Top Ten Albums of 2011: 4, 3, 2

4. Fitz and the Tantrums, “Pickin’ Up the Pieces”

Even though its subject matter spans from heartbreak to, well, heartbreak (except for “Dear Mr. President”, which addresses political rather than personal upheaval), I’ve found more ecstatic, unadulterated joy in this record than I would ever have expected from only hearing “MoneyGrabber” on its own. Anyone can easily approximate a classic, existent musical genre (in this case, neo-soul), but Michael Fitzpatrick and his rhythm-heavy band (emphasizing keys and bass with horns filling in for the absent six-string guitars) are sincere and totally committed to it as they lithely turn out one tight, exuberant song after another.

Favorites: “MoneyGrabber”, “Breaking the Chains of Love”, “Don’t Gotta Work It Out”, “Pickin’ Up the Pieces”

 

3. Kate Bush, “50 Words For Snow”

As the sticker plainly states, seven songs in 65 minutes–the shortest of which clocks in at just under seven, the longest of which lasts for over thirteen and is about making love to a snowman. In between, there’s an Elton John (!) duet in which the man sounds more alive than he has in decades and the literal title track, the loopiest, most menacing song she’s recorded since Hounds of Love. If Aerial verified her unerring brilliance after a long sabbatical, this wintry song cycle confirms she’s still a seeker, a risk taker, and neither easily defined nor dismissed.

Favorites: “Misty”, “Snowed In At Wheeler Street”, “Wild Man”, “50 Words For Snow”

2. Destroyer, “Kaputt”

Before Kaputt, I liked Dan Bejar’s songs well enough but his mewling, wobbly voice nearly always put me off, both on his contributions to New Pornographers albums and his varied solo work under this moniker. Bejar doesn’t change the way he sings here (as if he ever could); he’s simply found an ideal, complimentary setting for his voice. Kaputt is a mélange of primitive-sounding drum machines and guitar and synth washes, adorned by velvety flutes, trumpets and saxes, most of it unfolding at a mid-tempo pulse. It slyly recalls early ’80s soft rock but feels both out of time and intensely personal as it admirably sustains a tone of introspection, regret and gentle resolve.

Favorites: “Kaputt”, “Savage Night at the Opera”, “Chinatown”, “Suicide Demo For Karen Walker”, “Blue Eyes”

2 Responses to Top Ten Albums of 2011: 4, 3, 2

  1. Howard says:

    Love that 3 of my favs are bunched up here. I can’t say enough about Destroyer as you can probably tell. Looking forward to tomorrow.

  2. Pingback: 6AM | KRIOFSKE MIX

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