My Favorite 25 Albums of 2010
21.) The Walkmen - Lisbon
The Walkmen reek of weariness; you can hear it in the lead singer’s voice in nearly every song. But they learn to relax at least a bit during Lisbon; what’s the difference when “today’s a day like any other,” as the lyrics attest in “Angela Surf City” before blowing up with one of their trademark furious choruses. This is a relaxing listen, one to kick on when you just want to chill out and leave the world’s worries behind for once. “Juveniles” meanders through the door over pristine guitar lines and crooning lines that lay it all out: you’re one of us or one of them. Scattered guitars spill over “Follow the Leader” and soft horns fill out the space in “Stranded.” Honestly, you can tell the Walkmen are not too caught up in their sound; they are tired, ready to get through their songs and back to life. I instantly feel carried to a beach of no worries by the breezy music of “Woe Is Me,” a bouncy love song that’s simple enough. The Walkmen have learned to stick with what they know and can’t be bothered by the rest. Lisbon must be a peaceful place to get your mind right if it produces such soothing songs not concerned with getting ahead of themselves.
Favorite moment: Enjoying the winter pleasures of “While I Shovel the Snow,” a gentle ditty that follows our narrator as they, well, shovel some snow. A beautiful simple pleasure made out of a cold chore. “For now, I’ll take my time.”
20.) LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening
The title says it all. James Murphy is here to party once again, and this time it might be his last. By the time 9-minute opener “Dance Yrself Clean” has twisted in every direction and mutated into a furious club banger, Murphy has already made his last move count. Dance rhythms and electronics swap places with tightly-knit drumming and guitars to make this dance outfit more of a full band effort. Murphy still has the lead here, and he infuses the album with the same favored Eno/Bowie touchstones that made Sound of Silver an event to throw your body around the dance floor. “Home” builds and builds until you’re singing wordlessly with Murphy at the top of your lungs. “You Wanted A Hit” also stretches out over many layers and verses, growing bigger and better while denying listeners an easy fix. That fix is still here in single “Drunk Girls,” a song that veers from annoying to addictive fun every few seconds before launching into the secret yearning behind the party: “I believe in waking up together.” Murphy’s looking for love and he can change if it’ll help the outcome. I do hate the Iggy Pop rip-off “Someone’s Calling Me,” if only because “Nightclubbing” is still a better song. But “All I Want” can compete with Berlin-era Bowie any day.
Favorite moment: The eventual climax of “All I Want.” Coated in frenzied synthesizers, squealing guitar and a simple keyboard chord progression, Murphy finally breaks and says what he really wants to say as the synths scatter: “Take me home….” He could be really lonely and wants to go home with anyone, but I think maybe he’s just ready to crash and start fresh with a new day.
-Landon Briggs, 12/16/10