New Year is a great time to be looking ahead to some great new albums and tours ahead of us. Having said that, it’s also a great time to celebrate the past, so I thought I would jump back and have a look at some of the great albums which will be turning 10 years old in 2017.
I was initially cynical looking back at these, as in my head a lot of the albums and bands that I like got going in 2008, but pleasantly surprised to find out that actually a lot of really good albums were released in that year.
Musically, 2007 was diverse and exciting. Klaxons (and others) drove forward new rave in this year (remember that one?!), Soulja Boy’s Crank That became the first internet dance craze anyone can remember, and Rihanna and Fallout Boy seemed to dominate music for the rest of the time. Arctic Monkeys headlined Glastonbury after releasing just two albums, J.K. Rowling published the final book of the Harry Potter series, and Gordon Brown became Prime Minister.
It was a year of really good songs too, and two of my personal all-time favourites, ‘I Still Remember’ by Bloc Party and ‘Let It Die’ by Foo Fighters came out. The best-selling albums of that year were by Amy Winehouse, Leona Lewis, Mika and Take That – Amy Winehouse would’ve completed my top ten but it was released in 2006! I’ve listed down my nine below which I thought were best, but these are chronological and not in order of preference.
Frank Turner – Sleep is for the Week – 15th January
Anyone who has spoken to me for more than 10 minutes will not be surprised at this inclusion, although on balance, this is probably my least favourite of Frank Turner’s six albums. Maybe my viewpoint on this comes from only getting into Frank Turner’s music in his second album, and so only knowing these songs from listening to them later on. Turner, who was 25 at the time of release, shows limited maturity lyrically (Ladies of London Town is a little grating) and a few of the other songs are also too reliant on their own self-pitying nature (The Real Damage is exceptionally guilty of that charge). But the rest of the record is peppered with sparks of triumph and strokes of genius. Interspersed between three or four disappointing songs, you have the unbridled rage of ‘Worse Things Happen at Sea’, the retrospective mid-life crisis of ‘Wisdom Teeth’ and the quiet frustration of ‘A Decent Cup of Tea’, possibly the best song about being friend-zoned that has ever been written. ‘Vital Signs’ embodies the happy zest for life that I love about Turner’s music. Also this album has ‘The Ballad of Me and My Friends’ on it, which just about says everything you need to know.
Jamie T – Panic Prevention – 29th January
I still think Jamie T’s music is exciting, but that’s nothing compared to how exciting and different he seemed when Panic Prevention came out. I wasn’t too sure what to think of this completely new fusion of sounds and Treays’ fast-paced, tongue-in-cheek lyrics and how to reconcile someone sounding like Jamie T but also being from southwest London like me. With that aside, this is a fantastic album, with ‘Sheila’ and the other single tracks being obvious frontrunners. I love the tinge of sadness that runs through ‘Calm Down Dearest’, and ‘If You Got The Money’ and ‘Back in the Game’ are the best songs to listen to if you ever get to watch Jamie at a festival in the afternoon.
Noisettes – What’s the Time Mr Wolf? – 5th February
I absolutely love this album and I listened to it constantly when it came out. It has a strong thread of excitement tying it together, and from its very energetic start, it rarely slows down, as if the band only need a few seconds to catch their breath during the stunning closing tracks.
Lead singer, Shingai Shoniwa, leads the charge in a powerfully commanding and unrelenting pursuit. The pure adrenaline hitting the listener from the opening words of ‘Don’t Give Up’, through the mystery of ‘The Count of Monte Christo’ and the playful lyrics of ‘Sister Rosetta’. I love the bittersweet lyrics of ‘Hierarchy’ and its merge into the beautiful, simple ‘Never Fall in Love Again’, demonstrating a deeper, more complex side to the band’s songwriting.
Feist – The Reminder –23rd April
I got into Feist just the way that everyone else did, through that iPod advert which had ‘1234’ in the background, and I feel a little embarrassed to say that I’ve never made the effort to listen to any of Feist’s music outside of this album, and also that I only bought the album because I wanted to put ‘1234’ on my iPod but I couldn’t figure out how to buy just the one song on my computer.
Having said all that, it was a happy mistake, because this is a truly mesmerising album filled with poignancy. ‘1234’ is just the tip of the iceberg and there are actually a few songs that surpass it on this record. Every listen, you can discover something new and better about it. One song I love especially is ‘Limit to Your Love’. I love how Feist takes the sadness of an inequitable relationship and turns it into something melodic and beautiful. Even the way she compares her lover’s lack of care to natural phenomena is beautiful. The feeling of being caught between infatuation and realisation is palpable, and echoed on ‘I Feel It All’, where Feist declares, ‘I’ll be the one who’ll break my heart, I’ll be the one to hold the gun’ in recognition of her willingness to accept less than she really deserves. It’s easy to interpret every song on this album as being about the same person, and that’s how I like to see it, as a whole form.
The Cribs – Men’s Needs, Women’s Needs, Whatever – 21st May
I loved this album when I first heard it for its fresh take – I really felt like the Cribs didn’t sound like anyone else at the time. That addictive riff in ‘Men’s Needs’ makes it an instant winner. The band’s persistence in refusing to romanticise or embellish on the topic is one of the best things about this album. The gruff honesty about the band’s concept of modern relationship is totally refreshing, especially in ‘I’m A Realist’ and ‘Ancient History’. I think it’s easy to criticise the record for lacking variety, and flicking between songs, it can be easy for them to blur into one. But the songs are made brilliant by their understated delivery; a good example is ‘Moving Pictures’, where the Jarmans’ morbid and dissatisfied lyrics are so well combined with the use of major key that you actually only notice the full poignancy of the lyrics if you really concentrate. Having said that, ‘Shoot the Poets’ is still my favourite, being the only track which could be interpreted as romantic, although even this is left up to the listener’s concentration.
Air Traffic – Fractured Life – 2nd July
A pretty much unknown album by a band who got a small amount of airplay and split a few years later. However, this album is an absolute gem and more people should listen to it!
Sonically like the lovechild of Keane, Coldplay and Snow Patrol, the band brought a fresh, rejuvenated sound to 2007. I was always disappointed that they didn’t make it bigger because I thought their music would have been really suited to larger festival stages and arena tours. The epic piano rock of ‘Shooting Star’ and ‘No More Running Away’ makes them into songs you don’t easily forget. The songs are imbued with teenage/twenty-something angst which is maybe why I cherish them, but the passionate and emotional lyrics are hard not to relate to. I love how the band takes control of the more charismatic songs like ‘I Like That’ and ‘Never Even Told Me Her Name’, but snaps instantly back into the more heartfelt tracks including ‘Just Abuse Me’ and ‘Your Fractured Life’. It would absolutely make my year if this band got back together.
Jack Peñate – Matinée – 8th October
The mystery of where Jack Peñate is rumbles on, as it’s been almost eight years since his last album was released, and almost two since he last tweeted to tell his fans that record #3 was nearly finished.
This aside, Matinée was a fantastic debut, full of zest and life. Sometimes rudimentary but incredibly endearing, it’s easy to see why ‘Torn on the Platform’ was such a breakthrough track for Peñate. A lot of tracks feel like he’s tried to fit too many words into too short a line, especially in ‘Second, Minute or Hour’ when you realise he can’t actually get the word ‘minute’ out in the chorus. But this is moderated by more relaxed tracks such as ‘Learning Lines’, ‘When We Die’ and my personal favourite, ‘My Yvonne’. I love the simplicity and flowery language, you can really tell it’s inspired by literature (Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain-Fournier). It is a little strange to hear Adele in such a passive backing vocal role when her career has blossomed so much since this album was released.
Kate Nash – Made of Bricks – 6th August
This is out there with zero shame as an album that made a huge impact on me. The Independent called it the worst album of the year, but it’s pretty difficult to make a good album without one person calling it bad. Undeniably, some of the songs on this record cloy now, and songs like ‘Foundations’ and ‘Mouthwash’ used to be good, but now I find them a little irritating. I’m sure she could’ve thought of something better to talk about than her dental care routine. However, Nash’s style, both melodically and lyrically, set a new style which a lot of people tried to imitate in the aftermath. I love her honesty and relatability. ‘Skeleton Song’ is a highlight, and ‘Merry Happy/Little Red’ makes for a beautiful ending to the record.
The Wombats – A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation – 5th November
This album will perhaps never be considered a masterpiece. It’s unlikely to appear in any best albums of all time lists, but I don’t think the Wombats were ever setting out for acclaim in that sense. On the other hand, it’s hard to argue that this isn’t a great album to listen to all the way through and just enjoy. The main singles that achieved commercial success are great on their own, but the album as a cohesive whole (which is basically about not being able to get a girlfriend) is great to play track by track. My personal favourite is ‘Kill the Director’, alongside ‘Little Miss Pipedream’ and ‘Lost in the Post’. The Wombats don’t take themselves too seriously, and although you can understand why it didn’t win the Mercury Prize, I loved this album when I was 13 and still have a soft spot for it now.