Tag Archives: best of 2012

Best of 2012: A Conversation Well Rehearsed by The Birthday Suit

Second album in two years from Rod Jones’s new venture, and A Conversation Well Rehearsed does not disappoint. Lead single Less Worthless Years hinted at significant game raising (try getting that chorus out of your head), and the quality barely dips across the album. It’s a similar mix to last year’s The Eleventh Hour: there’s punch the air euphoria on You Hear The Drum, gorgeous wistfulness on Out Of This World and balls-out rock on Uh-Huh Uh-Huh (which comes with some excellent screams), but everything is just that bit tighter, that bit better, a little more sure of itself.
Jones’s songwriting is going from strength to strength, with even the big dumb rock moments displaying real heart, and there’s an obvious sense of pride and pleasure in each note. If The Birthday Suit can keep this up, this may be just the start of something very exciting indeed.

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Best of 2012: The Drummer by Niki and the Dove

Sometimes, only a bit of fluff will do. And what fluff. Niki and The Dove’s Instinct is platinum grade candyfloss, and is one of the most addictive albums of the year. By rights, it should be terrible. The lyrics are often a bit wonky, and Mother Protect features the worst synth pan pipe noise in existence, but it’s absolutely irresistible. The dreamy Last Night captures the atmosphere of Madonna’s Crazy For You, while The Fox shows that juddering cellos really aren’t used enough in pop these days. Somebody and Love to the Test are sugary pop just on the right side of cheese, while the aforementioned Mother Protect is worth putting up with the terrible synths for the execution of the pay off line “you can’t keep me down, I am young, I am furious”. Never has a vocal catch been so well deployed.

The best moment is perhaps The Drummer, driving, inventive and the owner of a chorus it’s impossible to stop singing. Drop your voice for “human” and you’ll understand: it’s far more fun that you ever thought it could be.

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Best of 2012: Born To by Jesca Hoop

Another of this year’s highlights was Jesca Hoop’s third album The House That Jack Built. Perhaps more mature than her previous efforts, this is the sound of a woman finding her, well, sound. Her incredible voice seems to have new power, at once wonderfully free and ultra-precise. It’s an album of two very distinct sides: half mourning, half call to arms. The title track and DNR in particular deal with the recent death of her father with a startling lyrical honesty. While emptying her father’s house, she lists his possessions, lamenting “it’s not enough to know you through this”: simple, frank and devastating.

As for the call to arms, it’s a word that’s overused, but empowering is the only one that fits for Jesca in combative mood. See Peacemaker, in which women stop a war by witholding sex. Seriously. It shouldn’t work, but it’s threatening and terrifically sexy. And to let you know what you’re in for, opening track Born To is her best moment to date. It sounds like it was forged in a storm: a thundering sort of mandolin sound, that howl towards the end and that repeated assertion “I was born to, I was born to”. Born to what, we don’t find out, but whatever it is, you definitely believe her.

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December 12, 2012 · 8:00 pm

Best of 2012: Lilies – Bat For Lashes

The Haunted Man First, I know this thing has been dead, but I’ve been doing a degree. To make up for one post in six months, I’m going to recap some of my musical highlights of the year.

Bat For Lashes has always appeared to be on the wrong side of trendy, trying a bit too hard, not very easy to like. And the cover of third album The Haunted Man doesn’t do much to assuage these doubts, but taking the chance is absolutely worth it. Singles All Your Gold and Laura are shimmering, seductive pop perfection, and the album is studded with jewels like Winter Fields, but that’s if you get past the towering opener Lilies.

Mournful,  joyous, and Miss Bat For Lashes Natasha Khan at her most Kate Bush (particularly on the line about children having a private world), it’s a little world all of its own. It’s deceptively simple, mostly vocal with incongruous synth squelches, and the chorus is just the words “Oh, the lilies on the hill” repeated, but it’s somehow loaded with meaning. Towards the end, she erupts with “Thank God I’m alive”, and it’s hard not to punch the air in celebration. It’s unashamedly over the top, and indeed the album is a decadent listen, but what a way to indulge.

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