Friday, 30 December 2011

A year in disappointments.

by George Bate

As I do a round up of the year in music, I thought I’d get the bad stuff out of the way first, so here is my list of the disappointments and straight-up clangers of the past 12 months.

James Blake – James Blake

While many critics clamoured over James Blake’s transition to piano man songwriter on his debut LP, I couldn’t help but feel somewhat disappointed. Sure, it was innovative, but the innovation just didn’t seem to lead anywhere. Repeated phrases and loops wore on me, and in contrast to how many other writers felt I found the album cold in its sparseness. The were a few isolated moments of beauty, such as the excellent Feist cover and the climatic Wilhelm’s Scream, but with so much filler in between, I was left feeling short changed.

Tyler, The Creator – Goblin

Being one of the most divisive musicians of the past few years is no mean feat in a musical environment littered with controversial characters. But controversy or not, it’s content that counts, and quite frankly this album didn’t have it. Perhaps my ears have been dulled by a childhood of Eminem, but this album just didn’t exhilarate me in the way I hoped it would. It’s ok being offensive, but it can’t be an artist’s only feature.

The Field – Looping State of Mind

The chief criticism of The Field’s Axel Willner has always been that he is a one trick pony, but up until this year that trick has always worked and Willner has produced beautifully beguiling music. On this record however, the magic was gone. The formula remained the same, but the repetition felt dry and Willner’s trick felt exposed. The title track served as somewhat of a redeemer, but if you listen to, say, Over the Ice from the first Field record, you can’t help but feel disappointed in Looping State of Mind.

Washed Out – Within & Without

Washed Out felt like an appropriate moniker for Ernest Greene when he released this clanger in the summer. This was another that felt without warmth, possibly due to heavy handed over production. His collaboration with Caroline Polachek, You and I, had been his finest moment when released as part of the Adult Swim singles series, but a new version here felt clunky and uninspired. Yet again, the title track was the sole redeeming feature on a record that otherwise fell flat.

The Strokes – Angles

Expectation was high prior to the release of the fifth Strokes album, their first in five years, and the stories of a difficult birth had fans clamouring for it. Sadly this tension could not guarantee a great album, and the eventual release of Angles gave us a half hearted album, as if the mind’s of the members were elsewhere, perhaps on their next solo releases. You’ll have a better time listening to it than it sounds like they had making it, but that’s not saying much.

Tim Hecker – Ravedeath, 1972

I can’t quite understand how Tim Hecker has managed to garner the reputation he has by making albums like this. All high concept, this record was simply hiding behind smoke and mirrors, as sonically what it boiled down to was just white fucking noise.

Metallica and Lou Reed – Lulu

Everything about this is just wrong, I would write this in comic sans to express my disgust if I could.