Kate’s Albums of 2010: 7 to 4…
7. Toro y Moi – Causers of This (Car Park Records)
Kate’s rating – 4.9/6.0
Another victim of that blasted chillwave label, Toro Y Moi’s hazy collection of bits and pieces is part detuned radio, part hazy dream. Blessa sounds like it’s escaped from the heavens, Thanks Vision drifts in through a time portal from the deck of Phil Collins’ yacht circa 1982 and Imprint After is obviously on the run from Pete Tong’s Essential Selection at the wrong speed. It’s the kind of album you have to be in the mood to listen to (and if you’re not, it will frustrate you) but Causers Of You opened my mind to a whole host of emerging talent I otherwise wouldn’t have bothered with.
Standout track: Fax Shadow, a glitch, syncopated slice’n’dice of a chart-bothering autotuned sample. Mashing it up gives it a new lease of life, a bit like chopping up old clothes and putting them back together in a different way (or, to use a decorating hipster trend, painting a cabinet, then sanding it down to make it look knackered and old).
6. Beach House – Teen Dream (Bella Union)
Kate’s rating – 5.0/6.0
Chillwave is a word that was blatantly overused and indeed abused in 2010, but leaving aside stupid genre labels, Beach House’s third (yes, third!) album is a work of fine art. From start to finish, Teen Dream reels you into its own little universe at the expense of the real world, a bit like a musical version of Life On Mars, only without a gruff, prejudiced, whisky-swigging badass Mancunian detective at its core. Victoria Legrand’s unmistakable voice will give you the shivers whether you want them or not.
Standout track: Zebra. A really warm little piece of music that makes you feel so at home from the moment you press play on the album.
5. The National – High Violet (4AD)
Kate’s rating – 5.2/6.0
The National have enjoyed quite a turnaround in your editor’s fortunes in the past few years, going from figures of fun to hallowed musical saints. This is mainly thanks to pretty much every other Fugitive Motel contributor I’ve ever lived or stayed with playing them non-stop for the first two years of the site’s existence.
Whether it’s the dizzying distortion of opener Terrible Love or the melancholy, sparse Runaway, High Violet is built in the majestic tradition we’ve come to expect of Matt Berninger and his merry band of brothers (literally). It’s a bit of a slowburner, but give it time and you’ll treasure it almost as much as Alligator...almost.
Standout track: Bloodbuzz Ohio. The ultimate in comeback singles, a hot Motelvision 2010 contender and proving the case that Matt Berninger’s baritone is to die for. My personal ‘fuck you’ song for much of the summer – the song that you can blast away in your headphones, or sing along to in privacy, and that will always make you feel better whatever your mood.
4. Olafur Arnalds – ...and they have escaped the weight of darkness (Erased Tapes)
Kate’s rating – 5.5/6.0
It was only fitting that the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester - which possesses the best acoustics in town for listeners and tricky ones for performers – should be the location for the world premiere of Olafur Arnalds’ latest work. ...and they have escaped the weight of darkness has a rare quality – every track stimulates the very core of your soul and provokes profound emotion, particularly when played live. It’s an album that is scored with precision, care and passion right the way through, and the result is a continuous movement rather than individual tracks. By the way, at The Fugitive Motel there’s no such thing as highbrow or lowbrow – just good music and bad music...and this is superb music.
Standout track: Žau hafa sloppiš undan žunga myrkursins, a perfect ending to a near-perfect album. Plaintive piano gives way to comforting, warm strings, with eerie loops just audible enough to unsettle you underneath. Afterwards, you really are left with a heightened sense of the world around you and just how big and terrifying it can be.