Best Albums of 2004, pt. I


24 Dic 2005, 4:17

No, the title does not contain a typographical error. Instead, I've decided to approach the ubiquitous "end of the year" album chart from a different angle as this solar year comes to a close. Now that the 2004 releases have had at minimum a year to sink in, I've decided to see which ones stuck, which ones stood the test of the brief amount of time that has passed between now and then. So here we go.

10. You Are The Quarry
It's no The Queen Is Dead, but it's no Maladjusted either. Too many torch songs, sure. Many of his songs lack the lyrical bite that made him tolerable in the first place, yes. But [track]Irish Blood, English Heart[/track] and [track]First of the Gang to Die[/track] are as triumphant as anything he's released since 1988. Leave the Smiths comparisons out of it, and it's a decent album and an even better comeback attempt.
Between its release in May of 2004 and now, my love for the Smiths has only grown, and (to a much, much, much lesser degree) my love of Morrissey likewise. The initial fascination of a brand new Morrissey album has worn off completely, but the fact remains that there are a couple of classic songs contained on this album.

9. Love Is Hell
Officially this should qualify as a 2003 release, but no one will notice. This is likely Adams' most accessible album to date, since it's not as country as Jacksonville City Nights or as bad as Rock N Roll. I still prefer Heartbreaker over anything he's put to record, but he plays his singer/songwriter card well. As for the Wonderwall cover, at least it's not Liam singing it.
Since 2004, I've let this album go unlistened, at least compared to the other Adams' albums I own (every one). But goddamnit it's better than [album artist=]Rock n Roll[/album].

8. Set Yourself on Fire
This is a 2004 release in Canada, so it counts. While there is nothing exceptional about this album, Stars manage to effectively display suburban twentysomething life in an accurate light. The storytelling makes this album, for me. Some nice arrangements accentuate the songs, but overall it's the words that make this album worthwhile.
I actually purchased this album in 2005, so I can't so much compare my experience with it now to my experience with it a year ago. Perhaps this will come again at the end of 06. B-)

7. No Cities Left
I purchased this album in late 04, after seeing them open for Morrissey in concert. Lost In the Plot is such a moving and powerful song, and earns this album's position on this chart alone. And that's just one track. Since 2004, my appreciation and understanding for this album has only grown, and after I discovered Serge Gainsbourg everything became clear. The Dears' influences are heavily noticeable, but they draw on them so uniquely that they truly are an act all their own. The orchestral pop sound isn't unique per se, but when combined with Murray Lightburn's emotional delivery, [album]No Cities Left[/album] shines.

6. SMiLE
This feels like a cheat too, since the songs, production, mentality &c. of this album are not rooted in 2004. Still, it's a triumphant return to form for Wilson, a brilliant display of what could have been - what should have been. You can't go back in time and fix past blunders, but this is as close as we've gotten to time travel. Wilson's voice has aged surprisingly well considering the many ways in which he's tried to ruin it - but it has aged, and while it would be unfair to say the record suffers because of it, there's one minor flaw if you're looking to find it. Weak attempts at finding flaws in the album aside, Wilson's arranging skills are quite frankly untouchable and worth the price of purchase alone.
Between 2004 and now, my love for the Beach Boys has blossomed. They truly are an underappreciated group, and Brian Wilson stands head and shoulders above any arranger, in my mind. This album serves as perfect proof.

To be continued with 5-1 in the coming days.


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