeks. Although as a package the sound is arguably more commercial, our countries favourite loudmouth definitely didn’t tame her lyrics or her attitude ensuring that the result is equally as edgy.
9. YEAH YEAH YEAHS – IT’S BLITZ
At the start of 2009 I was incredibly excited about the amount of long awaited follow up albums from artists I value highly. None of which measured up to this one and none of which delivered as well. After several let downs, no names mentioned of course (ahem, Lady Sovereign), ‘Its Blitz’ was a breath of fresh air. From lead single, ‘Zero’ all the way through to album ender ‘Little Shadow’ this is the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at their best, still, three and a half albums on.
8. BAT FOR LASHES – TWO SUNS
After such a wonderful and critically acclaimed debut, you would be forgiven for wondering whether Natasha Khan could have any creativity left. Of course she proved quite the opposite and showcased a second masterpiece which led publications such as Q magazine to describe her as the next Kate Bush. So ‘Two Suns’ may not have produced as many classic singles as ‘Fur and Gold’ but the ones it did will go down as indie classics, ‘Daniel’ for certain.
7. BASEMENT JAXX – SCARS
The Kings of British dance returned with not one, but two albums this year. The first, ‘Scars’, is the only one of the two to make this list. This is an album full of tracks set to fill dance-floors across the world like only Basement Jaxx know how. As if thrillers such as ‘Raindrops’, ‘Scars’ and ‘Twerk’ weren’t enough the album also treated us to guest vocal spots from the likes of Kelis, Yo Majesty, Santigold, Lightspeed Champion and Yoko Ono. If it wasn’t for the album at number three in this list, it would be the most star studded release of the year without doubt.
6. METRIC – FANTASIES
Why Metric aren’t bigger than they are has always been a little bit of a mystery to me. What more could you want from an indie band than incredibly catchy, hook driven tracks fronted by a talented (and attractive) female vocalist? Nothing right?? So why, 8 years on from the release of their first album, aren’t Metric more of a household name? Their 2009 release, ‘Fantasies’ only fueled that confusion further as from start to finish this album is a fantasy in itself.
5. PASSION PIT – MANNERS
It took me a little longer than most to get into Passion Pit. Although their ‘Chunk of Change’ EP definitely touched me, with ‘Smile Upon Me’ and ‘Sleepyhead’ being the highlights, I wasn’t quite hooked. I listened to ‘Manners’ a few weeks after its release however and that was it, consider me a die hard fan. As a side-note, ‘Little Secrets’ also ranks extremely highly in my singles of the year listing, not that it does or will exist.
4. MAJOR LAZER – GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE, LAZERS DO
A fictional character turned musical act made up of two class DJ’s such as Diplo and Switch? This was always going to be ideal really wasn’t it? Much like a couple of other entries within this list, Major Lazer’s debut features a number of brilliant guest vocalists (Santigold, Amanda Blank, Mr Vegas etc) but that is far from all its offering. For me this record has provided some of the hottest dance tracks of 2009 and some of the most creative remixes. ‘Pon De Floor’ has to be one of the best floor fillers of 2009 and has provided us with the greatest video also. If you haven’t seen it, check it out now. It’ll warm even the most frozen of evenings.
3. N.A.S.A – SPIRIT OF THE APOLLO
This album truly does hold something for everyone. With guest performers as widely varied as Method Man to David Byrne and Kanye West to Amanda Blank this is like a non stop trip through my CD collection. And the best part? N.A.S.A don’t just rely on the star studded album credits to sell this record, its actually fantastic. The dream moment for me in particular is the collaboration with Kanye West, Karen O and Lykke Li on mid album track, ‘Gifted’. Pure perfection.
2. FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE – LUNGS
Over the last two to three years, the U.K has been flooded with solo female artists. The majority of whom seem quite insignificant after the emergence of Florence Welch. Its been awhile since an album had me fully engaged with every track, but she managed it, on first listen no less. I’m not the only one infected by its brilliance either, as it spent five weeks at number 2 in the UK chart, kept off the top spot only by Michael Jackson. Even covering club classic, ‘You’ve Got The Love’ didn’t do Florence any harm, infact, it did quite the opposite as it has been recognised by many as one of the best cover versions we’ve seen in recent times.
1. The XX – X
Without question, the strongest debut album to be released this year. There was a point where I questioned my motive for loving this album. Does knowing a couple of the bands members personally make me biased? Would I have loved it so much if I didn’t know them at all? In the correct order the answers are no and yes. This is a beautiful, atmospheric masterpiece and the band thoroughly deserve the recognition they have received this year.